Top News: No politics, No Campaigning in Eid Sermons, Warns Endowments Ministry

The Endowments Ministry warned preachers against campaigning for the upcoming elections in their Eid Al-Adha sermons, as aspiring parliamentary candidates gear up for the first round of voting at the end of October. In a statement published on its official website on Wednesday, the ministry said it would immediately “file reports against all those who violate this rule, with no exception, and will also inform the High Elections Committee of all violations.” Endowments Minister Mokhtar Gomaa also warned against using streets and alleyways as informal prayer sites over the holidays. The faithful can only pray at ministry-sanctioned sites, he said. A member of the Salafi Call told privately owned newspaper Al-Shoroukthat the ministry sent them instructions to refrain from addressing politics during the Eid sermons. Instead, they were asked to focus on tolerance and morality, and warn the congregation against extremism and militancy, he said. [Mada Masr,9/23/2015]


Al Jazeera journalists, activists released from prison following pardon
Several imprisoned prominent journalists and activists who received a presidential pardon on Wednesday were released by that evening, with some of them taking to Twitter to announce their freedom. A Mada Masr journalist at Qanater Women’s Prison reported that activists Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif had been released. Earlier in the day, reporters said Al Jazeera English staffers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, alongside co-defendant Shady Abdel Hamid, a student, had been freed from Tora Prison. Fahmy and Mohamed’s colleague, Peter Greste, who was sentenced in absentia following his deportation from Egypt, warned the fight for journalists convicted of terrorism offenses in Egypt is not over. “I’m semi-jubilant,” he said, adding, “As long as one person in that case has a conviction we can’t say it’s over; we can’t crack out the cigars yet.” Greste’s lawyer, Mostafa Nagy, has reportedly said he will submit a request for a  pardon for the Australian journalist. Fahmy and Mohamed’s release was welcomed by Al Jazeera and US-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). CPJ added in a statement, however, that the pardon is a mere “first step,” saying that Egypt should begin tackling “its shameful record of press freedom by releasing all journalists imprisoned for their work in the country.” On Thursday, CPJ issued a letter to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calling on him to “ensure the release of all journalists who are behind bars in relation to their work.” [Mada Masr, 9/23/2015]


Investments of Upper Egypt’s conference to reach $51 billion
Pledges to Upper Egypt’s Investment Conference, to be held in November, are projected to reach EGP 400 billion ($51.08 billion), according to Investment Minister Ashraf Salman. Salman has said that projects to be presented at the conference include cement, marble, and glass factories, in addition to hotels and resorts. “The General Authority for Investment (GAFI) headed by Alaa Omar chose about 100 projects out of 320 of the governorates’ projects to be presented for investment,” Salman told Youm7. Salman noted that Upper Egypt has suffered from marginalization in recent years, despite possessing many resources. “We are looking forward to holding a conference on the same level of Egypt’s Economic Development Conference (EEDC), held in last March,” Salman had said in June. Agriculture Minister Salah Helal told Youm7 that integrated proposals to encourage agriculture development and investment in Upper Egypt will also be presented. [Cairo Post, 9/23/2015]

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Early campaigning for parliament, minor clashes mark Eid celebrations
Egyptians celebrated on Thursday the beginning of Eid Al-Adha holidays, marking the end of the pilgrimage season for Muslims. Minor clashes occurred between security forces and alleged supporters of Islamist groups took place after Eid prayers in Alexandria, where twenty-seven were arrested for launching fireworks after prayers. Early campaigning for parliamentary elections was also noted across the country, with some candidates exploiting the mass gathering of people for prayers to distribute flyers bearing their information. In the Upper Egyptian province of Minya, for example, some parliamentary hopefuls distributed meat and school supplies, as the academic year begins right after the Eid break. They also plastered their campaign material in public parks and prayer areas. [Aswat Masriya, 9/24/2015]

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Egypt’s armed forces seize explosives stores in Giza, al-Arish
Egypt’s Armed Forces have seized three large caches of explosives in the Imbaba and Warraq districts of Giza as well as in a warehouse in al-Arish, according to a TV announcement by Egypt’s army. The three stores contained thirty tons of explosive-making material as well as weapons. The statement says that the materials were smuggled by ‘terrorist elements’ who intended to manufacture explosive devices, and that a number of those responsible have been arrested. [Ahram Online, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic), 9/24/2015]


Egypt’s Sisi to address security, development at UN General Assembly
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is heading to New York on September 24 following Eid prayers to attend the 70th UN General Assembly. Sisi is expected to give a speech at the UN assembly on September 25, addressing topics including political and economic developments in Egypt, as well as Cairo’s position on regional issues in the Middle East. The president’s speech aims to emphasize Egypt’s vision of the fight against terrorism, and will suggest new ideas and initiatives concerning global security and stability. [Ahram Online, 9/24/2015]
New Immigration Minister has reservations on IOM
Egypt’s newly-appointed Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs Nabila Makram said she has reservations on dealing with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), adding that the international body has to work within the framework of Egyptian laws. “We have some reservations concerning the IOM,” the minister said. “That said, we will coordinate that matter with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the IOM is required to operate based on Egyptian laws.” Egypt has been an IOM member state since 1990. When asked how illegal immigration could be curbed, Makram replied. “We have to exert more effort in the field of promoting awareness among people that the countries they are heading to are not goldmines.” The Minister said she supports asking countries targeted by illegal immigrants to legalize entry and residency. “That would form a burden on those governments, but, we would love to demand it,” said Makram. She also lauded the presidency’s decision to add a separate ministry for expatriates affairs, although she commented that the measure “came too late.” Makram said the ministry will act as the main point of communication between the government and expatriates and will work to “eliminate any hurdles” Egyptians face abroad, most notably passport renewals. [AMAY, DNE, 9/24/2015]

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  • Border guards prevent seventy-one from illegal immigration to Italy | EGYNews (Arabic)