Top News: Photojournalist Shawkan’s Brother Says Court Date Set for December 12

The brother of a detained photojournalist says Egypt has set a date for the first session of his trial, more than two years after he was taken into custody. Mohamed Abou-Zeid said Wednesday that the trial of his brother Mahmoud, known by his nickname Shawkan, is set to start on December 12, with charges including murder, attempted murder and possessing a firearm. More than 700 defendants are included in the case, accused of rioting during the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in in August 2013. Shawkan was covering the dispersal when he was arrested, and has only recently been charged. Judicial officials could not immediately be reached for comment. [APCairo PostDNE, 9/16/2015]


HEC receives parliamentary candidate appeals; Strong Egypt confirms boycott
Egypt’s High Elections Committee (HEC) has started to receive appeals against its decision of which candidates will stand in the upcoming elections, the committee announced Thursday. Any citizen can appeal including those who have been rejected. The HEC will consider appeals between September 19 and 27 before finalizing its decisions, HEC Spokesman Omar Marwan said. He added that electoral campaigning will begin on September 29 and last eighteen days. Meanwhile, the Strong Egypt party, led by former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, confirmed they will boycott the elections. “We can’t participate under an umbrella of disfigured laws and legislative chaos, created to weaken any chance of building a healthy political life,” the party said in a statement. “We can’t participate in an unethical political atmosphere, where the opposition is oppressed and the state is biased to certain candidates,” the statement added. [Ahram Online, 9/17/2015]

Sisi’s constitution remarks spark controversy on possible amendment
Remarks by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on parliamentary powers enshrined in the constitution have triggered a debate among politicians and commentators about the presidency’s intention to induce a constitutional change granting it leverage against the anticipated parliament. “The Constitution, with good intentions, is giving vast powers to the parliament. Countries cannot be managed by good intentions alone,” Sisi said in a speech Sunday. Politicians have differed on the implications of the president’s remarks, particularly considering his opponents have promoted the idea that his government was not interested in a parliament entitled to share its currently unchallenged legislative authority. Hussein Abdel-Razek, deputy chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party was among those unhappy with Sisi’s remarks, labelling the statement as “strange.” Mostafa Bakry, however, a former MP, journalist, and ardent backer of Sisi’s presidency, said that a constitutional amendment would restore authority denied to the president by the existing constitution. [AMAY, 9/16/2015]


Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law put into action by courts for first time
A Giza criminal court sentenced on Wednesday three defendants in absentia to seven years in prison for their involvement in the Badrashin’s riots. The riots occurred in the Giza town of Badrashin in 2013 in the aftermath of the violent dispersal of two sit-ins which supported ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. They also face fines of EGP100,000 in addition to their prison time. The court also sentenced two minors in absentia to five years. Judge Nagy Shehata said, following the ruling, this is the first time Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law has been applied, with defendants referred to court after the law was ratified in August. The prosecution found the defendants guilty of unlawful assembly, blocking a road, assaulting police officers and possession of weapons. [Ahram Online, 9/16/2015]


Trade deficit widens in June, putting pressure on the pound
Egypt’s trade deficit grew to EGP 26.3 billion in June, jumping by more than 62.3 percent, compared to the EGP 16.2 billion trade deficit recorded in the same month last year. The widening deficit was driven by both an increase in imports and a decline in exports. During June 2015, state statistics agency CAPMAS reported that the value of Egypt’s exports to the world fell by more than 24 percent year on year. CAPMAS attributed the drop in exports to a decline in market prices for key Egyptian export commodities such as crude oil and petroleum products. Meanwhile, imports rose by 15.3 percent year on year. While foreign reserves grew in June, they fell in July and August, intensifying calls to devalue the Egyptian pound. Speaking at a conference last week, Investment Minister Ashraf Salman suggested that a devaluation was becoming inevitable. On Thursday, as expected, the Egyptian pound was held steady by the central bank. [Mada Masr, 9/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian pound stable at dollar sale, stronger in exchange bureaux | Reuters
  • Ministry of Manpower announces EGP 3,000 annual fee for foreign worker visas | Cairo Post
  • UAE’s National Bank of Abu Dhabi and National Bank of Egypt to advise on Egypt Midor’s EGP1.4 billion expansion | Reuters


‘Zero student’ Mariam Malak loses second appeal
Egypt’s prosecution has concluded their investigations into claims of foul play by a student who received zero marks across all of her high school exams, after a second forensic test indicated the exam scripts were the student’s own and had not been swapped. Malak claimed she was the victim of corruption. Her lawyers speculated that her exam papers had been switched with another student’s, in order to guarantee a high score for the son or daughter or a powerful figure. Malak denied the reported scores, saying she “refuses to believe she failed to correctly answer any questions in the seven subjects she was examined on.” [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 9/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to pardon 145 for Eid al-Adha | Cairo Post
  • Ministry of Social Solidarity commits all graduates to public service | DNE


ISIS claims fatal drive-by shooting of police general in Sinai  
A senior Egyptian police officer was shot dead in the city of al-Arish in North Sinai, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement. This is the latest in a string of attacks on security forces. Assailants opened fire on General Khaled Kamal on Wednesday night from a passing vehicle while he manned a security post, a gunfight ensued between security forces and the assailants, who got away. On Thursday morning, Sinai State, the peninsula’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliated militant group claimed responsibility [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, 9/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Video: Tenth day of Egyptian Armed Forces’ operations in Sinai | Cairo Post


Egypt imposes gag order on attack on Mexican tourists
The office of Egypt’s top prosecutor has issued a gag order on the investigation into the deadly attack this week in which Egyptian forces mistakenly killed eight Mexican tourists and four Egyptians on a desert safari. A statement from the prosecutor’s office released on Wednesday evening says the ban applies to all media — print, radio, online, and television, both domestic and international. The ban will remain in effect until the investigation by the Egyptian authorities into the incident is concluded and does not include statements from the top prosecutor’s office. Meanwhile, during a joint press conference Wednesday with Mexican counterpart Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that the killing of twelve people in the accidental attack was “regrettable,” but refused to comment on the ongoing investigation into the incident. Ruiz Massieu said Mexico will wait for the results of an Egyptian government investigation into the mistaken attack before determining what action to take. “We want to determine the circumstances that led to that unprecedented and unfortunate incident. We were clear in our discussions on that matter, as well the necessity of returning the Mexican injured and dead home as soon as possible,” she said. Family and business partners have identified two more Mexican tourists who died Sunday. The Queta Rojas modeling agency says founder and fashion expert Queta Rojas was among the dead, and the National Action Party of Jalisco state confirmed the death of Maria Elena Cruz Munoz, a former congresswoman, Guadalajara city council member and director of the Women’s Institute of Guadalajara. [AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 9/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt opens Rafah crossing for Gazan pilgrims | Anadolu Agency
  • Writers’ association condemns Israeli storming of Jerusalem mosque | AMAY
  • Coptic Church tapped to play the role of mediator in Nile River dispute | Al Monitor