Top News: Press, Doctors, and Lawyers Syndicates Take Action Against Police Abuses

Egypt’s Press Syndicate has filed a complaint with the prosecution and the Interior Ministry criticizing the mistreatment of a group of imprisoned journalists. The syndicate, in a statement on its website, said that journalists in al-Aqrab prison were housed in moldy, poorly ventilated cells, and had seen their allotted time for exercise decreased or cancelled altogether. Two members of the board of the Press Syndicate—Khaled al-Balshy and Mahmoud Kamel—began on Monday an open-ended strike inside downtown Cairo’s press union to protest the mistreatment of their imprisoned colleagues, calling on more journalists to join the strike. Meanwhile, an Egyptian researcher and journalist imprisoned on charges of being a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood says he and eight other jailed reporters have begun a hunger strike to protest the conditions of their detention.  The Press Syndicate also submitted an official request Sunday to the prosecutor-general to demand information about the location of El Badil journalist Sabry Anwar, expressing concern for his safety. According to a Press Syndicate statement, Anwar’s wife said he was taken from his home in Damietta on February 19. She added that security forces denied detaining Anwar. Sameh Ashour, the head of the Lawyers Syndicate, also called for a series of measures to be taken against the Ministry of Interior after the disappearance of lawyer Ibrahim Abdel Moneim Abo Gamos in the governorate of Sharqiya. Prompted by what the syndicate contends is the enforced disappearance of Abo Gamos, Ashour called Sunday for a strike in governorate courts. Some Egyptian doctors working in public hospitals, meanwhile, began to provide medical services to patients for free on Saturday, implementing a decision taken by a general assembly of the country’s Doctors Syndicate on February 12 in protest of alleged police assaults against doctors. The number of doctors participating  varied, with 80 percent in Damietta, Sohag, and Menoufiya, 75 percent in Luxor, 50 percent in Beni Suef, and the Red Sea, 60 percent in Sharqiya and Assiut, and 40 percent in Daqahliya. The Ministry of Health issued a statement saying that hospitals were operating as usual, [Ahram Online, 2/29/2016]


MP Tawfik Okasha banned from attending ten parliamentary sessions
The House of Representatives decided Sunday to ban MP Tawfik Okasha from attending ten parliamentary sessions in a measure penalizing the controversial MP and owner of TV channel Al-Faraeen. The punishment comes following an internal decision by a committee tasked with investigating Okasha on charges of “violating parliament traditions.” Earlier in February, Okasha criticized Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, resulting in his expulsion from the session. This penalty comes after Okasha received Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Haim Koren at his house in Daqahliya. Amid public controversy and outrage from the parliament regarding this practice of “normalization” with Israel, commonly rejected by the Egyptian people, despite ongoing diplomatic ties between the two countries, Okasha was assaulted Sunday inside the parliament by renowned leftist MP Kamal Ahmed. Upon entering the plenary chamber of Egypt’s parliament on Sunday morning, Okasha was struck with a shoe wielded by Ahmed, the oldest member of parliament. The speaker threw both Ahmed and Okasha out of the session. Meanwhile, a Dokki misdemeanor court referred on Sunday MP Akmal Kortam to prosecution on forgery charges ahead of referring the case to a criminal court, with his initial sentence being overturned. Judge Mohamed Nafei ruled that the misdemeanor court lacked jurisdiction in the case, arguing that forgery was a felony, not a misdemeanor. The court’s decision follows a December appeal by Kortam that a one-year jail sentence against him be suspended with a bail of EGP 1,000. Kortam is the CEO of Tahrir newspaper and president of the Conservatives Party. [DNE, Ahram Online, AMAY, AP, Reuters, 2/29/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Parliament resumes discussion of internal regulations chart | DNE


Controversial TV anchorwoman sentenced to 18 months for airing personal photos of guest
A Giza misdemeanors court sentenced TV host Reham Saeed to a year in prison and a fine of EGP 15,000 for violating a woman’s privacy after she aired personal photos without permission on her show. She was sentenced to an additional six months imprisonment and a fine of EGP 10,000 for libel and slander. The court acquitted the legal representative of private TV channel Al-Nahar, on which Saeed’s program was aired. The incident dates back to October 2015 when Saeed interviewed a young woman, Somaya Tarek, on her show and aired personal photos of Tarek which she allegedly stole from Tarek’s phone. Saeed can still appeal both sentences. [Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 2/29/2016]

Egyptian footballer Abou-Treika referred to prosecution for ‘funding terrorist group’
A committee tasked with investigating and appropriating the assets of members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group has referred popular footballer Mohamed Abou-Treika to prosecution for investigation on charges of funding the group. Last May, the committee issued a statement saying it had decided to confiscate the assets of Ashab Tours, a tourism company which was co-founded in 2013 by Abou-Treika and an unnamed member of the Brotherhood. Abou-Treika’s assets were also seized during the process. Abou-Treika, who is known for his religious conservatism and has been regularly accused of Brotherhood affiliation, appealed the decision twice but the appeals were rejected. The committee also referred businessman Safwan Thabet, owner of Juhayna dairy company, to prosecution. Safwan’s assets were seized last August, but Juhayna, the largest dairy company in Egypt, was not affected by the seizure. The prosecution will decide whether or not to take the cases forward. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/28/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Renewal of detention order postponed for detained doctor | DNE
  • Sobki trial postponed to March 5 | DNE, AMAY
  • Several political trials adjourned on technicalities | Mada Masr


Egypt to sign soft loans of $575 million with Japan, South Korea
Egypt will sign three concessional loan agreements with Japan and one with South Korea worth a total of $575 million to finance projects in energy and transportation. The deals come amid President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s third visit to Asia, which began on Friday. The loans will have interest rates of less than one percent and will be repaid over 40 years with a ten-year grace period, Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said. Japan’s lending package includes a $155 million loan to expand Egypt’s Borg al-Arab airport, $210 million to increase the efficiency of electricity distribution companies, and $95 million to construct a power plant in Hurghada. Nasr said Egypt also aimed to negotiate financing for the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. South Korea will lend Egypt $115 million to finance an upgrade of the railway signaling system between the Qena and Luxor governorates in Upper Egypt. On Monday, al-Sisi met with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Shinichi Kitaoka to discuss financing for projects in the education and energy sectors. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/28/2016]

Egypt launches investment scheme to lure expat dollars
Three state-owned Egyptian banks will offer US dollar-denominated certificates to Egyptian expatriates at a minimum subscription price of $100 in an attempt to attract dollar savings, Immigration Minister Nabila Makram Ebeid said Monday. She said the dollar-denominated “Belady” certificates “come to answer the request of Egyptians abroad to use their savings to help their country’s economy.” The National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, Banque Du Caire will offer maturities of one, three and five years, with yields of 3.5 percent, 4.5 percent, and 5.5 percent, respectively. The Central Bank of Egypt will guarantee the right of investors to repatriate the yields they earn in dollars to banks abroad. The certificates will be available starting Tuesday and are being offered at higher yields than typical market equivalents to encourage expatriates to invest. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 2/29/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s CIB says signs deal to sell investment bank to Orascom | Reuters
  • Egypt M2 money supply rises 17.4 percent in January | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues drop to $411.8 million in January | Reuters
  • Egyptian T-bill yields rise, signals possible interest rate hike | Reuters
  • Egypt forms committee to improve ranking in World Bank report | DNE
    Egypt delays oil imports from Libya | Libya Monitor (subscription)
  • Saudi to increase oil supplies to Egypt in new five-year deal | AMAY


Crackdown on researchers, academics continues
Executive director of the Civilization Center for Political Studies and PhD candidate at Cairo University Medhat Maher was arrested last week for alleged links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, his brother Hamdy Maher told Mada Masr on Sunday. Maher, whose research focuses on Islamist movements, had his detention extended by 15 days on Sunday. He was arrested at midnight on February 21 from his home, according to his brother, and accused of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization and the unlawful possession of arms. Meanwhile, the head of Management Board of the Egyptian Democratic Institute Hossam al-Din Ali was prevented from travelling to the United States Saturday and was questioned for three hours over the telephone by a National Security Officer. “For the second time, the regime has imposed a travel ban on me. I was invited by the US state department to attend an international conference to combat corruption through legislations, but authorities informed me that I am subjected to a travel ban,” Hossam said in a written statement published on his official Facebook page. The head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Beni Suef University’s Faculty of Medicine, Sherif Ahmed, has also reportedly been issued a warning by the university’s president, Amin Lotfy, regarding anti-regime statements published by the professor on social media. According to investigations conducted by the university legal committee, Ahmed published statements critical of the president, the army and the police that could undermine the stability of the state and stir public opinion, said Lotfy. In related news, a TV show aired on a state-owned channel was suspended after TV anchor Ayten al-Mogy interviewed Islamic researcher and author Sayed al-Qemany. The head of the channel received a call from the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who strongly disapproved of interview. According to Daily News Egypt, the show was suspended because defended religious minorities and promoted their ideologies, and allowed  Qemany to call on parliament to revoke the contempt of religion law. [Mada Masr, DNE, AMAY, 2/28/2016]

Also of Interest

  • PEN calls for immediate release of Naji and ‘all detained writers and journalists’ | DNE
  • Burgeoning support for Coptic students sentenced to prison | DNE
  • 19-year-old sentenced to death by military courts sends emotional letter to mother | DNE


Seven security personnel killed in attacks in Qalyubiya, Sinai, Giza
Unknown assailants shot dead four policemen on duty in Egypt’s Qalyubiya governorate on Sunday, a security source told state news agency MENA. According to the source, a citizen was also killed when masked assailants opened fire on the policemen, who were raiding a hideout of drug traffickers north of Cairo. Police are currently sweeping the area to catch the assailants and are investigating the incident. In the early hours of Sunday, Police Captain Abdallah Khalil Abdel-Gawad was shot dead in front of his house by unknown masked assailants in the North Sinai town of Al-Arish, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. On Saturday, two conscripts were killed and two others injured when a roadside IED detonated next to their vehicle in North Sinai’s Rafah, a security source told Al-Ahram. Police have not identified suspects in either incident. In a separate incident on Friday, a police officer of the Badrasheen police station was killed in a drive-by shooting in Giza by three unknown assailants. The gunmen opened fire at a police checkpoint stationed at the Badrasheen train station. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, DNE, 2/28/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Damietta-Port Said pipeline attackers arrested says Egypt’s Interior Ministry | Ahram Online
  • Police thwart attacks by ‘terrorist cell’ | DNE


Egypt welcomes House panel’s draft legislation to label Brotherhood ‘terrorist group’
Egypt welcomed on Sunday a move by the US congressional Judiciary Committee to label the Muslim Brotherhood a “foreign terrorist organization.” Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said, “The move shows that the entire world has started realizing Egypt’s point of view.”  The legislation, submitted in late 2015, cites multiple countries who have declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. On Wednesday, a Republican-led House Committee approved the legislation. If passed and made into law, the US would have to deny admittance to non-US citizens who are tied to the Brotherhood. [Ahram Online, 2/28/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to extradite Frenchman to Dominican Republic | AFP, AP
  • Libyan border guards arrest 18 Egyptian fishermen | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • Arab League chief says he will not seek a new term | AMAY, Reuters
  • Egypt to nominate ‘prestigious diplomat’ for Arab League top post | Ahram Online
  • Sisi arrives in Japan, stresses economic, political ties | Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, SIS
  • Sisi stresses on Egypt-Kazakhstan cooperation in development projects | Ahram Online
  • EasyJet to resume flights to Sharm al-Sheikh on May 29 if UK government lifts ban | Ahram Online
  • Egypt migrant departures stir new concern in Europe | Reuters