Top News: Russian Airliner Crashes in Central Sinai Killing 224

A Russian commercial airplane crashed on Saturday in Central Sinai killing all 224 passengers and crew members onboard. An Airbus A321, operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was carrying 217 passengers and seven crew members from the Egyptian resort city of Sharm al-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia on Saturday morning when it disappeared from the radar 23 minutes after take-off at an altitude of 31,000 feet. Following the crash, contradictory reports have emerged as to its cause and the details surrounding the event, but officials have stated that the plane’s black boxes have been recovered and will be examined by both Egyptian and Russian authorities. Alexander Smirnov, the Director of Flights at Kogalymavia charter airline said in a statement that the plane could only have broken up mid-air due to “external” factors, and that this type of crash could not have resulted from technical failure or human error. The Egyptian and Russian governments have called for a comprehensive and cooperative investigation into the cause of the crash, and specialists from both countries will work in tandem to discover the cause of the crash. Meanwhile, Sinai State, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliated terrorist group in the Sinai claimed responsibility for the downing of the aircraft in a statement. The statement has been refuted by both Egyptian and Russian government officials citing a lack of evidence supporting the claims, and calling for the public to not rush to hasty conclusions, and wait for the official investigation to conclude. [Ahram Online, DNE, The Guardian 11/2/2015]   

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  • Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to hold hearing on Egypt’s human rights Tuesday | TLHRC


Turnout in first stage election runoffs 21.7 percent; Campaigning for second phase starts Tuesday
Campaigning for the second phase of parliamentary elections will start on Tuesday Spokesman for the High Elections Committee (HEC) Omar Marwan said. Campaigning will begin after the final list of candidates taking part in the second phase is announced. The HEC said that the names would also be announced on Tuesday. Elections for the second stage will be held for Egyptians abroad on November 21, 22, while voters in Egypt will go to the polls on November 22, 23. On Friday, HEC head Ayman Abbas said that turnout in the run-offs of the first stage was 21.7 percent. “The highest turnout among the fourteen governorates in this round was Matrouh with a turnout of 33.45 percent, while the lowest was Alexandria with a turnout of 14.83 percent,” Abbas added.  [SIS, Ahram Online, AP/AFP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 11/2/2015]

Sisi criticizes media for Alexandria floods coverage
In a lengthy televised address on Sunday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi criticized media coverage of the deadly floods in Alexandria and observed a minute’s silence for the victims of Saturday’s Russian plane crash in Sinai. On media coverage of the Alexandria floods that killed five, he said, “One journalist reported that the president is sitting with officials from the Siemens Company while abandoning Alexandria. Such talk is inappropriate. This is inappropriate,” Sisi said. Frowning and waving his hands, he continued: “What is this? This is overstepping all boundaries … By God this is not appropriate. We mustn’t do this to each other.” Addressing journalists he asked: “Are you tormenting me because I am standing here?” He continued: “I feel the people are neither conscious nor knowledgeable, nor anything at all. All they do is hold a microphone, or write in a newspaper. No. No, we will lose the state if this continues.” Sisi argued that the media reports ailments and crises in every sector, asking, “Does not this sector suffer from a crisis too? Or what?” Sisi went on: “You’ve been hearing me talk for the past two years. Tell me of one incident when I used inappropriate language regarding anybody, even those who transgress against us, or who plot against us. Take note of this.” Raising his finger he said, “I am not trying to justify this,” before going on to explain that the crisis in Alexandria is the result of poor planning and infrastructure from informal housing both before and after the 2011 revolution. He claimed the floods were dealt with swiftly, “within a matter of two days.” [AMAY, Mada Masr, DNE, SIS, 11/1/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Government to disburse 10 percent bonus to public business sector workers, excludes protesting workers | Egypt Independent


Journalists referred to court for ‘obscene sexual content’
Egyptian prosecution has referred two journalists to criminal court for publishing a “sexual flagrant article” in state-owned cultural newspaper Akhbar al-Adab last year. The decision caused an outcry among intellectuals who consider it a violation of freedom of expression. Writer and journalist Ahmed Naji and Akhbar al-Adab Editor-in-Chief Tarek al-Taher will be tried on November 14 for public indecency and for publishing a “flagrant erotic article in which the charged writer published a text that spewed sexual lust and transient pleasures, using his mind and pen to violate public decency and good morals, inciting promiscuity,” according to the prosecution’s memo to the court. According to Naji, the prosecution is insisting that the published text is an article and not a chapter from his novel, Using Life, thus they believe that the actions of the protagonist took place in real life and that the excerpt was a kind of confession published under his name. Naji asserted in a Facebook statement on Sunday that the text is a work of fiction and should be treated as such. He also said Sunday that the decision does not surprise him given the permanent “hostility” that prosecutors display towards the press. Naji’s lawyer has said he faces up to two years in jail and a fine up to 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,245) if proven guilty. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Mada Masr, 11/2/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Alleged harasser released on EGP 100 bail, as anger mounts against TV host | Aswat Masriya


Sisi says Egypt’s natural gas crisis will end this month
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised on Sunday that the country’s natural gas shortage will end this month. Egyptian factories that rely heavily on gas to generate power have been struggling due to a shortage of gas supplies, leading some factories to halt production. “I promise all the investors that operate their factories with natural gas that they will not face any more shortages by the end of November,” Sisi said. Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said earlier on Sunday that production at steel firms had been almost halted for the past four months due to gas shortages, but said that they had resumed production last week. On Friday Germany’s Siemens said it could win an expansion of its record $8.8 billion power deal with Egypt. Sisi also promised a drop in the price of basic commodities and said that the armed forces and the state will work to provide goods at lower prices. Meanwhile, on Monday Egypt’s Finance Ministry said the country’s budget deficit dropped to 11.5 percent from 12.2 percent of gross domestic product in fiscal year 2014/2015. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 11/1/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Ethiopia seeks to sign trade agreements with Egypt | DNE


Ministry of Health bans photography in public hospitals
Recently appointed Minister of Health Ahmed Emad al-Din has said photography in public hospitals has been banned in a bid to prevent negative images of hospitals’ status. He did not state whether the ban extends to journalists as well. The decision was made Wednesday and circulated among local news websites on Saturday. According to Mahmoud Fouad, Director of the civil rights group, Right to Medicine, it was more of a recommendation to all health ministry workers. “The decision is another form of corruption since it aims to hide deficiencies of health care facilities, which have become mass graves,” he said. “Images are supposed to help the ministry make decisions about development actions inside those facilities, but apparently the minister does not want to be disturbed.” According to Fouad, the decision is not legally binding and is just an internal decision. [DNE, 11/1/2015]

Egypt bars scores of Egyptians from traveling says Human Rights Watch
Egypt has unlawfully prevented “scores” of people from leaving the country over the past year, US based-Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a new report released Sunday. Those blocked from leaving the country include “leaders and members of political parties, youth activists, people associated with non-governmental groups,” and a former aide to ousted President Mohammed Morsi, the group said. HRW documented at least thirty-two cases in which “airport security officers confiscated the passport of political activists and workers in nongovernmental groups.” “The majority have not been able to get their passports back,” HRW said in its report, criticizing the ” restrictive and intimidating measures” that Egyptian security agencies are using to “unlawfully” prevent “scores from travelling outside” Egypt. Egypt’s interior ministry declined immediate comment, according to a Reuters report. [DNE, Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 11/1/2015]

Muslim Brotherhood, April 6, Revolutionary Socialists banned from student union elections
The Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education will start accepting Monday candidacy applications for student union elections after announcing the exclusion of students belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 Youth Movement, and the Revolutionary Socialists. A preliminary list of candidates will be announced on Thursday, with a final list after appeals are settled due to be publicized on November 10. Campaigning will take place from November 11-15 and election day will be on November 16. The student union elections come after a two-year hiatus, the last elections being held in 2013. [Aswat Masriya, 11/2/2015]

Mahallah workers end strike after written guarantee of demands
Workers at Mahallah’s Misr Spinning and Weaving Company ended an eleven day strike Sunday following a written guarantee that they will be granted the 10 percent social allowance promised by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to be given retroactively starting July.  Operations have been “restored fully across all departments,” state-run news agency MENA reported. The company says that the strike has led to losses amounting to at least EGP 25 million. In an official written decision, Egypt’s Investment Minister approved the allowance, retroactively, starting July as promised by Sisi in a September decree. [Aswat Masriya, 11/1/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Egypt’s CAMI bans Zamalek’s Mortada Mansour from appearing on screen | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s State TV to sue MBC’s satirical show | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • Apartment building collapses in Egypt’s Alexandria, second in days | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Building collapses in Egypt’s Giza, no deaths or injuries | Ahram Online
  • EGP 100 allocated for individuals affected in Faisal building collapse | DNE
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  • Internet freedom in Egypt under scrutiny | DNE
  • Intellectuals to denounce blasphemy laws at conference Wednesday | AMAY
  • Anti-sexual harassment initiative to train Uber drivers in new partnership | Mada Masr


Almost 12,000 people arrested for terrorism in 2015 says Interior Ministry
The Interior Ministry disclosed Thursday that 11,877 people have been arrested on terrorism-related charges since the beginning of 2015. Kamal al-Daly, the Deputy Minister for General Security, announced this figure during an interview with the state-owned Al-Akhbar newspaper. He did not indicate how many of these people have been referred to trial, release, or kept in jail pending investigations, but did note that they were all arrested in connection with 171 separate terrorism-related cases. According to Daily News Egypt tallies, at least 418 people were arrested in October on charges of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, according to interior ministry reports. Out of the 418 arrested, 248 were arrested on suspicion of being middle-ranking Brotherhood members, while the remaining 170 were arrested on charges of belonging to specialized committees. [Mada Masr, DNE, 10/31/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Inmate dies in Tora Prison | DNE
  • Three Egyptian security personnel injured during Islamist protest in Sharqiya | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Four police officers, three civilians killed in North Sinai Friday | DNE