Top News: Shoukry Pens Open Letter to the ‘People of Mexico;’ Sisi to Receive Mexico’s Foreign Minister

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry addressed the people of Mexico in an open letter to be published in major Mexican newspapers Wednesday regarding the accidental killing of Mexican tourists in Egypt last Sunday. In the letter, Shoukry expressed his condolences and sympathy to the Mexican people. He said that the loss of a family member is “unimaginable,” adding that Egypt can understand the grief the Mexicans are feeling as Egyptians have seen “numerous innocent civilian lives lost due to terrorist violence.” He added that Egypt is “in the process of investigating exactly what happened,” referencing conflicting reports on whether or not the convoy had the necessary permits, if they were in a restricted area, and if their four wheel drive cars “increased the risk of mistaken identification.” He said, “We still do not know if the convoy was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if some error was involved.” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will receive Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu in Cairo, the presidency said in a statement Wednesday. Massieu arrived early on Wednesday in Cairo along with six Mexican diplomats and nineteen family members of the deceased tourists. Massieu also visited some of the injured Mexican tourists in Dar al-Fouad hospital in Giza, after which she called for an “exhaustive” and transparent investigation into the attack. Rasha Azazy, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, has said that the nine injured victims are in stable condition, adding that they were also visited by Minister of Tourism Khaled Ramy. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, meanwhile, announced Tuesday that the survivors would be flown to Mexico on the presidential plane. [Ahram OnlineAFPReuters, 9/16/2015]


Egyptians in Yemen, Syria, and Libya will not vote in parliamentary elections
Egypt’s High Elections Committee (HEC) said on Tuesday that there will not be any electoral polling stations in countries stricken by armed conflicts such as Yemen, Syria, and Libya. Egyptian expatriates that are eligible to vote, are scheduled to cast their votes in the election in two phases: the first round beginning October 17 and 18 while the second will be carried out on November 21 and 22. Additionally, the HEC announced the names of the candidates for parliamentary elections, whose names will appear on lists hung up at the headquarters of the provincial elections commissions for three days. Individual candidates number 5,941 in addition to fourteen electoral lists. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post 9/15/2015]

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Court upholds death sentence for eight alleged Muslim Brotherhood
The Minya Criminal Court upheld Tuesday death sentences in absentia for eight alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters in a case involving violence that occurred in Samalout in Minya, following the dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. In total 119 defendants were brought to court in this trial on multiple charges including “murder and attempted murder”, as well as show of force and “joining a terrorist group.” The court sentenced seventy-seven other defendants to life in prison, while another twenty-nine defendants received prison sentences ranging from ten to fifteen years, and five were acquitted of all charges. In addition, five other defendants were given five years imprisonment. The Tuesday death sentences were issued in August and were confirmed after approval from Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawky Allam. [DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Cairo Post, 9/15/2015]

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EGPC denies rumors of fuel crisis in Egypt
The government has assured it is providing a sufficient amount of fuel, despite emerging complaints of shortages by drivers in some parts of the country. Some drivers have reported shortages in 80 and 92 octane gasoline over the past few days, saying they could not get the two products that are most popular among private cars and taxi drivers. Amr Mostafa, Deputy Executive Chairman for operations at the state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), denied the fuel shortage, attributing the queues to rumors. “People heard rumors [that there was] a fuel crisis, so they rushed to petrol stations to fill their tanks ahead of Eid al-Adha,” Mostafa told Daily News Egypt. He also noted that, as a result of the increase in consumption, the quantities of fuel at stations were affected. Due to the increase of traffic at petrol stations, the EGPC has raised the amount of fuel being pumped daily into petrol stations to 22,000 tonnes. This compares to 18,000 tonnes of fuel pumped daily into stations last year, according to Mostafa. [DNE, AMAY, 9/16/2015]

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Rights organization calls for pardoning activists for Eid al-Adha
In a statement on Monday, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) called on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to pardon activists and peaceful protesters detained on charges of protesting without a permit to coincide with Eid al-Adha. The organization also requested that the law regulating protests be revised so as to comply with the international treaties for human rights and the Egyptian Constitution. EOHR head, Hafez Abu Seada, stressed that the law regulating protests violates the international treaties signed by Egypt, as well as the new Constitution, which guarantees the right to demonstrate. Abu Seada called for the release of young activists who contributed to bringing down a tyrannical corrupt regime in the January 25 revolution. The move would be seen as a means of honoring them, he said. The organization’s statement listed the names of sixty-four detained activists, including Mahinour al-Masry, Ahmed Douma, Mohamed Adel, Hassan Mostafa and April 6 Youth Movement leader Ahmed Maher. [Egypt Independent, 9/15/2015]

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Egypt says killed fifty-five militants in Sinai, two soldiers killed
Fifty-five militants and two soldiers and were killed on September 15 in an ongoing joint security operation focused on the cities of al-Arish, Rafah, and Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai. The information comes from a statement by the official Army Spokesman that also added that twelve soldiers were injured in clashes between security forces and militants, and that thirty-five suspects were arrested following the clashes. This is the ninth consecutive day of the Martyr’s Right operation. [Aswat Masriya, Reuters, 9/16/2015]


Libyan authorities deny Egyptians kidnapped in Sirte
Reports that twelve Egyptians were kidnapped in Libya by Islamist militants remain unconfirmed by both the Libyan authorities and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. The date of the alleged kidnappings also remains unknown, although initial reports that they had taken place surfaced earlier this week. However, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry source told Daily News Egypt Wednesday that Libyan authorities denied the reports of the kidnappings that appeared in local Libyan media. The source added that, due to the withdrawal of Egyptian diplomats from areas under the control of militants affiliated to “Islamic State” (ISIS or ISIL) in North Libya, the reports could not be confirmed. Libyan news website al-Wasat first reported on Sunday that the ISIS branch in the Libyan city of Sirte had kidnapped twelve Egyptian workers who were on their way home, attributing the news to eyewitnesses. [DNE, 9/16/2015]

China reportedly trying to undercut Germany on submarine offer to Egypt
China is reportedly trying to sell two submarines to Egypt that are cheaper than vessels on offer from Germany. According to Reuters, an Egyptian military source said China had offered to sell submarines to Cairo. “We are studying it, but it is not an easy decision,” said the source, who declined to give details or be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media. An Egyptian military spokesman said he “had no official details” on the issue. China’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Two industry sources familiar with the matter said Cairo wanted two more submarines after ordering an initial two from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany in 2011 that are set to be delivered in 2017. TKMS has been in talks with Egypt for the additional two, they said. While TKMS declined to comment, Germany’s Economy Ministry said it had authorized the construction of the two additional submarines for Egypt. [Reuters, 9/16/2015]

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