Top News: Sisi Addresses UNGA, Calls For Strategy to Fight Extremism

In his speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on world leaders to unite in the fight against terrorism. “How many Muslims must fall victim to this abominable extremism and odious terrorism to convince the world that all of us, Muslims and non-Muslims alike are fighting the same enemy, facing the same threat,” asked Sisi, calling Egypt the world’s “first line of defense.” He also emphasized the need to focus on youth in order to combat extremism to “keep them from drifting towards radical interpretations of Islam,” and announced an initiative entitled “Hope and Action for a New Direction” in coordination with the UN to fight extremism among youths. Sisi also reviewed Egypt’s role in several regional conflicts, including Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Palestine. He called for the building of a new “democratic Syria,” but said that Syria’s state structure must remain intact. He also highlighted the fact that “Egypt is hosting an increasing number of refugees.” Dozens of Egyptians protested in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York ahead of the speech, both in support of and in opposition to Sisi. Sisi also held separate meetings with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi, French President Francois Hollande, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on the sidelines of UNGA to discuss bilateral relations with the respective heads of state. Meanwhile, prior to his UNGA speech, in an interview with CNN on Monday, Sisi said that Egypt enjoys more extensive freedom of expression than ever before, saying that no one in Egypt under his presidency has been prosecuted for expressing their views. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, 9/29/2015]


Campaigning begins for parliamentary elections
Campaigning kicked off on Tuesday for Egypt’s parliamentary elections and will continue for seventeen days, according to High Elections Committee (HEC) Spokesperson Omar Marawan. He added that there will be a “silent day” on October 16 prior to the first phase of elections on October 17 and 18. In the case of a runoff, he said voting abroad would take place on October 26 and 27 and voting in Egypt would take place on October 27 and 28. Marawan said a specialized HEC subcommittee has been ‎formed to oversee the campaigns and ensure that they comply with the rules. ‎“Offenders will face financial penalties ranging from ‎EGP 10,000 to EGP 100,000,” and could be eliminated from the candidate list, he said. Each candidate is permitted to spend a maximum of EGP 500,000 on campaigning and an additional EGP 200,000 if they qualify for runoff elections. Candidates are obligated to open accounts in one of two state owned banks – the National Bank of Egypt or Banque Misr – and with Egypt Post Office to deposit campaign funds and donations to which the HEC will have access. Meanwhile, on Monday, Egypt’s Administrative Court rejected a lawsuit filed by steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz challenging his exclusion from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The Administrative Court’s rulings are binding and cannot be reversed. [Ahram Online, AMAYAswat Masriya, SIS, 9/29/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Leftist parties divided over election list boycott | AMAY
  • Sameh Ashour to contest Lawyers’ Syndicate head position | AMAY
  • Sisi says this year witnesses parliamentary elections to achieve people’s aspirations | SIS


Court to hear lawyers’ claims again in SPAP members’ retrial
A court will again hear lawyers’ claims in the trial against the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP) members accused of protesting illegally during a January 24 rally that was violently dispersed by security forces, resulting in the death of activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh. According to SPAP lawyer Ali Soliman, annual administrative changes in the judiciary were behind the retrial, since the prosecution appealed the initial acquittal verdict. “Now that new judges have been assigned to the case, defense lawyers will present their arguments before the court,” he told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday. Soliman noted that no new evidence against the defendants was presented that no date has been set for the trial session. The court had previously acquitted the seventeen SPAP members of all charges on May 23, stating that their small scale rally could not be categorized as a protest due to an attendance of less than thirty people. It also added that the attendees did not have political demands, so the there was no violation of the Protest Law. [DNE, 9/29/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt court won’t hear Turkey, Qatar ‘terror’ case | World Bulletin
  • Sisi says he cannot pardon all detained journalists out of respect for judiciary | AMAY


Currency woes hinder Egypt’s economy
Egypt’s war against its foreign currency black market may have successfully dampened the illicit trade in dollars, but it has left many businesses struggling and is being blamed for contributing to the country’s economic slowdown. Small and medium-sized business owners complain that they are being strangled by a shortage of dollars and are unable to fund imports, while analysts say big companies are deferring expansion plans because of difficulties accessing foreign currency. Egypt’s central bank (CBE) has since been battling to slow the currency’s slide, and its measures have been partially effective. Although there is still a parallel market, it has been greatly reduced. Mohamed Abu Basha, an economist at EFG Hermes, acknowledged that “most big and priority list companies” were still able to access currency through the banks. But he added that the policy is “a constraint on new investment and businesses outside the priority list” and is one of the reasons behind a slowdown in growth. CBE Governor Hisham Ramez has said that the foreign currency crunch is mainly the result of one-off commitments and that there will be less pressure in 2016. [FT, 9/29/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt issues gasoline cards for registered fishing vessels | DNE
  • Egypt’s private sector acquires 61.9 percent of commercial credit facilities | DNE
  • Moody’s says Eni gas find ‘credit positive’ for Egypt | Cairo Post
  • Kellogg’s acquires Egypt’s leading cereal maker | Ahram Online
  • Egypt completes eight pipeline projects to transfer natural gas | Al Mal (Arabic)
  • Al-Manar Group invests EGP 50 million in brake fluids factory | DNE
  • Zaazou follows up on tourism woes in Luxor visit says Ministry official | DNE
  • GB Auto, Ministry of Industry discuss local component percentage in tuk-tuks, motorcycles | DNE
  • Tripartite meetings on Renaissance Dam to resume following withdrawal of Dutch firm | Ahram Online
  • Vegetables prices increase significantly | AMAY
  • Sixty percent of Egyptian businessman prefer to pay bribes instead of investing elsewhere says survey | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, stronger on parallel market | Reuters
  • Minister of Finance says introduction of VAT to happen before end of the year | Shorouk (Arabic)


Verbal, physical sexual harassment incidents number 447 during Eid, says report
In a final report by the anti-sexual harassment initiative I Saw Harassment, 447 cases of sexual harassment were documented during Eid Al-Adha celebrations. The report includes two incidents involving security personnel sexually harassing women during the celebrations. “In both cases, the security men committed verbal harassment, and our team members spoke to them regarding their behavior in an attempt to increase their awareness,” said the official coordinator for the group Fathi Farid. Farid explained that it was not within the initiative’s tasks to take further measures against harassers, except for providing assistance to victims who wish to report incidents. [DNE, Egypt Independent, 9/28/2015]

EGP 9.3 billion allocated to developing education
Egypt’s Ministry of Planning announced it will allocate approximately EGP 4.1 billion to develop pre-university education and EGP 5.2 billion to develop university education for the current 2015-2016 fiscal year, for a total of EGP 9.3 billion. Another EGP 449.8 million has been allocated to develop basic education schools, while EGP 270 million will be used for the development of secondary schools. The plan includes the development of 550 educational facilities, which will involve the building of a fire warning system. Developing the technological capabilities for primary, preparatory and secondary schools is also a priority. According to the ministry’s report, another EGP 1.4 billion has been allocated for vocational education. [AMAY, 9/29/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Authors claim Al-Azhar, government banned book uncovering institutional violations | DNE
  • Israel tops countries deemed hostile by Egypt’s public according to survey | Egypt Independent
  • Twenty-three years and millions of dollars later, will the Grand Egyptian Museum ever open? | Al Monitor


Academic year postponed in Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah amid security concerns
The upcoming academic year has been postponed until October 10 in the North Sinai towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, according to a report issued by the North Sinai governorate. While the stated reason for the postponement is ongoing maintenance work in the schools, the decision comes after Sheikhs from local Bedouin tribes in Sheikh Zuweid met with governorate officials, asking them to postpone the academic year’s commencement due to the lack of security in the region. The military recently concluded the first stage of a wide-scale military operation targeting areas in North Sinai, particularly around the areas of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid. [DNE, 9/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Tunnel destruction will hasten reconciliation, in coordination with Abbas says Palestine expert | DNE
  • Conscript killed, officer injured in Giza’s Badrasheen | Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY


Spokesperson says Sisi’s statements to AP about Israel-Arab peace agreement mistranslated
Egypt’s Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said on Monday that the translation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s interview with the Associated Press that is being circulated in the Arab media is “inaccurate.” Sisi was cited by the Associated Press as saying that the peace between Egypt and Israel should include other Arab states. Arab media quoted Sisi as calling for the expansion of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel to include other Arab countries. Youssef told reporters that Sisi spoke about a comprehensive peace and its positive effect on all people in the region and on ties between Arab states and Israel. Youssef said Sisi stressed that “this cannot be achieved without solving the Palestinian issue and declaring a Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as it capital.” Youssef’s comments come after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Sisi’s call “to expand peace with Israel.” [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya 9/28/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Pope Tawadros, al-Sisi take measures to consolidate ties with Ethiopia | DNE
  • Shoukry assures Mexico of coordination on investigations into tourists’ deaths | DNE
  • Death toll for Egyptian pilgrims rises to seventy-four | AMAY
  • British archaeologist aims to pinpoint Nefertiti’s tomb | AFP
  • Sisi, Al-Azhar participate in Summit on countering ISIS, extremism | Cairo Post