Top News: Sisi First Egyptian President to Attend Coptic Christmas Mass

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a quick appearance at Cairo’s Abbasseya Cathedral on Tuesday evening, making him the first Egyptian president to attend Christmas Eve mass.


Sisi first Egyptian president to attend Coptic Christmas mass
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a quick appearance at Cairo’s Abbasseya Cathedral on Tuesday evening, making him the first Egyptian president to attend Christmas Eve mass. In a brief speech he gave before leaving, Sisi said that both Egypt’s Muslims and Christians are celebrating this occasion, asserting that they are “one entity” in the world’s eyes. Some parties hailed Sisi’s visit while others were critical. A leading member of the Conference Party praised the visit, saying it shows Sisi is a president for all Egyptians. The Strong Egypt Party criticized the visit, arguing that he was misusing religion for political purposes. In the same vein, April 6 described the visit as an “attempt to beautify Sisi’s tarnished image.”  Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab also visited the Cathedral to meet Pope Tawadros II on Wednesday, delivering a short speech at the cathedral, where he stressed the importance of “national unity” and warned against sectarian “strife.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic) 1/7/2015]

Election commission to declare date for parliamentary polls Thursday
Egypt’s Higher ‎Elections Committee (HEC) will hold a press conference on Thursday to announce details related to the long-anticipated parliamentary elections. HEC spokesman Medhat Idris said in a statement on Tuesday that the conference will take place at 6:30 pm Cairo local time in the State Information Service headquarters. The committee is expected to announce the time-frame of the elections. The HEC has yet to announce the opening date for candidates to apply. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 1/6/2015]


Families of jailed Al Jazeera journalists hopeful that deportation is near
Jailed Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste have reached the final stages in their applications for deportation, according to their families. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Wednesday Australia was engaging daily with the Egyptian government “at the highest level” to bring Greste home. A member of Greste’s Australian legal team said the jailed journalist’s application was “among the first” to petition the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for deportation. He added, however, that his release from prison could still be weeks or months away, as the new presidential power to deport foreign prisoners is tested for the first time. On Tuesday Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also said he is close to reaching a deal with Egypt on deporting Fahmy to Canada. [Mada Masr, DNE, AP, 1/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Six female students arrested after exam in Mansoura University | DNE
  • Minya prosecution investigating church attack that left two policemen dead | EGYNews


Kuwait ranks third among Egypt’s gulf investors
Kuwaiti investments in Egypt rank third among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, preceded by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with a total investment of $1.9 billion, according to a report by Egypt’s General Authority for Investment (GAFI). Kuwaiti investments in Egypt are mostly concentrated in the industrial sector with $644 million, real estate sector totaling $374.3 million, tourism sector with $329.3 million, and banking sector with $247.6 million, respectively. The UAE takes the lead on investments in Egypt among the gulf countries, with a total amount of $4.7 billion, $2.7 billion of which goes to the telecommunications and information technology sector. The UAE owns Etisalat Egypt, one of the country’s three cell-phone service providers. Ranking second is Saudi Arabia, which invests $4 billion in Egypt, mainly focusing on industry, real estate, services and tourism. [Aswat Masriya, 1/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Farmers, traders slam government’s decision to stop cotton subsidy | Egypt Independent
  • World Bank to resume $1 billion loan talks for Egypt’s sanitation project | Zawya


Heavy security at Egypt’s churches ahead of Coptic Christmas
The Egyptian authorities increased security at churches nationwide ahead of January 7, when Coptic Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. Meanwhile, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant congregations in Minya released a statement on Tuesday announcing the cancellation of Wednesday’s Christmas celebrations in solidarity with the families of the two policemen who died earlier on Tuesday morning while protecting a church in Minya. [Ahram Online, 1/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Salafi spokesman denies calls for protests at ministry of endowment | EGYNews (Arabic)
  • Q&A: Ahram Hebdo talks politics, religion with Pope Tawadros II | Ahram Online


Army kills fourteen “terrorists” in past three days – spokesman
Egypt’s armed forces announced in a statement Tuesday that they killed eleven militants during the period from January 3 to 5. Two of them were killed in al-Arish, eight in Sheikh Zuweid, and one in Rafah, according to a statement by the military spokesman. Three more “terrorists” were killed in confrontation with army forces after attempting to “ambush” citizens at the intersection of the ring road with an international road. The statement further read that the armed forces thwarted an attempt to bomb Sheikh Zuweid police station by a suicide bomber and destroyed two smuggling tunnels. The armed forces also announced on Wednesday a raid that led to the arrest of one militant, and the destruction of seven terrorist hotbeds. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic), 1/7/2014]

Also of Interest

  • Two bodies found in North Sinai towns – security sources | Aswat Masriya
  • Officer and conscript wounded in ambush on Qena checkpoint | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Former Kuwait lawmaker detained for tweets critical of Egypt
Kuwaiti authorities detained a former liberal lawmaker overnight for questioning and on Wednesday ordered him held for ten days for tweets criticizing the Arab Gulf country’s ruler and his support for Egypt’s president, a defense lawyer said. Abdullah al-Ahmad said prosecutors began questioning Saleh al-Mullah late Tuesday about tweets he wrote on Monday, when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was in Kuwait for an official visit. Al-Ahmad said his client is being accused of insulting the emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, insulting Egypt’s president and endangering bilateral relations. [AP, AFP, 1/7/2015]

Ten more Egyptians missing in Libya
Ten more Egyptians are missing in Libya near the city of Beni Walid, according to their families in Egypt. Hilal Abdelhamid, a Civil Factions Alliance coordinator from Assiut, sent a letter to Egypt’s ambassador in Libya to call for efforts to search for ten Egyptians who arrived in Libya on December 5. The connection with the group, all of whom are from the town of Sahel Selim in Assiut, was lost on December 25. Relatives of the missing Egyptians said that in the last calls they received from them, they said they had been detained by the Libyan police. [DNE, 1/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt condemns alleged ISIS attack on Saudi border | DNE
  • Egypt asks Qatar to freeze Qaradawi assets | DNE
  • Egypt condemns attacks on satirical French newspaper | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi says Gulf security integral to Egypt’s own | SIS