Top News: Sisi Moves on Banning Foreign Publications Offensive to Religion

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree giving Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab the power to ban any foreign publication offensive to religion. Issued in the official State Journal on Tuesday, the presidential decree delegated the prime minister the president’s powers stipulated in a law regulating the publishing of printed media in Egypt.


Sisi moves on banning foreign publications offensive to religion
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree giving Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab the power to ban any foreign publication offensive to religion. Issued in the official State Journal on Tuesday, the presidential decree delegated the prime minister the president’s powers stipulated in a law regulating the publishing of printed media in Egypt.  The law says, “To maintain order in society, publications issued abroad can be banned in Egypt by an order from the cabinet to ban its republication and dissemination in the country.” The law also stipulates, “The cabinet has the right to ban publications offensive to religion or publications promoting erotica in a way that can disturb the public peace.” Meanwhile, Al-Azhar has called on Muslims to “ignore the nasty frivolity” of Charlie Hebdo’s latest edition, which has a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover. [Ahram Online, 1/14/2015]

Sisi says he will not create political party, rejects proposal to amend protest law
During a meeting with political party leaders in Egypt for a second consecutive day, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi announced he would not found a new political party to represent him. Sisi said his decision was out of fear of causing “polarization” at a “critical” time in Egypt. During the meeting, Sisi also rejected proposals to amend some laws, including the protest law and fuel subsidy law. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/14/2015]

Construction and Development Party to boycott parliamentary elections
The Islamist Construction and Development Party, al-Jama’a al-Islamiya’s political wing, has decided to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to a source in the party. The party argued that there are no adequate guarantees for fair, transparent elections. During a closed meeting on Tuesday, the party also decided it will not withdraw from the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL). Meanwhile, in a phone call to ON TV program, Tagammu party member said uniting parties under one list will prevent Islamists from winning seats in parliament. [Shorouk (Arabic), 1/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi didn’t question religious foundations: Nour Party leader | Ahram Online



Foreign ministry says Sisi may pardon Al Jazeera journalists when appropriate
Speaking to journalists in Kenya, Egyptian Foreign Minister SamehShoukry announced, “It’s still possible for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to issue a pardon for the imprisoned Al Jazeera English journalists, if deemed appropriate.” Asked about a presidential pardon, Shoukry said, “All avenues are on the agenda in the context of the president’s constitutional and legal rights.” He concluded, however, that for now, the fate of the three journalists depends on the outcome of their retrial. Meanwhile, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is in Egypt on a two-day trip to meet political and religious leaders, including Sisi. The Foreign Minister said before his trip: “While I’m [in Egypt], I’ll certainly take the opportunity as I have in the past, to raise Mr. Fahmy’s case.” [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/14/2015]

Egypt to pardon some prisoners on January 25
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has issued a decree to pardon some prisoners on the anniversary of the January 25 uprising. The decree applies to those serving life sentences whose jail time will have reached fifteen years on January 25, 2015. It also applies to those who had received prison sentences – of at least six months – if half of their sentence has been served by January 25.   The decree does not apply to those imprisoned for certain crimes including: felonies and misdemeanors that harm the government internally or externally, explosives, bribes, forgery, obstructing traffic, weapons and ammunition, drugs, and illegal profiting. Security authorities will form a committee to select a group that could be pardoned, but it remains unclear what exactly fall under the label “harmful to government security.” [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/13/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Muslim Brotherhood defense lawyer requests merging two trials | DNE
  • Police officer sentenced to three years for accepting bribe | Shorouk(Arabic)
  • Court acquits twenty-one Brotherhood loyalists in Upper Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Four Muslim Brotherhood supporters sentenced to maximum security prison, fifty-three others acquitted  |Aswat Masriya



Major British trade delegation visits Egypt
British companies are paying one of the most high-profile visits to Egypt by a Western trade delegation since the 2011 uprising. The delegation is seeking assurances that Egypt will eliminate complex investment laws and stamps of approval required from dozens of government agencies. Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said he is optimistic a draft investment law will be implemented in March, creating a one-stop shop. Some of the more than forty British companies expressed cautious optimism. “If the legislation is indeed a one-stop shop as has been suggested, that would greatly improve the ease of doing business,” said Mark Lipton, managing director of British security firm G4S in Egypt. [Reuters, 1/13/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Petroleum minister says gas import from Israel possible | Egypt Independent, Reuters
  • Egyptian pound steady on official market, weakens on black market | Reuters
  • Egypt bourse gains 2.5 percent as trading in ETFs begins | Ahram Online
  • Egypt central bank seen keeping rates steady this month | Reuters



State confiscates medical charity associations for alleged Brotherhood affiliation
A committee established to assess the funds of the banned Muslim Brotherhood ordered on Wednesday the confiscation of two medical charity associations for their alleged affiliation to the group. The committee ordered the confiscation of all the assets of the Islamic Medical Association and its twenty-eight nationwide branches and the Raba’a al-Adaweya medical association. It also sacked the associations’ boards of directors and appointed new boards, headed by former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. The committee noted in its statement that the new boards will not “cause any harm to the association’s employees.” It added that it will continue to provide patients with health services “of the same, if not of better, efficiency.” [Aswat Masriya, 1/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Al-Ahram magazine dedicates issue to ‘angry Egyptian youth’|  Ahram Online
  • Power cuts expected on Tuesday | Egypt Independent
  • Mahalla textile workers’ strike enters second day | DNE
  • HRW hails acquittal of bathhouse defendants | Mada Masr
  • Children rights group dismisses government count of street children | Egypt Independent



Militants killed in aftermath of kidnapped soldier’s death, says military
Security forces killed early Wednesday seven “terrorists” in North Sinai, including five who are complicit in the abduction and murder of an officer, the armed forces spokesman said. According to a statement, the military killed the militants in the area where the policeman was kidnapped, and were in possession of explosive belts, grenades and a number of vehicles. Security forces also destroyed twenty-four “terrorist meeting points” during their Wednesday raids, the spokesman added. [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 1/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Panic in Sinai as five mysteriously killed | Egypt Independent
  • Unidentified assailants shoot teacher in North Sinai | Aswat Masriya
  • Three Muslim Brotherhood members arrested in North Sinai for inciting violence | EGYNews (Arabic)


Washington welcomes bathhouse acquittals
Washington has welcomed the acquittal of twenty-six men accused in December of committing actions of “debauchery” inside a popular bathhouse in Cairo, but has expressed concern over whether the law would ensure protection of human rights in the future. “We welcome the court’s decision that brought this case to a just conclusion; obviously continue to stress the importance of protecting the human rights of all Egyptians,” US State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, said during the daily press briefing on Monday. “Clearly, we have ongoing concerns about the space for people in Egypt, whether it’s to express themselves freely in terms of freedom of speech – for journalists, we’ve talked about a lot in this room – but sort of across the board. Obviously, protecting human rights is something we care very much about and do have ongoing concerns,” she said. [Egypt Independent, 1/13/2015]

Sisi to visit UAE Sunday
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi plans to visit the United Arab Emirates Sunday on a two-day trip to attend the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and to meet UAE officials. The presidency issued a statement on Wednesday describing Sisi’s first visit to the UAE since his election as “a chance [for Egypt] to show its appreciation to UAE’s support to Egypt … since the June 30 revolution.” The presidential statement also highlighted the importance of the WFES held by the Gulf Country, expressing Egypt’s interest in alternative forms of energy including solar energy as a crucial means for development. [Ahram Online, 1/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Japanese Prime Minister visits Egypt next Friday | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt Foreign Minister meets Kenyan vice president | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi to meet Abbas to discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict | DNE
  • Foreign Minister to meet with Moroccan counterpart Thursday | Shorouk (Arabic)