Top News: Sisi to Meet Obama in New York; Egypt Amends Foreign Funding Law


US President Barack Obama will hold his first official meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week.


Egypt amends foreign funding law to include life sentence
Egypt has amended a law regulating foreign funding, adding more restrictions and putting harsher punishments in place. The amended law – Article 78 of the penal code – now states that offenders who receive foreign or local funding or items to commit acts against the state’s interests, “shall be punished by life imprisonment and a fine no less than EGP500,000 and no more than what he has been given or promised.” This punishment could be raised to execution if the perpetrator is a public servant or holds a public representative status, or “if he committed the crime at wartime or for the purpose of terrorism.” Previously, offenders were punished with “strict imprisonment” and a fine of at least EGP1,000, and the higher-level punishment was “life imprisonment” and a minimum of EGP500,000 fine. Also, unlike the original text, the amendment lists in more detail the sources of funding and the punishable purposes it could be used for. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 9/23/2014]

Also of Interest:
National Council for Disability Affairs to be supervised by social solidarity ministry | Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic)
Al-Ahram youth political participation conference begins | Ahram (Arabic)
Nour Party says Sisi’s US visit chance to restore US-Egypt relations | EGYNews (Arabic)


Same sex marriage video trial postponed to September 27
The Qasr al-Nil Court postponed on Tuesday the same-sex marriage video trial to September 27. It is the first trial session for the controversial case since Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat ordered the defendants to be sent to court for charges of “violating the teachings of religion and public morals.” The men, who featured in a video showing two males celebrating their marriage on a boat, are accused of “inciting debauchery.” The men have been detained since early September. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, 9/23/2014]

Egyptian judges uphold forced retirement for Morsi-era top prosecutor
The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is sending former Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah into forced retirement along with seven judges allegedly affiliated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, the state-owned news site EgyNews reported on Monday. Abdallah, who served in ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s administration, faces accusations of planting surveillance devices in the prosecutor’s office to spy on current Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat after he was removed from his position following Morsi’s fall. The Judges Disciplinary Board had initially issued the ruling on June 28 before Abdallah and the seven members of the ‘Judges for Egypt’ Movement appealed the decision. However, the board refused their appeal on Monday. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 9/22/2014]

Egypt courts suspends Douma trial, postpones Soltan trial
An Egyptian criminal court suspended on Tuesday the trial of dozens of defendants, including prominent hunger-striking activist, Ahmed Douma, over 2011 violence-related charges until a request to refer the case to a different bench is settled. The court also ordered the minister of interior and his deputy for the prison sector not to transfer Douma anywhere, including hospital, without the court’s permission. A Cairo court also adjourned the case of hunger striking detainee Mohamed Soltan on Tuesday to October 11, his relative and solidarity campaign said. In an email to Mada Masr, Habiba Shebata, a member of Soltan’s solidarity campaign, said that he was found unconscious in his cell, profusely bleeding from his mouth. He was then moved to the prison hospital and put on an IV. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 9/23/2014]

Egypt: Tax amendments require factories to repay gas consumption
The ministry of finance made amendments to various provisions of the Stamp Tax Law, which requires industrial companies to pay stamp taxes for natural gas consumptions directly to the relevant tax authorities during the first ten days of the next month, rather than repaying gas companies, said Minister of Finance Hany Kadry Dimian. [DNE, 9/22/2014]

Also of Interest:
Mahlab receives president of Maersk International to discuss investment in Suez Canal project | Ahram (Arabic)
Negotiations with OPEC to build power plants | Egypt Independent
Electricity networks to be built around Cairo in October | Ahram (Arabic)
Coalition of NGOs rejects government plans to apply VAT | DNE
New mining law violates constitution: Federation of Industries | DNE


NCHR orders investigation into security forces assault on Minya’s Copts
The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) ordered an investigation on Monday into the Jabal al-Tair incident in Minya where police stormed into Copts’ properties and attacked them. The Free Egyptians Party called on Monday for an “urgent and transparent” investigation into the incident. Last week, twenty-two people were detained for rioting. Christians were protesting to call for the return of a kidnapped Christian woman who has been missing for more than a week, demanding that the police locate her. Her husband had filed a report on her kidnap, but nothing had been done, according to Nader Solaiman, founder of the Christian Youth movement. Meanwhile, a Minya court released twelve of the twenty-two detainees on EGP5,000 bail each. [DNE, 9/23/2014]

Also of Interest:
EIPR calls for dialogue between Egypt, ‘competing social forces’ | DNE
Controversial TV host Moussa to be questioned over attacking 2011 revolt | Ahram Online
Journalists’ Syndicate bans activist Alaa Abdel Fattah from entry | Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic)
Yosri Fouda won’t renew contract with ONtv | Mada Masr
Egypt’s NGOs continue struggle with restrictive draft law | Ahram Online


Seven Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis members killed in North Sinai

Security forces killed Monday seven members of Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis south of North Sinai’s city of Sheikh Zuweid. The forces raided al-Nusraneya area of Sheikh Zuweid, where they clashed with the “extremists,” army sources told Aswat Masriya, adding that the men were in possession of firearms and hand grenades. [Aswat Masriya, 9/22/2014]

Also of Interest:
Work resumes at foreign ministry a day after explosion | Egypt Independent
Classes resume at schools in Bulaq blast vicinity | Egypt Independent


Sisi to meet Obama in New York, backs global campaign against ISIS
US President Barack Obama will hold his first official meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week. Obama will meet Sisi on Thursday in New York, where the United Nations General Assembly is taking place, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. Sisi delivered his first speech on Tuesday at the UN Climate Summit, in which he said the world, especially African and Arab states are in dire need of reaching an agreement that addresses the repercussions of climate change. On Monday, Sisi met with former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, former president Bill Clinton and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. During the meetings Sisi discussed the current regional situation, Egypt’s role in the Gaza ceasefire talks, Egypt’s support for the legitimate government institutions in Libya and Iraq, as well as the danger of terrorism in the region. He also met with a group of businessmen of the American Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU). In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he pledged his support for the US war against the Islamic State in Syria and al-Sham (ISIS) militants, but called on Obama to widen his campaign against extremism well beyond Iraq and Syria. [Ahram Online, AFP, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), SIS, 9/23/2014]

Egypt calls on Turkey and Qatar to attend Gaza conference in Cairo
With Egypt and Norway convening a conference on October 12 to discuss the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Egypt has called on Turkey and Qatar to take part. The ministry of foreign affairs extended invitations to all Arab nations to participate, with the exception of Syria. Meanwhile, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdel Atty, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will hold a meeting with his Turkish counterpart on the sidelines of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly. Abdel Aaty said that the meeting came upon the request of the Turkish foreign minister. [Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 9/23/2014]

Also of Interest:
Palestinian reconciliation talks begin in Egypt | AP, Reuters, SIS, DNE
Shoukry discusses independent Palestinian state at the UN | DNE
Egypt to become stronger after the UN meeting, says Shoukry | Ahram (Arabic)
Ethiopia hands Egypt safety studies of main dam: Ministry of water resources | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS
Egypt joins Arab-African meeting in New York | SIS, Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
Egypt’s Ambassador, Bosnian FM discuss cooperation | SIS
Egypt’s border with Libya, Sudan ripe for Islamic State expansion | Al Monitor