Legal & Political Institutions
Egypt’s Salafist Al Nour party will not be joining any political alliance in anticipation of parliamentary elections, according to party leader Younes Makhioun. In his statement to Asharq Al-Aswat, Makhioun stated that the Al Nour party is one of the most powerful parties in Egypt, and that discussion “about it being isolated by the [electoral] alliances is a slur” on the party. Makhioun also “dismissed claims that the Salafist Nour party is unconstitutional,” arguing that the party is not based in religion, and is intended “for all Egyptians.” [Asharq Al-Aswat] Read More…
The Egyptian stock market rose at 1 percent on Thursday primarily due to the Commercial International Bank, which posted profits of a 4.7 percent increase. Additionally, the largest listed lender “reported a 39 percent increase in second-quarter profit last week,” successfully beating the estimates of analysts and pushing up the stock market. Stock in the developer Heliopolis Housing also increased by 4.2 percent, following their publicized report of a 35.7 percent increase in net profit for its fiscal year. [Reuters: Business Recorder] Read More…
Rights & Freedoms
Elissa Miller with the Atlantic Council reports that NGOs and civil society organizations in Egypt are in crisis. In addition to the NGO draft law that further expanded restrictions, the findings of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows a continued and increasingly repressive situation in Egypt for NGOs. The GAO reported that the repression of NGOs in 2011 led to a “significant reduction in US funding for democracy and government assistance in Egypt.” The GAO also reported that the US Department of State and USAID have failed to document the “lessons learned from the US experience in Egypt and have not incorporated these lessons into their future plans for democracy and governance assistance.” USAID and the DoS agreed with this conclusion. NGOs workers convicted under Egypt’s draft law also provided testimony during the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing, describing the detrimental effect of Egypt’s increasing crackdown on NGOs on “conducting democracy promotion activities.” [Atlantic Council] Read More…
Gender & Sexuality
Entesar Saeed, head of the Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights, called for sex education to be included in the syllabi of Egyptian schools so as to “promote awareness” among the youth and to “educate them on the danger of sexual violence” while developing respect for the female body. Saeed reported that harassment exhibited during Eid Al Fitr this year was “more violent and severe” although the number of people harassing was smaller than in past years. She believes that the root cause of this harassment is a “flaw in the ethics and education system of the Egyptian society.” Saeed described how some harassers used sharp blades as tools of harassment, which occurred often in public squares during large gatherings. According the center’s statistics, most of the perpetrators are “young boys between the ages of 12 and 16.” [All Africa] Read More…
The spokesman of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Badr Abdel Atty announced that the ceasefire talks in Cairo between Israel and Palestinian representatives have not been cancelled, despite media reports. The conference was postponed after a temporary ceasefire truce was broken between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas. However, “despite conflicting reports… Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is still expected to lead a 12-person delegation to Cairo on Saturday, which would include five Hamas representatives, two Islamic Jihad members, and one representative from four other groups, including Fatah, the PLO, the Democratic Liberation Front Party, and Hizb al-Shaab, according to MENA.” Abbas stated that the delegation would be brought to Egypt regardless of the situation. Egypt has intermittently opened its border to wounded Palestinians, but has also received widespread criticism for its failure to successfully negotiate peace talks or allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr] Read More…
Legal & Political Institutions
Ministry of Awqaf points to links between Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State
In this article: Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments issued a statement pointing out similarities in the theology of the Muslim Brotherhood and that of the Islamic State. The Ministry, which oversees mosques and preachers in Egypt, said that both groups lie and deceive in the name of religion and use power for personal ends. The statement called on citizens to recognize the threat facing Egypt and the particular responsibility to protect that the Armed Forces carries.
Rights & Freedoms
Egypt remains a high-traffic corridor for international human trafficking
In this article: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime announced that the Middle East and Africa are home to the “highest percentage of victims of human trafficking” at 68%. Azza Al Ashmawy, the Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, referenced the 2014 constitution in stating that “Egypt has taken important procedures to combat human trafficking.” Egypt is considered an “influential passage” in the smuggling of Africans into the slave trade, and has faced criticism for its failure to stop human trafficking through its borders. Approximately 25,000-30,000 individuals were “victims of Sinai trafficking between 2009-2013” and the “Sinai trafficking industry [has] generated $622 million in ransoms.”
Religious expression in Egypt is being overtaken by government control, says the Economist
Economist: Manipulating the minarets
In this article: The Economist argues that the closing of independent mosques by the Egyptian government is part of “a broader effort to bring civil society to heel.” The article outlines its perspective on this effort by pointing out a ban that prevents imams from preaching unless they have been licensed by the government, a process that eliminates a vast number of people who have not studied at Al Azhar mosque. The Economist states that the government’s official response is that it is merely attempting to “clamp down on extremism.” In response to this justification, the Economist points to other actions taken by the government, such as requiring that all imams “give the same sermon on Fridays,” as evidence of a government movement to crush religious dissent in Egypt. The Economist sees these actions as part of a pattern to silence critics of the Sisi administration, further bringing religious practice under the purview of the government.
NCHR points to worsening human rights situation in Egypt since June 30
In this article: In an interview with al-Shorouk, member of the National Council for Human Rights, Nasser Amin said that the human rights situation in Egypt has worsened since the June 30 protests in 2013. Amin decried torture in police stations throughout the country, and said that the prosecutor’s office had “shortcomings” when it came to investigating cases of abuse. Amin called for the training of officers and stricter oversight of security forces.
India’s Ambassador to Egypt and Egyptian Prime Minister discuss economic relations between India and Egypt
Business Standard: India, Egypt discuss ways to promote economic ties
In this article: India’s Ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri and Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab met on August 1 to discuss “bilateral relations, industrial cooperation and the measures [necessary] to promote economic engagements” between the two nations. The meeting included discussions surrounding potential initiatives that could be taken to encourage investors to come to Egypt. Indian-Egyptian bilateral trade and investment has risen from 3 billion USD in 2010 to a registered 5 billion USD in 2014 and Egyptian exports to India have increased substantially as well.
Ministry of Transportation introduces plan to rebuild and expand Egypt’s road network
In this article: The Minister of Transportation Hany Dahy reported on July 31 that the government has been working on 15 new road projects throughout Egypt amounting to approximately 1,200 km at a cost of LE17billion. The project, which is expected to be finished in the new 2014/15 fiscal year, is part of a larger proposal of 3,200 km of new roads that will amount to a cost of approximately LE36 billion. The ministry indicated that roads will be built according to international standards and that there will be a joint effort to fix current roads that pose a safety concern. Much of the project will be centered in the Suez Canal governorates and the Nile Delta, Upper Egypt where a majority of road accidents occur.
Gender & Sexuality
Volunteers of mainly youth regulate the streets in protest of sexual harassment
In this article: Sarah Lynch discusses the evolution of sexual harassment and the government’s response in Egypt in recent years to the growing prevalence of sexual harassment and assault especially during communal festivities such as Abdel Fattah el Sisi’s inauguration and Eid al Fitr celebrations this year. There has been a growing counter-movement to the high level of street harassment led by organizations such as I Saw Harassment when “a group of mostly teenagers and boys [volunteered and] took to the streets of Cairo’s capital this ready to do battle—in bright green vests with spray paint in hand—against sexual harassers.” Mahmoud Adel, 17 said “with perverts, we spray on the back of their shirts: I am a harasser.” Despite the fact that Adly Mansour established a new anti-harassment bill, it has been criticized for its ineffectiveness, vague language, and for not addressing the root of the problem.
Orthodox bishop bans women from wearing trousers or make-up in church
In this article: Christians protested at St. Mark’s Cathedral in central Cairo after Coptic Orthodox Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr El-Sheikh announced a ban on trousers, blouses, and make-up for Christian women in his diocese during their communion practice at church. Signs have been placed on churches requesting modest dress from women and the absence of anything flamboyant for girls over the age of twelve. Father Boulos Halim, spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, has supported the decision and said that “Christian girls should learn from veiled Muslim women with their modesty” and that “the Virgin Mary Saint Demiana and the nuns wore modest clothes.”
Egyptians experience hostility in attempts to flee Libya
Mada Masr: Attempting to flee Libya, 17 Egyptians killed while waiting at Tunisian border
In this article: 15 Egyptians were killed in Libya on July 31 at the Ras Jadeer border crossing from Libya to Tunisia by alleged militant groups. Anonymous sources indicated that the attackers were attempting to deter Libyans from fleeing the country. An additional two Egyptians died at the border between 7am and 2:30 pm while 15,000 Egyptian citizens forced their way across the border into Tunisia. Reports indicated that the incident was a result of overcrowding despite the fact that Tunisian media blames Libyan security forces for shooting the two Egyptians. At least 4,000 Egyptians are stuck at the border after fleeing Tripoli and many have pleaded to the Egyptian government to lend their support in this moment of uncertainty. Islamist militants and rival groups have gained considerable control of Libya and while Egypt considers closing its border with Libya, the safety concern for Egyptians residing in Libya seems to grow.
Minister blames inside elements for involvement in attempted sabotage on power lines
In this article: In an interview with al-Ahram Dr. Muhammad Shaker, Minister of Electricity, said that elements within the ministry were working to sabotage power lines. Assailants successfully damaged an electricity pylon in an attack last week, and authorities claim that two car bombs that detonated prematurely in Gaza were also aimed at bringing down lines. Shaker discussed the need to increase the role of the private sector in Egypt’s power industry, as well as nuclear power, supply Gaza with energy, and the need for rationing.
Egypt receives 104 wounded Palestinians for treatment
In this article: Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab traveled to Nasr medical center in Cairo to visit the wounded Palestinians who recently sought refuge in Egypt from the ongoing violence in Gaza. The medical center is currently treating “104 wounded Palestinians” who traveled through the Rafah border crossing on July 31 seeking medical treatment. After Muhammed Morsi’s removal from presidency, the border is experiencing tighter security, a move that has been criticized within Egypt and the international community as the conflict in the Gaza Strip escalates.
Sisi appoints new ambassador to Lebanon
The Daily Star: Egypt appoints new ambassador to Lebanon
In this article: The National News Agency reported that Egypt appointed a new ambassador to Lebanon. Mohammad Badreddine Zayed will begin his term as Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon in September, as a component of President Al Sisi’s campaign to revamp Egyptian ambassadorial representation “across the globe.” Zayed has experience advising the “Egyptian foreign minister on Asian and regional affairs.” He also has experience serving as an ambassador on behalf of Egypt, serving as the “ambassador to Yemen and South Africa.” Additionally, Zayed “headed the Egyptian Information Committee” and was on the “Egyptian Foreign Ministry delegations in the US, Canada and Saudi Arabia.”