Egypt Media Roundup – Aug 13, 2014

08/13/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Former president Hosni Mubarak testified before a criminal court today, denying that he ordered the murder of protesters during the 2011 revolution. In his testimony, Mubarak stated that his rule stabilized Egypt, and that the uprising in 2011 was the result of exploitation of religious differences by internal and external forces. He added that he led Egypt with “dedication, honour and honesty.” Mubarak is being charged with involvement in the murders of approximately 850 demonstrators from the 2011 uprising. Former interior minister Habib Al-Adly and six top aides are also being retried on the same charges as Mubarak. The retrial process, which began in April 2013, will end with the issuing of a final verdict on September 27. [Ahram Online, AP,  Al Jazeera, Daily StarRead More…

Economy

According to the Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Egypt’s budget deficit and issues with economic growth are exacerbated by its fossil fuel subsidies, which comprise over 10% of its GDP. Coleman argues that Egypt’s high fuel subsidies contribute to limiting the national budget, potentially preventing the government from investing in industrial development and economic growth. Additionally, Coleman points to the massive public outcry against fuel subsidy reform in Egypt as encouragement to already apprehensive policymakers to drop fuel subsidy reforms. From Coleman’s perspective, the Global Subsidy Elimination Campaign could be effective in Egypt, as reform is “critical to relieving Egypt’s fiscal crisis” by releasing funds to be spent on health and education. Coleman concludes that Egypt will not achieve economic growth or stability without a successful reform of its fossil fuel subsidies. [CFR] Read More…

Rights & Freedoms

The former head of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate, and former Chairman of Al-Ahram Mahmoud El-Wali, was arrested on August 3rd, 2014 and is currently being held for 15 days pending investigation into financial corruption case related to Al-Ahram. The Liberties Committee of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate has attributed the Egyptian security forces arrest of El-Wali to his belief that the ouster of President Morsi was a military coup. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has condemned El-Wali’s arrest and characterizing it as “unacceptable” and adding that it is a clear violation of “press freedom.” [ANHRIRead More…

Security Sector

Egyptian security forces announced plans to secure key spaces during Thursday’s one-year anniversary of the dispersal of pro-Brotherhood sit-ins near Raba’a al-Adawiya and in Nahda Square. The head of the Interior Ministry’s Special Operations Office said major gathering places would be closed, including Tahrir Square, Nahda Square, and the area near Raba’a al-Adawiya. Shorouk reported that 120,000 policemen would be deployed throughout the country, and their correspondent in Assiut said that government buildings and churches had already been reinforced. [Shorouk News, El Watan News, Shorouk News] [AR] Read More…

Foreign Relations

Several discussions regarding trade, foreign investments, and the “creation of a free trade zone between Egypt and the Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan” ensued this week in talks between President Sisi and Russian President Putin. Recently imposed Western sanctions on Russia have led to greater Russian-Egyptian trade cooperation. Particularly, Egypt has increased its rate of agricultural exports to Russia by 30% following Russia’s ban on “food imports from the United States” and other European countries. According to President Putin, Russia also expects another 30% increase of “supplies” in the “near future” from Egypt. Sisi will also allow Russia to continue foreign investment in Egypt and to establish an “industrial zone as part of the new Suez Canal Project.” According to President Putin, military exports to Egypt will continue and expand as the two leaders combat terrorism and extremism together in their respective regions. [Daily News Egypt, Reuters, Daily News Egypt, SISRead More…

 

MORE STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

 Trial begins in orphanage abuse case 

Ahram Online: Egypt orphanage abuse trial begins

In this article: The trial of orphanage manager Osama Othman, who was caught on tape beating children at his orphanage leading to his arrest, is scheduled to begin August 13th at the Omraneya misdemeanour court. The two-minute video that documents Othman violently beating a group of children was leaked earlier this month sparking outrage. According to a forensics report, some of the children showed signs of abuse inflicted as recently as two weeks ago with some showing one year old marks. Othman’s wife Elham Eid Awad who leaked the video is also under investigation.

 Egypt Cabinet will discuss law to prevent genocide and other “serious crimes” 

Daily News Egypt: Cabinet discusses draft law to combat ‘serious crimes of aggression’

In this article: The cabinet will discuss a draft law that aims to combat genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. If approved, the law will apply to Egyptian citizens, stateless persons, and permanent residents of Egypt and will be “applied equally to those intending to commit, plan, supervise, or fund the crimes.” Individuals of foreign nationality located in Egypt will also be subject to penalties under the law. The draft law outlines various levels of punishment for the different crimes, ranging from imprisonment to execution.

 Ministry clarifies NGOs law, calls for respect of “democratic process” in Egypt 

SIS: Statement by the Ministry of Social Solidarity about NGOs Law

In this article: In a recent statement, the Ministry of Social Solidarity attempted to clarify issues surrounding the new NGOs law. The Ministry stated that although several drafts have been developed, the new law has yet to be issued. As a result, the Ministry requested that the General Federation of NGOs “conduct a societal dialogue” on the drafts to prepare a final draft. The Ministry emphasized that it is committed to developing a final draft that is “in line with the 2014 Constitution,” responds “to the needs of the Egyptian people,” adheres “to the international treaties endorsed by the Egyptian Government,” and is “issued and approved by the upcoming elected Parliament.” Until the new law is issued, NGOs are subject to Law No. 84 from 2002.

 Amnesty International condemns the mass death sentences in Egypt 

Amnesty International: Egypt: As judges rescue themselves in Morsi protest trial, fears of mass death sentences persist

In this article: In response to the recusal of three judges from an Egyptian mass trial, Amnesty International (AI) expressed its concerns that “show trials” and “mass death sentences” are now the trademark of the Egyptian legal system. The three judges recused themselves following the objections of the defense lawyers. AI reports that 494 defendants are being tried during this mass trial, 12 of whom are children. 400 of the defendants are subject to a death sentence under Egyptian law, due to the charges of murder and attempted murder by the court. Amnesty International calls the trial a “pantomime,” which is likely to hand out “mass death sentences based on flimsy evidence and following deeply flawed proceedings.”

 Mehleb announces committee to recover “illegally seized” government land 

Daily News Egypt: President calling for restoration of ‘usurped’ government land: PM

In this article: Prime Minister Mehleb released a statement announcing the Egyptian government’s intention to “recover state territories” that have been “illegally seized, infringed upon or misused” particularly following the January 25 revolution. Mehleb stated that a committee will be formed by the National Center for Planning State Land Uses, in order to set a value on the seized lands, issue warnings to violators, and determine who may be given permits to keep said land. According to Mehleb, enforcement will be strict “until all the land is recovered and secured.”

 Call for a change in standard Egyptian school curriculum 

EIPR: Educational Curricula Reflect Hyper-Nationalism and Lack respect for Diversity

In this article: The Ministry of Education officially announced curriculum revisions in Egypt of “at least 30 textbooks” to reflect recent political, cultural, and social changes in Egypt since 2011. A study titled “Nationalism and Homogeneity in Contemporary Curriculum” stated that small changes were made to curriculum and “national instruction textbook” about Egyptian history throughout the Mubarak period into the present. Contemporary history books followed a “general narrative” on “modern Egyptian history” and seem to “exclude regional and international histories” providing the “illusion” that Egypt is isolated from “international developments.” Furthermore, the histories of minority groups are “non-existent.” Therefore, Egypt has not fulfilled “international obligations” and failed “to promote tolerance and respect for minorities” in education.

Rights & Freedoms

 AFTE calls for an end to Egyptian government censorship 

Daily News Egypt: Egypt government must end publication censorship: AFTE

In this article: The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression published a study titled “Censorship on Publications” which challenges the state’s idea of proper censorship with regards to works released in Egypt. The study cites “several trials of legal censorship on publications” and questions restrictions carried out by the Egyptian government. The study also cites Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which sets particular standards for countries to “oblige by international duties in regards to freedom of expression,” a duty that Egypt is criticized for neglecting.

Economy

 Companies and businessman donate to Tahya Masr Fund (Long Live Egypt Fund) 

Daily News Egypt: Businessman, real estate company donates EGP45m to Tahya Masr Fund

In this article: The real estate company Madinet Nasr Housing and Development (MNHD) announced the board of directors’ approval to donate EGP 25mn to the Tahya Masr Fund (Long Live Egypt Fund). MNHD will pay the amount over the next five years. Additionally, businessman Alaa Arafa, founder of a leading global textiles manufacturer based in Egypt, made an EGP 20mn donation the fund to be paid over the next two years. Arafa gave Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb the first check for EGP 5mn late on August 12. In a meeting on August 10 members of the Chemicals and Fertilizers Export Council decided to donate half of its assets to Tahya Masr and deposited EGP 1mn in a bank that morning.

 Blumberg Capital to build grain storage facilities in Egypt 

NBC News: Meet the American Who wants to Save Egypt’s Bread

In this article: Philip Blumberg of Blumberg Capital recently reached a deal with President el-Sisi to build 164 innovative grain storage facilities that are designed “to prevent spoilage, reduce price volatility and eventually lead to a local commodities exchange.” Blumberg currently has one system up and running in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is in the process of delivering a similar system to Nigeria. The deal with Egypt, worth at least $350 million, is the largest yet. Blumberg also agreed to invest $250 million in a factory that manufactures storage bins and will employ up to 1,000 people.

Security Sector

 Armed forces kill 9 suspected militants, arrest 15 others 

Aswat Masriya: Armed forces kill 9 “terrorists” in North Sinai

Ahram Online: Egyptian army says it killed 9 ‘militants’ in Sinai

In these articles: Army spokesman Mohamed Samir reported on Tuesday, August 12th that the armed forces killed nine suspected terrorists during a shootout in North Sinai. Fifteen other suspects were also arrested across North Sinai, Ismailia, and Daqahliyah as part of a continuing security campaign to combat terrorism.

 Police and Cairo University students clash 

Ahram Online: Police clash with students at Cairo University

In this article: Police clashed with dozens of protesting students at Cairo University. Cairo University students had gathered to demand the reinstatement of 90 fellow students who had been expelled for rioting. The students set off fireworks as they attempted to protest in Nahda square near the campus and the police responded by firing teargas. The students were forced to retreat back to campus.

 Two suspected terrorists killed and 37 arrested 

Al Wafd: The killing of two terrorists and arrest of 37 wanted in Sinai [AR]

Al Ahram: Military Spokesman: Two infidels killed, 37 arrested and confiscation of sniper devices in Northern Sinai [AR]

Youm 7: Military Spokesman: Two infidels killed and the arrest of 37 wanted by Security in Sinai [AR]

In these articles: The military spokesman announced that two takfiris were killed in North Sinai. Thirty-seven others were arrested during an operation that spanned the provinces of North Sinai, Ismailiya, Daqhiliya, and Sharqiya. The military also announced the seizure of a pair of binoculars, a rifle, and three pickup trucks, and the destruction of 12 motorcycles and four tunnels.

Foreign Relations

 Egypt presents ceasefire proposal to Hamas and Israel 

ABC News: Egypt Presents Proposal to End War in Gaza

In this article: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators plan to resume peace talks on Wednesday approximately 12 hours prior to the expiration of the second 72-hour ceasefire negotiation. Egypt has offered a permanent ceasefire solution to the two sides that would include a halt on Israeli airstrikes, an easing of the Israeli blockade, and a reduction of the 500-meter buffer zone between Gaza and Israel over time. Although neither side has definitively responded to the proposal yet, Hamas appears set on the complete removal of Israeli blockade on Gaza. In the meantime, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva has formed a commission to review “possible war crime violations during the Gaza fighting.”

 Egypt’s Grand Mufti calls the ISIL “a shame to Islam and Muslims” 

Ahram Online: Egypt’s Grand Mufti refuses to call Jihadists in Iraq as Islamic State

In this article: Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam met with the former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Al-Sanioura on Tuesday to discuss “the criminal acts of the previously known Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).” During the meeting, Shawqi Allam refused to call the group “the Islamic State,” stating that “the group does not represent Islamic values or law.” Allam went on to call the crimes of the group “a shame to Islam and Muslims.” The Grand Mufti notably argued that “regional and international cooperation is needed to fight such groups.”

 Egypt extends the number of flights to Tunisia 

Ahram Online: More Egyptians fleeing Libya pushes government to extend flight schedules

In this article: Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister has decided to extend the period of flights from Egypt to Tunisia in order to accommodate the influx of 700 Egyptians from Libya to Tunisia. The 700 Egyptians who fled to Tunisia are attempting to escape the escalating violence in Libya. Two more planes are expected to arrive in Cairo from Tunisia following the government decision to extend the period of flights.