Egypt Media Roundup – Aug 7, 2014

08/07/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Shawqi Allam, Egypt’s Grand Mufti has rejected to uphold an Egyptian court’s referred death sentence verdicts against Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, and 13 others in the Istiqama Mosque trial. The Mufti’s report released by Dar al-Ifta stated that a lack of “sufficient evidence,” and an unsupported testimony of a Homeland Security officer does can not warrant upholding the courts death sentences. The Grand Mufti’s decision is not legally binding. The final verdict has been postponed until August 30. [Egypt Independent, Al Masry Al Youm, Daily Star, Mada MasrRead More…

Economy

The chief shipping analyst at Baltic and International Maritime Council Peter Sand doubts that the goal of boosting the Suez Canal earnings to $13.5 billion can be achieved by higher tolls and a second waterway, “due to competition with the Panama Canal.” However, Sand did suggest that increasing revenue to the hoped for $13.5 billion could be possible if Egypt undertook “wider redevelopment of the area around the Suez Canal as a shipping ‘hub’.” According to Sand, the Suez Canal will soon face greater competition from the Panama Canal, partly out of the reluctance shipping companies to pay the higher tolls at the Suez Canal. Ultimately, the main concern offered by analysts focuses on how Egypt will successfully finance its expansion project. [Al ArabiyaRead More…

Marginalized Groups

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with leaders of many Christian denominations in Egypt, including Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, to discuss issues of concern for the Christian community. Reports from before the meeting said that “thorny issues” — notably a unified law for the building of houses of worship, but also government support for rebuilding churches destroyed last summer and allowing Christian refugees from other Middle Eastern nations to resettle in Egypt — would be discussed, but accounts of today’s meeting largely avoided controversy. Instead, Sisi affirmed the role that Christians play in Egyptian society, and the churches offered their support for confronting religious extremism. One source, however, confirmed that the issue of church construction was discussed, but no details were offered. [Shorouk, Masr al-Arabiya, al-Dostour, al-Masry al-Youm][AR]

Gender & Sexuality

Three men arrested on sexual assault charges during President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s inaugural celebrations in June 2014, were handed sentences by the Cairo Criminal Court this week. The court gave Ahmed Said and Karim Shaaban life in prison, and a sentence of 20 years, including a following five-year probationary period to Magdy el-Siyad.  The perpetrators are also expected to pay a fee of LE100,000 to the victims. This is the second court ruling since the establishment of the anti-sexual harassment law by former Interim President Adly Mansour to issue severe prison terms.[Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Daily News Egypt, Mada Masr] Read More…

Rights & Freedoms

President Barack Obama stated during a press conference concluding the U.S.- African summit that Egypt should seriously reconsider releasing the three Al-Jazeera Journalists currently sentenced to seven years in prison. Obama added that the United States has been “publicly and privately” clear in its calls for the journalists release. President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has commented previously that judicial rulings and affairs should be respected, and not interfered with [Yahoo News, Daily News Egypt,] Read More…

Security Sector

“Unknown assailants” targeted a natural gas pipeline in southeastern Arish used for transferring gas to Jordan and the Egyptian military’s cement factories in the Sinai Peninsula. No casualties were reported following the attack. The particular pipeline has been under continuous incursions since the January 25, 2011 revolution. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr Read More…

Foreign Relations

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal  met during the U.S.- Africa summit to discuss potential trade developments between the two countries and Algerian gas profitability for Egypt. Meanwhile at the conference, President Barack Obama discussed common security threats shared between the African nations and the U.S., and the importance of economic development but also the guarantee of “the rule of law and respect [for] civil rights to underpin economic progress.” [Ahram Online

MORE STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

 Sisi signs decree allowing the establishment of a UN Women office in Cairo 

Shorouk News: Presidential decree approving the establishment of a regional Office of the United Nations for women in Cairo [AR]

In this article: Egypt confirmed in the official newspaper an agreement signed in New York on May 2, 2013 between The United Nations entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the Egyptian government, that would establish a United Nations Regional Office for Women in the Arab countries in Cairo. The agreement hopes to expand participation of women in leadership roles throughout the Arab countries, raise awareness and combat violence against women, and promote economic independence and stability for women.

 ‘Ansar Al-Sharia in Egypt’ members referred to trial by Prosecutor General 

Daily News Egypt: Members of ‘Ansar Al-Sharia in Egypt’ militant group referred to trial

In this article: On Wednesday, 23 members of Ansar Al-Sharia Brigades in Egypt were referred to trial by Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. According to the prosecution, continuing investigations suggest that the group “targeted several police and military personnel after the dispersal” of pro-Morsi sit-ins in August 2013. Currently, only 17 of the 23 members are in custody. The founder of the organization has been accused by investigators of forming a terrorist group “based on extremist thoughts.” He was also accused of attracting 22 people to his organization, teaching them to act subversively against the state, and even sending “some of them to Syria for training in guerilla warfare.” Investigators have also suggested that the founder taught his followers to build and use bombs, while providing 4 headquarters for meetings and as storage areas for explosives.

Rights & Freedoms

 Hany Hamdy calls the Muslim Brotherhood “zombies” 

Bloomberg Businessweek: Zombies Stalk Egypt Uncensored as El-Sisi Critics Silenced

In this article: Hany Hamdy produced a zombie to represent political upheavals in Egypt over the past year. Hamdy says that the living dead was his inspiration because “zombies suck your blood to live. It’s the same thing as the Muslim Brotherhood sucking the blood of Egyptians for its own interests.” Authorities have paid no concern for this sort of representation of Islamists, although multiple measures have been taken against journalists, columnists, artists who express dissent towards the current regime. Sisi’s frequent commentary about “the need to balance national security with freedoms,” has in fact turned into widespread repression of ideas that do not concede with the regime’s actions and ideals. Head of the Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Expression and Thought, Emad Mubarak, commented that “anything that supports the current regime or its values is tolerated regardless of artistic value while there’s widespread hate speech.”

Gender & Sexuality

 Protest at Abbasiya Cathedral of new holy communion clothing restrictions for women 

Ahram Online: Ban on women’s trousers in church sparks protest at Abbasiya Cathedral

Al Arabiya News: No more pants in church? Egypt women reject ban

In these articles: Orthodox Coptic Christians began a protest outside the Abbasiya Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, eventually entering the cathedral during a sermon by Pope Tawadros II. The protest was in response to Bishop Bishoy of Damietta and Kafr El-Sheikh governorates ordered “women to wear more ‘modest’ clothing during holy communion.” Karoline Kamel, a Cairo-based journalist, stated that Bishoy’s “hardline stance” had earned him “the nickname of a ‘Salafist Orthodox bishop’.” After entering the cathedral, the Coptic protesters called for direct action on Bishoy’s statements from Pope Tawadros II, who responded that he was looking into the matter.

Economy

 Egypt’s energy shortages have created a humanitarian crisis 

Egypt Independent: Energy expert: Egypt on verge of humanitarian crisis

In this article: Nick Butler, the former chairman of the Cambridge Center for Energy Studies, warned that Egypt’s energy problems are fueling a growing humanitarian crisis. According to Butler, Egypt’s financial instability is contributing to the fall of living standards, which has created a “profound crisis with a shortage of energy, water, and food.” Although Butler agreed with the necessity of the increasing gas prices, he stated that a gradual increase would have been far more effective than the “instant and brutal” strategy taken by the Egyptian government. Butler warned that the current energy, food and water shortages “could set the stage for the next round of change in the process of destabilization which was once described as the Arab Spring.”

 Egypt outranks Syria, Tunisia, and Algeria in the foreign investment impact index for communications 

Daily News Egypt: Egypt ranks 100 for foreign investment impact for communications for FY 2012/2013

In this article: According to World Economic Forum, Egypt ranked 100 on the foreign investment impact index for communications in FY 2012/2013. Its rank was higher than Algeria, Tunisia, and Syria and had 10.6 telephone line subscribers per 100 inhabitants, with a total of 119.9 mobile subscribers. According to the report, an approximate 44.1% of Egyptians use the internet.

Security Sector

 Woman killed and two others injured in Rafah during shootout 

Ahram Online: Woman Killed in Sinai Shootout

In this article: Assailants attacked a security checkpoint in the town of Rafah in Northern Sinai on Thursday night, August 7, 2014. The shootout resulted in the killing of one woman and left two other wounded. It is was initially unclear whether those injured were civilians or security personnel. Militant activity has also been prevalent the Cairo and Nile Delta regions.