Egypt Media Roundup – Feb 20, 2014

02/20/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

An Egyptian criminal court sentenced former information minister Anas al-Fekky to a suspended sentence of one year in prison on Thursday and fined him 1 million Egyptian pounds over charges of illicit gains. [Aswat MasriyaRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

In Egypt, women who have been arrested and human rights organizations are raising their voices about the physical and psychological abuse women are subjected to in prisons, detention centers and police departments. [Al MonitorRead More..

Security Sector

A shadowy Islamist militant group based in the remote Sinai desert is emerging as a major threat to Egypt’s stability, and there are no signs that the army-backed government has devised an effective strategy to contain it.With assassinations, suicide bombings and shootings, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has earned a spot on the global jihad map and its bloody campaign spreading across Egypt is cause for alarm in the West. [Reuters, Daily Star LebanonRead More..

Marginalized Groups

Around 20,000 textile workers in Mahalla say they will remain on strike until all their demands are met. Mahalla textile workers’ strike enters eleventh day to demand a minimum wage, the removal of the company’s head and the head of the firm’s holding company, and back pay of yearly bonuses. [photoessay–AhramRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

The trial of three Al Jazeera English journalists in Egypt has been adjourned until March 5 after they appeared in court in Cairo and pleaded not guilty to all charges against them. The journalists were not granted bail.

Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed are accused of joining, or aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.  After opening the trial, the Cairo court said it would hear prosecution witnesses and consider the evidence at the next hearing. Al Jazeera continues to reject the charges and is demanding the immediate release of its staff. [Al Jazeera, BBC, LA Times, CNN, Your Middle East, Mada MasrRead More..

Economy

Recent terrorist attacks targeting tourists and civilians have negatively contributed to Egypt’s already deteriorating tourism sector. Last year, tourism revenue fell by 41%. [Reuters, Gulf TimesRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

“The campaign initiated by Egypt is on two tracks, one that is explicit and involves meetings by Egypt’s ministers of water and foreign relations with their counterparts in countries with influence in the Nile Basin, and one that is undeclared and involves meetings by Egypt’s ambassadors in these countries. The two tracks aim to persuade the international community to reject the dam’s construction because it may lead to further conflict and instability in the region of the Nile Basin.” [Al Monitor, Ahram

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Legal & Political Institutions

Mubarak under trial for embezzlement–denying all charges

Reuters: Egypt’s Mubarak in court, denies seizing public funds

Summary: Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak appeared in court on Wednesday and denied charges of stealing public funds, one of four cases against him. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for complicity in the killing of demonstrators in the uprising that toppled him in 2011. He successfully appealed and is facing a retrial on those charges. He is also accused in two other cases of corruption that have yet to come to court. Mubarak was released from jail last year after winning his appeal. But he is still being kept under house arrest at a military hospital in the Cairo suburb of Maadi.

Gender & Sexuality

Women on the Walls: Graffiti Artists in Egypt increasing women’s visibility

Daily Beast: Can Graffiti Remake Egypt?

Summary: Last week, a dozen of female artists turned the walls of a downtown parking lot in Cairo into a street art gallery. Colourful group murals carrying personal stories and spreading messages to increase women’s visibility, and positively affect public consciousness.

Women on Walls (WOW), Sit El 7eta in Arabic, celebrated its second edition taking to the streets of Cairo to paint walls and talk about women. Counting over 60 local street, graffiti and visual artists, WOW is a dynamic street art collective using graffiti to focus on women’s empowerment.

Egyptian Feminist Union, National Council for Women: Women should be represented equally in parliament

Cairo Post: Women should be represented equally to draft parliamentary elections law – EFU

Summary: It was agreed upon in a meeting on Wednesday that it is necessary to represent women equally at the committee to draf the parliamentary elections law, head of the Egyptian Feminist Union (EFU) Huda Badran said on Thursday. This representation should be applied equally to form any other committee to make decisions or general policies. Women should also be eligible and assigned as a judge, as stated in the constitution article 11, among all her rights, Badran said in a press statement.

Security Sector

Egyptian security forces arrest 10, kill 6 jihadis for allegedly being affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood

Mada Masr: 6 jihadis killed, 10 arrested in North Sinai

Summary: 6 ‘takfiri’ (fundamentalist) jihadis were killed and 10 others were arrested in North Sinai, according to Armed Forces Spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali on his official Facebook page. According to Ali, the jihadis were killed during a raid on a small village in Al-Arish called al-Lefaytat. The arrested are currently being investigated for being allegedly affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood.

New terrorist groups in Egypt reminiscent of terrorist activity in Egypt of the 1990s?

Mada Masr: A return to the 1990s?

Summary: A decade and a half after the infamous terrorist groups Jama’a al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad waged a veritable war in Egypt , new elusive groups based in Sinai are waging war against Egypt’s military-led government in response to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in July and a subsequent crackdown on the movement. Attacks have been directed at vital economic targets such as the tourist industry and the Suez Canal, security buildings, and military and police personnel, including high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Interior — in early September the minister himself, Mohamed Ibrahim, survived an assassination attempt.

Marginalized Groups

Engineer’s Syndicate to freeze fund for martyrs of revolution due to alleged abuse of funds by Muslim Brotherhood

Al Monitor: Egypt syndicates withdraw financial aid to revolution victims  

Summary: Earlier this month the Engineers Syndicate, which voted out its Brotherhood-dominated board in mid-January, froze the fund allocated for the wounded and families of the martyrs of Egypt’s revolution. Members of the syndicate’s newly elected committee claimed the fund, originally established in the wake of the 2011 revolution, was being misused. The impression officials give is that the Brotherhood was bleeding syndicates dry, paying out endless amounts of cash for Rabaa al-Adaweya deaths while using state resources for its political survival.

Police receive 30% pay raise amidst nationwide strikes in textile industry, doctors, pharmacists

Associated Press: Egypt boosts police salaries as strikes mount

Summary: Egypt’s interim president has raised pay for police as some of their forces join strike actions that have mushroomed across the country.

Adly Mansour says Wednesday that police will receive a 30 percent salary increase as hazard pay starting in March.

Labor coordinators and activists say that workers’ strikes have spiked this past week, with more than 20,000 workers at Egypt’s largest public textile company, along with doctors, pharmacists, and even policemen stopping work to demand better pay amid worsening living conditions.

IkhwanWeb reports: Morsi did not order release of jihadists during 2011 Revolution, SCAF did

IkhwanWeb: Tarek Al-Zomar: President Morsi Released Revolution Youths Not Jihadists

Summary: Dr. Tarek Al-Zomar, Construction and Development Party leader, and former member of Islamic Group (Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya), revealed that during the January Revolution, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), not the elected President Mohamed Morsi,  ordered the release of more than 80% of jihadists, stressing that the deep state and military intelligence endeavored to undermine and vilify the legitimate civilian President and the Revolution as a whole.

In an interview on “Al-Jazeera Live – Egypt” satellite TV channel, Dr. Zomar said: “Both me and my brother were released by a direct order from then military chief Hussein Tantawi… The vast majority of those released during President Morsi’s term in power were Revolution youths”.

Rights & Freedoms

Social media storm after Egyptian authorities make no attempt to rescue stranded hikers

Al Arabiya: Anger in Egypt after lackluster rescue of hikers

Mada Masr: Controversy surrounds Saint Catherine hikers

Summary: A report claiming Egyptian authorities refused to swiftly dispatch a plane to rescue hikers who died in a snowstorm in southern Sinai this week because “they were not foreigners” has sparked anger on social media.

A group of eight who went on a trip to Sinai’s Saint Catherine area last Thursday lost their way after a blizzard hit the mountainous area. Four of the group were found dead on Tuesday.

When contact was lost, friends said they alerted the authorities but no immediate action was taken.

HRW releases statement condemning arrest and continued detention of journalists in Egypt

Human Rights Watch: Egypt: High Price of Dissent

Summary: “Journalists should not have to risk years in an Egyptian prison for doing their job,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The prosecution of these journalists for speaking with Muslim Brotherhood members, coming after the prosecution of protesters and academics, shows how fast the space for dissent in Egypt is evaporating.”

Detained Al Jazeera journalist sends a message from prison describing Egypt’s case against him and conditions in prison

Press Statement: Message from Mohamed Fahmy on January 31. At the time he was being held at a maximum security wing of Tora Prison

Al Jazeera’s [past] coverage of Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists may have put current detained journalists at risk

Foreign Policy: Why Egypt Hates Al Jazeera

Summary:  it is no coincidence that the charges are directed at a network that Egyptian security officials often describe as the media wing of an enemy state. The Qatar-owned Al Jazeera has continued to give airtime to Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders, emerging as the only high-profile outlet for their members since the Egyptian government’s brutal crackdown last summer.

The Egyptian government’s level of hostility wasn’t quite clear to Al Jazeera management on the night of Dec. 29, when police knocked on the door of room 2056 at the Marriott hotel in Cairo’s upscale Zamalek neighborhood. Peter Greste, the channel’s East Africa correspondent, was in the hotel with Fahmy; he’d been in Egypt for 10 days, covering over the Christmas holiday. Baher Mohamed, a producer, was arrested from his home shortly after the hotel raid.

Two journalists from the Arabic channel had been jailed since the summer: Abdullah al-Shami was detained in August, and is now three weeks into a hunger strike; Mohamed Badr was picked up in July, held for six months, then finally acquitted and released last week.

The English channel had been treated differently, however. One of its crews was arrested in Suez in July, another in Cairo the following month; both were freed after a few days in detention.

Economy

Egypt finding solutions for project fuel shortage–not going well

Trade Arabia: Egypt LNG terminal deal in doubt

Asharq al-Awsat: Egypt’s LNG import ambitions thrown into disarray

Summary: Egypt’s hope of importing liquefied natural gas to stave off an energy crunch this summer may fall through after a Norwegian firm pulled out of a deal to install an LNG import terminal, sources with knowledge of talks between Cairo and the company said.

If it fails to secure a means of importing LNG, Egypt would have no place to turn for fuel supplies as already painful shortages are set to become more acute with the approach of summer.

The latest setback came when Hoegh LNG, which was recently awarded the contract to provide a floating terminal, rejected the commercial terms offered by state-run gas company Egas, the sources said.

The tender process to find a company to provide the terminal began around 18 months ago, well before the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July.