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Egypt: Life Sentences for 53 Defendants in ‘Nahda Events’
06 May, 2019

A protester reacts during demonstrations in Cairo January 29, 2011. (File photo: Reuters)

Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

An Egyptian court on Sunday handed life sentences to 53 people for participating in the “Muslim Brotherhood” gathering at al-Nahda Square in Giza in 2013.

Two others were given a one-year prison sentence, while 10 were acquitted of the charges during a retrial.

The total number of defendants in the case is 379, including 189 detainees.

The court also ordered the accused to pay EGP 2 million to Orman Park, EGP 10 million for Giza province, and EGP 25 million to the Engineering Faculty at Cairo University for damages.

The prosecution accused the defendants of organizing a gathering in Nahda Square, putting the lives of citizens at stake, resisting police forces responsible for dispersing the rally, premeditated murder and carrying unlicensed weapons and ammunition.

Last month, the Court of Cassation rejected 66 appeals in the same case, upholding the verdicts.

The court also acquitted 115 defendants and terminated the criminal prosecution of two defendants after they died. All defendants were fined EGP39 million for the damages they caused at the zoo, al-Orman, Giza Governorate, and Engineering Faculty at Cairo University.

On August 14, 2013, the Egyptian security services broke up two protests- the Rabaa sit-in in Cairo, and the Nahda protest in neighboring Giza - following the toppling of the regime of former president Mohamed Morsi, who is considered a terrorist by the authorities.

In addition, the Criminal Court of Cairo decided to adjourn Morsi’s retrial, along with a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and top officials in the lawsuit known as the "illegal crossing of eastern borders."

The trial was postponed to Saturday after a number of detained defendants failed to appear in court.

 

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Sisi Warns of Impact of Demonstrations on Egypt’s ‘Stability’
Monday, 6 May, 2019


Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Reuters file photo

Cairo - Mohamed Nabil Helmy

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has warned of the impact of protests on the country’s “stability” and development plans.

“Just like the change they made in January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013, Egyptians can make a change for a third and a fourth time," he said.

Sisi's made the remarks during the inauguration of 12 mega-projects in Ismailia and Central Sinai on Sunday, most notably the new tunnels down the Suez canal to facilitate movement to the Sinai Peninsula.

“Since 2011, we have lost billions of dollars,” he explained while expressing gratitude to several Arab countries who have rushed to Egypt’s help.

“Now, we must rely on ourselves, and this will only be achieved through stability and calm.”

Sisi ruled out that protests “can build Egypt,” stressing that such move is also made through "hard work, dedication and stability."

The government has earlier announced that the inaugurated projects, some of which will be completed by June 30, 2020, have cost the government 800 billion pounds.

Egypt counts on developing the Canal governorates (Port Said, Ismailia, Suez) and north and south Sinai governorates to create an integrated economic zone that will help turn North Sinai, which has been in turmoil for years as a result of terrorist attacks, into an attracting investment hub.

The projects to develop the restive Sinai peninsula are estimated to cost 275 billion pounds, Sisi said in February 2018.

They are being implemented by Egyptian companies, he said, adding that the army’s role is supervisory to guarantee the execution of the mega projects on time.

 

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Outrage over Qatari Statement Describing Egyptians as ‘Enemies’
06 May, 2019


People walk in Mall of Qatar in Doha, Qatar. Reuters file photo

Cairo - Abdel Fattah Faraj

Secretary General of Qatar National Tourism Council Akbar al-Baker’s comments on granting tourist visas to Egyptians have sparked outrage and widespread criticism in Egypt.

Egyptian political analysts and MPs demanded on Sunday an official apology from the Qatari government.

MP Mustafa Bakri denounced Baker's comments, in which he described Egypt as an “enemy state.”

“We disagree with the Qatari regime, but we don’t disagree with its brotherly people,” Bakri said on his official Twitter account.

“However, when the Secretary General of Qatar’s National Tourism Council describes Egyptians as enemies, this reveals the size of this regime’s hostility to all that is Arab.”

“They have supported terrorism to kill civilians and spread chaos in the region,” Bakri stressed.

Foreign workers make up 1.6 million of Qatar's 2.5 million population. Egyptians in Qatar are estimated at 350,000, making up the largest Arab minority in the Gulf country.

Since June 5, 2017, seven Arab countries have cut ties with Qatar - Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen, Mauritania and the Comoros, accusing it of “supporting terrorism.”

“The Qatari official’s statement reflects an internal sense of hostility against Egypt,” MP Amr Sidqi, the head of the parliamentary Foreign Relations and Aviation Committee, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

He demanded an apology from the Qatari government “for the (shameful) statement against the Egyptian people.”

Mohammed Farouq, an official in the tourism industry, said the number of Egyptian tourists visiting Qatar annually amounts to “zero.”

He pointed out that Egyptians don’t make requests to visit Qatar, which in turn, has stopped issuing tourist visas for Egyptian nationals.

Qatar can’t be classified as a tourist country, Farouq noted, adding that it can’t even be compared to Egypt, UAE or Morocco.


 

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EU to Maintain Cooperation with Egypt on Various Levels
07 May, 2019


Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. (Reuters)

Cairo - Walid Abdul Rahman

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo on Monday with European Union (EU) Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica to discuss boosting cooperation between Europe and Egypt, presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi said.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and a number of other officials.

“The president welcomed the visit of the European Commissioner to Cairo, which reflects the depth of the distinguished relations between Egypt and European countries and the importance of enhancing cooperation and mutual dialogue in light of the common interests and challenges,” Radi said.

He added that Sisi expressed his country’s readiness, given its current presidency of the African Union, to cooperate with the Commission of the EU via initiatives that aim at serving the development goals of the African continent in line with Agenda 2063.

Underlining the need to benefit from Egyptian expertise and European funding mechanisms to attain these development goals, the president called for implementing more infrastructure projects in African countries to help promote investments and create job opportunities in the continent.

Mimica, for his part, expressed the EU’s appreciation for the strong and historic relations with Egypt, stressing Europe’s reliance on the country’s stability as a crucial element in achieving balance and maintaining peace and security in the southern Mediterranean region.

He also emphasized the EU’s keenness to promote cooperation with Cairo at various levels and to confront the challenges in the Mediterranean.


 

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Egypt: Death Penalty For 13 on Terror Charges
07 May, 2019
Asharq Al-Awsat

Egypt's highest appeals court has upheld death sentences for 13 people convicted of terror charges.

The charges came over attacks in Cairo in which explosive devices left at least two police officers dead.

The Court of Cassation Tuesday upheld life sentences for 17 others and lesser sentences for another nine, all on similar charges, the Associated Press reported.

The defendants were accused of attempting to kill policemen and civilians in December 2014.

The initial sentences were handed down in 2017, with five others acquitted.

 

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Qatar disowns tourism official’s comments on visas for ‘enemies’

Updated 07 May 2019
Reuters
May 05, 2019

  • Doha has distanced itself from comments made by Qatar tourism chief Akbar Al-Baker
  • Al-Baker caused outrage previously for claiming women could not do his job as CEO of Qatar Airways
DOHA: A Qatari tourism official said the country would not grant visas to those it considers “enemies” in reference to Egyptian nationals seeking to enter the country amid an ongoing dispute, a remark that was later disowned by the Qatari government.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the allegation.

While citizens from the three Gulf states were recalled to their home countries due to the rift, Egyptians, who make up the largest Arab minority in Qatar, have remained and comprise a sizable portion of the tiny but wealthy country’s workforce.

Speaking at an event to promote a summer tourism campaign, the tourism council’s Akbar Al-Baker said Qatar would not let Egyptians enter the country to take part in promotions aimed at boosting its tourism industry.

“The visa will not be open for our enemies — it will be open for our friends,” Baker said of Egyptians looking to come. “Are visas open for us to go there? No. So why should we open it for them? Everything is reciprocal.”

The comments were the first by a Qatari official since the nearly two-year rift began suggesting Qatar would no longer grant visas to people from Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

Qatar’s government communications office later said in a statement that Baker’s comments did not reflect the state’s official policy for issuing visas and that it welcomes “all people of the world.”

“Qatar’s position has always been clear that people should not be involved in disputes that arise between nations,” the statement said.

Many Egyptians say, however, that the visa process has been effectively closed to them since 2017, with narrow exceptions made for the immediate family members of residents and for specifically approved events.

Qatar has a population of around 2.7 million but just over 300,000 nationals, and does not publish statistics breaking down population by nationality. A 2017 report by a private consultancy estimated Egyptians at 200,000.

“When you open your arms to Qatar, Qatar will open its arms even bigger for you. But if you become an adversary of Qatar, then we will also treat you as an adversary,” Baker said.


 

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Egypt spent $3.51b on fuel subsidies in first nine months of FY 2018-2019
07 May 2019
Reuters


  • Egypt has been reducing fuel subsidies as part of an IMF-backed reform program that began in 2016
  • The country is due to remove subsidies on most energy products by June
CAIRO: Egypt spent 60.1 billion Egyptian pounds ($3.51 billion) on fuel subsidies in the first nine months of the 2018-2019 financial year, petroleum minister Tarek El Molla said on Tuesday, a drop of 28.45 percent from the same period the previous year.

Egypt has been reducing fuel subsidies as part of an IMF-backed reform program that began in 2016, and is due to remove subsidies on most energy products by June.

The government spent 84 billion Egyptian pounds on fuel subsidies in the first nine months of the 2017-2018 financial year. The financial year runs from July to June.



 

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Egypt: Alexandria Court Jails 44 Muslim Brotherhood Members
12 May, 2019


Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is seen behind bars during his trial at a court in Cairo. (Reuters file photo)

Cairo - Asharq Al-Awsat

The Alexandria Criminal Court on Saturday sentenced five people to life in prison for joining the Muslim Brotherhood and jailed 39 others for 15 years on the same charges.

The case dates back to 2018, when 44 people were arrested for vandalism and threatening people in the el-Soyoof area of Alexandria.

The prosecution charged the defendants with joining a banned group, possessing flammable materials, setting cars ablaze and assaulting citizens. They also carried out demonstrations and distributed leaflets bearing the slogans of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Rabea sign.

In related news, the Cairo Criminal Court postponed the re-trial of ousted former president Mohamed Morsi and 28 others to May 19 in the case known as the "illegal crossing of eastern borders.”

The re-trial was ordered after the Supreme Court of Cassation in November overturned the sentences to execute Morsi, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, and his deputy Rashad al-Bayoumi, Muhayy Hamed, Mohammed Saad al-Katatni. Over 20 others were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors accuse the defendants of illegally crossing the eastern borders, attacking security and policing facilities, and killing police officers in collaboration with the international Muslim Brotherhood organizations and Lebanese Hezbollah party during the January 2011 revolution.

Meanwhile, the Court of Cassation supported the 10-year prison sentence against Mohamed Badie, and three-year imprisonment for the other defendants in a case referred to as the “Beni Suef” events.

The ruling stated that the appellant joined an organization with the purpose to disrupt the provisions of the constitution and the law, prevent state institutions from carrying out their work and attack the personal freedom of citizens and the public rights guaranteed by the constitution.

The prosecution also accused the defendants of joining a group established contrary to the law, possession of weapons and ammunition, destruction of public property of the state, intimidation of citizens and the prevention of state institutions from operating.



 

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Egypt's prosecutor orders release of seven opposition figures: source
May 21, 2019 /

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s public prosecutor on Monday ordered the release of a former diplomat and other opposition figures who have criticized President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a judicial source said.

Masoum Marzouk, a former ambassador, and six other prominent opposition activists were arrested in August and have been in prison since.
The activists were held on charges of supporting a terrorist group in achieving its goals and receiving funds for terrorism.

Their release was ordered pending further investigation. The seven opposition figures also include academic Yahya Kazaz and activist Raed Salama.

Marzouk had called for a referendum on Sisi’s rule, in a rare public criticism of the former general.

A second judicial source said the prosecution may decide to shelve the case against them or refer the activists to a criminal court.

Rights activists say Sisi has overseen a relentless crackdown on dissent in Egypt since 2014. At least 60,000 people have been jailed on political grounds, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.

Sisi has denied holding political prisoners and his backers say the measures were necessary to stabilize Egypt after its 2011 uprising.
Reporting by Haitham Ahmed, writing by Lena Masri, Editing by William Maclean

 
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