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Egypt arrests well-known singer in restaurant

Egyptian singer Rami Sabry [Youtube]

Egyptian security services arrested a well-known singer on Friday morning while he was eating in a Cairo restaurant, local websites have reported. Rami Sabry was picked up following the issue of an arrest warrant.

Although Sabry’s family did not comment on his arrest, according to Al-Arab he was taken away after trying to avoid military conscription.

Masrawi news website said that the singer was handed over to the military for him to start his compulsory service in the armed forces.

(Source / 14.10.2017)

Egypt extends state of emergency for 3 months

Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi [File photo]

Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi extended yesterday Egypt’s countrywide state of emergency for an additional three months.

The renewed three-month state of emergency will start today, according to a presidential decree.

“The state of emergency will be applied across the country, effective as of 1:00 am on Friday, for an additional three months, due to ongoing security concerns,” the presidential decree read.

“The armed forces and the police will take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism,” the decree added.

The Egyptian parliament is yet to approve the presidential resolution.

Read more: Notorious emergency courts return in Egypt

Egypt first imposed the state of emergency in April after two church bombings, which Daesh claimed responsibility for, killed at least 45 people. It was then extended in July for a further three months.

The state of emergency allows authorities to carry out additional security measures, including the referral of terrorism suspects to state security courts, the imposition of curfews and strict control over newspapers.

(Source / 13.10.2017)

Palestine Scholars mourn Akef, hail his support for Palestine

Mohammed Makdi Akef

Palestine Scholars Association mourned Mohammed Mahdi Akef, a former supreme guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who died in a Cairo hospital on Friday at the age of 89.

In a statement on Saturday, the Association said “Akef is a great figure and represents a symbol for patience and steadfastness as well as a model for new generations especially when it comes to his support for Jerusalem, al-Aqsa, Palestine and resistance”.

For their part, the Palestinian resistance factions hailed the role of Akef in confronting some projects aimed at destroying the unity and properties of the Arab and Muslim nation.

The factions described, in a statement on Saturday, Akef as one of the great symbols and key figures of the nation who spent his life defending the Palestinian Question and confronting tyranny and oppression.

Ten months before his death, Akef had been transferred from jail to the hospital in Cairo after deterioration of his health, Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud said. Akef would be buried on Saturday evening, he added.

Akef, who was born in 1928, headed the Brotherhood from 2004 until 2010. He had been arrested and jailed in 2013 after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and jailed his supporters and fellow Brotherhood members.

Akef was accused with a raft of “criminal” charges following the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president and a leading Muslim Brotherhood member.

(Source / 23.09.2017)

Projectile from Egypt lands in Palestinian Rafah area

Gaza border

A Palestinian security official said on Saturday that a mortar shell fired by mistake from the Egyptian territory landed and exploded in a Palestinian border area of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip.

The official told Anadolu news agency, on condition of anonymity, that the mortar projectile fell into an open area in the center of Rafah, causing a strong explosion, but luckily no one was injured.

He also reported hearing sporadic sounds of violent explosions coming from the Egyptian side of Rafah and seeing columns of smoke rising from there.

For about two and a half years, the Egyptian army has been carrying out security campaigns against armed groups in the Sinai.

(Source / 17.09.2017)

Egypt court sentences Morsi to 25 years in Qatar spy case

Morsi was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the president of Egypt

Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a court appearance with Muslim Brotherhood members on the outskirts of Cairo

An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ousted president Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood to 25 years in prison in a final ruling over a case accusing him of spying for Qatar, judicial sources said.

Morsi, democratically elected after Egypt’s 2011 revolution, was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the president, following mass protests against his rule. He was immediately arrested.

Egypt’s Court of Cassation reduced Morsi’s sentence in the Qatar case to 25 years in its final ruling, from an original 40 years.

Morsi is already serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted for the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012.

Since toppling Morsi, Sisi has clamped down on dissent. Mass trials have been held for thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and hundreds have received death sentences or lengthy prison terms.

In 2014, Egypt charged Morsi and nine others with endangering national security by leaking state secrets and sensitive documents to Qatar. Egypt’s relations with Doha were already troubled by Qatar’s backing of Morsi.

Egypt is one of four Arab nations in a Saudi-led bloc that cut relations with the Gulf state on June 5, accusing it of backing militant groups and cooperating with their arch-foe Iran, allegations Doha denies.

(Source / 16.09.2017)

Gazan family appeal for release of son arrested by Egyptian forces

Egypt Abdul Qader Qeshta

A Palestinian family in Gaza appealed on Monday to Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in order to intervene for the sake of releasing their son, Abdul Qader Qeshta, who was arrested by Egyptian security forces on Sunday while he was traveling for Haj.

In a letter on Monday, Qeshta family called for exerting efforts for the release of their 41-year-old son and refuted earlier news claiming he was set free.

Khaled Qeshta, the brother of the detainee, said that he is still held captive by the Egyptians. He pointed out that his brother was travelling to Egypt en route to Saudi Arabia for Haj among Gazan pilgrims who received royal grants from King of Saudi Arabia Salman allocated for martyrs’ families.

Four Gazan youths were abducted by gunmen on August 19, 2015 in the Egyptian Sinai after they had left Rafah crossing on their way to Cairo Airport. They are still detained in mysterious circumstances.

(Source / 28.08.2017)

Egypt’s court media ban limits public access to trials

CAIRO — Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) decision No. 1308 published on Aug. 14 to ban media coverage of all trials via audiovisual devices has stirred much controversy in human rights, media and judicial circles.

Some see it as a means to prevent citizens from knowing what is happening in trials and a major restriction of freedom against journalists covering Egypt’s judicial issues.

In the first implementation of this decision, just one day after its issuance, the head of the Criminal Court of Cairo, Judge Hassan Farid, banned photojournalists from attending the hearing of 20 defendants in case No. 239 of 2015. They are accused of joining a terrorist cell in Marsa Matrouh that is affiliated with the Islamic State in Libya and with slaughtering 21 Egyptians in Libya.

Human rights lawyer Mukhtar Munir described the decision as totally unfair and told Al-Monitor in a telephone interview that it contradicts the established principle of publicity of court hearings.

“The State Council’s Supreme Administrative Court issued a judgment in 2010, conferring to itself, and not to the Supreme Judicial Council, the power to ban TV broadcasting of hearings and trials. The ban decision violates and invalidates this judgment, stripping it of its binding force,” he said.

Munir, who works for the nongovernmental organization Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, said that citizens have the right to attend trials and hearings. “But in reality, all proceedings of public opinion cases are held at police headquarters, which citizens cannot enter without a special permit,” he added.

Indeed, all public opinion and terrorism-related trials are held at police headquarters, while other trials are held in ordinary courts allowing the entry of the public but banning audiovisual devices.

Munir noted that Article 268 of Egypt’s Code of Criminal Procedure states that hearings shall be public unless in exceptional cases determined by the court itself. “The Supreme Judicial Council cannot issue an absolute ban,” he said.

On Aug. 13, SJC submitted a complaint to the public prosecutor against Egyptian websites Al-Mesryoon and Al-Omah, accusing them of publishing false news concerning the judiciary, including the publication of remuneration of judges.

Munir said that Egypt’s current regime sees any large government apparatus as a sovereign authority, and therefore such authorities may not be put under media spotlights as this would threaten Egypt’s national security. “How will the publication of the salaries of judges affect national security?” he wondered, noting that this type of news has nothing to do with national security.

He added, “The problem is that the Justice Ministry does not have an information office, which makes it difficult for journalists following up on judicial matters to perform their job. This is not to mention the recent crackdown on journalists.”

Meanwhile, a judge in the Egyptian Court of Appeal told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that the decision does not conflict with the principle of public hearings. “Allowing journalists to attend hearings is in line with the principle of publicity of trials and hearings, and banning TV broadcasts and photography does not negate this principle,” he said.

The judge added that the decision was issued to protect the rights of the accused and the judges, saying, “Taking photos of judges may expose them to potential future assaults. National security officers may also be subject to assassinations if their identity is revealed since they are the main witnesses in most terrorism-related cases.”

He said that the ban is limited to audiovisual coverage and that journalists are given free access without their cameras, adding that the decision came after some media outlets published false information regarding judges’ remunerations. This undermines the standing of judges and the judiciary as a whole.

Mustafa Shaat, a legal researcher at the American University in Cairo’s law and society unit, told Al-Monitor, “Judges are strongly sensitive about broadcasting hearings, especially in cases related to terrorism, where the defendants are placed in glass cages and can barely communicate with their lawyers or hear the judges clearly. The trials held at the police headquarters violate the Code of Criminal Procedure. This is why judges prefer not to have trials and hearings documented with audiovisual devices.”

Shaat noted that most terrorism-related cases are politicized. He explained that “several facts revealed that some judges follow their own ideology and this was documented by the photographers’ cameras. Filming of trials allows documenting judges’ violations, and this is why they want to ban TV broadcasts of all hearings. The principle of publicity of trials and hearings has harmed judges. This principle is directly related to the public image of the court and judges.”

A number of judicial authorities had issued several decisions banning judges from giving statements about judicial cases to media outlets and preventing them from posting about them on social media.

Indeed, Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek had banned all public prosecution members on May 10, 2016, from expressing political opinions on social media or making statements to the media. The Administrative Public Prosecution also issued instructions Aug. 16 to its members not to speak to the media during the course of their inspections and to refrain from giving press statements in general.

Shaat added that these decisions confirm beyond any doubt that there is an official crackdown on journalists, stressing that “a ban on filming contradicts the principle of public hearings. It is mainly aimed to cover up for the mistakes that judges may make during hearings, which may tarnish their image in the eyes of the citizens.”

He noted that the job of journalists covering judicial affairs may be harder than that of other journalists, saying, “This happened several times, such as when journalists published news contrary to the statements issued by judicial authorities and when articles tackled the remuneration of judges. On May 8, a journalist from the Al-Fajr newspaper was accused of offending the public image of the judiciary by publishing offending materials.”

Shaat added, “The ban allows journalists to attend hearings but prevents them from bringing in any audiovisual devices. They could be subject also to prosecution depending on the angle from which they choose to tackle their articles.”

In addition to the general freedom restrictions preventing them from having access to information, Egyptian journalists covering judicial issues face continued threats of prosecution.

(Source / 26.08.2017)

Asmaa Beltagy’s mother: My daughter sacrificed her life for Egypt’s victory, dignity and prosperity

Asmaa Beltagy, the 17-year old 'Baby of Rabaa', killed on August 14, 2013 by Egyptian snipers.

Asmaa Beltagy, the 17-year old ‘Baby of Rabaa’, killed on August 14, 2013 by Egyptian snipers

Asmaa Beltagy, a 17-year old Egyptian, was standing among protesters in a sit-in staged in support of former President Mohamed Morsi when shots from a sniper rifle ended her life on August 14, 2013.

That day Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the sit-in in eastern Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square, killing nearly 2,600 protestors, according to figures by the Muslim Brotherhood group.  Egyptian authorities, however, say only 623 people were killed in the dispersal, including a number of security personnel.

The dispersal came a few weeks after the military, led by then-defense minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, deposed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in a military coup.

In the aftermath of the coup, Egyptian security forces launched a harsh crackdown on supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood groups, killing hundreds and detaining thousands.

Asmaa Beltagy, the 17-year old 'Baby of Rabaa', killed on August 14, 2013 by Egyptian snipers.

Hundreds of Egyptians have fled the crackdown and sought refuge abroad, including Asmaa’s mother, Sanaa Abdel Gawad Mohamed, who resides in Istanbul, Turkey.

Read: How Asmaa was killed

Described as the Baby of Rabaa, her assasination sparked outrage across the globe. Upon her death, her mourning father wrote a letter to his beloved daughter. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke-down on live television when the letter was read out to him.

Sanaa Mohamed told Anadolu Agency:

It was not an easy decision to leave my country where my daughter sacrificed her life for its victory, dignity and prosperity

She said she had to leave Egypt “because they [authorities] wanted to take revenge on all of us”.

Sanaa Mohamed’s husband, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagy, has been in jail for over three years on multiple charges, including violence and incitement. Her two sons, Anas and Khaled, were also detained by Egyptian authorities.

“They left none of our family members,” the bereaved mother said, adding:

Even Hossam, the little boy, 13, they didn’t leave him alone. They chased him to send him to prison.

For all of that, I was forced to leave my beloved country

Read: Letter from Dr Mohamed Beltagy to his martyred daughter

Asmaa Beltagy, the 17-year old 'Baby of Rabaa', killed on August 14, 2013 by Egyptian snipers.

(Source / 13.08.2017)

Morsi challenges validity of his trial in Cairo

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 21 other defendants attend a court session behind a cage at the Cairo Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt on August 06, 2017 [Mostafa El-Shemy / Anadolu Agency]

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 21 other defendants attend a court session behind a cage at the Cairo Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt on August 06, 2017

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the first to be democratically-elected, reiterated on Sunday that his trial in the ordinary courts has no legal validity, because he is still president and, as such, should be held accountable according to the constitution. Morsi was ousted by a military coup in 2013 by his then Defence Minister, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

He made his comments in the Cairo Criminal Court, where his first retrial hearings are being held. Along with 21 other defendants, he is accused of “communicating with Hamas”.

“With all respect,” explained Morsi, “the court is not competent to charge me.” According to a report by Anadolu, the head of the defence committee, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, explained that the deposed president is holding to the fact that the jurisdiction of the court is not commensurate with his position as a president. “That, in fact, there is a certain system stipulated by the constitution for a trial of the president.”

This was a reference to Article 152 of the 2012 constitution, which is reiterated in the 2014 constitution. It stipulates that “the President of the Republic shall be tried by a special court presided by the head of the Supreme Judicial Council (officially in charge of the management of the Judges’ affairs), the Senior representatives of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (the highest judicial commission in Egypt which is specialized in the constitutionality of the laws and their adherence to the articles of the Constitution) and the Council of State (a judicial body responsible for settling administrative disputes between individuals and the governing bodies of the State), in addition to the oldest two heads of the courts of appeal. The Attorney General is the prosecutor, and if one of the judges is not able to attend he will be replaced by whoever follows him in seniority.”

Read: Remembering Egypt’s bloody military coup

The “communication with Hamas” case dates back to 18 December, 2013, when former Egyptian Attorney-General Hisham Barakat ordered that Morsi and 35 others be put on trial. The charges included “committing crimes through the communication with foreign organisations and groups outside the country, such as the Palestinian Hamas movement, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in order to prepare for terrorist operations inside Egyptian territory.” The defendants deny all the charges and regard them as politically motivated.

The Cairo Criminal Court began hearing the case on 16 February, 2014, issuing verdicts on 16 June, the following year. Morsi was sentenced to 25 years in prison, as was Muhammad Badi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Saad Al-Katatni, a former president of the parliament and 14 other senior officials in the group.

The same court sentenced 16 others to death, including the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Khairat Al-Shater, Mohamed Beltagy and Ahmad Abd Al-Aaty. Two others were sent to prison for seven years.


The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court of appeal, accepted Morsi’s appeal against the sentence, and decided on a retrial. Thirteen defendants are fugitives and are not entitled to appeal against the sentences.

(Source / 07.08.2017)

Former allies of Sisi call for him to step down

Image of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi

Allies of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi are now reportedly calling for his replacement in next year’s elections signalling a shaky future for the former military commander.

Although Al-Sisi has not officially declared he will be running in elections in June next year, only two people have publically challenged his seat so far with the widely held belief that Al-Sisi is still likely to win given his heavy crackdown on opponents.

However in recent months, several of his former staunch allies have come out in criticism of the leader who came to power in a military coup in 2013. Much of the criticism comes as a result of his handling of the economy and security situation in the country.

One of those criticising Al-Sisi is Hazim Abdelazim, a leading figure in the president’s official 2014 presidential campaign who has said Al-Sisi “must go”.

He wasn’t honest. He didn’t respect the law or constitution. He has drowned the country in debt, and he had given up [our] land

Abdelazim told Reuters.

Al-Sisi and his allies have continuously denounced accusations of human rights abuses by using security as a justification for the crackdown in the face of an Islamist insurgency.

Read: Al-Sisi claims that his coup ‘ended fascism’ in Egypt

Much of the backlash Al-Sisi has faced is as a result of the handing over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia which Egyptians saw as an affront to national sovereignty.

The country is also struggling with rampant inflation in a tepid economy and an increase in attacks by groups loyal to Daesh on both civilians and security personnel despite promises of stability, economic growth and a crackdown on militants made in 2014 by Al-Sisi.

The cost of living for most Egyptians has soared following the devaluation of the Egyptian pound, tax rises and subsidy cuts introduced his government as part of an IMF loan deal.

Al-Sisi’s time in office has been marred by his crackdown on dissidence and independent media. Since 24 May, the government has blocked at least 122 news websites, according to the NGO Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.


According to reports, there has been a 14 per cent drop in Al-Sisi’s popularity and subsequent warnings by the government against citizens participating in the polls.

Nour Al-Huda Zaki, formerly part of Al-Sisi’s campaign team, criticised Egypt’s loss of the islands as an “insult to the oath that the president swore.”

The regime that we revolted against in January 2011 has returned. This regime’s repressive tools are worse than Mubarak’s.

(Source / 20.07.2017)