In Focus – Daily News Egypt https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Wed, 06 Mar 2019 20:45:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Africa drowning in armed conflicts https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/06/africa-drowning-in-armed-conflicts/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/06/africa-drowning-in-armed-conflicts/#respond Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:00:18 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=692059 Conflict over diamonds, power, ravages continent

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Some 15 million displaced individuals and six million refugees, accounting for 37% of the world’s refugees are in Africa, according to the Executive Director of the Economic Commission for Africa of the United Nations (UN), Vera Songwe.

The refugee issue, adopted by the African Union (AU) under the chairmanship of Egypt, is the other face of armed conflicts afflicting the majority of African states. The African Summit, hence, adopted the roadmap prepared by the AU Peace and Security Council , presented by President Sisi, entitled ‘silencing the guns,’ and set binding mechanisms for all parties to end wars and conflicts on the African continent by 2020.

Of the 41 armed conflicts in the world, 23 are in Africa, which may increase.

More than 50% of the world’s armed conflicts are in one continent, Africa, and analysts agree that diamonds and other precious metals as well as power struggles are the biggest causes.

In the following article, we review the most prominent conflicts and groups that have caused the fall of thousands and millions of victims, wounded others, killed others, and displaced many more.

Boko Haram in Nigeria

Founded in 2002 under the name of the Sunni group for preaching and combat as a group of reformist clerics and local leaders, they are known more broadly as a rebel group and atrocities started from 2009.

The group is mainly active in northeast Nigeria, but it has engaged in violence in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and has begun to draw global attention after several brutal killings, most notably the kidnapping of 230 schoolgirls in April 2014.

Boko Haram was recognised as a terrorist group by the United Nations after that incident. All affected countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin, formed an Africa force to coordinate against and face the militias in order to fight them, in addition to using French intervention. France sent a limited military force to fight the Islamists in general, in an area called Barkhane in the capital of Chad, N’Djamena. The terrorist acts of Boko Haram have left over 21,000 people killed, including 11,000 in 2015 alone.

The group continues to kill, bomb, and kidnap to date.

The civil war in Somalia

Since 1991, the opposition of various factions to the rule of President Siad Bari succeeded in ending his rule. The factions started a conflict then in the southern Somalia known as the Italian Somalia, and divided Somalia into five regions under five different factions’ rule. Areas of division differ according to new alliances and the progress of military operations between the various factions.

In 2011, AU peacekeepers excluded the Youth Movement from Mogadishu, after they seized control of it. There are about 20,000 soldiers and policemen from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and other African countries.

The Youth Movement sought revenge from the peacekeepers and turned toward guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics after losing its authority and influence on the ground.

Somalia formed the first central government in August 2013 since 1991 and dramatically calmed the conduct of combat operations. The Somali civil war left more than half a million people dead, according to estimates by the US military. The Youth Movement is estimated to have 5,000-1,000 fighters, mostly from southern rural areas, and control over 20% of Somalia. To date, they still carry out attacks in different areas under weak government control.

Civil war in Libya

The violence began in Libya with the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on 17 February 2011, influenced by the wave of Arab spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and former president Muammar Gaddafi’s use of violence against the rebels, ending with his death through the help of NATO forces. He left behind an arsenal of weapons deployed between different tribes and cities, which led to a violent civil strife since mid-2014. Libya witnessed a severe crisis of legitimacy between the two parliaments and two governments, each with an army and foreign support. After negotiations, the conflict turned into a parliament supported by militant groups and an army. Moreover, extremists such as ISIL and Ansar Sharia in Derna and Sirte continue to fight for land and oil and threaten neighbouring countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia. The conflict, so far, has left 14,000 people killed, including 1,500 in 2015 alone.

In 2018, over 3,000 people fell victim, including those injured and killed.

Civil war in South Sudan

The conflict began in 2013 between the army led by the President Salva Kiir and opposition militias under the leadership of former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who was ousted by Kiir and was accused of dictatorship and corruption in addition to strengthening the grip of his tribe on the reins of government and the marginalisation of other ethnicities and tribes in the fledgling state that broke up in 2011 from the Sudan. President Kiir accused Machar of organising a coup, which spurred the conflict.

The ceasefire was announced in August 2015, in the wake of the peace agreement signed by the rebels and the government of South Sudan, mediated by Ethiopia, but the skirmishes continued, leaving 10,000 people officially killed and 50,000 more who were unaccounted for. This includes 4,000 in 2015 alone.

After the 2015 agreement, clashes again broke out between the rebel National Salvation Front and the southern Sudanese government army.

Conflict in Darfur

Rebels have been fighting the Sudanese army in southern Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces since 2011 when South Sudan declared independence.

The conflict in Darfur began in the west in 2013 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms against the Arab-led government in Khartoum.

Two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army, led by Minni Minawi, signed an AU roadmap for a ceasefire but talks on its implementation stalled last month. A third rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement did not sign.

The conflict in Darfur has left over 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million people since 2003, according to the UN, and the International Criminal Court is demanding that President Omar al-Bashir be tried for war crimes in Darfur.

Conflict in Central Africa

It began in 2012 between opposition forces and President François Bozizé who took the helm in 2003 with the support of the opposition to work on reforming the system in Central Africa and create a balance in the circulation of power and the right of political practice by Muslims.

However, Bozizé breached the agreements, so the opposition ousted him in 2012.

Christian militias, Ante Blaka, were formed and continued killing, raping, and looting property belonging to Muslims, and justified this by the coup d’état against the president, as well as their hatred of the Muslim minority’s control of most of the economic resources, especially the 80% of diamonds controlled by the Muslim minority.

France intervened to increase its forces, but it focused its presence on cities containing the diamonds with its bias toward Christian militias and not disarming as they did with the Silica.

In May 2017, the conflict returned and caused new waves of bloodshed and displacement. About 6 million people have been forced to flee the country since 2013. A large number of new waves of displacement occurred in areas such as Zemio, which was not influenced before, while 500,000 people sought asylum in other countries.

A year ago, negotiations between the warring parties were conducted by the state of the Sudan, with the direct support of Russia, to bring peace to Central Africa.

Conflict over northern Mali

In January 2012, the National Liberation Movement of Azouad (northern Mali, which wanted to make Azawad an independent homeland for the Tuareg tribe) gained control in April 2012 but was unable to take international or regional recognition of a separate state. The rebels began to retreat under international pressure.

The government then tried to sign an agreement with the Tuareg rebels but failed because of the government’s intransigence in making any concessions to the rebels to be considered as foes of an autonomous region or even governing federal rule.

Since the start of the conflict, about 2,000 people were killed, including 400 in 2015 alone, until an agreement was signed in Algeria between the conflicting parties, to bring peace and the integration of rebels into the national army. But even so, mutual attacks between the army and associated groups erupt against the rebel group.

LRA rebellion

It is the most brutal group in the world where, since Joseph Kony assumed its presidency in 1987, it killed more than 100,000 people and caused the displacement of at least one million people. This is only the total number of people killed in the war with the Ugandan army in 2006. The group also conducts looting and gang rape as well as servitude.

That group has also limited operations in eastern Congo, Central Africa, and South Sudan. The movement consists of 11-15-year-olds, who account for 80% of the soldiers. The movement has been undermined in 2009 by the Ugandan army.

The LRA has recruited 40,000 children, according to UNICEF, which called on the International Criminal Court to order the arrest its leaders as war criminals. The UN reported that the LRA killed over 100,000 people, kidnapped 50,000 children, and displaced 2.5 million people.

The movement continued to move between northern Uganda and southern Sudan and Central Africa, supported by guerrilla tactics to drain the Ugandan army. Kony has been marked as one of the worst international figures after American director Jason Roselle issued his famous video KONY 2012 on the seriousness of LRA crimes. US forces entered Central Africa in 2016 to besiege the LRA, in coordination with Ugandan troops, but quickly left in 2017, and announced the weakening of the armed group.

Conflict in Ethiopia

It is led by the OLF to demand the right of self-determination for the Oromo, as they represent the tribe’s most numerous populations in Ethiopia and live in southern and central Ethiopia. The conflict was born when the organisation was formed in 1973, where, with the Ethiopian government’s repression of demonstrations and protests movement, which moved to Eritrea, after the expulsion of the Ethiopian government to the organisers of the movement.

The protests rose again by the Oromo against the Ethiopian government after the forcible displacement of the population from the areas where the renaissance dam is located and around the government’s claim that it is an investment-oriented land, making the organisers of the front declare their intention to attack Addis Ababa unless the government resorted to settle its situation with the Oromo.

The conflict between the OLF and the government left 1,300 people killed including 87 in 2015.

In January, the OLF signed a reconciliation agreement with the Ethiopian government, and hereby pledged to a ceasefire since 24 January. A committee of 71 people was formed to facilitate the disarmament, demobilisation. and reintegration of armed men of the OLF.

Union of Resistance Forces in Chad

They are a group of mostly Zaghawa gunmen seeking to topple President Idriss Déby’s regime that ruled since 1990, led by Timan Ardimi, the former director of President Deby’s office, before splitting up in 2006 and leading a surprise attack on the capital N’Djamena in 2008. French troops intervened indirectly in thwarting the attempt to control the capital. The conflict continues.

More recently, the French air force intervened, but directly and based upon a formal request on 8 February to repel a military strike against the capital.

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Controversy resurfaces over polygamy among Egyptians https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/05/controversy-resurfaces-over-polygamy-among-egyptians/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/05/controversy-resurfaces-over-polygamy-among-egyptians/#respond Tue, 05 Mar 2019 10:30:13 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=691934 People divided as some think Al Tayeb’s statements are diversions from texts of Sunnah, Quran, while others praised them

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Throughout the years, polygamy was always depicted in Egyptian cinema and drama without serious or official reactions to the topic, until the Grand Imam of Egypt’s top Islamic institution, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said on Friday that polygamy can do “injustice to women and children.”

Al-Tayeb, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, said that the issue of polygamy is an injustice to women and it is not the origin of Islam, but it is conditional, adding that polygamy is often practised due to “a lack of understanding of the Quran.” His statement came during a weekly televised interview and on his Twitter account. His statement was considered the first comment by a top religious cleric on polygamy, stirring huge debate among people. In Egypt, religious clerics and scholars have always discussed the ways of raising men’s awareness on refraining from doing injustice toward any of their wives, and speak on the virtues of polygamy.

Meanwhile, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam statements were interpreted by some people as a prohibition for polygamy in general, leading the institution to release a statement on the following day in order to clarify Al-Tayeb’s argument.

Social media users were divided as some stated that Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam has diverted from the texts of the Sunnah and the holy Quran, while others praised his statements saying that it clarified the reasons for practising polygamy, as it should only be done if there is a strong reason.

Later after sparking debate, Al-Azhar clarified that Al-Tayeb was not calling for a ban on polygamy, and reiterated that monogamy was the rule, and polygamy is the exception, while those who think that marriage must be polygamous are all wrong. Moreover, Al-Azhar cited the Quran as stating that if a Muslim man is to have multiple wives, he must be equally fair to each of them, while forbidding him from having multiple wives if he will not be able to equally treat them with justice and fairness.

Noteworthy, polygamy in Islam allows Muslim men to have more than one wife, but not at the same time, while a woman cannot have more than one husband as it is a sin in Islam.

Polygamy sometimes causes divisions among partners, and is a cause for tearing the family apart, especially that some men practice it unjustly and abuse it, claiming that religion gave them this right. Moreover, some of them justify it by stating that it is a better action than betraying their wives.

On the other hand, the majority of females reject the practice of polygamy, while others sometimes accept it under certain conditions.

Throughout Egypt’s history, polygamy is practiced in families when one’s own son dies, allowing the other son to marry the deceased brother’s wife, even if he is married. The other common case is granting the men this right if their first wife is not able to give birth.

Al-Azhar is too late

Nihad Abu Al-Qomsan, the head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, commented in press statements that the comments of Al-Tayeb are fair to women, “but they were too late. Saying that after more than 1,400 years, there is still no culture developed in society to make sure that polygamy is a severe injustice to women.”

She added that women’s lack of sense of security and stability in the “marital relationship” are affecting their sense of stability in general, and men who marry a second wife are being unjust to themselves by misunderstanding the marital relationship, which should be based on love and integration between the partners.

In addition to the above, the National Council for Women (NCW) issued that it appreciates the statements of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and praised it, as it enlightened the minds, and it demonstrated the females’ rights. The council also praised Al-Tayeb’s permanent assertion that the Islamic religion honoured women, and granted them many rights which did not exist before.

Moreover, the NCW commended Sheikh Al-Tayeb’s explanation of polygamy and his assertion that “this right is restricted, and it should only be practiced through a justified licence, and requires a strong reason behind it, as well as a condition of exercising justice between the wives.”

What do psychiatrists think?

A psychology professor at Al-Azhar University, Hanaa Abu Shahada, said that multiple marriages without a need are the reason behind the problem, as divorce has increased due to this, but served as a solution for the delayed marriage of girls.

She also said that those who advocate the issue of polygamy should instead focus on coming up with initiatives to solve the economic crises experienced by the country, which is the main cause of divorce among the partners.

The number of unmarried females in Egypt reached 13 million, among those over the age of 30, according to the official statistics of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics. Men were called on to practice polygamy in order to reduce the rates of unmarried females in Egypt.

There is a significant link between polygamy and the high rates of divorce, as several opportunities are usually offered to divorced women, who are more likely to agree to marry a man without the acknowledgement of his first wife. Moreover, in several cases, the wives sometimes resort to requesting a divorce from their husbands when they practice polygamy.

A total number of 240 cases of divorce occur daily in Egypt, making the country one of the highest in the world in terms of divorce rates, which rose to 40% over the past half-century, at a rate of approximately one divorce every six minutes. The country, according to cabinet reports, has 2.5 million divorcees.

Medhat Abdel Hady, a marital relations consultant, said that throughout his experience in the field of family problems, he emphasised that polygamy is a failed experience by all standards, as there are economic pressures suffered from all the segments of society. No matter how rich the male husband is, he will never be fair to his wives.

Abdel Hady said that for a marriage to succeed, the relationship needs three types of conditions which are the satisfaction of the mental, psychological, and emotional needs which in turn are divided into intimate and sexual needs, and these are rarely met nowadays in one relationship, so how will those conditions be met if they are multiple relationships?

What do people think?

Abdelrahman Mohamed, 30, said that he does not agree with polygamy, as he believes that marriage should only be restricted to one partner where both partners can share their lives and feelings, and it should not be shared with two females. “I do not think there is a man on earth who can really be just with two families, and polygamy usually occurs due to greed and for unjustified reasons,” he said.

Salma Nossier, 26, said that she never could accept that her husband marries another female, and that a man should not marry another wife without informing his first wife. She commented that multiple wives are not a solution for anything, but they only damage the first relationship, explaining that if a divorced woman was in the shoes of the first one, she would never accept for her husband to marry another one. 

Islam Hussien, 33, said that, “I would rather marry another woman instead of betraying my wife, and as long as I can be financially responsible for two houses, I can do so.” When asked if he can be just to both of them, he confidently stated that his loyalty will be confined for the first wife because she is his first love, and the one who was “with him through the thick and thin,” yet, he will also grant the second wife all her rights as much as he can.

Basma Nasser, 27, who is engaged said, “I do not support polygamy, but in many cases it could really be beneficial and useful,” citing that there are females who need a man to be with them after their husband dies, or if they are are late in getting married, in addition to the case when the first wife is not able to give birth, so men should get a chance to have children in that case by marrying a second wife.

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Cairo deadly train accident: Rundown railways, continued neglect https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/03/cairo-deadly-train-accident-rundown-railways-continued-neglect/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/03/cairo-deadly-train-accident-rundown-railways-continued-neglect/#respond Sun, 03 Mar 2019 11:00:29 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=691658 "They were heading to a wedding in Alexandria, children died, parents are in intensive care," says victims’ family 

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Cairo’s main railway station witnessed one of the deadliest accidents in the history of the railways’ sector in Egypt when a locomotive smashed through a buffer stop, killing 25 people and injuring around 50 others including some with severe wounds.

The accident occurred last Wednesday morning after the driver stepped off the train without putting the brakes on, Egypt’s Prosecution said were the reasons behind the latest catastrophe.

The prosecution added that the driver left the train to argue with a colleague after the latter struck him with another train. The driver left his railcar without switching the engine off, after which the unattended locomotive sped off and hit the buffer stop which led to a huge fire and explosion. 

On Saturday, Cairo’s prosecution office renewed the detention of the two drivers involved in the accident along with four others for 15 days pending investigations. The train driver, who left his locomotive without turning off its engine, faces charges which include ‘intentional killing and neglect.’

In the aftermath of the accident, Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat handed in his resignation. He said in a letter to ministry officials that he could not exonerate himself from the political responsibility.

The accused driver made an appearance after hours following the accident in a televised interview as he denied his responsibility of the accident. He claimed that he did not realise that he caused a tragedy and he went home but did not escape. The TV interview came after the prosecution ordered the detention of the driver, as he was already under investigation.

Meanwhile, the investigation revealed that the driver was suspended from work for six months before the accident due to his addiction to drugs. This shed light over how the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) chooses its workers and drivers and how qualified they are to be responsible for people’s lives.

The CCTV footage circulated online before being removed showed some victims on fire, running away from the station platform. It further showed people trying to rescue those suffering with water and blankets as well as with their own clothes.

The Ramsis station, the main and largest station in the country, is one of the most overcrowded places in Egypt. It was stunning that it lacks any safety, fire fighting system or trained rescue workers at the station for similar accidents.

Millions of Egyptians, including students and workers of low and average income, depend daily on the railway, which is the focal point between the country’s governorates. According to Arafat, more than 300 million commuters use Egypt’s railways every year.

The railway network is considered safer than other means of transportation in Egypt, especially since car and bus accidents on highways and main roads occur almost every day.

Rundown railways

Egyptian successive governments repeatedly vowed to develop and reform the country’s crumbling railway sector. However, nothing has changed. According to official figures, the ENR budget of 2018/19 is EGP 20.6bn, decreasing from EGP 21.3bn in 2015/16.

The country’s railways have suffered for a long time from lacking safety standards. Based on an official statement by the ENR and the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics in 2017, about 12,326 rail accidents took place from 2006 to 2017.

The Cairo station’s accident is the deadliest since August 2017, when 42 passengers, including women and children, were killed, and over 100 others were wounded after a train coming from Cairo and another coming from Port Said collided in the Khurshid area in Alexandria.

In 2012, 52 students were killed and 13 others were wounded when a train crashed into a school bus in Asyut governorate.

Egypt’s deadliest railway accident ever was in 2002, when a fire swept through an overcrowded train along a line south of Cairo, killing more than 370 people.

They were going to a wedding

A family consisting of five members, the mother, Nahed Ismael, 39, the father, Hisham Fathy,42, two children, Marwa and Mohamed, aged 15 and 6, as well as Fathy’s sister (could not reach her first name), were among the victims of the Cairo station’s accident. 

“They have mistaken their buffer stop. They were supposed to wait at buffer stop number 4 to head to Alexandria,” Khaled Abdel Rahman, Nahed’s brother-in-law told the Daily News Egypt.

The family were heading to the coastal city to attend a wedding. The two children died. Fathy’s sister died on Friday of her injuries, while Nahed and her husband are still in intensive care at two separate hospitals.

Fathy’s sister, 21, was a student at the Nursing Institute. “We buried the two children and will bury Fathy’s sister on Friday,” Abdel Rahman said. 

“We do not know what happened. Nahed and her husband are still in intensive care. We don’t know their condition or how severe their injuries are,” Abdel Rahman said, adding that they only visited them once on the day of the accident. Since then visits have not been allowed.   

All must be held accountable

“There is neglect, complacency, and recklessness. There is no proficiency or seriousness and there is no follow-up of workers and drivers which is the most significant responsibility. All these are ENR wrongdoings,” Ibrahim Mabrouk, a professor of transport engineering at Al-Azhar University in Cairo told DNE.

Mabrouk asserted the need for continued maintenance of trains and locomotives. “All of ENR officials have to be held accountable for their responsibility concerning the accident. All are responsible,” Mabrouk added.

Furthermore, Mabrouk argued that the only option for developing the railway sector and eliminating repeated accidents is through partnering with the private sector.

“The private sector will develop the railway sector in Egypt, establish new lines, stations, and import new trains, which will lead to improved services,” Mabrouk noted.

Moreover, Mabrouk demonstrated that the private sector will solve all railways problems that could not be tackled over long years, noting that it will improve the service without raising its cost.

“In Japan, the government could not run the railways sector, so it partnered with private companies,” Mabrouk said, adding, “In Tokyo, there are 12 railway companies which give the government half on the ticket and improve railways.”

All ENR workers have to be trained on safety measures and crisis management, Mabrouk said. He asserted the need to depend on advanced technical systems which remotely control the speed of trains when the permissible speed is exceeded.

Over and above, Mabrouk cited that if the government does not want to partner with the private sector, it could form a supreme council consisting of ENR senior officials, representatives of ministries of health, justice, interior, and headed by the prime minister. This council shall be responsible for the security and safety of the railway sector, he pointed out.

The successive government kept saying that they take loans aiming to improve the service but nothing was improved or developed, Mabrouk maintained.    

In July 2015, the government raised train ticket prices with EGP 20 for first class and EGP 10 for second class. Fears of new raises this year have increased as the government is gearing up to completely end fuel subsidies in July 2019.

Arafat said earlier in 2017 that Egypt needs EGP 45bn to develop the railway infrastructure, purchase new locomotives, and a railway electrification system.

In addition, Arafat previously announced that the ENR income does not exceed EGP 2bn, while its operating expenses are over EGP 4bn or 5bn.

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Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/26/algeria-joins-post-arab-spring-fury/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/26/algeria-joins-post-arab-spring-fury/#respond Tue, 26 Feb 2019 08:30:15 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=691141 Bouteflika announced his bid for fifth term

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Protesters chanting “No for Bouteflika” and “No for fifth term” spread across different Algerian cities over the last week against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term despite his deteriorating health condition.

The protesters also chanted against Saeed Bouteflika, the younger brother of the Algerian president, who acts currently as his adviser, as well as the Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and called for his dismissal.

Commenting on the controversy sparked by Bouteflika’s announcement in the country and prompted Algerians to take to the streets, Ouyahia said on Monday that “ballots” would determine the fate of Bouteflika’s fifth term.

“We can confirm that the presidential election is the suitable tool by which the people can choose who fits the position and reject whoever they do not want,’ he added.

Earlier in February, President Bouteflika announced his intention to run for a fifth term in the upcoming elections scheduled in April.

“Of course, my physical strength is no longer the same as it was in the past. This is something that I have never hidden from the people, but, my intense desire to serve the country has never faded,” said Bouteflika in a letter.

His statement did not convince many of his people, prompting them to stage public protests. Moreover, the Algerian opposition said there is no evidence that Bouteflika’s health condition can enable him to lead the country, noting that Algeria is ruled now by the president’s advisers. Meanwhile, the state authorities affirmed they control the situation, despite Bouteflika’s rare public appearances.

Bouteflika, who was recently wheelchaired, has been ruling Algeria since 1999. He always address the people via video conference, and rarely seen in public after suffering a brain stroke in 2013.

Last Thursday, Algerian authorities announced that the president, 82, will travel to Switzerland on Sunday for medical checks.

The demonstrations, led mainly by youth, marched to the presidential palace, but were dispersed by security forces using teargas, and the protesters responded by throwing stones at the forces.

These protests were the largest in Algeria since 2001. Despite intensive security measures in Algiers, but calls to protest against Bouteflika’s presidential candidacy succeeded to attract thousands of citizens after opposition political parties called for marches outside the capital. Security forces have been actively restricting the movements of the protesters, blocking their roads, and dispersing gatherings.

The demonstrators filled the capital, in addition to at least five other cities, including Oran, Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia, Annaba, and Setif.

In June 2018, a national movement was established to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for fifth term, including groups of intellectuals, opposition parties, activists, journalists, and lawyers.

The protests spread across the country and with continuous coverage on social media platforms, despite previous warning by preachers during Friday prayers of violence. A total of 41 protesters were detained last Friday, according to the state news agency APS.

Anti-Bouteflika protests were also reported in Paris, as hundreds from the Algerian diaspora gathered in solidarity with demonstrators in the home country.

Meanwhile, other Algerian people believe that Bouteflika still has the ability to rule the country. 

The National Liberation Front (FLN), which has the parliamentary majority, the National Rally for Democracy (NDA), led by the prime minister, and other parties as well as labour unions supported Bouteflika in the election.

Observers expect Bouteflika to win the presidency for the fifth time being supported by two major parties amid the division of opposition.

The Rally for Algerian Hope Party warned against “terrorism and foreign interference” following the Friday protests.

Other candidates

A large number of potential candidates announced running the Algerian presidential election in April. A total of 186 people presented their candidacy applications, almost the double of the potential candidates in the last Algerian election in 2014.

The retired military general, Ali Ghadiri, 64, was the first to announce his candidacy for the Algerian presidential election.

In the upcoming election, the Movement for the Society of Peace nominated its leader, Abdul Razzaq Mikri, to run for the president, Mikri said previously that Bouteflika’s deteriorating health condition would not allow him to perform his duties.

Reactions and media coverage

Journalists working in state media outlets denounced their editor-in-chiefs’ orders not to cover the marches.

Moreover, the Head of the Algeria’s state-owned public radio on Saturday resigned from her post for not being able to cover the Friday demonstrations.

Government television channels and radio stations also ignored rallies and protests in which thousands participated in different parts of the country, especially in Algiers, where all the media outlets are based.

The Western countries’ position from Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term and protests was not clear, except the US State Department that issued a warning over the demonstrations. Also, no comment has been issued by the European Union or any member states on the demonstrations in Algeria.

Algeria’s economic situation

Algeria has joined the latest wave of collective dissent that started late 2018 in Tunisia and Sudan. Algeria is a major gas supplier to Europe and a US ally in the war against Islamic militants in the Sahel region of North Africa. Strikes and protests over social and economic grievances are frequent in Algeria, but have generally been localised, rather than touching on national politics.

A study conducted by the International Crisis Group in November 2018 warned that Algeria could face an economic crisis by 2019, if immediate economic reforms were not carried out.

Algeria decided at the end of 2017 to replace external borrowing with internal loans from the Central Bank of Alegria to fill the budget deficit over five years, which experts considered an open door to increase inflation.

“In the absence of reforms, an economic crisis could hit the country by 2019, fuelling the tension surrounding the upcoming presidential election,” the study said. Also, more than a quarter of Algerians are under the age of 30 and unemployed, according to official figures. Many people feel discontent with an oligarchy made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-62 independence war with France.

There was a major street unrest in Algeria during the 2011 Arab uprisings that toppled the rulers of North African neighbours Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. But the Algerian security forces managed to contain it. Meanwhile, the economy of Algerian was severely affected due to lower oil prices.

Throughout the 2000s, Bouteflika’s government embarked on an ambitious investment drive to build the economy off the back of the country’s large oil and gas revenue and mineral resources. However, after 20 years in power and with a country still heavily reliant on natural resources, many have accused the government of corruption, nepotism, and failing to ensure the boom years improved the lives of ordinary people.

Algerians have bitter memories of a decade of civil war in the 1990s in which 200,000 people were killed. The war was triggered after the army cancelled an election that Islamists were poised to win in 1991.

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Egyptian-Kuwaiti cooperation bonds remain robust https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/25/egyptian-kuwaiti-cooperation-bonds-remain-robust/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/25/egyptian-kuwaiti-cooperation-bonds-remain-robust/#respond Mon, 25 Feb 2019 07:00:54 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=690953 There are 1,258 Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt with $3.67bn investments, says GAFI

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Kuwait has always been a supportive country to Egypt starting from the 1967 aggression, and through the October War in 1973 and the 30 June revolution in 2013 when the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, affirmed that Kuwait will provide full support to Egypt at political and economic levels.

Kuwait also supported the Egyptian economy with a $2bn deposit at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) in March 2015, during the Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Kuwait has been playing a mediation role in resolving the latest Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) crisis, involving Qatar on one side, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt on the other side.

On 5 June 2017, Egypt and its Arab allies cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar. They issued an ultimatum of 13 demands that Qatar must fulfill to restore ties.

Marking Kuwait’s National Day on 25 February, Daily News Egypt sheds light on major aspects of Egypt-Kuwait relations.

Economic cooperation

There are 1,258 Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt with total investments of $3.67bn in the period between 1970 until the end of January 2019, according to exclusive statistics by the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones (GAFI) that Daily News Egypt got upon request.

The services sector accounts for the largest share of Kuwaiti companies in Egypt up to 383 companies with total investments $240.99m.

The construction sector comes second with 286 Kuwaiti companies and investments of $688.44m, followed by the industrial sector with 219 firms investing $749.96m. Although Egypts financial attracts the lowest number of Kuwaiti firms, it accounts the largest value of investments of $1.3bn.

The Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt offer a total of 46,809 job opportunities, according to GAFI, of which the industrial sector has the largest share of 13,869 job opportunities.

Kuwaiti investments in Egypt are relatively good, however, they don’t match the two countries’ size in the region, economic expert Youmn El-Hamakki told Daily News Egypt, adding that both countries should develop a new strategy for boosting bilateral economic cooperation, namely in investments and trade.

The value of trade exchange between Egypt and Kuwait reached $1.74bn in 2017, of which $363m of non-petroleum products, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar, said on 7 November 2018.

Kuwait is one of the most important trade partners to Egypt as it is the third largest Arab partner to the country following the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the minister noted.

The total trade exchange between Egypt and Kuwait in the period from July to September 2018 amounted at $503.8m, including $476.7m of Egyptian imports and about $27.1m of Egyptian exports, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) latest report.

The Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khalid Al-Rowdan, stressed that Kuwaiti investors are willing to increase their investments in Egypt, following a meeting with Nassar in November 2018.

In March 2018, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and the Director General of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Abdulwahab Al-Bader, signed five agreements with a total value of KWD 86.1m ($287m/ EGP 5bn), within the framework of developing Sinai.

There are promising opportunities for boosting the joint economic relations with Kuwait especially in the stock market and services sector. Economic tie can be better than its current level,” El-Hamakki said.

Moreover, since 30 June 2013, Kuwait’s economic support to Egypt has reached about $4bn, of which $2bn was provided as a deposit in the CBE to back Egyptian international reserves, $1bn as petroleum aid, and $1bn as a non-refundable grant.

Political aspects

“Kuwait will never let Egypt down,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad said during the 30th June revolution. He also said to the former interim president Adly Mansour, “Your brothers fully support you.”

The Kuwaiti emir participated in swearing-in ceremony of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, which reflected the keenness of the Gulf state on bolstering the new Egyptian regime. Then, Al-Sisi received the Kuwaiti emir at the presidential palace. The Egyptian president visited Kuwait later and was received by Sheikh Al-Sabah on 7 May 2017.

The two sides discussed strengthening the brotherly relations between the two countries at all levels and extending the horizons of bilateral cooperation to serve their common interests. They also discussed ways to support the Arab relations and other issues of mutual interest.

Ambassador Rakha Ahmed, former assistant of Egypt’s foreign affairs minister, said that since 2013, the political cooperation with Kuwait is witnessing a remarkable improvement, adding that the main characteristic for this relation is the mutual respect.

Discussing the regional crisis, Ahmed said Kuwait is playing an important role in mediation between Arab countries and Qatar.

We have to give Kuwait the full chance to solve the crisis between Arab countries and Qatar,” he further added.

Moreover, Kuwait backed Egypt during the 1967 aggression and the October War in 1973. It was one of the first Arab countries to send its armed forces to assist Egypt in the Sinai liberation war. It sent a full brigade, called “Yarmouk Brigade”, which remained in Egypt until the end of the war, according to the State Information Service (SIS).

Military activities

The Egyptian army participated in defending Kuwait against the Iraqi aggression in 1990.

The Kuwaiti-Egyptian military relations flourished recently witnessing frequent joint drills and exercises.

The Egyptian and Kuwaiti military institutes have regular student exchange programmes to exchange experiences, visions, and ideas in the military field.

Al-Sisi asserted in several occasions that maintaining the security of the Gulf States, including Kuwait, is an unquestionable priority for Egypt and that Egypt will do its best to defend and secure its brotherly Gulf countries against any kind of aggression.

Mutual visits

Leaders and senior officials of both countries exchange visits frequently to discuss the Arab issues and strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

First Deputy of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, paid three visits to Egypt, in February 2016 as well as July and August 2017. He met with Al-Sisi and tackled the latest developments of a number of regional issues, on top of which was the Gulf crisis.

The Kuwaiti Minister of Justice, Awqaf, and Islamic Affairs, Yacoub Abdul Mohsen Al-Sanea, also visited Egypt on 11 May 2016 and was received by the Egyptian president.

Al-Sisi and the Kuwaiti emir also met frequently to discuss ways of boosting bilateral relations.

Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, visited Egypt on 3 January 2016 when he discussed strengthening the bilateral parliamentary relations.

Chief of General Staff of the Kuwait Army, Mohammed Ahmed Al-Khader, visited Egypt on 17 April 2017. The two sides discussed military cooperation between the armed forces of the brotherly countries and the efforts exerted to eradicate terrorism and achieve security and stability in the region.

On 23 April 2017, Pope Twadros II visited Kuwait and met with the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah, the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad, the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak, and a number of Kuwaiti officials and dignitaries.

Cultural relations

Cultural relations between Egypt and Kuwait began even before the political and economic relations. A student mission from Al-Mubarakiya school was sent to study in Egypt’s Al-Azhar in 1942.

Ambassador Rakha Ahmed noted that there are a large Egyptian community in Kuwait. “I think there are about 800,000 Egyptians living in Kuwait. However, the accidents they face recently are individual cases,” he mentioned.

Six Egyptians including two brothers were killed and five Kuwaitis were injured in January after a four-wheel car driven by a Kuwaiti family and a taxi carrying Egyptian expats crashed into each other.

Egypt’s official news agency reported in January that Kuwaiti security authorities are trying to reach witnesses to the incident, to disclose its circumstances. Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem attacked the Egyptians working in Kuwait, but she was slammed in Kuwait and Egypt.

Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expats’ Affairs, Nabila Makram, responded to the attack, saying, “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

History behind Kuwait’s National Day

The history behind Kuwait’s National Day is intertwined with its friendship with the British when it became its protectorate in 1897. The British protected the country against the Turkish invasion in the same year.

The year 1961 also witnessed the British totally gave Kuwait the independence it deserves. The independence of Kuwait from British rule was eyed upon by the Iraq government during that time. However, the invasion was resisted both by the country and the British. The combined movement by both countries made way for the declaration of independence.

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Uniform for teachers: fatuous, overt disregard to essential requirements https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/24/uniform-for-teachers-fatuous-overt-disregard-to-essential-requirements/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/24/uniform-for-teachers-fatuous-overt-disregard-to-essential-requirements/#respond Sun, 24 Feb 2019 10:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=690780 ‘Unfortunately, teachers are poor, desperate, frustrated over their conditions,’ says researcher

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A suggestion by a local official to apply a uniform on all teachers, males and females, brought different reactions to the surface, among tutors who criticised what they viewed as the state’s indifference to their essential and real requirements.

Last week, the Governor of the New Valley, Mohamed Al-Zamlout, launched a new initiative to obligate teachers and administrative officers of the education ministry at the governate to have a uniform on.

The initiative, which has already come into effect at some schools of the governate, drew criticism among teachers across the country who wondered about the significance of such initiative, and who will also pay for such an outfit.

Al-Zamlout argued that the costume will restore the appreciation and respect of teachers. “It is an initiative suggested by the governate,” Al-Zamlout said in press statements.

He added that the initiatives came after a meeting with some teachers in the governate. “We discussed a uniform for tutors, and they chose grey. However, the outfit will only be inside the school.”

Al-Zamlout defended the idea, arguing that it aims to allow schools to be more beautiful and organised, as well as “eliminating social inequalities between teachers.”

On social media, the initiative drew considerate attention, as users, not only including teachers, criticised and mocked it. They censured the priorities of the ministry of education and its plans to improve the conditions of teachers. However, the Minister of education, Tarek Shawki, denied that the ministry launched that initiative, yet he praised it.

Shawki denounced the criticism and sarcasm directed at the initiative on his Facebook account. He asserted the ministry’s determination to cooperate in order to address all the reform attempts, as well as to develop new ideas through holding positive dialogue.

Meanwhile, Twitter users expressed their opposition over the last few days. Some attached ironic photos and mocked the uniform. Some photos were circulated featuring teachers wearing a grey coat at their schools, users said that these photos were taken in schools of the New Valley governorate. “Is this what you call developing?’ one tweeted. While another said, “We live in a ridiculous film.”

Absurd

According to a 2018 report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the number of teachers reached 1.162 million during 2016/17, compared to 1.160 million in 2015/16.

Egyptian teachers have been reporting facing different challenges during their work inside public schools. They demand increasing their salaries and bonuses. They kept complaining about the overloaded classes which could exceed 100 students in one class.

Marwa Mohamed, a teacher aged 32, said that there are more significant issues that need to be tackled, rather than a suggestion for an outfit for the teachers.

“Overcrowded classrooms are a major challenge. There are more than 100 students in each class. How can we teachers handle this? Additionally, how could students bear such circumstances,” Marwa told Daily News Egypt.

Marwa also mentioned another challenge, as they do not have a permanent health visitor at the school where she works. “There is only one health visitor for every three schools. If a student gets sick or injured, we have to depend on our personal efforts. Either one of us can take them to a nearby hospital, or we eventually call their parents,” Marwa noted.

Marwa started working as a teacher in 2015. She only gets paid EGP 1,400 on a monthly basis. However, Marwa said that she is luckier than her older colleagues. “I know teachers who have been working for 20 years and they only get EGP 2,000 per month,” Marwa explained.

Back to the uniform issue, Marwa revealed that the initiative faces considerate disapproval in her school.” They disagree with such initiative, as they see other things as more important, such as their salaries or schools’ conditions.”

On the other hand, Marwa hailed the ministry’s new curriculum saying that it is better, but she still insisted that the huge numbers of pupils inside each class remains a major challenge and makes their mission, as teachers, more strenuous.

“I have kids who are daily complaining that they are not comfortable with their seating. Sometimes, I offer my chair for them. This is more important to be tackled,” Marwa emphasised.

In September of last year, the education ministry said that in order to eliminate the over crowdedness crisis in public schools, the ministry needs to establish 22,000 classes with the cost of EGP 100bn.

What is the point?

On Facebook groups, teachers launched a hashtag demanding a raise in their salaries which have not increased since 2014, they said.

On the uniform, they rotated in expressing their rejection to the concept itself, alleging that launching such initiative aims to distract them from their essential demands.

Hisham Lotfi, 42, a teacher, wondered if the uniform is to be effectively applied, who will pay for its cost?

“What is the point of a uniform for teachers? Respect? Appreciation? This is not what will give teachers dignity or prestige. What will satisfy them is to be fairly paid for their substantial efforts,” Lotfi told DNE.

Lotfi asserted that teachers need better circumstances in order to excel at doing their job. He added that teachers are not appreciated, neither finically nor morally. “Teachers are the most important sector in the society. They are the ones responsible for educating and schooling generations. They are not less than doctors or police officers,” Lotfi maintained.   

Back to fascist times

Kamal Mughit, an education expert and a researcher at the National Centre for Education Research, said that the initiative is meaningless, noting that its disadvantages are more than its benefits.

“Teachers are not doctors or police or army officers to commit to a uniform. Such initiative only represents a return of the fascist times and the past period,” Mughit informed DNE.

Mughit added that Egyptian teachers suffer from many issues which should be tackled. “Teachers need to get a fair pay and better working conditions in order to do their job more efficiently. Unfortunately, teachers are poor, desperate, and frustrated over their conditions, “Mughit maintained.

Mughit further wondered who will pay for the outfit? will teachers be committed to a specific colour or a specific style? Or they will have the freedom to bring their own clothes based on a chosen colour?

Furthermore, Mughit maintained that the ministry has to pay more attention toward improving the educational system, building new schools to tackle the challenge of overcrowded classes, in addition to developing the curriculum.

“Teachers are not satisfied, and they need to be taken care of,” Mughit concluded.

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Covering ‘sex leaks’: Professional, ethical lapses, law violations https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/17/covering-sex-leaks-professional-ethical-lapses-law-violations/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/17/covering-sex-leaks-professional-ethical-lapses-law-violations/#respond Sun, 17 Feb 2019 09:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=690050 ‘Digging into private affairs this far suggests negative deliberate intention to defame, hurt suspects,’ says lawyer

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Over the last two weeks, a number of Egyptian newspapers and websites reportedly violated criminal, press and media laws, constitution and international agreements during their coverage of the apprehension of two young actresses and a well-known director and MP.

The two actresses were arrested after their appearance with the director in a ‘personal sex video’ taken in a house and rapidly leaked on social media and porn websites.

Prosecution renewed last week the detention of the two women for 15 days pending investigations over charges including ‘publishing pornographic content’ and ‘engaging in debauchery.’

From the first day of apprehension, some media reports included revealing the full names of the defendants, their addresses, family members, and other personal information as well as screenshots from the videos.

Some media outlets interviewed neighbours of the two women, digging further into their personal lives. Others went to interview one of the two women while she was strongly, trying while in tears, to defend her acts. The news reports came with catchy headlines and thrilling structures to ensure more views and website traffic.

On social media, the issue was trending for a while as people were divided into two viewpoints. The first criticised the two women’s acts and justified defaming them. The other expressed their sympathy with them, denouncing what they described as an “organised campaign against a political opponent,” arguing that only women pay the price of political conflicts.

Media gag

Last week, the Prosecutor-General, Nabil Sadek, issued a media gag on media outlets covering the case until investigations are concluded. Sadek also requested the blocking of websites which publish or broadcast ‘indecent’ photos, videos or recordings. 

Earlier, Lawyer Amr Abdel Salam filed a request of banning publishing in the same case. Salam said in his request that some media ‘violated public morality, and published personal photos, names, and addresses of suspects in a way which might harm their reputation.’

Laws, constitutional violations

Personal life is protected by local and international laws, as no one has the right to intervene in others’ personal affairs and matters inside closed houses.

Article No 20 of the Egyptian Press and Media Law bans the exposure of the private life of citizens, public servants, and public prosecutors at any broadcasting or publishing media, except for matters related to their work, and only when publishing is intended to serve the public interest.

Meanwhile, article No 21 stipulates that journalists and media are prohibited from publishing anything that could affect the stances of those who are being investigated or trialled. If media commits such act it might be banned.

According to article No 101 of the same law, editors-in-chief or managing editors who violate articles No 21, 22, shall be fined not less than EGP 50,000 and not more than EGP 100,000.

Regarding the Egyptian Criminal Code, article 309 stipulates that ‘a penalty of detention for a period not exceeding one year shall be inflicted on whoever encroaches upon the inviolability of a citizen’s private life by committing one of the following acts in other than the cases legally authorised or without the consent of the victim.’ The acts include: ‘eavesdropping, recording or transmitting via any instrument whatever its kind talks have taken place in a private place or on the telephone. The second act is to spot, transmit a picture of a person in a private place.’

The Egyptian Constitution also secures citizens’ private lives. Article 99 on ‘Violation of personal freedom’ stipulates “that any assault on the personal freedoms or sanctity of the life of citizens, along with other general rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the law, is a crime with no statute of limitations for both civil and criminal proceedings. The injured party may file a criminal suit directly.”

Furthermore, according to article No 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Crimes


Ehab Sallam, a veteran lawyer and expert in media legislation, described some media coverage on video leaks as “crimes and violations which go against the country’s criminal laws.”

“There are several defects which not only go against media ethics or standards, but they also violate laws through publishing names, photos, and personal affairs of people under an investigation,” Sallam told Daily News Egypt.

Sallam maintained that those violations represent crimes according to the Egyptian Criminal Law, and they require punishment. “They represent offences of insult and slander and even defamation.” 

Furthermore, Sallam said that articles 302,306,309 of the Criminal Law protect people’s private lives and impose penalties against whoever violates the laws.

“There is a huge cocktail of violations in the media’s coverage of the issue. However, it is just a reflection of our reality regarding the media standards and legal controls,” Sallam noted.

Moreover, Sallam maintained that media institutions are familiar with all the aforementioned laws, however, violations have not stopped. “It became a normalised act. There is no journalist or media institution that does not know those laws and ethics. Instead, there is a kind of ‘flaunting’ that no one will punish them if they commit such acts.”

Meanwhile, Sallam noted that ‘digging’ this far into private affairs of the defendants only suggests that there is “a negative deliberate intention,” aimed to “defame” and hurt the suspects or their families.

Additionally, Sallam maintained that no one has the right to judge other people, especially if they are subjected to investigations. “Interviewing neighbours and publishing photos of family members of the two women only included new parties in the case,” Sallam said, adding that suspects and their families have the right to file a lawsuit against whoever published their personal affairs. “What is the sister’s fault? brother or parent to be featured in a case they have nothing to do with? Nothing!” Sallam exclaimed.

On the other hand, Yasser Abdel-Aziz, a media expert, agreed that the video circulated on the internet contains personal acts. He said that rules allow publishing the case in the media if it proved that a public figure or servant was involved in the acts because in this case, private life would intersect with the public interest. This shall exclude publishing ‘pornographic’ scenes, he informed DNE.

Abdel-Aziz added that media, in such cases, should not expand in the suspects’ details, and only point out the details of the case and investigation.

Furthermore, Abdel-Aziz maintained the need to protect the privacy of ordinary people involved in such cases. “Such violation for their personal life by publishing their photos and names has no justification, as it does not affect the public interest.”

Therefore, Abdel-Aziz said that the prosecution’s media gag is a right decision and the media must commit to it.

Has nothing to do with journalism

Laila Abdel-Meguid, mass communication professor at Cairo University, said that she opposed covering such cases because they are connected to private life.

Abdel-Meguid asserted that the media has to focus on covering the investigation, and not go into personal details. “We have nothing to do with personal details. Publishing such information will only affect the investigations and will harm the lives of people involved in the case,” Abdel-Meguid told DNE.

Abdel-Meguid mentioned that similar cases took place in the past and defendants were proved not to be guilty, however, the media at that time did not stop publishing in a way that affected them. “This has nothing to do with journalism, and goes against human rights and morals,” Abdel-Meguid said.

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty,” Abdel-Meguid said. “This requires avoiding publishing personal details including the names until there is a final court rule.”

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Iran’s 40th revolution anniversary: Islamic Republic tired but surviving https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/10/irans-40th-revolution-anniversary-islamic-republic-tired-but-surviving/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/10/irans-40th-revolution-anniversary-islamic-republic-tired-but-surviving/#respond Sun, 10 Feb 2019 10:30:30 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=689292 ‘Country devastated by 40 years of Islamic rule, no wonder its people demand regime’s overthrow,’ says analyst 

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Forty years ago, the Shiite opposition leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, fronted an Islamic Revolution which toppled the US-backed Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a major political shift which replaced Tehran’s position from a US alley to a resentful enemy.


The Islamic revolution replaced the authoritarian monarchy by a repressive theocracy which imposed strict Islamic rules on people’s daily lives, especially women, by forcing them to put headscarves. However, in recent years, many Iranian women rebelled against the laws and started wearing their headscarves more loosely.

Over several months during 1978-1979, crowds of Iranians from diverse segments, including intellectuals, liberals, and Islamists swept the streets while calling for freedom, social justice, and independence as well as an end to the US-backed Shah’s long dictatorship. Demonstrators repeated a memorial slogan which stated “Down with America.”

On the revolution’s 40th anniversary on Friday, the supreme Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, renewed the revolution’s slogan, maintaining that “Down with America” means a huge opposition to the US President Donald Trump, as long as he continues his hostile policies against Tehran.

“Down with America means death to Trump, to the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. It means death to American rulers,” Khamenei said.

Although the revolution carried hopes of freedom as well as political and economic changes which could bring a better life for all people, Iranians feel mournful as the revolution did not achieve their demands, instead it disappointed them. Therefore, over the last four decades, Iran witnessed three major unrests. 

Iranians keep protesting 

Last year, hundreds or maybe thousands of protesters swept the streets of the capital Tehran and other cities against the weak economy and the harsh Islamic rules. They shouted jarring slogans against Islamic leaders and their policies. At least 25 people were killed in the unrest, and thousands were arrested.

Earlier in December 2017, a wave of protests against headscarf laws took place. Dozens were arrested and a woman who took off her headscarf in public was sentenced for two years in prison.

Meanwhile, in 2009, the streets of the Iranian capital were crowded in one of the largest demonstrations in the country over a rise in prices and corruption. Demonstrators also accused the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of rigging the presidential elections.

In response, the Iranian authorities closed universities in Tehran, blocked the transmissions of cell phones, and text-messaging services, as well as the access to Facebook and some other websites. Additionally, the Revolutionary Guard opened fire against the demonstrators to kill dozens of individuals, and arrested several others.

Earlier in 1999, students at Tehran University protested against closing down the newspaper Salam. More than 1,000 students were arrested at that time.

Overthrow of regime

“Iran has been devastated by 40 years of the Islamic Republic’s rule. Its environment has been severely damaged and its economy is near collapse,” Alireza Nader, founder and CEO of the New Iran research group, told the Daily News Egypt (DNE). “No wonder that more and more Iranians are demanding a complete overthrow of the regime,” he added. 

Nader pointed out that “the Islamic Republic has also been horrid for the people of the Middle East, especially Syria, but also for Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.”

“Iran will only live in peace with its neighbours, the US, and the entire world if it has a democratic and a secular government,” Nader noted.

Meanwhile, Nader maintained, “the best way for the international community to achieve this is through strong support for the Iranian people’s right to self-determination.”


Tired but surviving

Other analysts believe that Iran has changed a lot over the last four decades, as its foreign policy is no longer about instigating revolutions.

“The Islamic Republic is tired but surviving. It is not near collapse like many US policymakers claim, rather it is a very different Islamic Republic than the one present 40 years ago,” Dina Esfandiary, an international security fellow at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the John F Kennedy School, Harvard University told DNE.

Esfandiary added, “Tehran’s foreign policy is no longer about exporting the revolution, but rather a relatively pragmatic one designed to ensure its security and the safety of its borders.”

The US-Iran relations

In 1980, a year after the toppling of the Iran Shah, the US cut its ties with Tehran, seized its assets, and banned most of the trade with the Islamic state. Four years later, Washington listed Tehran as a state sponsor of terrorism, as well as imposed oil and trade sanctions against Tehran over its alleged sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East region.

Ahead of the US invasion to Iraq, President George Bush cited Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as “axis of evil”, warning of the expansion of missiles which are being developed in the three countries.

In 2010, the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

Washington and its allies accuse Tehran of enhancing its missile capabilities and its military presence in the Middle East, as well as of fuelling the sectarian conflicts in the region.

The US keeps persuading the UN to hold Tehran accountable for its interference in the wars in Yemen and Syria. However, Iran kept insisting that its weaponry is merely for defensive purposes.

In May 2018, the US President Donald Trump unsurprisingly abandoned the Iran nuclear deal which was reached in the era of his predecessor Barack Obama, announcing that economic sanctions against Tehran will be reinstated.

The 2015 landmark agreement, titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was reached by Iran, China, the US, the UK, France, Russia, and Germany, to mark the end of the 12-year deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Iran’s influence in the Middle East

Iran’s power spreads to several parts in the world. Over the past four decades, Iran spread its influence in the Middle East, supporting the surviving of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. As for Iraq, Tehran’s policies were largely successful, giving it unprecedented influence there.

In Syria, Iran has deployed hundreds of troops in order to support Al-Assad’s activities in the civil war which erupted nearly seven years ago. Iran’s military presence in Syria alarmed Israel the most, leading to dozens of Israeli strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah weapons’ depots.

Such strikes, rarely confirmed by Israel, seek to prevent any strategic Iranian military presence across Syria, and in order to keep their forces away from the Golan Heights Armistice border.

In Yemen, Iran’s influence is growing as it is supporting the Houthi rebels who took control of the country at the start of 2015 by ousting the Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In response, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition, which is backed by the US and the UK, and several other countries including the UAE, Egypt, and Sudan with the aim of eliminating the Iranian influence in the region, as well as to restore Yemen’s internationally recognised government to power.

Furthermore, Iran is believed to provide the Houthis with arms and other technical assistance. In 2018, the UN announced in a report that two launch units for anti-tank guided missiles which were found in Yemen, appeared to be built in Iran during 2016 and 2017.

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What was fate of Egyptian Islamist groups in 2018? https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/06/what-was-fate-of-egyptian-islamist-groups-in-2018/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/06/what-was-fate-of-egyptian-islamist-groups-in-2018/#respond Wed, 06 Feb 2019 09:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=689034 The coalition of Islamist parties and groups which took place in 2012 which included the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Salafist Party, and other Islamist parties, was divided and broken after the forced ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. This led to the division of the Islamist movement into two groups, those …

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The coalition of Islamist parties and groups which took place in 2012 which included the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Salafist Party, and other Islamist parties, was divided and broken after the forced ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. This led to the division of the Islamist movement into two groups, those who are for Morsi, and those who are against.

The first team included a coalition of Islamist parties which gathered all Islamist parties under the banner of the Brotherhood, while the second included Al-Nour Party. The article will examine what happened to these two coalitions since the 2013.

The Brotherhood camp and the National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy

The first coalition which called itself The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy, defended Morsi and called for his return and demanded that security forces be held accountable for violence committed since the ouster of the Brotherhood-affiliated president. However, from 2013 to 2015, the alliance was weakened both by legal and physical manoeuvres by the government, where it banned several of the parties in it, and cracked down on its members and its activities. Eventually, as the years passed, and as hundreds of them were arrested, their activities became very rare, and their organisational capacity became null.  Inside this coalition, four parties will be examined.

One of this coalition’s main pillars was the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which was banned and had all its assets confiscated.

The Brotherhood itself was labelled a terrorist organisation in 2013, following a court decision that banned the group, thus making it accountable under Article 86 of the Egyptian penal code.

Furthermore, the government banned all the movement’s activities and froze all its assets, along with the assets of its members, as the government accused the movement of responsibility for the attacks which targeted security forces in the past five years, since the ouster of Morsi.

In February 2015, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree approving a law on terrorist entities, according to which the general prosecution is tasked with creating a list with the names of terrorist entities and a list with the names of people in or associated with terrorist entities. According to the law, one or more of the districts of the Cairo Appeals Court must consider the names of the enlisted entities or individuals within seven days of the initial request.

Many members of the outlawed group have been laid off from various syndicates, charity groups, and mosques, and had their assets frozen. Currently, belonging to the group or indicating support to it is considered a crime.

Also, members include the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, prominent leader in the Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Al-Beltagy, former head of the Parliament Saad El-Katatny, as well as other members in the Supreme Guide Bureau. Hundreds of the group’s members are currently imprisoned and are standing trial in dozens of cases, mostly related to violence, inciting sectarianism, and terrorism.

In October 2018, Al-Sisi said that the Brotherhood will have no potential role in the Egyptian political scene during his presidency, stressing that he believes that the Egyptian people will not accept the return of the Brotherhood.

Al-Sisi’s statements came after the Brotherhood presented in April of the same year an initiative for a proposed national reconciliation calling for a fresh presidential election describing it as “a way-out of the country’s lingering political crisis.”

“The best way-out of this dark tunnel is the return of President Morsi to power to chair a coalition government agreed upon by national powers for a specific and sufficient period of time to prepare the country for a fair election supervised by an independent judicial entity…without exclusion of any party,” the group said.

Since the ouster of the group, the government has not directly or openly proposed any reconciliation initiatives.

Several reconciliation initiatives have been proposed by prominent politicians such as Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, who proposed holding a referendum to gauge approvals of the roadmap, and Mohamed Selim Al-Awwa who proposed the appointment of a new prime minister who is ‘everyone approves of’ and has the president’s powers.

Another two Islamist parties, Al-Wasat and Al-Watan, withdrew from The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy in 2014 and 2015. Both parties denied not to take part in any future elections, and have been inactive ever since, in an attempt to build a more diverse and wide umbrella to ensure national reconciliation, and a successful transition to end all disputes in the political scene.

The last party in this list is the Building and Development Party, the political faction of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya group. In 2018, the party and the group both suffered a decisive blow when in November 2018, Egyptian authorities added 164 leaders and members of the group to the country’s designated terror lists for five years. It included Mohammed Shawki Al-Islambouli, brother of Khalid Al-Islambouli, the assassin of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, as well as Tariq Al-Zomor and Assem Abdel Majid. State media reported at the time that, the court said that the decision came after “the disclosure of attempts by the leaders of the group to revive its terror activities.”

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya shifted from militancy in 1996 after making ideological revisions and reaching a conclusion to stop considering the state as an enemy. During the 1980s and 1990s, the group entered a bloody conflict with the state, leading to the death of dozens of security forces, citizens, and group members.

After the revision, the group began preaching and performing social works in Upper Egypt and impoverished areas of Cairo and Giza. After the 25 January Revolution, they invaded the political scene through a political party called the Building and Development Party.

The latest activity of the party has been calling for ending the state of violence in the Sinai Peninsula, by appealing to Al-Azhar, calling for its intervention to adopt this initiative and work on modifying it to reach its goal.

The initiative started with asserting that continued bloodshed in Sinai fuels more vendettas, which will incite more conflict and heavy casualties. It also warned against the danger the conflict poses, as it “weakens the first line of defence with the Zionist entity.”

The party similarly warned that the conflict might cause foreign intervention, the expansion of the insurgency to the Delta, a chance for “takfiri” extremist thoughts to rise, and an effect on the economic structure of the country, as well as an effect on the sovereignty of the state. The party said that the reconciliation plan is divided into four steps: containing the crisis, pointing out the problems and solutions, setting a timetable, and forming a resolution.

The first suggested step entails that the militant groups declare a ceasefire starting 25 April, in exchange for the government stopping its military raids, as well as ending distortion campaigns, which allegedly question the patriotism of Sinai locals.

The second step includes dialogue, holding a conference to study the needs and demands of the Sinai residents, ending the state of emergency, limiting strict security operations, and freeing detainees who are not involved in terrorism-related cases. Finally, it entailed the return of deported civilians, both Muslims and Christians.

The third step includes dropping charges against Sinai civilians, positioning a moral code for the press when handling the situation in Sinai, and putting a development plan for the region.

As for the fourth and last step, it entails forming a national council from among the Sinai locals, which would announce the names of Sinai locals to be pardoned by the state and to place guarantees to the conflicting sides to remain in peace.

The party ended the proposal by calling on various parties, state institutions, and personnel to discuss this initiative for the common good of the nation.

Al-Nour Party and returning to pre-2011 roles

The second coalition was the Al-Nour Party, which has been a  strong supporter of the current regime, and has been remained untouched as it continue to back the government of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, making it the only party to survive the government crackdown on Islamist parties.

Al-Nour Party is the only major Islamist party that has actively participated in the transition following former president Morsi’s ouster, and was a part of the process of redrafting the constitution passed in 2012.

Furthermore, Al-Nour Party, which won the second most seats in the 2011-12 parliamentary elections, backed former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh in the 2012 presidential elections.

In the lead-up to Morsi’s ouster, Al-Nour Party officially remained neutral, refraining from demonstrating with those siding with the Islamist president or those calling for early presidential elections.

Al-Nour Party is the political wing of the conservative preaching group Salafi Da’awa.

In several statements, Al-Nour Party listed an extensive list of issues that it saw as priorities. It demanded that the government have a plan to “achieve national reconciliation and restore cohesion to the Egyptian people by the standards of transitional justice” and to engage the youth in political participation. The party also demanded the implementation of investigations by neutral fact-finding committees for events after 3 July 2013, while formulating ways to respond to armed groups in a just manner.

Al-Nour Party also demanded the “development of police and security apparatus in order to achieve security and discipline within the framework of the law and respect for human rights.” For social issues, Al-Nour Party believes the government would need to face the “crisis of moral chaos in the Egyptian street” and illicit drug trade.

As for foreign policy, the Salafi party outlined seven points for foreign policy that included water security, dealing with Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam and taking important roles in resolving issues in Palestine and Syria. Al-Nour Party also said it welcomed relations with Iran, but “without opening ports to the Shi’a tide”, which it said posted a threat to Egypt’s national fabric and national security.

In 2014, the party has also announced on that they will vote “yes” in the constitutional referendum and asked the Egyptian people to do so as a way to “take an important step towards fulfilling stability in the country”.

Also in the same year, it announced it would back the then Military Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the presidential elections. It called on the Egyptian people to “actively participate” in the elections. In a statement at the time, it said that “active participation of the people in choosing its institutions is one of the most important gains of the 25 January Revolution.”

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Army keeps doors of hell closed to eliminate new IS branch https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/04/army-keeps-doors-of-hell-closed-to-eliminate-new-is-branch/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/04/army-keeps-doors-of-hell-closed-to-eliminate-new-is-branch/#respond Mon, 04 Feb 2019 11:00:54 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688827 We monitor the attempt to create another IS on Western borders

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From the Kalashnikov and FN to RBG, thermal rockets and Kornet missiles that caused the death of dozens of Egyptian security men in Sinai over the years .All of this comes from one point: Al Jaghbub oasis.

The Quiet city

Al Jaghbub oasis is located in south eastern Libya and is characterised by lakes which add an aesthetic dimension to it with the water in the middle of the desert. It is also a religious and tourist hub. It was established in 1851 as a religious centre with a long history of spreading Islam. Many Libyan Mujaheden came from it, including Ahmed Al Sharif and Omar Al Mukhtar.

Since its establishment, it has been a centre for the reform movement by Sheikh Mohamed bun Ali Al Senousi.

Until 6 December 1925, Al Jaghbub was affiliated to the Egyptian state until an agreement was signed, resulting in the Italian troops leaving Egypt’s Siwa oasis in exchange for Egypt leaving the Jaghbub oasis.

The turning point

After the killing of Mummar Gaddafi, Al Jaghbub saw the movement of a large amount of heavy and medium weapons into Egyptian lands through Siwa. The quiet city then turned into a storehouse of weapons during the rule of Gaddafi, then witnessed a flow of weapons from  NATO, followed by the line of Turkish supply which was caught many times including one time by Egyptian customs in Misurata port. A similar shipment was found three weeks ago and there was an assassination attempt against the investigation officer, Tarek Zoeriqeit, in the case of the Turkish weapons, which made the Libyan army give direct warnings in a TV interview to General Ahmed Al Mosmary.

Since Muammar Gaddafi died, and according to the statements of several security sources, large amounts of Libyan weapons were smuggled through Al Jaghbub.

A security source said that the attempt to smuggle weapons is one of the most common counter terrorism measures since the start of 2011 events, as terrorist groups exploited the chaos in Egypt and Libya to smuggle weapons and humans into Egypt.

He added that over 1,000 four-wheel drive vehicles loaded with weapons have attempted to enter Egyptian lands since 2011 until now, which was confirmed by President Al- Sisi.

The source believes that these numbers of cars entering Egyptian lands with certain tactics reveals that these operations are controlled by intelligence agencies of countries such as Qatar and Turkey.

The increase in the smuggling activities from the western borders is the result of exerting strong control on smuggling in Sinai.

Weapons everywhere

In April, the Flemish peace institute issued an interesting report on illegal weapons in North Africa. The report said that the weapons trade was subject to strong control during the rule of Gaddafi. In 2011, the Libyan revolution changed the rules of the game, and the supply of weapons noticeably increased from several countries, including Croatia, Serbia, and Turkey.

A UN report published in 2014 highlighted the increase in the illegal weapons trade in Libya. In Tripoli, the fish market has become the destination for buyers of AK-47s, rocket launches, and other dangerous ammunitions and weapons.

Tubu militias (a tribe of indigenous black African nomads ranging through the eastern Sahara, residing in the

areas of Kufra and Sabha) control the southern border areas and regulate illegal arm trade with Sudan, Mali, Egypt, and Yemen.

If in Libya, obtaining weapons of any kind is quite easy, as all you need is a computer or a mobile phone with an internet connection, and soon enough you will become a member of the online specialised pages which sell weapons and you can then easily deal in purchasing or selling weapons. This is done by posting an ad on specific Facebook groups and pages, as you would do with any online shopping transaction.

Bottleneck

Following extensive research and investigation, it was discovered that the Al Jaghbub oasis and its path to Egypt is only a bottleneck or an eastern base for a domestic triangle created in Libya to create a new Islamic State (IS) group instead of the ones dismantled in Iraq and Syria. These new states are located in the wide desert in the south of Libya, called Al Haruj desert.

The new Islamic State

After the defeat in the north and losing all strongholds, IS changed its destination in Libya to the south and made the Libyan desert a new area for its combat tactics as IS runs the Haruj area from the middle of the desert to the south east of Tripoli.

The IS and African militants have executed bloody attacks on several towns, despite the efforts of the Libyan army to surround the area and deter the terrorist threat, there remain fears of future attacks on remote oases and towns in the Libyan desert, with the aim of proving the continued presence of the IS. The operation known as ‘the oases operation,’ in the Egyptian media was one of the most prominent results of this coalition, and terrorists moved from there and entered Egypt via the oasis of Al Jaghbub.

Al Haruj appears on the map as small as a black ink spot. Along its borders from the west and east, desert paths intersect reaching to Algeria from the west and Egypt from the east, and this is where the dangers of Al Jaghbub lie.

A security source said that the gates through which hundreds of extremists pass to Al Haruj every few weeks which are still open through the borders of Tunisia. From Al Haruj, Algeria is also reachable through a path near the town of Ghadames, and another in the South west border.

As for Egypt, it can be reached through the sand paths of Abdelmalek mountain in the south of Al Jaghbub oasis and from El Owainat in the far south-east.

Staff officer, Major Genreal Adel El Omda, advisor at Nasser Higher Military Academy in Cairo said that Al Haruj and the south of Libya have turned into a danderous region.

Around Al Haruj, there are small oases that rely on groundwater, agriculture, and herding camels. The IS and African militants have carried out attacks on some towns, including Al Foqahaa’ town which is located in a remote area south of Al Jafra area and the North east of Al Haruj. They tried to conduct attacks in the area of Satra near Siwa, however, the Egyptian security officials managed to stop them and were able to arrest the individuals involved. The military spokesperson announced that four cars of the terrorists and criminal elements in Satra were arrested on 13 August 2015, and five Egyptians were also arrested during their attempts to escape, riding nine Toyota Land Cruisers.

After the Islamic movement lost the parliamentary elections in 2014, and the events that ensued, including military defeats of the extremist groups in Sirte, Benghazi, and Derna, the activity of these groups gradually moved to Al Haruj until they kept growing.

The New Islamic State Group

According to information obtained by military investigators, each commander in Al Haruj has his own group. Training and joint attacks are carried out in coordination with the other leaders of a group. After each operation, the spoils are distributed across the groups, based on the participation of each group in each attack. There is a special department for funds that resembles a central bank for those staying in Al Haruj. The resources rely on stealing from government banks, the rich, and the camel herds bought by traders from Chad and Sudan, to be sold in Libya.

The majority of militants here wear clothes and ride cars that resemble the ones worn by the military. In this way, they managed to set traps for security personnel with on the roads adjacent to Al Haruj.

Terrorist gates

The gates through which hundreds of extremists make their way are still open from the both the Tunisian and Libya borders with Chad and Sudan. From Al Haruj, it is also possible to reach Algeria through a track near the town of Ghadames, and another in the south-west border triangle.

Major General Al Omda adds “Those who are in Al Haruj obtain support in the form of funds and fighters from known regional states in order to expand their movements through the borders. These countries open paths for those escaping Iraq and Syria, all the way to Libya. They provide the militants with the needed potential to cause chaos in neighbouring countries, including Egypt”.

In Al Haruj, there is no coverage of the Libyan telecommunications network. Security sources and eye witnesses say that the militants of Al Haruj have their own networks; however, it seems that they work only in limited spaces compared to the vast areas of AlHaruj.

Al Haruj -among Libyans- is known as ‘The Black Mountains’. It is hard to enter with cars unless you are guided.

The militants established their tents there as their headquarters. They have SUVs and large amounts of weapons, ammunition, food, and fuel. They use camels, hordes, palm tree trunks, and 14.5 mm cannons in their military training.

This new state growing in the heart of the Libyan deserts threatens several countries and an entire region.

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Balcony child: Why is society too tolerant of violence against children? https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/03/balcony-child-why-is-society-too-tolerant-of-violence-against-children/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/02/03/balcony-child-why-is-society-too-tolerant-of-violence-against-children/#respond Sun, 03 Feb 2019 09:30:23 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688745 Culture itself justifies physical violence, views beating children as form of discipline

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A video went viral on social networks showing a mother pushing her child to climb the wall of their building to reach a higher balcony, after misplacing the key to their apartment, raised controversy among Egyptians over violence against children.

The almost five-minute video featured the desperate mother forcing her 13-year-old child to climb the wall, and at some point, she pushed and beat him to continue trying while the little child screamed in fear.

The child was almost about to fall and die but the mother eventually pulled him inside. The video was recorded by a neighbour, who said in press statements that he documented the incident after the mother refused to listen to him and stop forcing her child to reach the balcony.

The scene had the people split into two camps. The first strongly condemned the mother’s behaviour no matter her cause. The other harshly defended her due to her low economic conditions.

In a televised interview, the mother said that she did not “hurt her child,” noting that she was holding him well to prevent him from falling. “I regret what I did to my son. I would never hurt my children.” Meanwhile, the mother pointed out that she did so because she did not have the money needed to bring a carpenter to unlock the door.

Violence against children 

Many Egyptian children are subjected to physical and emotional violence at the hands of their parents and teachers, the people who are supposed to protect them, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Egypt (UNICEF) and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). This violence is too often condoned by the adult perpetrators and even by the children themselves, the two bodies stated.

Deep in the Egyptian culture, physical punishment is deeply rooted as a way to instil discipline and to teach children appropriate behaviour, and often time to dominate them. It is not surprising that a scene of a parent beating their children in the street would not attract the attention of passers-by, as it has become a normal act.

According to a 2015 study by the UNICEF and the NCCM, “around two-thirds of the children based in Cairo, Alexandria, and Assiut were victims of physical violence, and 78% were victims of emotional violence.”

The children interviewed in the study, aged 13-17, reported “that they were left feeling sad, miserable, weak, irritated, offended, or embarrassed after experiencing physical violence.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that child maltreatment included “all types of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence, and commercial or other exploitation.”

“International studies reveal that a quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children and 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 13 men, report having been sexually abused as children,” the WHO continued. 

Most importantly, the WHO added that every year, “there are an estimated 41,000 homicide deaths in children under 15 years of age.” “This number underestimates the true extent of the problem, as a significant proportion of deaths due to child maltreatment are incorrectly attributed to falls, burns, drowning, and other causes,” the WHO added.

Masculinity problem    

“Successive generations used to be subjected to physical violence during their childhoods in their homes and schools. This is how we all have been raised up,” Said Sadek, a sociology professor at the AUC, told Daily News Egypt.

Sadek maintained that only recently, teachers were banned from beating students, however, before that, physical punishment was allowed. 

Furthermore, Sadek clarified that most parents are beating their children to instil discipline. “This is the only way they know to raise children, or they believe that.”

On the other hand, Sadek pointed out that Egyptian society has a masculinity problem which is one of the reasons of violence against children. “Parents beat their sons to make them become real men. Overall, people accept physical violence not just against children but also against women, and these are all forms of domination.”

Sadek indicated that “physical punishment is reportedly inspired by religion, as it allowed men to hit their women or abandon them in bed.” “Sometimes you have women who justify this violence and incite fathers to physically punish their children,” Sadek noted.

“The circle of violence started from men. The father oppressed his wife. The wife oppressed children. Children oppressed younger children and it never ends,” Sadek said, adding, “the culture itself justified physical violence and views beating children as a form of discipline. They think: this how I discipline you. This how you will become a real man.”

Sadek noted that the issue is escalating because children are not legally protected, even if there are some laws that prevent violence against children. 

In order to eliminate violence against children, Sadek emphasised that there is an urgent need for media intervention to educate and change the culture of beating inside Egyptian houses and schools, as well as providing parents with instructions which assert that beating is not the right way to raise children. However, he noted, such change would talk a long time to observe social changes regarding this issue.

“Of course there are different ways to raise children rather than beating them such as depriving them of things they love or going out with friends on weekends,” Sadek noted.

Regarding the balcony mother, Sadek commented, “this woman is from a low-class family with low income, so the money is very tight. Therefore, the violence is very common amid those families.”

Parents’ property

Heba Essawy, a psychiatry professor at Ain Shams University, said the main problem is that parents are dealing with their kids as ‘property,’ and they think that they have the absolute right to do whatever they want to them.

“In my opinion, the balcony mother decided to ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ her child to solve her problem, instead of bringing a carpenter and paying a sum of money. It is a very selfish act,” Essawy told DNE.

However, Essawy disagreed that low economic conditions could justify the mother’s actions. “The concept of ‘our children are mine,’ is very rooted in Egyptian culture, as if they are property. And losing the key is not the child’s problem or responsibility.”

Essawy maintained, “parents often control the choices of their children, what they want to study, what they wear, the sport they desire to practice and so on.”

With such actions, Essawy noted that parents tend to eliminate children’s willpower, creating a weak and submissive character that follows their instructions.

Moreover, Essawy highlighted the physiological impact of such action on the balcony child, who, she said, is anticipated to suffer from agoraphobia and other psychological disorders over what he has been through.

Essawy also pointed out that the circle of domestic violence has no end, as parents who were subjected to physical violence in their childhood, are expected to follow the same approach with their children.

“Additionally, many wives do not enjoy stable or happy lives and were beaten by their husbands. Therefore, they tend to beat their children out of their stress and frustration. In fact, beating children is a very inhumane act and must be stopped,” Essawy concluded. 

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100 days after Khashoggi’s murder, how it challenges Saudi Arabia https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/31/100-days-after-khashoggis-murder-how-it-challenges-saudi-arabia/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/31/100-days-after-khashoggis-murder-how-it-challenges-saudi-arabia/#respond Thu, 31 Jan 2019 11:00:33 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688595 Saudi Arabia admitted murder of its prominent journalist after 18 days

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During his latest visit to the Middle East early in January, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he will ask from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure that the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held accountable for their crimes.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo said.

But who is Jamal Khashoggi, and how did his murder affect Saudi Arabia?

Crime at consulate

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October. He was at the consulate to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

His Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz was waiting for the journalist outside the consulate, and she called the Turkish authorities about the disappearance of him after entering his country’s consulate.   

Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had previously denied Khashoggi had been killed and dismembered inside the diplomatic facility.

Saudi Arabia recounted different narratives regarding Khashoggi’s murder. The last one said that 15 Saudi security members killed him, but we do not know where the journalist’s body is until now.

Riyadh previously said that 18 Saudi nationals were accused of the incident are under investigation and will be punished.

Internal change

Following the Khashoggi crisis, Saudi Arabia declared major changes including more pressures on the media and more gifts to the people including rewards for employees in the governmental sector.

The changes also included the intelligence agency “in order to enhance the performance of the agency”. New departments were added to the agency such as one for the strategy, a department for legal affairs, and another department for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the agency.

The kingdom said that the team which investigated and killed Khashoggi was formed by the Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed Al-Asiri, who was dismissed from his position is currently under investigation over the Khashoggi case, according to Saudi officials.  

Asiri was internationally criticised by human rights organisations for his role as a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, particularly after he declared in 2015, that the Houthi-held cities Saadah and Marran were military targets, placing thousands of civilians at risk of the coalition’s raids.

 

Yemen’s hell

Yemen remains a big challenge for Riyadh as it has formed the Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen in March 2015, following the Ansar Allah ‘Houthi’group backed by Iran, which seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014.  

Besides Saudi Arabia, the coalition includes the United Arab Emirates; Jordan; Bahrain; Pakistan; Djibouti; Sudan; Senegal; Kuwait; Morocco; Malaysia; Egypt as well as the internationally recognised government of Yemen.

The murder of Khashoggi, who was demanding an end to the war in Yemen, pushed different European countries to reconsider its military cooperation with Riyadh. Austria, for example, demanded from the European Union to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, stating that these arms are being used in the “terrible war in Yemen”.

Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada also announced halting all their arms bargains with Saudi Arabia until they reached an explanation of the Khashoggi case. Only the US which said it will not do the same thing.

US President Donald Trump said that “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation, but … I think it’s a very important first step,” Trump said, adding “I would prefer, if there is going to be some form of sanction or what we may determine to do, if anything … that we don’t use as retribution cancelling $110bn worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.”

Trump has found the Saudi narrative credible, but Turkey has another view.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey, angry ally

The relation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia witnessed one of its most critical moments since the begging of their alliance in the 1940s. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated several times, compelling Saudi Arabia to hold the killers of Khashoggi accountable.

Saudi Arabia rejected Turkey’s requests of handing the murderers of Khashoggi to Turkey for trial.

Riyadh faced the Turkish official’s statements with a sober statement from the crown prince stressing the strength of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, praising the Turkish president Erdogan. But Saudi media began a campaign calling for boycotting Turkey and accusing Turkey of harming the stability of their kingdom.

The former Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir accused Turkey of not cooperating with Saudi Arabia in the investigations, however, Turkey played the game of leaks with Riyadh, exposing details about the case step-by-step. This was the last public statement for Al-Jubeir before he left his post.

Analysts believe that Turkey was using the Khashoggi case to press Saudi Arabia into reconciliation with Qatar-Turkey’s ally-and end the gulf crisis.

Gulf Crisis

The International pressure on Riyadh following Khashoggi’s case led to more flexibility or less escalation in the Gulf crisis. One of the Saudi steps was an invitation from Saudi king Salman Bin Abdulaziz to the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani to attend the summit of the 39th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi capital Riyadh, in December.

Qatar’s Emir did not attend, and Qatar’s delegation was headed by its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan Al-Muraikhi. But despite that there is no clear evidence of an imminent end to the Gulf crisis. Saudi media decreased its attacks against Qatar particularly after the statements of Bin Salman in which he has praised Qatar’s economy.

Moreover, the Kuwaiti Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled Al-Jarallah lately said that Kuwait sees “positive signs” for containing the Gulf escalation.

Kuwait is the most acceptable mediator from all the parties in the Gulf crisis which was enflamed on 5 June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut their diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar. The four Arab governments accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and Iran, disturbing regional security and stability, charges which Doha vehemently denies.

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Trump’s possible impeachment: how can it affect Egyptian, global economy? https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/30/trumps-possible-impeachment-how-can-it-affect-egyptian-global-economy/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/30/trumps-possible-impeachment-how-can-it-affect-egyptian-global-economy/#respond Wed, 30 Jan 2019 07:00:40 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688351 US President repeatedly declared he will not reopen government unless he gets funding for border barrier

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After a 35-day federal government shutdown, the longest in the US history, President Donald Trump has bowed to pressure and reopened the government on Saturday.

Trump reopened the government to reach a deal with the Democrats, after they have announced their willingness to reach a serious deal, however, Trump informed the Wall Street Journal that the Congress must agree on a new bill by 15 February in order to avoid another shutdown.

To save a face, Trump tweeted, “This was not a concession in any way. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it is off to the races!” The US economy has already lost about $3bn due to the government shutdown.

Noteworthy, during the government shutdown, Trump served fast food for the national football team due to the shutdown, while the White House announced that Trump is personally paying for the event, and will cater to everyone’s favourite junk food. The reason behind this, is that the White House’s staff, who caters for such events, is furloughed, with about 800,000 federal employees were forced to have unpaid leaves.

Apparently, it seems like Trump may shut down the government again for years if the Congress does not reach a solution for building the border barrier, as Trump said, “As a presidential candidate, I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or another.” This means that he is never backing off from his target to build the wall, “It is the Democrats who are keeping everything closed,” Trump tweeted. Yet, he does not see that he is part of this ongoing crisis.

“Definitely Trump’s impeachment will affect the Egyptian market,” a senior Economist at Sigma Capital Holding, Eman Negm, told Daily News Egypt, adding that not only the Egyptian market will be affected by the impeachment and the volatile political environment of the US, but the whole global market will be affected as the US is the world’s biggest economy by far, representing 24% of the world’s economy.

Negm mentioned that this volatility will lead to stopping reallocation by asset managers and fund managers until they find out how the political situation will be stabilised.

The stock market is part of a globalised economy and what happens in one economy is bound to affect others, if we look back throughout history, we can see that every time the US market fell, it was followed by a fall of the global stock market, and not just the Egyptian market.

However, analysts have different opinions about Trump’s impeachment and its impact on Egypt. “Fears of slow economic growth due to the US-China trade war will come to an end if Trump got impeached and it will consequently have a positive impact on the growth outlook not just in Egypt, mainly because of economic growth in China,” said the Head of Research at Pharos Holding, Radwa El-Swaify.

She added that the Federal Reserve will probably then raise interest rates two times, which is the expected scenario before holding on to rates, the scenario that Trump was rejecting, which will obviously initially have a negative impact on emerging market currencies before sentiment improves with the halt in rate rises in the US.

Building a border barrier between the US and Mexico was one of Trump’s key promises when he was campaigning to become president. This idea divided the country, nevertheless made him win many supporters. After two years of his presidential term, he wants to fulfil this promise.

The planned 1,000-mile steel wall between the US and Mexico would be designed to prevent illegal migration from Mexico.

But is illegal migration the main reason behind building the wall?

The Washington Post published a transcript of a leaked phone call between Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña, in January 2017, telling him that Mexico must pay for a border wall between the two countries. Trump said the wall is more of a symbol than a national security project.

“I am just going to say that we are working it out,” Trump said. He added, “Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important,” however, Peña continued on pushing back.

Building a wall of this size is going to cost a lot of money, originally, he suggested that Mexico should pay for the wall, but it was soon very clear that the Mexican government would not pay.

Now, Trump is appealing to his own government and to the US’ taxpayers in order to pay for the wall, he estimates that he would need $5.6bn to build a steel barrier across the border, but the appeal was not well received by the Democrats, so the government was forced to partially close.

This shutdown was the longest in the US history, and it seems that there may be another long one, as Trump repeatedly declared that he will not reopen the government unless he gets funding for his border wall, however, he reopened the government due to the pressure he has been facing as the Democrats are fiercely opposing him, and have rejected his requests. Moreover, polls also show that the US citizens do not agree with building the wall, but those who do, are working hardly to make their opinions heard.

Shutting down the government was not the optimal solution, as Trump’s impeachment is being discussed by the Democrats.

In the first week of January 2019, the swearing in of the new Congress was dominated by one word: impeachment.

Rashida Tlaib, a newly elected Democratic representative from Michigan, began her tenure in the Congress by saying what most members of her party are thinking about, which is promising to impeach Trump.

Trump responded by tweeting, “How do you impeach a president who has done nothing wrong?”

Yet, being impeached does not mean becoming expelled from the office. On the US federal level, it is a process whereby a simple majority vote in the House of Representatives can accuse a civil official, including the president, of an “impeachable” offense. That accusation would then move to the Senate, which would decide whether or not to convict this official.

There are almost certainly enough votes in the House to impeach Trump, and almost certainly not enough votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to convict him. Even if the entire Democratic caucus voted to convict Trump, 20 Republican senators would need to join them to expel him from office. That is an extraordinarily high barrier for Trump’s opponents to overcome.

Investors and businesses may have overlooked one big risk that could come out of Washington due to the possible impeachment of Trump, but the history reveals that stock markets often perform better with a divided government. Between 1901 and 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) returned to 10.1% annually in periods with divided government versus 9% with one party in control.

When President Richard Nixon resigned in the 1970s, and President Bill Clinton was impeached in the 1990s, the stock market took a nosedive. Nixon’s resignation exacerbated a bear market in stocks, which lasted for several years after he resigned in August 1974, but it was largely due to the oil embargo by the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries which targeted nations perceived to support Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israel war, and the US was one of the initial nations which was targeted, in addition to a rapidly rising inflation which, specifically the core consumer price index, increased from below 3% to more than 11%.

Nixon was the first case, but he resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings could begin. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 before being acquitted by the Senate in 1999. The market responded in both cases in two very different ways. During the 12 months leading up to Nixon’s resignation, the S&P 500 index fell by 23%, while in the 12 months leading up to Clinton’s impeachment, the S&P 500 gained 25%.

Yet some analysts said that definitely Nixon’s fate did not matter to the markets, it was the global economic environment moving the markets, not politics.

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Egypt fights homelessness as part of community development initiatives https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/29/egypt-fights-homelessness-as-part-of-community-development-initiatives/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/29/egypt-fights-homelessness-as-part-of-community-development-initiatives/#respond Tue, 29 Jan 2019 08:00:31 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=688237 Over last 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages rescued, says social solidarity minister

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Continuing its progress in the community development field since last year, the Egyptian government has launched a new social initiative as part of a series of social projects introduced to improve conditions of the most vulnerable individuals.

Following the cold wave that hit the country over the past two weeks, the ministry of social solidarity created an initiative to rescue homeless people. The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, initiated the “We are With You” campaign on 15 January, in coordination with the ministries of interior and health, to solve the problem of homelessness in Egypt.

The initiative assigned special convoys nationwide to return lost children to their families or offer them shelters. For those who do not want to be relocated, the convoys provide them food, medicine, and blankets instead. It further provides rehabilitation to help people resume their normal lives.

There are 17 convoys working in different areas and governorates across Egypt, each includes sociologists, psychologists, doctors, and specialists to handle homeless children. They return lost children to their families if they were reachable, otherwise they send them to child care centres. The same options are offered for the homeless seniors.

The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly

These convoys also include rapid intervention teams affiliated to the ministry of social solidarity and members of the Tahya Misr Fund’s Children Without Shelter initiative.

There are least 12 million homeless people in Egypt, including 3 million children, mainly in Cairo, Giza, Qaliubiya, Alexandria, Menoufiya, Sharqeya, Suez, Beni Suef, Minya, and Assiut, according to the ministry of social solidarity.

The ministry offered several contact channels though hotlines and social media so people can report any homeless person. The initiative marks a good start for this year, said Waly, noting that following the recent cold wave, intensive efforts have been exerted by the Children Without Shelter initiative and the ministry to rescue homeless persons.

Over the past 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages were rescued, however, the initiative was initially targeting only children.

The ministry said that 95 adults and 80 children were rescued on Saturday. Cairo had the lion’s share of these cases with a total of 68 homeless people, followed by Giza with 20 individuals, and Assiut with 19 individuals.

This campaign received a fund of EGP 50m from the ministry of social solidarity and extra EGP 114m from the Tahya Misr Fund. The Egyptian Food Bank also financed the initiative through providing free meals.

The CEO and Managing Director of the Egyptian Food Bank, Moez Al-Shahdi, said that this initiative to rescue homeless people is very positive.

“It is clear to everyone that there are people [in Egypt] who are struggling to find shelters or obtain life’s basic needs,” said Al-Shahdi.

The Deputy Head of the campaign, Ayman Abdel Aziz, said the campaign aims to provide the social and psychological rehabilitation of children and to reunite them with their families, if it is possible. He added that the campaign also focuses on helping the elderly through providing hot meals and blankets if they refuse to return to their families or move to the ministry’s care centres.

The government is currently building more shelters for street children and now plans to coordinate with different NGOs to build more shelters for the homeless.

Abdel Aziz noted that the initiative’s teams were carefully selected from 3,000 applicants, and received training, in collaboration with international organisations with long experience in this field, such as FACE for Children in Need, Save the Children fund, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Sayed Hamed, a coordinator in one of the rapid intervention teams, said that his team was not working randomly, but actually they were monitoring several areas to reach those in need, noting that they have a strategy for providing support and meals for homeless people.

He added that his team has started since 2016 to offer support for the homeless upon the directives of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Hamed pointed out that rapid intervention teams are spread all over the country.

Moreover, the campaign’s spokesperson, Hazem Al-Mallah, described the initiative as a “multipronged” mission that includes fixed and mobile units so that they can reach out to the homeless everywhere. It also develops shelters for the homeless, offers case management services-including a follow-up of homeless people after returning them to their families to ensure they do not return to street-and raises social awareness about the issue.

The Egyptian population living below the poverty line exceeded 30%, while the state is working on providing different social development projects. On Saturday, President Al-Sisi witnessed the launch of the ‘Nour Al-Hayah’ (Life’s Light) initiative, which aims to treat diseases that cause blindness or blurry vision. The initiative will be funded by the Tahya Misr Fund.

Earlier in January, Al-Sisi also started the Decent Life initiative to serve as an umbrella for civil society initiatives aimed at providing healthcare, social services, job opportunities, and developing infrastructure.

On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, announced that a new family-planning initiative will be launched as a part of the “100 Million Health” campaign to control overpopulation.

The new initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of having only two children, Zayed explained, adding that it will be divided into multiple stages covering all governorates according to the size of population issue in each area, considering the studies conducted in this regard.

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Ready for business, meet 5 tech startup aces in Egypt 2019 Pitch Competition https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/23/ready-for-business-meet-5-tech-startup-aces-in-egypt-2019-pitch-competition/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/23/ready-for-business-meet-5-tech-startup-aces-in-egypt-2019-pitch-competition/#respond Wed, 23 Jan 2019 09:30:03 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687673 Jury impressed by participating startups with clear plan to grow, profit

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Creative, passionate and clever are some of the numerous qualities of the participants in Egypt’s 2019 Pitch Competition, which is the first phase of The AIM Startup. The winners will participate in the AIM Startup in Dubai next April. The 2019 edition focuses on digitisation to empower startups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Egypt Pitch Competition was hosted by Creative Hub Egypt, an futuristic platform managed by the Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC). It offers services and spaces to designers, entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers in order to share design knowledge, develop businesses, and spread innovation.

From 21 startups, a jury consisted from the AIM Startup team and other experts, had to select five winners. The jury includes Programme Manager of Electronics Industry at ITIDA Yasser Abdel Bary, Entrepreneurship Development Senior Advisor at USAID SEED Project, Mohamed Sultan, Adjunct Professor at the American University in Cairo, Ramez Daoud, and of Entrepreneurship Centre Director at the Arab Academy for Science, Wael El Desouki Bedda.

Yasser Abdel Bary informed Daily news Egypt that the jury members were impressed with the work of the startups, “they came well-prepared and have a clear plan to grow and profit. Yet, we had to choose five startups according to the AIM Startup’s criteria” he added.

AIM Startup was launched in 2017 as an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy to connect promising startups with investors and business partners from other parts of the world.

The winning startups of this year tackled many issues such as a device that allows travellers to use their SIM card for making or receiving calls and SMSs with zero roaming fees; a recycling machine for beverage cans and plastic bottles, and a smart internet of things (IoT) platform that tracks garment production lines.

DNE interviewed the five winners, and asked them about their next move, the obstacles they faced ,and what inspired to create their startups.

VoxEra, a cheaper way to keep connected

Amr Elgalby, the founder of VoxEra, was travelling on a business trip to Georgia, where he needed to keep calling and sending SMSs to his clients in Egypt. Once he came back to the country, he had to pay a huge sum of money to cover his roaming fees. Elgalby is a voice over IP engineer, so he thought of a solution to reduce the fees, and ended up with VoxEra, the device with its four flashing indicator lights and connectivity ports, and looks a little like a home router. Once a SIM card is inserted into its designated rear slot, the VoxEra works its magic: all calls placed while the user is travelling are charged at domestic rates.

Amr Elraiany, the business developer of VoxEra, rendered the presentation before the jury, as Elgalby was in China following the production process of the device. Elraiany told DNE that the biggest issue they had to deal with was manufacturing the device because it was the team’s first experience in manufacturing a hardware.

“We are not an alternative to telecom providers, we just offer a solution to low roaming fees. Let’s say that we may take a little bit of the profit they make, because when people use VoxEra, they will not pay for roaming fees.”

The startup is now working on the second pitch to deliver their pre-orders. The next move is to expand the market targeting the Gulf area, which has a large group of foreigners. As a first phase, VoxEra accepted a startup in Chile, so the team will be in Chile for some months to further develop the product.

Elraiany highlighted that the startup at this point is handling the service very well and covering the production line, yet getting increased investments into the firm will give it a bigger and faster chance to enter more markets.

Garment IO, an eye garment monitor production line

Garment IO is a smart IoT platform tailored to boost the productivity of the garment manufacturing industry. It is a plug and play software and hardware solution providing garment factory managers and owners a complete overview on production processes, worker performance, and production cost calculations, all the way down to the transaction details, real-time, and is accessible online.

Mahmoud Sabae, co-founder of Garment IO, believes that the system gets quite a lot of data that can help decision-makers, adding “by using Garment IO, mangers in garment factories get insights on how to improve productivity. We take care of quality issues, maintenance, planning, and costs.”

The Founder of Garment IO, Ahmed Nounou, previously had a garment factory, and when he met Sabae, they discussed the issues in the garment industry, and from there they got the idea for their startup.

Garment IO helps garment manufacturers and factories track, analyse, organise, manage, and optimise their production processes. It provides the hardware and software as a service for a periodic fee that the factory pays per installed device.

The startup is only targeting the garment manufacturing industry, which is sized at $420bn in 2017 (excluding raw material), employing over 70 million employees worldwide. “We are focusing on doing one thing better than others” Sabae added.

The biggest challenge Sabae and Nounou faced was the hardware, especially importing the required electronics into Egypt, besides getting some approvals from a few government agencies. Sabae said that they will soon start selling pre-orders, “we are already functioning in terms of hardware and software, and we are planning to quickly penetrate the market, and once we establish ourselves in Egypt, we will expand globally”.

EpicVR, a real life like gaming experience

EpicVR designs and implements virtual reality arcade games, from the games themselves, operating software, exterior design and production, and required hardware. It sells the complete product to arcades and family entertainment centres.

EpicVR’s team are engineers who are passionate gamers and interested in virtual reality (VR), and when it was available for developers, they decided to make their business model of it, a profitable business out of it.

EpicVR was founded in August 2015. Aiming to deliver this amazing experience to the masses, they started focusing on creating out-of-home arcade games that are sold to game centres in Egypt and the MENA region.

DNE interviewed Ahmed Atif and Ahmad Amin, co-founders of the startup, who are focusing on their first potential market in the region, Saudi Arabia, “we showcase our product in many exhibitions, but one of the biggest challenges we faced was connecting with the owners of entertainment centres, because our model is a B2B model,” Atif said.

They managed to corporate with someone who works in the arcade industry since the 1980s, as they seek to gain clients who trust their product, “we are now present in many centres, but the number of our team is not large enough, so we aim to expand our team” Amin added.

Zeroprime, a solution for unused cans and bottles

Annoyed by the amount of rubbish in Cairo’s streets, Islam El-Refaey, founder and CEO of ZeroPrime Technologies, thought of a way to recycle the rubbish, as he has a background in aerospace and mechanical engineering, and is interested in applying technological solutions especially for social causes.

El-Refaey, who established his startup 2017, worked on designing and implementing smart sustainable city infrastructures. His first solution for the scattered city rubbish was CanBank, which is a machine that gives users different rewards of their choice in exchange for their used beverage cans or plastic bottles. The machine is available in corporates, universities, clubs, and malls to encourage them to recycle.

Furthermore, El-Refaey stressed the need for better ways to deal with waste, especially with its negative impact on the environment, “we have a bigger vision for automated waste management. Besides CanBank, there will be a product which will assist to complete the whole process of waste management” El-Refaey, said, adding “our next product will focus on oil and liquid recycling, yet we faced some obstacles, the biggest was finding a suitable and profitable business model, and hopefully the process will be easies in our next products.”

ZeroPrime is now partnering with some beverage companies to expand the business, El-Refaey added “we are now in discussions with the ministry of environment, and hopefully that will result in positive benefits. We want to change the way Egyptians deal with solid waste, and I believe that this is an achievable dream.”

Widebot, the first Arabic-focused bot builder platform

WideBot is the first Arabic-focused bot builder platform that gives a tool to businesses in the MENA to build smart chatbots without coding in a few minutes, while helping them to engage with their audiences by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to maximise conversions and increase loyalty.

Mohamed Nabil, the CEO and co-founder of WideBot, is looking to attract more clients to his platform, “we are working to improve our platform, by adding more Arabic slang terms and making it more accurate. We struggled during the developing process of our platform, because there is not a lot of data available in Arabic” Nabil said.

Next month, the tech startup will open its office in Dubai. Nabil believes they can build the most powerful AI tool that supports Arabic language, “we need some investment in our project in order to improve the team’s productivity, and hire more employees in our company” he added.

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Fruitful outcomes recorded during society dialogues on amending NGOs Law https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/22/fruitful-outcomes-recorded-during-society-dialogues-on-amending-ngos-law/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/22/fruitful-outcomes-recorded-during-society-dialogues-on-amending-ngos-law/#respond Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:00:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687563 Articles on establishment, exemptions, granting exceptional privileges, punishments topped discussions

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Several society dialogue sessions were held during the past few weeks to continue discussions over the amendment of the existing non-governmental organisation (NGOs) Law.

The first session started on 22 December in the presence of the Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wali, and in cooperation with Misr El-Kheir Foundation, the Coalition of NGOs and total of 200 members from NGOs participated from governorates of Menoufiya, Qaliubiya, Giza, and Cairo.

It came one month after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the government to form a committee to come up with a comprehensive vision to amend the existing law and prepare a report with the suggested amendments to present to parliament after holding community dialogues.

The second round was held in Alexandria, drawing representatives from as many as 150 NGOs affiliated with the governorates of Beheira, Gharbia, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Marsa Matrouh, Dakahlia, and Damietta. In this meeting, participants recommended that 20% of NGO boards should be composed of young members, 30% of which should be women, which comes as one of the best recommendations.

The sixth round was organised on 4 January by the National Academy for Youth Training and Rehabilitation, in cooperation with the ministry of social solidarity, with the attendance of 154 youth and a number of public figures, youth parties, and ministry officials.

Generally, during the six rounds, the attendees came with a number of recommendations to be submitted to parliament, which focused on reconsidering the disputed articles in order to come up with a set of recommendations. Topics that monopolised the talks included reviewing the agreement of the articles of the current law of the NGOs, the constitution, international conventions signed by Egypt, and how Egypt deals with foreign funding and fundraising.

They also discussed articles related to the establishment, exemptions, granting exceptional privileges, punishments and re-formulating the relationship of the state with NGOs to ensure the necessary balance between the freedom of responsible civil action and the requirements of national security.

The head of the Coalition of NGOs, Talaat Abdel Qawi, said in press statements that the committee is reviewing all the existing articles and other recommended articles.

“First, we aim to develop a comprehensive law that aligns with article 75 of the constitution, which states that the NGO shall acquire legal entity upon notification, and shall have the right to practice their activities freely without a1dministrative interference and according to article 92, which states that Egyptian laws must be in line with international conventions,” said Abdel Qawi.

He continued that: “Second, we call for a law to help the beginning of civil work to implement its role in offering benefits and opportunities for associations.”

Abdel Qawi noted that the number of NGOs in the various governorates of Egypt reached 50,000 associations present in all cities and villages, adding that the civil society is strong and serious with the citizens, and that these organisations dispense financial support to some families in the form of housing such as providing roofs of houses in some villages in Upper Egypt, water and sanitation, and there are other aids in kind of medical treatment for patients, as well as clothing, helping brides from the neediest families, as well as offering some tuition for students who suffer from difficult economic conditions, and supplying basic goods for the needy throughout the year.

He also said that the civil society participates in 30% of the total health services for the needy and implementing women empowerment workshops, of all which do not have a media appearance and offer great services to citizens.

The official explained that issues of publicity and penalties in the law were well-reviewed during the rounds, explaining that the promulgation of NGOs was linked to the submission of a notification to the concerned authorities in accordance with the constitution.

“The establishment of an NGO is suggested only through notification without any additional procedures in order to coincide with Article 75 of the constitution and meet a basic demand of the NGO community and so state authorities can investigate for up to 30 days pending the license issuing,” he said.

Abdel Qawi asserted that any NGO is entitled to receive funding from abroad under the supervision of the ministry of solidarity, adding that the rounds recommended that the high licensing fees — EGP 10,000 — required for setting up an NGO should be reconsidered, and for foreign NGOs, it is recommended that the licensing fees be reduced from EGP 300,000 to100, 000.

The sessions came while the Cairo Criminal Court in Egypt acquitted all 43 defendants accused in the ‘foreign funding’ reopened case of 2011.

The case involved 43 NGO staff of Egyptian nationals and 16 foreigners. The acquittal was cautiously praised and stirred questions over the path of civil society organisations.

Daily News Egypt presents a number of significant recommendations which resulted from the rounds and are expected to be discussed for the amendments:

Inserting a brief presentation for the law at the beginning of the draft to clarify its role to empower and support civil society and how it will be a partner and complementary member for the development system of Egyptian society with the public and private sectors.

Ensuring the availability of all transactions and financial statements on the official website of the association, in order to give control to all concerned parties and not only to the state.

Each NGO should clarify its strategy, including its orientation, objectives, vision and mission, special services, and determine the geographical scope of the performance of its services.

Conducting a series of sessions and workshops to raise awareness about the articles of the law following its approval and issuance of bylaws.

Reviewing the anti-freedom penalties in dealing with administrative violations, without prejudice to the provisions of the Egyptian penal code.

The ministry of social solidarity should make a concessionary arrangement for NGOs in terms of performance efficiency and provide the best benefits to the target audience and publish them to citizens.

Activating the role of the appeals committee in the competent administrative authority to view the complaints submitted by various NGOs in order to determine them within a maximum period of 15 days after confirmation of receipt.

Cancelling fees for the establishment of foreign NGOs operating in Egypt and facilitating procedures for the licensing of receiving funds.

Exemption of all activities of institutions and NGOs from various types of imposed taxes, as these entities are non-profit organisations engaged in development activities to bring about a general renaissance in the country.

Increasing the resources of NGOs to allow the work of projects, including, for example, the establishment of companies to serve their activities.

Notifying the NGO extension activities and opening offices in another governorate through the administrative body and not to the competent minister.

Determining the cases of dissolution of the NGO, and it must be by a judicial decision and the same is applicable when it comes to stopping said activity.

Regarding the documents accompanying the establishment, referring to the list of requirements and documents specified by Law No 84 of 2002.

In the case of foreign funding, the maximum approval is 30 days. In the event of non-response, approval shall be given to the subsequent monitoring of the funding by the ministry of solidarity. If refused, with a justified decision, the interested party may appeal the matter.

To determine the NGO work, a formal survey shall be conducted by its owners and be approved by the competent authority, and the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.

About the current NGO law

The existing law was drafted by the head of the parliament’s social solidarity committee, Abdel Hady Al-Kasby, and was ratified by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in May 2017, to replace Law 84 of 2002, six months after its approval in parliament.

The law, consisting of 89 articles, was approved, while another draft was sent from the cabinet to the parliament in September, but was not discussed.

The current law gives the government the power to decide on who can establish an NGO and its purpose, obliges groups to stick to the state’s development plans, therefore severely restricting the work they accomplish in the areas which the government does not consider a priority. The law also bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in political activities, or anything that the government considers a harm to national security, public order, or public morals.

Even though the law has been ratified a year ago, the cabinet did not issue a bylaw till our present day. Recently, the president responded to calls to amend the controversial law, and ordered the formation of a committee.

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Hug’s issue: progressive approach or parental authority? https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/21/hugs-issue-progressive-approach-or-parental-authority/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/21/hugs-issue-progressive-approach-or-parental-authority/#respond Mon, 21 Jan 2019 11:30:48 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=687456 “I believe it is small victory that we should appreciate. Al-Tayeb saved students’ educational futures,” says El-Saed

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A video of a young female student hugging her male colleague completely disturbed Al-Azhar University, where the girl is studying, leading to them expelling her, until, at the last minute, the Grand Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, intervened to overturn the decision.

The scene, which appeared to be a marriage proposal, showed a young man carrying a bouquet of flowers before a young woman. He kneeled and then hugged her. The video raised sharp controversy after going viral on social media earlier this month.

Al-Azhar University announced on Saturday last week that it expelled its student after she appeared in the video hugging a male, demonstrating that she violated the universities regulations and present a “bad image,” of the Al-Azhar University.

According to the Article No 124 of the universities’ regulations law, the university has the right to expel or prevent students from taking exams, if it’s proven they have violated “the universities’ laws and traditions,” and committed “acts which oppose public morality.”

The young woman studies Arabic Language at Al-Azhar’s University branch in Al-Mansoura city, however, the video was taken at Al-Mansoura University, where her colleague studies. He also was expelled by his university.

A day following of the decision, Al-Tayeb intervened to suspend it. However, he did not call for the abolishment of the punishment but instead mitigated it to prevent her from attending the exams of the first term.

Recently, Al-Tayeb was featured in media coverage and op-eds as “the father” who preferred advice and guidance than severe punishment. Others suggest that real changes have actually taken place within the long-established religious institution and its administrative bodies.

Al-Tayeb, not Al-Azhar

“I cannot see Al-Tayeb’s move anything other than a humanitarian act which saved the girl’s and the boy’s futures,” Intsar El-Saed, a lawyer and the head of Cairo Centre for Development and Law (CCD) informed Daily News Egypt.

El-Saed noted that after the video spread, the student was enraged because she is a woman. “The society which harshly denounced the girl’s act is the same one which always stands idly by before any sexual harassment or rape incident. I see no crime in the couple’s behaviour.” 

El-Saed argued that the recent distinct moves, which support women, are taken by Al-Tayeb, not by the Azhar institution itself. “It is Al-Tayeb, not Al-Azhar,” noting that the institution still maintains its old values as it initially resorted to a severe punishment against the girl.    

“Progressive” moves

Nearly five months ago, Al-Azhar released a significant statement that criminalised sexual harassment regardless of women’s outfit. Al-Azhar denounced verbal and physical harassment, asserting that such incidents are unacceptable in any society or culture.

The statement did not blame women for being subjected to sexual abuse as usual or for wearing revealing clothes or not putting on a veil. The statement was considered as a outstanding gain for women, a long-awaited one.

Al-Azhar’s stance came following a wide division among social media users over a viral video featuring a young Egyptian man approaching a woman in one of the Fifth Settlement streets in New Cairo. Some see the situation as an act of sexual harassment; others defended the man noting that it was just a flirtation.

Egyptian women often report facing difficulties over not wearing the veil or abandoning it. Sexual harassment is among those challenges.

Along the same line, the Ṣawt Al-Azhar newspaper featured in one of its issues Christian women and others without the veil, in a move that was widely appreciated and seen as the establishment of principles of accepting the other.

“I believe it was the first time in Al-Azhar’s history to feature unveiled women. It seems that there are two conflicting approaches within the institution, the radical and enlightened one. I believe that Al-Tayeb represents the enlightened approach” El-Saed opinionated.

Meanwhile, El-Saed emphasised the need to renew the religious discourse, noting that any call for such a move is always met by confrontation. The lawyer argued that religious scholars are afraid of changing Islamic fundamentals despite the fact that, El-Saed clarified; most of those explanations are “independent discretions.”

Parental authority?

“Yes, we live in a parental society where women are not enjoying their fundamental rights. We cannot deny this. But this situation is different as we can never receive the Grand Imam’s move from this perspective,” El-Saed noted.

El-Saed added, “I believe it is a small victory that we should appreciate. Al-Tayeb saved the student’s educational future and this is a respectable move. Egypt is slowly changing, and society is starting to accept things it did not accept before. Some of those changes came as results of the 25th January Revolution and others due to the power of social media and the Internet where various discussions are held over vital topics.”

Grand Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayeb

Political approach 

From a different perspective, Amr Ezzat, a researcher and officer for the “Freedom of Religion and Belief Programme” at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, pointed out that al-Tayeb’s moves, including dealing with the Al-Azhar’s student, are representing political approach aimed at satisfying all parties.

“I cannot say the Grand Imam is enlightened or that there is a large enlightened approach inside the Al-Azhar institution. However, there are some people within the institution and its bodies that call themselves ‘moderate’ or ‘reasonable’”, and those often face challenges inside,” Ezzat told DNE. 

Ezzat added, “Al-Tayeb is sending political messages with his stances that al-Azhar University is accepting all different ideologies, so he often takes such soft decisions. However, in the case of the female student, he did not reject the concept of punishment, but he resorted to mitigate the sanction.”

Ezzat argued that this is the role of the AL-Azhar, institution which supports the government, and represents a religious discourse that is consistent with the state vision. “The difference you view between the university’s decision and Al-Tayeb’s stances is normal, as the Grand Imam is a politician, while the university is an administrative body which has executive responsibilities,” Ezzat noted. 

Meanwhile, Ezzat demonstrated that some articles of the Egyptian universities regulations; including Al-Azhar University, reportedly impose sanctions against students or teachers over their different behaviour or “inappropriate acts” even if those so-called actions are taken outside the campuses.

Ezzat added that in most cases of suspending or expelling some of the al-Azhar teachers, Al-Tayeb did not freeze those decisions, but instead he called for mitigating them.

“In my opinion, he is trying to play a political role to satisfy the traditional approach inside the institution, which asserts the need for punishment, but takes stances that show that Al-Azhar is not excluding people of different ideologies,” Ezzat concluded.     

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Golan Heights: Trump new anticipated grant to Israel https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/13/golan-heights-trump-new-anticipated-grant-to-israel/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/13/golan-heights-trump-new-anticipated-grant-to-israel/#respond Sun, 13 Jan 2019 11:00:29 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=686603 “Netanyahu trying to get big pound of flesh from Trump in exchange for his decision to withdraw US forces,” says analyst

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Israel renewed its demand for US president Donald Trump to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a request that is expected to irk Syria and Iran.

During a visit by US National Security Advisor John Bolton to Israel nearly a week ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it is time for Trump’s administration to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the strategic plateau, emphasising its importance to Israel’s security.

“The Golan Heights is tremendously important for our security,” Netanyahu said, urging all countries to recognise their sovereignty over the territory. However, Bolton did not comment on the prime minister’s remarks, indicating instead that the US pulling out is conditional, adding that he would seek Turkish assurances that Kurds in northern Syria would be safe before the US leaves.

Last month, Trump announced that he would withdraw the US troops from Syria. Despite the contradictory messages by US officials, the military announced on Friday that the operations of withdrawal began without giving further details.   

Netanyahu hopes to benefit from Trump’s decision by obtaining another win from the US president who previously gave him Jerusalem on a silver platter, provoking outrage among Palestinians who consider the holy city as the capital of their future state.

The US withdrawal is expected to empower Iran not just in Syria but in the Middle East. Therefore, Israel argues that the Syrian civil war and the Iranian military expansion assert its firm need of the Golan Heights as a strategic plateau.

“Netanyahu is trying to get a big pound of flesh from Trump in exchange for Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria,” Nicholas A Heras, Middle East security fellow at the Centre for a New American Security informed Daily News Egypt. Heras added, “He (Netanyahu) expects Trump to have a peace plan soon and wants to gain more from it.”

Israel’s request was not the first for Trump, as Netanyahu previously raised the issue of the Golan in order to push the US administration to meet his demand. Over the last decades, the US governments ignored longstanding demands from Israel’s rightwing lobby to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

However, for the first time, Washington said last November that it would vote against an annual UN resolution that called for Israel to end its occupation on the area and other Arab territories it has occupied since 1967. The move was considered a huge shift in the US policy.

Conflict over the Golan   

The Golan Heights is a rocky highland located in south-western Syria, which overlooks the upper Jordan river valley. During the 1967 Arab–Israeli War, Israel occupied around 1,200 sq km of the Golan Heights from Syria.

During 1973 October war, Syria, under the rule of late President Hafez Al-Assad, tried to reclaim the Golan but failed.

In 1974, Syria and Israel signed an armistice. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force was established by the Security Council resolution. Then in 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights, a move that was never internationally recognised.

Negations between Israel and Syria to end the conflict were initiated in Madrid in 1991, brokered by the US and the Soviet Union. Then talks continued over the last decades but yielded nothing. The highest-level discussions were held in 2000 over a possible return of the Golan to Syria but it eventually failed.

Strategic importance

Israel would never give up the Golan Heights due to its strategic significance. The plateau gives Israel the advantage of monitoring the Syrian capital Damascus and southern Syria. Additionally, if Israel withdrew from the plateau this would hand the Syrian government the dominance over Israel’s eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the main source of fresh water to Israel.

Since capturing the Golan, Israel set up dozens of settlements. Up until today, there are thousands of Jewish settlers living in the Golan along with around 20,000 Syrians from the Druze sect.

In Israel, Netanyahu’s opponents would reject any possible deal with Syria that may include the full withdrawal from the plateau. Instead, they call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

“The Israeli leader is under intense political pressure at home and wants Trump’s recognition of Israel’s right to own the Golan as a win that he can use to fend off attacks from his political opponents,” Heras articled.

Hence, Heras suggested that Trump “might be inclined to grant Netanyahu his request because Trump considers himself to be the most pro-Israel US President that has ever held office.”

“There is also a great amount of political capital that Trump can get from his supporters in the United States for giving Netanyahu the Golan, and Trump wants that badly,” Heras added.

Trump’s peace plan

The Trump administration says it has a Mideast peace deal to end the longstanding Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Until this moment, Trump has not revealed the details of his proposal. According to earlier statements by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, the US president is expected to introduce his plan early this year.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt are the officials responsible for drafting the plan.

Speculations suggest that the plan might include the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, the move that would follow Trump’s earlier decision in December 2017, when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. The wildly criticised move was seen as a part of his plan to shore up Israel.

However, if Trump truly responded to Israeli pressure and met their demand regarding the Golan, Syria and Iran will likely not stand idly by.

“Syria and Iran would respond angrily to this move, but there is little that could be done,” Heras foresaw, adding “Israel has been given a green light by the Trump team to strike Iran widely in Syria, and Netanyahu would take advantage of that to beat back any attempt to reconquer the Golan.”

As the civil war erupted in Syria seven years ago, Israel has warned that it will never permit any permanent Iranian military presence in the war-torn country. Since 2012, Iran has deployed hundreds of troops to support the embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad-activities which alarmed Israel the most.

Over the last few years, Israel launched dozens of strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah weapons’ depots, assaults which Israel rarely confirms.

It seeks to prevent any strategic Iranian military presence across Syria and to keep their forces away from the Golan armistice line.

In 2017, Israel intensified its airstrikes against suspected Iranian assets in Syria. The heaviest military operation was in May last year when Israel launched a large scale rocket attack on several Iranian infrastructure targets in Syria, after Israeli forces said its frontline bases in the Golan Heights were fired at.

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Rising global debt, an all-time high of $184tn, challenging, Egypt is no exception https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/10/rising-global-debt-an-all-time-high-of-184tn-challenging-egypt-is-no-exception/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/10/rising-global-debt-an-all-time-high-of-184tn-challenging-egypt-is-no-exception/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 08:00:48 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=686340 Egypt’s government debt ratios to improve on debt dynamics, fiscal consolidation: Pharos

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Global debt has been on the rising tide in the recent year, worldwide debt reached a record high of $184tn, almost 225% of global GDP in 2017, the International Monetary Fund has announced.

The US, China, and Japan are leading the world’s borrowers list, accounting for more than half the global debt, significantly greater than their share of global output.

In Egypt’s case, however, over the next three years, the government’s net debt is projected to decline from 100.3% of the GDP in fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 to 89.6% of the GDP in FY 2020/21, according to Pharos.

Pharos believe the decline in debt will rely on three main factors:

First is the continuing fiscal consolidation, as the primary balance turns positive, the accumulation of debt would decelerate, leading the debt ratio (as % of the GDP) to decrease.

Second, is the shift toward external debt, as Egypt’s Ministry of Finance has been shifting towards the less costly source of financing through increasing the portion of external debt, while decreasing the domestic debt contribution. Consequently, going forward, Pharos expect the external debt to increase from 37% of the GDP in FY 2017/18 to 38.1% of the GDP in FY 2020/21, in light of the latest steps of the economic reform programme.

Finally, favourable debt dynamics will ease the pressure—apart from the fiscal policy stance, and the overall supportive macroeconomic environment in Egypt over the next three years— and would also help reduce the debt ratio. Pharos estimate the real effective interest rate on local currency debt to remain below the real GDP growth rate over the forecast horizon.

Accordingly, the nominal GDP growth rate would exceed the net government debt growth rate, leading the debt ratio to go downwards.

In December, Fitch, the global credit rating agency, issued a report citing their forecast that Egypt’s fiscal debt is narrowing to 6.4% of the GDP by FY 2019/20, down from 9.4% in FY 2017/18 supported by robust economic growth and fiscal reforms.

Fitch believe that the biggest risk to Egypt’s fiscal consolidation is the country’s debt composition and short debt maturity schedule, as the country’s debt maturity schedule is relatively short, heightening rollover risks.

Additionally, Fitch indicates that 50.0% of the debt is set to mature by end-2020, and in an environment of tightening global financing conditions, this could leave the country more exposed to a jump in borrowing costs.

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Gabon soldiers attempt to stage coup, government says situation under control https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/08/gabon-soldiers-attempt-to-stage-coup-government-says-situation-under-control/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/08/gabon-soldiers-attempt-to-stage-coup-government-says-situation-under-control/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 09:00:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=686178 President Bongo has been out of country since October amid reports suffering from a stroke

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Gabon’s army soldiers have attempted to stage a coup in Gabon’s capital Libreville on Monday morning, Reuters reported.

An unusual state radio broadcast saw soldiers coming on air to read a speech which indicated their doubts regarding President Ali Bongo’s ability to rule, according to AFP. Local news outlets reported that shots were heard in the area near the state television’s offices in the centre of Libreville.

The soldiers said that the president’s recent televised New Year’s Eve address “reinforced doubts” about Bongo’s “ability to carry out the responsibilities of his office,” according to Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang. Obiang leads the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon. 

Opposition leader Jean Ping is a strong rival to Ali Bongo

Gabon is one of Africa’s top oil producers, France’s closest ally in the region, and has been ruled for more than 50 years by the Bongo family. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar, who died in 2009. 

President Ali Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he endured a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

A spokesperson for the government of Gabon, Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, said that the political situation in the country is “under control”, following an attempted military coup. He told BBC that four of the rebels were arrested by the authorities. A fifth is on the run, he added.

The 59-year-old president was hospitalised in October in Saudi Arabia. Since November, he has been continuing his treatment after the stroke he sustained in Morocco. 

Bongo previously acknowledged his health problems in his New Year’s speech, but stated that he was recovering. 

Following the coup, a curfew was imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet was cut. The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles. No violence has been reported.

The coup attempt took place days after US President Donald Trump deployed military personnel to Gabon, as stand by in case turmoil breaks out in the neighbouring state of Congo.

Elections took place in the beginning of the month in  Congo, after the electoral authorities announced that less than half of the ballots were counted.

The election was stalled by delays and irregularities which triggered a violent political standoff that left dozens dead across the country. Both domestic and international observers appealed to the government to step up its efforts towards a peaceful electoral process. 

Moreover, Western powers have also increased the pressure on the Congolese government to release accurate election results.

In a letter to the Congress, Trump said the troops were sent in response to “the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur” in reaction to the outcome.  

The US ordered its “non-emergency” government employees and family members to leave the country ahead of the vote and issued a warning to its citizens to avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

Congo’s last two elections were in 2006 and 2011, both won by long-time leader President Joseph Kabila, which were marred by bloodshed, and many feared a repeat if the results are placed in doubt.

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Egypt’s economic outlook remains positive, backed by tourism, natural gas: Credit Suisse https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/08/egypts-economic-outlook-remains-positive-backed-by-tourism-natural-gas-credit-suisse/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/08/egypts-economic-outlook-remains-positive-backed-by-tourism-natural-gas-credit-suisse/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 07:00:49 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=686162 Weak FDI, reliance on hot money, inflation still challenging

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Throughout the past three years, Egypt initiated a series of tough, yet essential economic reforms, undertaken by the authorities and supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The economic reform programme aims to transform the country’s economy through improving public finances, curbing the budget deficit, and getting the currency shortage under control, all while achieving sustainable growth.

The Egyptian economy has started to recover, with GDP growth improving, foreign reserves reaching their highest level on record. This renders 2018 a potential turning point for the country, following years marked by turbulence and uncertainty, accompanied by numerous challenges that faced the Egyptian economy, from political unrest and declining tourism, to foreign currency and fuel shortages.

The country’s economic momentum has eased, but Egypt’s fundamental recovery story remains intact, according to the Middle East Overview Outlook 2019 report issued by the Switzerland-based investment bank, and financial services company, Credit Suisse Group.

Credit Suisse maintained a positive economic outlook for the Egyptian economy, yet they highlighted some challenges such as reliance of reserves on hot money flows, weak foreign direct investments (FDI), elevated headline inflation, and policy uncertainty rising from unexpected tax amendments.

“We continue to see the recovery in tourism and transition to being a net gas exporter driving growth and underpinning currency stability into 2019,” the report states.

Adding that from their vantage point, Egypt’s equity market sell-off is overdone, but with technicals – analysis employed to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities by analysing statistical trends gathered from trading activity, such as price movement and volume – still looking weak a near term recovery looks difficult.

Economic momentum, growth slowing, long-term recovery remains intact

According to the report, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the performance of manufacturing and service sectors, dropped to an 11-month low on slowing economic momentum. After being above 50 (expansion) for two consecutive months – the first time since September 2015.

Consequently, this is also reflected in industrial production growth, which has fallen from its Q3 of 2017 peak.

However, Credit Suisse believes that Egypt’s growth levels are still far from being contractionary, and there are early signs of stabilisation.

The report indicated that, taking into consideration the scale of structural reform required in Egypt, a recovery was never going to be in a straight line, and that the investment bank remains positive and confident of the long-term recovery trend.

Inflation elevated, still within CBE’s target

Headline inflation shot higher to 17.7% in October 2018, primarily on food inflation but also due to planned adjustments in regulated prices, before dropping to 15.7% in November, yet it still above the CBE’s outlook of 13% (±3%) in Q4 of 2018.

However, the report indicate that such rates are not a significant issue, especially since core inflation has continued its decline to the lowest level in almost three years.

In a measure to control inflation, the CBE hiked interest rates by 700 bps since the 2016 devaluation, and the report forecast further rate cuts. However, elevated oil prices, investor risk aversion toward emerging markets (EMs) and high headline inflation will likely prevent any such cuts near-term and we look for a further rate cut in Q1 of 2019 at the earliest.

Fiscal deficit, debt profile on a recovery path

According to the report, Egypt recorded its first primary surplus in 15 years for 2017/18, and the bank forecast it is on track for its targeted 2% primary surplus next fiscal year (FY).

These positive developments were also reflected by Moody’s action to upgrade Egypt’s sovereign rating outlook to positive (from stable) in end-August, due to its business sector reforms and continued improvements in its fiscal and current account balances.

The report indicates that, although debt levels are elevated overall, they are projected to decline consistently over the coming years on fiscal consolidation. Repayments are expected to ease after peaking this FY.

LNG imports halt, improving current account position

With production at the Zohr gas field ahead of schedule, Egypt officially stopped being a net LNG importer this month. Daily gas output fell from 7bn cubic feet per day (bcf) in 2010 to 4 bcf in 2016 but rose for the first

time in several years to 4.5 bcf in 2017.

The report indicated that over the next three years, production is projected to increase to 7.7 bcf, well above Egypt’s domestic needs of 5.2 bcf. On-going exploration activities have the potential to further boost Egypt’s production capacity.

Consequently, strong improvement in Egypt’s current account balance are expected, thus it is one of the key factors behind the investment bank’s expectations of the EGP’s stability into 2019.

Exports, tourism, remittances, leading the way to recovery

Egyptian exports have clearly started to recover, driven by the removal of currency-related uncertainty, the report states.

Furthermore, looking at the long-term history in both dollar terms and as a share of the GDP, it is clear that there is considerable scope for further recovery over a multiyear period.

Credit Suisse believes that the export industry is a critical part of the economy, and is also a key source of hard currency, hence its recovery will be important to monitor.

On the tourism front, the report indicates that revenues show impressive strength, affirming its position as an important source of both forex and labour employment.

The sector is firmly in recovery, with tourism revenues approaching previous peak levels despite the number of tourists still well below the 2011 peak – which the report believes is due to a change in the mix of tourists and the EGP depreciation. The recovery and sustainability of these flows is absolutely key.

However, the investment bank believes, that Russia’s decision to reinstate flights to Cairo after a break of almost 2.5 years is positive, as restoring flights to Egypt’s resort cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, would further boost tourism arrivals, especially since it could prompt the UK to resume its own flights as well. Both Russia and the UK are among Egypt’s most important sources of tourists.

In regard to remittances, a surprising increase in remittances has led to sharp upward revisions in the IMF’s projections and has also provided support to Egypt’s current account balance.

However, according to the report, this is unlikely to be sustainable since it has been driven in part by expats leaving Saudi Arabia in the wake of its Saudisation efforts. The level at which remittances will stabilise at is critical.

Moreover, the report highlights, slow foreign direct investments (FDI) is the primary area of disappointment in Egypt’s economic development. Not only it has significantly lagged expectations, but the momentum has slowed,

with the 12-month moving average having peaked in end-2016.

External balances showing strong improvement, all time high reserves support currency

Reserves continue to reach new all-time highs, backed by the IMF programme, successful bond issuances, and an ongoing recovery in tourism.

“We remain concerned over the reliance on ‘hot money’ flows, but we see reserves as being sufficient to keep from another EGP devaluation,” said the report.

The report indicates that taking into consideration, the CBE recent decision to end the repatriation mechanism, fluctuation around EGP 18 can be expected, as all flows will now go through the interbank market.

However, the investment bank forecast that the government will want to avoid sharp weakness in the EGP as this could attract speculative pressures and may risk social unrest.

Consequently, the report expects just a modest EGP weakness, despite the sustained dollar strength and risk aversion against EMs.

T-bills continue to offer compelling returns, despite decline

Foreign holdings of Egyptian treasury bills (T-Bills) have declined significantly in recent months, although they

remain just above peak-2010 levels. Moody’s upgraded Egypt’s outlook to Positive from Stable in August 2018.

As a result, Credit Suisse continue to hold a positive view on T-bills, which they believe are oversold, noting that yields appear to be rolling over.

“We see limited downside risk to returns from EGP weakness. The cancellation of long-term T-bond auctions in September was worrying, but we believe it was a function of EM trade tensions and not Egypt’s fundamentals. Indeed, we believe it points to encouraging discipline from the Egyptian government,” the report added.

Credit Suisse maintains positive view on equities, despite recent sell-off

The report cites, the recent sell-off in Egypt and EM equities coupled with continued growth in Egyptian earnings expectations has pushed Egypt’s price to an earnings ratio (P/E) which is at a 3-year low.

However, the investment bank maintains their positive view on Egypt, and sees the recent sell-off as an opportunity to add exposure. Taking into consideration the recovery in earnings forecasts since the devaluation, although in dollar terms, the economy has just now returned to pre-devaluation levels.

The report indicated that it is important to keep in mind that over the past two years, earning per share forecasts have increased 42% in Egypt in USD terms (65% in nominal EGP) compared to 14% for the Middle East and 28% for Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) EMs.

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Probe: US military exit to embolden Iran, Russia in Syria, change game rules https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/06/probe-us-military-exit-to-embolden-iran-russia-in-syria-change-game-rules/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/06/probe-us-military-exit-to-embolden-iran-russia-in-syria-change-game-rules/#respond Sun, 06 Jan 2019 10:00:33 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=686035 "Problem with current US approach to Syria is like building an aeroplane while it is flying," analyst says

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Almost three weeks ago, US President Donald Trump abruptly decided to withdraw 2,000 US US forces from Syria, declaring that the Islamic State (IS) was “already beaten”. The move is expected to embolden both Russia and Iran, the foreign supporters of the embattled Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, in the civil war-torn country. 

“We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly. We have taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter last December.

However, after a week, Trump seems to backtracked his sudden announcement, giving the US military four months to pull out the troops. Yet, it is not certain if the full withdrawal might take longer time or it might be suspended over the fear of the anticipated increase in Iranian influence not just in Syria, but on a wider scale. 

The White House said that the military began pulling out the US troops in different areas in Syria, without giving a specific timeframe for the withdrawal or further details. Likewise, Trump said when he addressed the US cabinet for the first time in 2019. 

Big win for IS

Trump’s announcement came as a surprise for US senior officials, and was criticised by the Republicans who view the decision as a “huge mistake.” In a statement, Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among the first Republicans to denounce Trump’s decree. Graham said that the US withdrawal “is a big win for ISIS, Iran, Al-Assad of Syria, and Russia.”

“The problem with the current US approach to Syria is that it is like building an aeroplane while it is flying,” Nicholas A Heras, Middle East Security Fellow Centre for a New American Security informed Daily News Egypt.

Heras added, “Trump’s decision was so much of a surprise that the US government was not prepared to actually execute his order, which is why there is now a longer timetable for the withdrawal of US forces.”

“This fact also means that until the US has actually withdrawn from Syria, it continues to be the most powerful actor in determining Syria’s fate,” Heras highlighted.

On 2013, former US President Barack Obama decided to take military action against the Syrian government for its apparent chemical weapons use, two years after the Syrian demonstrations first broke out.

A year later, the US-led global coalition against the IS network was formed with the participation of 79 countries including France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The coalition’s mission is to fight IS forces wherever they have been, in Iraq, and Syria.

The US military bases, which support Kurdish fighters in Syria, are located in areas such as the town of Manbij, the Ayn Issa Sub district, and Tal al-Saman north of the city of Raqqa. Moreover, the Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) has been the main ally for Washington in the battle ground, controlling much of the Turkish-Syrian border from IS.

During the US cabinet’s meeting on 2 January, Trump pledged to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria. However, he said that the US forces will not stay there forever. Trump also said that he was not happy that “the Kurds were selling oil to Iran.”

Addressing Trump’s remarks, Saleh Muslim, a senior Kurdish politician, said in a short interview conducted by Mutlu Civiroglu, the Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst, that the “Kurdish do not sell oil to Iran at all,” asserting that “their oil is only for domestic consumption.”

Following Trump’s December announcement, the Syrian army declared that its forces have entered the Kurdish-held Manbij town for the first time in six years, after Kurdish fighters appealed to Damascus to protect them from attacks carried out by Turkey. However, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian troops just entered a strip of territory at the edge of Manbij, and that they did not enter the town itself.

Empowering Iran in Middle East

Furthermore, during the January cabinet meeting, Trump justified his withdrawal announcement and said that Iran “can do what they want.” He pointed out that military exile from Syria operations will be slow.

“Al-Assad would hope to benefit from this situation, but much still depends on whether and how the US withdraws from Syria,” Heras stated, adding that “Americans are still worried about Iran spreading its influence throughout Syria and benefiting from the US withdrawal and how Trump’s team approaches this central dilemma will have a powerful effect on the future of Syria.”

Heras highlighted that “All the regional powers-and Russia-are interested to see how the Americans square the circle of wanting to withdraw from Syria while simultaneously diminishing Iran’s influence in Syria.

Furthermore, Heras articulated that “Trump’s administration is in the middle of a fierce internal policy fight, with the Iran hawks seeking a Syria withdrawal that minimises Iran’s ability to step into the breach that would be caused by the US leaving, while protecting Israel’s ability to turn Syrian into a free-fire zone to strike at Iran.”

Determining US strategic position

Over the last year, Trump kept warning of pulling out US troops from Syria, but no one predicted that he will take such a significant decision abruptly in a surprise announcement last December. 

Unlike the pull out of the US troops from Iraq in 2003, this withdrawal might “determine” the US strategic position in the Middle East, German journalist Kersten Knipp wrote in an opinion piece in Deutsche Welle earlier on April last year. 

Knipp argued that the US withdrawal would be “be a fatal misstep,” adding that Trump “would be handing the region over to players that would create even greater chaos.”

Knipp opined that “a US pullback would seal the fate of not only Syria but the whole region, for decades to come,” adding that it “would lead to Russia’s dominance, however discreet. Less discreet would be Iran’s dominance over large swaths of Syria, through Lebanon to the border with Israel. The “Shiite Crescent” would become a stark reality.”

Conflict’s Future in 2019

Al-Assad’s regime, which has been crowded out be most of the Arab and regional countries months following the Syrian uprising broke out in 2011, is currently witnessing a breakthrough.

Two weeks ago, the UAE announced that it will reopen its embassy in Damascus, for the first time in seven years. The move—a significant diplomatic shift—is expected to boost Al-Assad’s regime and his influence in Syria.

The move also came after Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to Damascus, who became the first Arab leader to visit the war-torn country since the Syrian civil war erupted. Analysts predict that the UAE would be followed by other Arab countries, whose stances varied toward Damascus.

Moreover, Syria, which was suspended from the Arab League in 2011, is expected to return back to its past position before the Arab Spring.

“Al-Assad’s best hope presently is actually the Arab effort to re-engage with his regime, which is now fully underway,” Heras said.

Over and above, Heras added that ” Arab states are not working with Al-Assad out of any great love for the Syrian leader, but out of the hope that he can keep groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda at bay, and that over time they can convince him to be an Arab leader who reasserts his authority over Syria at the expense of Iran.”

“This new Arab Effort to re-engage with Al-Assad is meant to knock Iran down to size in a critical region of the Middle East,” Heras concluded.

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Protesters renew march before presidential palace despite restrictions https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/02/protesters-renew-march-before-presidential-palace-despite-restrictions/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/02/protesters-renew-march-before-presidential-palace-despite-restrictions/#respond Wed, 02 Jan 2019 10:30:05 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=685771 Al-Bashir expressed on Sunday his full satisfaction with performance of police in Sudan

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A crowd of protesters gathered in central Khartoum to march on the presidential palace early Monday while chanting slogans, including “freedom, peace and justice,” as well as, “revolution is the people’s choice”.

Sudanese police fired tear gas against the protesters in the capital Khartoum, while they were planning to move towards the palace of President Omar Al-Bashir to demand his abdication.

Despite security restriction, Sudanese demonstrations continue, as this move

is considered as the second attempt for the people to march on the presidential palace.

Last Tuesday, Sudanese professionals called for a peaceful in front of the presidential palace demanding from Al-Bashir to step down, however security forces dispersed the protest.

Just one day before this, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir said in a speech to the police force that “his country will get out of the crisis despite all those who are fighting Sudan.”

He further expressed his full satisfaction with the performance of the police in Sudan, saying, “The performance of the police is to protect the citizens’ security and not to kill citizens”.

The march was scheduled to begin at 1 pm local and continue until the New Year. It started from the capital’s Qandoul Square towards the presidential palace in another attempt to continue their uprising.

Sudanese journalist Majeed Mohamed Ali said, “The people are the one who lead the protests and they are the ones who determine the current political movement in the country, not the government and the opposition.”

“Only a few days ago, Sudan was a file on all the discussion tables in Washington, Paris, and France, but now it is in the hands of the masses,” he added, noting that, “the continuity of demonstrations and moving from one area to another and from one city to another indicates the strength and ability, and the masses have exceeded the government and opposition parties in their movements, and are no longer waiting for anyone to determine its work.”

Moreover, Sudanese writer and political analyst, Abdullah Rizk, said that with the government’s inability to find a way to get out of the crisis, it is expected that the protests will continue amid “the system’s failure to address the crisis and the use of excessive force”.

The protests started launched in Sudan since December 19, denouncing the deteriorating living conditions, which marked the “biggest populous challenge” of Al-Bashir’s government, which ruled the country 29 years ago.

Sudan has been facing a severe economic crisis since last year as prices of some goods such as bread and medicine have doubled, inflation has risen by nearly 70% and the local currency has depreciated. Several cities have suffered a significant shortage of availability commodities over the past weeks.

The Sudanese government announced the death toll of the protesters to 19 people, while 219 civilians and 187 members of the security services were injured.

The protests were the latest in a wave of demonstrations that began across much of Sudan first against a rise in prices but later against the government of President Al-Bashir power since a 1989 military coup.

However, It is not the first time Al-Bashir has faced protests against his rule, as there were demonstrations in January over the same issues, but police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum. Similar protests were held in Sudan in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

President Al-Bashir has long been a member of Sudan’s military establishment, which has dominated the country in the last six decades since its independence in 1956. He came to power after he joined forces with the Islamists in a 1989 military coup which toppled a freely-elected but largely ineffective government.

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Increase in children, teen’s suicides raise queries over parental legal responsibility https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/02/increase-in-children-teens-suicides-raise-queries-over-parental-legal-responsibility/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/01/02/increase-in-children-teens-suicides-raise-queries-over-parental-legal-responsibility/#respond Wed, 02 Jan 2019 10:00:23 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=685770 'If parents act violently, resulting in child's suicide, they have to be held responsible,' law professor says

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In view of the increase in children and teens’ suicides, queries emerged over parents’ legal responsibilities for these cases, and if they ought to be held accountable and charged with neglect.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14 according to the Canadian Centre for Suicide Prevention.

Unfortunately, there are low chances, shortage of information and statics regarding the numbers of suicide cases among children and teens in Egypt in recent years.

The Egyptian monitor, ‘Daftar Ahwal for Archiving and Documentation’ issued a report on suicide cases from 2011-2017. It found that the total suicide cases numbered1,746 cases, including 283 attempts, while only in 2017, 422 cases were reported, including 62 attempts.

The report stated that 279 reported suicide cases involved minors, including 47 attempts.

Parental responsibility

“Would you ever imagine that a parent could neglect to the extent which might lead their child to think of or actually commit suicide?” Fawzia Abdel Sattar, a veteran professor of law at Cairo University informed Daily News Egypt. “Most children commit suicide because they their educational exams,” Abdel Sattar added.

However, Abdel Sattar argued that if the child suffers from depression and their parents were aware of their illness and did not take an action, then in this case, they have to be held responsible and questioned.

“But if they did not know, I cannot ever say that parents should be blamed for the suicide,” Abdel Sattar stated. “If parents acted in a severe violent manner which resulted in their child’s suicide, they have to be held responsible,” Abdel Sattar highlighted.

Abdel Sattar indicated that suspected parents will be only charged with committing “unintentional crime or killing,” and its punishment ranges from six months to three years in prison.

Furthermore, Abdel Sattar pointed out that in such cases, judges usually review all the case’s circumstances and then decide according to the evidence and forensic report.

Exams, mental disorders

During this year, Egypt witnessed an increase in the number of suicides among children. Earlier in November, a preparatory school student committed suicide himself by hanging himself. Investigations revealed that the 13-year boy commits suicide after his parent beat him up in order for him to study.

Another case was a female 18-year-old young woman whom attempted to commit suicide but survived in Al-Behira governorate, who was suffering from mental and physiological problems.

Why do children and teens commit suicide?

According to physiological experts, the majority of children and teens who attempt or commit suicide might suffer from depression, anxiety, and substantial mental health disorders.

Therefore, there is a significant responsibility which parents must bear, to monitor their children’s behaviours and notice if there are any changes in their mental states or actions.

Reasons differ from one child to another

Adults and children might commit suicide over the loss or death of a family member or a friend. A 2017 study by the University of Manchester found that bereavement was the most common suicide reason of with 25% of people under their 20s committing suicide due to bereavement; 28% people between 20-24-year-olds, an equivalent to around 125 deaths per year. The death of a family member or friend was more common in cases under 20-year-olds, the report added.

Experts believe that it differs from a child to another to commit suicide,however, there are some common reasons.

Children and teens exposed to the danger of committing suicide might suffer from low self-esteem, depression, stressors, and troubles at school or home and of course exams and the fear related to them, according to research by the Stanford Children Health (SCH).

Warning signs

According to the same SCH research, signs to be taken seriously including perceptible changes in eating, sleep, unusually violent, or rebellious behaviour, withdrawal from family or friends, underperforming scholastically,  and of course, speaking or writing notes about suicide.

Child Law amendments

Egypt’s Child Law punishes with a fine not less than EGP 200 and not exceeding EGP 1,000 any person to whom the child was bequeathed and, as a result of neglecting his duties, the child committed a crime or was in danger, according to one of the cases set forth in this Law.

Furthermore, Article No 96 stipulates that “the child shall be considered at risk if he is exposed to a situation threatening the sound upbringing that should be made available to him, or in any of cases including: If the conditions surrounding the child’s upbringing in the family, or at school, or in care institutions, or others, places him at risk, or if the child is exposed to neglect, abuse, violence, exploitation, or vagrancy.”

MP Enass Abdel Haleem seeks to upgrade the punishment of parents who proved to have neglected their children with “up to 10 years in prison”. Those amendments are still under discussion the parliament.

In a statement released last August, Abdel Haleem stated that it concluded some amendments in the Child Law to “criminalise the neglect that caused the death of children, or exposed them to danger or accidents.”

Abdel Haleem stated that in most cases, and when the child died, the law case is suspended or closed for the family’s welfare.

“Parental neglect should be treated as unintentional crime or killing as I said before, which its punishment should not exceeding three years and of course not 10years,” Professor Fawzia Abdel Sattar commented.

Abdel Sattar compared two crimes, if a mother neglected her child and this lead to the child’s death, and if a driver killed someone by mistake with their car. “Both are unintentional crimes. Both have to be treated equally,” Abdel Sattar stressed, concluding that 10 years in prison in such cases is shameful.

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Economic woes mark end of 2018, global conflicts to watch in 2019 https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/30/economic-woes-mark-end-of-2018-global-conflicts-to-watch-in-2019/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/30/economic-woes-mark-end-of-2018-global-conflicts-to-watch-in-2019/#respond Sun, 30 Dec 2018 11:00:00 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=685458 US leadership of international order fades, more countries seek influence by meddling in foreign disputes amid lack of impunity

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The end of 2018 has seen quite a few months full of action. Crises are sweeping countries across the globe, with a particular condemnation of economic distress and increased concern for deteriorating human rights circumstances.

US-Saudi relations are closely monitored for their impact in shaping regional policy, as Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, the country’s young Saudi leader, has come under fire over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as atrocities in Yemen.

A ceasefire in Yemen’s Al-Hudaydeh last week has hardly been in place. In a Friday statement, the UN said Yemen’s warring parties have begun the process this week of implementing a comprehensive ceasefire agreement throughout the key rebel-held port city, “raising hopes that ground-breaking consultations convened by the UN in Sweden can lead to a lasting peace through further talks next year.”

Major US shifts include the decision to halt military assistance for Saudis in Yemen and pull out from both Afghanistan and Syria, where President Bashar Al-Assad has been regaining control. Damascus is in diplomatic talks with Arab countries, including the UAE which has re-opened its embassy and is holding meetings with Egyptian security officials.

More global unresolved conflicts are expected to continue next year.

Mass demonstrations denounce economic difficulties

Dozens of people have been killed in protests in Sudan as they enter their second week. The numbers range between 37 killings estimated by Amnesty International and 19 killings announced by the local government as reported by the Sudan Tribune.

The demonstrations, started on 19 December contesting an increase in bread prices, are likely to continue escalating as more groups are joining in, as the government’s security forces violently pursue and arrest opposition leaders and journalists.

Thousands of Sudanese protested on 25 December in the capital Khartoum among other cities, criticising the economic situation and demanding that President Omar Al-Bashir step down. Repressing the protests, Al-Bashir received support of other government leaders.

A few weeks earlier, France made global headlines for its own turbulence as the ‘Yellow Vests’  movement launched protests in mid-November. Clashes between security forces and protesters turned the landmark Champs Elysee street into a blazing battleground.

Protesters erupted against fuel price hikes and tax reforms which have burdened the middle class, with a voiced opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron, forcing him to suspend the decision.

But the protests have continued, and more are scheduled to take place on New Year’s Eve, with reports that demonstrators even tried to storm Macron’s summer retreat along the Mediterranean coast last Thursday. Concerns of the impact on the French economy and tourism are growing.

The scenario was reproduced in Belgium with protesters inspired by the French movement which police faced with tear gas and water cannons. “The demonstrations in both countries come from the same sense of struggling to make ends meet every month,” France 24 reported on 9 December.

Iran also witnessed protests in past months over unfavourable economic conditions. There is also a growing fear among governments such as Turkey and Egypt that protests would spread to their countries. Egypt is facing a similar economic situation, where it is lifting subsidies on energy as part of a loan programme with the International Monetary Fund.

Global conflicts continue

In 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley writes, “As the era of uncontested US primacy fades, the international order has been thrown into turmoil. More leaders are tempted more often to test limits, jostle for power, and seek to bolster their influence – or diminish that of their rivals – by meddling in foreign conflicts.”

In his report published by the Belgium-based non-governmental group and Foreign Policy magazine on Friday, Malley lists Yemen on top of the conflicts’ list, where he points out to seizing the UN-sponsored ceasefire opportunity is key to stopping further deterioration of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Over 16 million Yemenis face food insecurity, according to the UN. A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states waged a war in 2015 against Houthi rebels to restore the power of the Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi.

Second on the list came Afghanistan, which Malley describes as the “deadliest fighting” as he highlights the count of 2018 at more than 40,000 killed civilians and combatants. As US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of his troops, fears of an extended civil war emerge as the Taliban controls half the country. A US absence could also leave room for other regional players to meddle.

The rivalry between the US and China is the next conflict to watch, although not deadly, it could have “graver geopolitical consequences than all of the other crises listed this year,” Malley stated, adding that a trade deal would help ease the tensions.

Meanwhile, major players in the international scene include the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel aligned against Iran. Washington pulled out from a 2015 nuclear deal; the Saudis vow to fight back Iran in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq while Israel is confronting Iran in Syria.

In Syria, it seems the regime of Al-Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, is winning the battle, at the same time the war against the Islamic State (IS) group is coming to an end. Malley does not see a problem in the US retreat of ground troops in the fight against IS but hastiness would leave allies like the Kurdish group exposed to Turkey and Al-Assad.

Moving to Nigeria, the presidential election scheduled for February 2019 sparks fear of violence, especially amid the fight between government troops and Islamist Boko Haram militants and other clashes between Muslims and Christians which reached a peak this year, killing at least 1,500 people.

The situation in South Sudan remains unstable despite a ceasefire agreement signed in September between President Salva Kiir and his main rival, the former vice president-turned rebel leader Riek Machar. Protests against President Al-Bashir in the north could also be destabilising for the south.

In the Cameroon, militias are facing government forces. According to the International Crisis Group’s estimates, fighting has already killed nearly 200 soldiers, gendarmes, and police officers, with some 300 injured, and also killed over 600 separatists. At least 500 civilians have died in the violence. The UN counts 30,000 Anglophone refugees in Nigeria and 437,000 internally displaced in the Cameroon.

On a different note, neither the Ukraine nor Russia has taken steps to end the war. In November, Russian and Ukrainian vessels clashed in the Sea of Azov, and Russia effectively blocked access to the Kerch Strait. Meanwhile, fighting in the Donbas continues, and civilians living along the front lines are paying the price. Kyiv refuses to devolve power to Donbas until Russia withdraws arms and personnel from separatist-held areas, which Moscow shows scant willingness to do. Proposals for possible peacekeeping missions have not gone far, the report stated.

Lastly, Venezuela, facing a migration crisis as more people are fleeing economic hardship heading towards Columbia, is feared to provoke a regional crisis. Poverty, malnutrition, and disease are worsened by a government that has stripped the opposition from powers as President Nicolas Maduro is about to start a second term. Malley warns that economic sanctions by the US and Europe could worsen the situation, suggesting that instead, outsiders should discourage talk of armed intervention and press for a peaceful transition, likely involving negotiations on political and economic reforms between the government and the opposition, and some form of transitional administration. 

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Ancient Egyptian secret roots of Yoga https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/26/ancient-egyptian-secret-roots-of-yoga/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/26/ancient-egyptian-secret-roots-of-yoga/#respond Wed, 26 Dec 2018 12:00:47 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=685124 Celebrating rebirth of Nile heritage on Dahabeya

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Author and creator of the new school of ‘Afrikan Yoga A Practical Guide to Smai Posture, Breath and Meditation,’ Pablo Imani—a Jamaican of Mali origin, raised in England—claims that the practice of yoga originated from indigenous cultures, particularly, the ancient Egyptians.

Ten years ago he was invited by Nile photographer and Dahabeya Director Karina Piaro, who co-conceptualised and pioneered a retreat to share Imani’s yoga wisdom on the Dahabeya.

Piaro also marketed his endeavour as well as photographed him as he shared is yoga wisdom on the Dahabeya.

He will once again do so in February 2019, in support of this significant re-launch chapter representing the Nile heritage to a wider audience from the platform of one of the most historical vessels existing in Egypt. Again, this shall portray a historical first both in terms of his holistic process and the Dahabeya heritage.

Imani’s yogic school—which has been recognised by the International Yoga Alliance of India—basically, means the science of breath. However, “it also means union, and there are Smai depictions throughout the temple walls in ancient Egypt. The word Smai, Sma, Sema or Sem is an ancient Egyptian word which translates to the science of breath and union. In the Sanskrit language, dating back 600 BC, the word yoga is commonly known, rendering the language and word around 2,400 years old. Smai is an African term for what we would call yoga today. The Smai hieroglyph is a representation of the Metu Neter, a language dating back to 10,000 years ago, that was spoken, written, and used in hieroglyphics. The Smai glyph is commonly seen as a tube descending into a bulbous figure at the end of it. If you go to Luxor temple in Karnak, there is a statue of Ramses, he’s sitting on his throne, on each side of the statue, and there is a relief. The relief depicts two beings, two persons standing and pulling a rope that’s binding a particular symbol. The Smai symbol is the lungs and the oesophagus which is the symbol of the breath and these two being on one side is the depictions of Horus and Seth. Sometimes you’ll see the symbol with Hapi, Hapi representing the Nile, so you would have Hapi on one side and Hapi on the other side pulling, and at the feet they have papyrus leaf growing and lotus leaf growing, which represent the two parts of Egypt, Upper and Lower Egypt. But it also means the binding of two states whether they are masculine and feminine, the higher state the lower states, animal state, spirit state, spirit and body. Horus represented the higher self and Seth represented the egotistical self, so that’s what the Smai symbol is” explained Imani.

Furthermore, Imani elaborated that Smai portrays the central column which in the human body represents the trachea, commonly called the windpipe, which descends down into the lungs. Its other meaning is the Djed column or spine in the body with the pelvis attached to the end of the spine, where the two figures of Hapi principle force of the Nile have their left and right feet on it.

Meanwhile, December 2018 marks the revival of a unique concierge charter service through The Niles New Wave which is devoted to shaping a new aesthetic through the sharing of transformational journeys on the Nile. “Expect a personal guided immersive experience echoing the ambience of an almost forgotten age; the elegant simplicity of 18th century travel combined with 21st century comforts on the Nile,” Piaro said, adding, “specialising in river bound heritage craft, historically and uniquely found on the Nile called the Dahabeya, it partners beautiful white lateen wooden shuttered sailing craft with specialists and masters in the fields of heritage, arts, philosophy, and holistic wellbeing” said Piaro, stressing that, “this is truly a rare opportunity to immerse in the phenomenal holistic power and out-of-time sensibility that reflects a contemporary Nile enlightenment.”

Now the connection is basically in ancient Egypt they had priests who were called Kheri-hebs or Hari-hebs. These Hari-hebs, were known as funerary priests who conducted many rituals concerning the cleansing of the body inside out, and “yogic practice was used for that in terms of cleansing from the inside out” added Imani. So, this is one of the connections of the actual yogic practice in ancient Africa. They used what is called hekau or heka which is found in the ‘Per Em Heru’ which has been mistranslated as the Egyptian Book of the Dead but it is really the book of Coming Forth by Day, that’s what ‘Per Em Heru’ actually means,” stated Imani. Heka is what is referred to as mantras, so they would also use mantras or word sounds of power. Nowadays these would be known as mantras but also as positive affirmations, to manifest things. So, this is all a part of yogic lifestyle today, using positive affirmations and meditations, often now referred to as mindfulness and positive visualisations, according to Imani.

In parallel, since the beginning of the 21st century, Karina Piaro has been pioneering, as the first female Dahabeya Director of the new age, a new narrative which has had the purpose of raising awareness of the importance of conserving the Nile heritage. As part of this heritage pioneering initiative, Piaro invited yogic holistic wellbeing practitioner Pablo Imani a decade ago, to synergise his style of yogic process and wisdom with the Dahabeya heritage.

Concurrently, Piaro welcomed Pablo Imani to teach with students coming internationally on the Nile Dahabeya retreats, which can be as long as seven nights and eight days, sailing from Luxor to Aswan. “Unlike large modern cruisers, this unique rare historical 1800s craft, one of the last remaining ones of its kind in existence, can berth at sites rich in Nile heritage significance, including Gebel el Silsila, an ancient Egyptian quarry, as well as islands in the middle of the river which are all normally unreachable by modern boats” stated Piaro, adding, “the Dahabeya is thus ideal as a platform to share a stronger sense of reconnecting with sites of heritage significance but through the Nile itself.”

Imani had been initiating his accredited school of yogic process directly from a Nile source of knowledge and holistic process, and Piaro felt that this synergising of both elements, the yogic with the Dahabeya, as both are a transformative process, would be an appropriate platform to share another aspect of heritage emanating from the Nile itself.

Afrikan yoga, pioneered by Pablo Imani, is therefore the first known yogic process to work synergistically with a Dahabeya in the new age, and the revival of this concept begins again in December 2018.

Another connection to that of Kheri-hebs or Hari-hebs, added Imani, is that in India at the time when yoga was first discovered, they say it was first founded by people who lived in the forest, and these people “were known to use particular animal archetypes and animal totems just like in ancient Egypt” declared Imani, adding, “for example you have Horus who has a falcon head, Sekhmet who is a lioness, you have Tefnut too who has a lion head, and these are known as the Neteru or the cosmic forces of nature.”

In the forest in India, these same people also have these same symbolisms that they were using, and there was a group or a family that discovered these people in the forest and they were known as the Gorakshanath, a family of Hindus, according to Imani‘s research. So they noticed how these people were using animal forms and copying these animal forms to create postures, and to better themselves in some shape or form. Therefore, the Indians also decided that they were going to copy these people that lived in the forest.

Now there’s a story that some of the priests of ancient Egypt would exile themselves into different parts of the world during times of war. Some went into western Africa so you have people like the Yoruba of Nigeria who claim that they came from ancient Egypt, the Dogon of Mali, the Igbo in Nigeria also claim they came from ancient Egypt. The Zulus in South Africa also claim they came from ancient Egypt, and the Maasai of Kenya claim that too. Hence, we are talking about different people exiling themselves out of Egypt into other parts of Africa, but also into other parts of the world. Hence, you had a priesthood which practiced yoga exiling themselves also into India. Now at the time Egypt was much bigger and of course it wasn’t known as Egypt, it had many names, such as Kemet which is a well-known name that’s been expounded often today, but it was also known as Tame-re. Thus, these priests who exiled themselves into India took their practices into the forests of India during one of the many invasions of Egypt. Various books by for example, Ivan Van Sertima, who wrote They Came Before Columbus, or by Cheikh Anta Diop, who wrote The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality, as well as several scholars state that information in addition to written information regarding India as well, according to Imani.

In addition, Imani indicated that back then Ethiopia and East African languages had similar dialect to Indian languages and customs were also shared along with trade, so it just stands to reason that yogic practices may have been exchanged too. So, this is how Imani made those particular connections. “A lot of people asked me well who came first, was the African, Egyptian or Indian system that came first. My reply is usually that there was a lot of debate around that, but to me it does not mean much who came first, but just to recognise that yogic practices were practiced in Africa as well as in India, and I go as far as to say that yogic practices were practiced by indigenous cultures worldwide, they just did not call it yoga. They had their own name for connecting to source, or connecting to a higher self, a higher purpose, through their particular rituals and practices” proclaimed Imani.

The Afrikan yoga school is also known as Tama-re Smai Taui. Afrikan yoga can be broken down into Ta, which stands for earth, Ma, water, Re, sun or solar energy or one of the ancient names of Egypt which is Tama-re, meaning the beloved land, as Imani explained. Consequently, the practice is known as Tama-re. Smai, means the science of breath, or union, and Taui means two states. That is Afrikan yoga, which again comes from the Nile valley, and it uses the elements which are earth, water, air and fire, as in Tama-re. It also has a practice in it called Hudu. Hu means ‘creative force of will’ and the du is related to the use of rhythm, so it is known as a creative force of will through the use of rhythm, which can be transcribed as intention, and the meaning of Tai chi is intention, so the Hudu is really an Afrikan form of Tai chi, with the use of postures that come from temple walls that originate from ancient Egypt, not postures that derive from India, but literally from temple walls of Egypt, and that’s what makes it very special, very particular, and very powerful.

The school is based on several disciplines. First of all the movements are based on the movements of the Neteru, which is found in the temples of Luxor, the temple of Horus at Edfu, and on scientific methods, mentioned in the Ebers papyrus, the rhind papyrus,  and these are known as the pyramid texts which are the oldest books in the entire world.

The philosophy of the Afrikan yogic school system is based on the philosophy of Ma’at, which is found in the ancient Egyptian book known as the ‘Per’Em Heru or the Coming Forth by Day, and it uses the presets of the 42 Declarations of Innocence and the 10 Virtues of the Initiates.

The 10 Virtues of the Initiates and the Wisdom Texts are based on the philosophies of  Ptahhotep and Amennakht, Kagemni, Tehuti-Hermes Trismegistus and Seti I, which are comparable with the Noble Paths of the Buddhist Dharma and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

“However, the ancient Egyptian system is almost 2,000 years older than the yoga sutras of Patanjali as it is based on the philosophy of Ma’at, Hermes Trismegistus, also known as Tehuti, Ptahhotep, Kagemini, and Seti I.

That is the basic background and philosophy of the Afrikan yoga system that I teach, and which originates from the Nile valley, that’s the first thing. This is how it stems from, not only what people refer to as Egypt today, but also the whole of ancient Egypt” stressed Imani.

When Karina Piaro and Imani ran a yoga retreat 10 years ago on a Dahabeya it was very special because, first of all, it was not just any kind of yoga. It wasn’t Ashtanga or Kundalini or something like that which comes out of India, and is popular now in Egypt today, it was Tama-re Smai Taui, and so they used the Afrikan system of yoga that Imani taught on the Dahabeya.

They were the first to do this 10 years ago, and the special thing was it was like yoga coming home basically, and it was a beautiful experience which they both intend to launch again in February 2019, and they are telling the world about it because they are two of the very first people to ever do this and not on a boat— but on a Dahabeya.

“What is supremely specially is that it is an Afrikan-Egyptian system and not an import, but something that actually comes from the region, a system of yoga that comes from the region” declared Imani.

“The beauty of being on a Dahabeya is the movement of the boat as it floats down the river through the use of the elements instead of an engine. It’s using the wind; it’s using Shu, and sailing down, and it is one of the most glorious feelings because of the movement of the glide, and the slide and the gentleness of how it flows” asserted Imani.

“One of the beauties of the practice that Imani teaches has that air movement, which also has this flowing motion that goes with it, and it just has a connection that provides a profound experience” concluded Piaro.

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Bread Protests against price hikes, worsening economic conditions https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/23/bread-protests-against-price-hikes-worsening-economic-conditions/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/23/bread-protests-against-price-hikes-worsening-economic-conditions/#respond Sun, 23 Dec 2018 11:00:32 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=684771 Curfew, schools closed across Sudanese states as authorities curb demonstrations

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Amid weeks-long mass demonstrations of the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ against increasing fuel taxes, spreading from the streets of France to Belgium, widening the condemnation of the economic burden and country leaders’ policies, another uprising feared to cause chaos is now in process a continent apart, in Sudan.

Popular protests erupted Wednesday in a number of Sudanese provinces against price hikes and worsening economic conditions. An increase in the price of a loaf of bread is causing public outrage.

At least eight demonstrators have so far been killed in clashes with riot police, news agencies reported, six of them in the city of Al-Qadarif.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, an independent doctors’ union which seeks to improve healthcare conditions, said the six protesters killed in Al-Qadarif included a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head. It listed at least 27 injuries, seven of which who are in critical condition. Most casualties resulted from fire shots.

The list included many youth. Dozens of high school and college students reportedly took to the streets and were joined by dozens of residents.

In a Friday statement, a spokesperson for the government identified as BisharaJumaa was quoted by the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) that the government was aware of and is working to solve the crisis, asserting that security forces did not oppress civilians who were practicing their constitutional right to protest.

“However, the peaceful protests deviated from that path and were transformed by infiltrators into destabilising activity targeting public institutions and property, burning, destroying, attacking and burning some police headquarters,” he added.

The government representative added that some political entities have tried to take advantage of the situation in order to advance their own agendas, and that law infringements and sabotage would not be tolerated.

Protests took place in the states of Al-Qadarif, River Nile, Red Sea, North Kordofan and more contained ones in Khartoum.The Sudan Tribune reported that eyewitnesses in the Atbara town of River Nile State in north-eastern Sudan said the police and army didn’t interfere to disperse or arrest the protestors, but that some riot police officers threw tear gas at the demonstrators.

On the other hand, the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Atbara was set on fire by protestors. Schools were suspended and a state of emergency and curfew were declared. The Tribune further noted that President Omar Al-Bashir was in Port Sudan, Red Sea State, to attend the closing ceremony of a military exercise conducted by the Sudanese army.

The movement was seen as the largest since September 2013, when riots broke out to contest government subsidy cuts on fuel. Hundreds took to the streets in Khartoum and across the country, notably in Omdurman. At least 185 people were killed by violent repression; the majority were shot in the head or chest, according to Amnesty International.

Economic crisis

Economic conditions in Sudan have deteriorated in recent months. Last year, Sudan celebrated the US’s lifting of economic sanctions imposed for decades on the country over accusations of supporting terrorism.

However, it seems not to have brought the desired relief for Sudan’s economy, which has witnessed a drastic inflation rate, climbing to over 60% since May.

The country’s GDP growth rate has declined from 4.9% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2017, according to World Bank (WB) data. Sudan projects economic growth of 5.7% and expects a budget deficit equivalent to 5.2% of output in 2018, Prime Minister Motazz Moussa said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Some media reports said the wave of protest in the provinces over increased bread prices in some regions was caused by the government reducing the quantity of subsidised flour allocated to the states in order to cover the large deficit in Khartoum state.

Critics attribute the deteriorating living condition to corruption, lack of production policies, and the scarcity of economic reform vision following the secession of South Sudan.

Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of Sudan’s revenue and 90% of its exports and Sudan’s economy has struggled to recover from the loss.

Sudan devaluated its currency three times in 2018. In October, Sudan slashed the official value of its currency by over half against the dollar, pegging the Sudanese pound at 47.5 against the dollar.

The move led to further price increases and cash shortages, while the gap between the official and black market rates has continued to widen. Boosting foreign currency has been a critical challenge since the 2011 secession.

In December 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described authorities’ measures including exchange rate flexibility and reduction of fuel subsidies “helpful” but “insufficient to turn the tide toward sustained macroeconomic stability and broad-based growth.” The report noted that Sudan remained in debt distress, especially external payment arrears, including to the IMF.

The report warned that fiscal and monetary policy settings were likely to hinder prospects of growth following the revocation of the US sanctions. In fact, it stated that reduction of energy and wheat subsidies would generate substantial increases in prices, and that the authorities were concerned that it could raise social tensions among vulnerable groups and the middle class.

“They indicated that after suffering for 20 years under sanctions, it would be difficult to ask the population to make further substantial sacrifices with no clear guarantee that reforms would better their lives,” the IMF noted.

Commodities’ high prices caused protests in January over bread prices after the government decided to cut wheat subsidies, amid economic measures recommended by the IMF.

In other words used by Sudanese journalist Reem Abbas back then was that the country was heading towards “a total shutdown,” as she expected devaluation to continue since the country had neither any foreign reserve nor production of some sort.

Abbas highlighted how factories were in facing tough financial conditions leading to increasing their market prices and how people could not afford food, medicine and fuel.

Political conflict over Al-Bashir’s presidency

“Down with the regime” and chants against President Omar Al-Bashir, was voiced by protesters and also became popular hashtags for social media trends.

Activists also began reporting attempts by the government to cut them off from the internet through local telecommunication operators. One of them, Zain Sudan, said Friday that “the blocking of some websites was for reasons out of the control and authority of the company.”

On Thursday, the presidency announced the appointment of a new director of the General Authority for Telecommunications, without providing further explanations.

Al-Bashir’s presidential term expires in 2020 but his supporters have pushed to extend it, which opposition figures have rallied to prevent for months.

Earlier this month, members of the Sudanese parliament presented signaturesto amend article 57 of the country’s Constitution of 2005 regarding the duration of the presidential term, to be open without specifying more than one term.

The opposition Umma Party, which has endorsed the recent demonstrations and called for the downfall of the regime, rejected constitutional amendments’ proposal and denied that its presidentSadiq al-Mahdi had accepted it.

Al-Bashir, a military officer, came to power in 1989 in a coup that ousted the elected government of Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the then prime minister.

In recent months he has dissolved the government, named a new central bank governor and brought in a package of reforms, but the moves have done little to contain an economic crisis, Reuters reported.

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US Senate condemns Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi murder, Trump reiterates support for Bin Salman https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/16/us-senate-condemns-saudi-arabia-over-khashoggi-murder-trump-reiterates-support-for-bin-salman/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/16/us-senate-condemns-saudi-arabia-over-khashoggi-murder-trump-reiterates-support-for-bin-salman/#respond Sun, 16 Dec 2018 10:00:14 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=683891 Yemen peace talks progressed as US lawmakers push for ending military assistance to the Saudi-led military coalition

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Pressure on Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman could mount again as American lawmakers disputed US military assistance to the kingdom in the Yemen war and seek to sanction it over the controversial murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US Senate passed a resolution last Thursday “to direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen that have not been authorised by Congress,” with a 56-41 vote.

According to Reuters, this was the first time Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw US forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act, a 1973 law limiting the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

“Today was a victory for the Constitution and the separation of powers,” tweeted Republican senator Mike Lee following the vote.

“With this vote, we are one step closer to reviving our constitutional framework – where the power to declare war lies with Congress, not the executive branch – and we have taken a step towards removing ourselves from the spread of human suffering in Yemen,” he said in a second tweet.

Seven Republicans joined Senate Democrats to back the measure. Moreover, the Senate also unanimously backed a resolution blaming Bin Salman for Khashoggi murder.

The rare move comes in defiance to President Donald Trump who has maintained support for his Saudi friends ever since the outbreak of Khashoggi’s case in October.

Despite weeks of debates over the resolution, it remains largely symbolic and unlikely to become law. “The non-binding ‘war powers resolution’ calls upon President Trump to remove all American forces engaging in hostilities in Yemen, except for those combating Islamist extremists,” the BBC reported.

In a letter addressed to the presidents of the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month, Trump stated that the US, in a non-combat role, “have continued to provide military advice and limited information, logistics, and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.”

But the US ended aerial refuelling of regional forces’ aircraft in November 2018. If turned into a law, the resolution prohibits the resumption of that practice.

Debate escalating on US-Saudi relations

Debates over support to the Saudis grew after the Khashoggi issue, with concerns over turning a blind eye to blatant infringements of human rights, holding them accountable over that particular incident or revaluate US commitment as a whole.

Trump and his administration insisted on providing support to the kingdom and the crown prince following global outrage over the killing of Khashoggi, who criticised the latter in his writings, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Last month, Trump refuted suggestions that Bin Salman had been involved in the premeditated operation against the journalist and distanced himself from a CIA report saying the Saudi crown prince was likely to have ordered it. He reiterated support for Bin Salman in statements to Reuters.

“Maybe he did, maybe he did not,” Trump said as he held on to the relationship with Saudi Arabia, “a great ally in our very important fight against Iran,” he added, asserting that the US intends to “remain a steadfast partner” of the kingdom. Trump’s words were mainly addressed to congressmen seeking to “go in a different direction” as he put it.

Likewise, the US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lobbied efforts to convince senators in closed-door briefings this week and last month to continue the military advising, logistics support, and intelligence that have for years been shared with Saudi Arabia.

But according to statements they gave to the press, senators were further frustrated and more convinced of Bin Salman’s role in the Khashoggi murder.

The resolution was written by Lee and Senator Bernie Sanders. It was voted against in senate back in March of this year, as Bin Salman was on a highly publicised tour in the US, in which he met with Trump and Mattis among other current and former senior US officials and public figures.

As the vote went through this time, Sanders tweeted “In the last three years, 85,000 children have died and millions are on the brink of starvation. We must tell Saudi Arabia that the United States will no longer support their despotic regime’s role in the horrific war in Yemen.”

Republicans agreeing to the Thursday’s resolution included Lee, Susan Collins, Steve Daines, Jeff Flake, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, and Todd Young of Indiana.

On the other hand, five Democrats sided with Republicans earlier on Wednesday in the House of Representatives voted in favour of preventing such a legislation. They included Al Lawson, Jim Costa, Collin Peters, Dutch Ruppersberger, and David Scott.

The Republican-led House of Representatives is therefore not expected to take a vote on the resolution, thus adjourning the issue to next January where there will be a new Democratic House majority, while Trump previously threatened to use his veto power.

Most Republicans supported the military alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia until the Khashoggi case came along. The recent move indicated a growing sense of urgency among lawmakers in both parties to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s death, and to question a tradition of Washington averting its gaze from the kingdom’s human rights abuses in the interest of preserving a strategically important relationship, The New York Times reported last Thursday.

Billions of dollars of American arms sales to the kingdom are at stake. According to Trump, the Saudis also agreed to spend and invest $450bn in the US.

This, Trump said, was “a record amount of money” that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the US.

Out of the $450bn, $110bn will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other great US defence contractors.

Progress on Yemen truce

Yemen peace talks held in Sweden last week brought some positivity into the humanitarianly disastrous war launched by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 to push back against Iran-supported Houthi militias and restore endorsed President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani represented the government in the recent UN-sponsored summit as he shook hands with Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalam.

The parties agreed on a ceasefire in Hudaydah city where there has been escalation in fighting in the past weeks, as well as easing the situation in Taiz, in addition to an agreement on the exchange of thousands of prisoners.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres affirmed that there would be a full withdrawal of troops from the city and port of Hudaydah in addition to offering a supervisory role to the UN, as local authorities will make security arrangements, the details of which yet to be formalised.

“As we all know, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than 24 million people – three-quarters of the population – need some form of assistance and protection. Some 20 million people are food insecure, and 10 million of the total number do not know how they will obtain their next meal,” Guterres said.

Both the US and Saudi Arabia welcomed the agreement. “Although many details remain subject to further discussion, these consultations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis marked a pivotal first step,” Pompeo said.

Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, praised efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to reach this agreement as “an important step towards restoring the sovereignty and independence of Yemen,” the Saudi News Agency reported.

Both the rebels and government alliance stand accused of failing to protect civilians. The UN last year blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for the killing of over 600 children in air raids.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair had previously expressed confidence in a UN process as “the only viable process” for a resolution of the crisis. “We have great respect for Martin Griffiths. I think he is approaching it the right way,” he said in a September interview with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank.

But the minister strongly defended his country’s involvement in the war in response to the CFR’s question about some congressmen’s concern about the direction of the war and US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“I do not believe it is a quagmire and this is a war that we did not choose. This is a war that we did not want,” he stated, explaining that the Saudis responded to “reverse the coup that the Houthis staged, and over the past three and a half years —almost four years—the Houthi control of Yemen has shrunk from 80% to 20%.”

“Do we want a Hezbollah-controlled country on our southern border? No. Not going to happen […] Do we want to give Yemen to the Iranians? No.” Al-Jubair stressed.

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Calls returned to omit religion from national ID Card in Egypt https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/13/calls-returned-to-omit-religion-from-national-id-card-in-egypt/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/13/calls-returned-to-omit-religion-from-national-id-card-in-egypt/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 14:00:35 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=683800 Nasr El-Din asserted he will insist on bill, will submit it to parliament next week

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One year after the parliament has rejected a draft law to omit the religion field from the Egyptian national ID card, another parliament member, Ismail Nasr El Din, renewed the call to enforce the draft law to fight societal discrimination.

Two days ago, Nasr El-Din submitted a draft law calling on the government to omit the religion field from the national ID card and from all official state documents.

The move reflects the insistence of the parliament members to pass the law to the legislative and constitutional affairs committee, for referral to the government in order to be applied within the state institutions.

In 2016, about 63% parliamentarians rejected the proposal dubbed ‘citizenship’ that was submitted at the time by MP Alaa Abdel Moneim, member of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee. The proposal stirred a controversial debate among parliament members, some of whom supported it in the belief that identifying religion creates a discriminatory state between citizens while other saw it as important to mention it to determine the civic situation.

Nasr El-Din said that the constitution stipulates that there should be no discrimination among citizens and that all Egyptians have the same rights and duties.

“The constitution is set up to respect its provisions, and if we disagreed with it, there is a constitutional path that determines how to amend them, but as long as we deal with the current constitution, we must respect its provisions and apply them,” said Nasr El-Din.

The member continued that: “If we want to establish a genuine civil state with the values of citizenship, we must start with official papers. Just as we have eliminated the divorced title from the national ID, we must apply the same with the religion.”

Nasr El-Din asserted that he will insist on the bill and will submit it to parliament next week, and after the committee finishes reviewing the draft law, he will collect members’ signatures.

He pointed out that his move came after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi spoke before the entire world about the freedom of worship during the second World Youth Forum,  where believed that it is a sign for him to suggest the law one more time.

Al-Sisi said during the forum which took place in Sharm El-Sheikh last week, that each citizen has the right to worship or not worship, and that the state does not interfere in this matter. His statements came to justify that there exists no discrimination between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

Members and activists praised the proposal and called for its swift application starting from the beginning of 2019 in order to limit discrimination and enhance citizenship and its achievement among people, while others criticised it.

A group of people view the issue as a symbolic one since people’s names can indicate one’s religious identity, while others believe that every citizen has right to feel safe and should not be treated with any form of discrimination.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) believes that omitting the religion field from the National ID card is a positive step which will send an important message to citizens that the state is neutral towards religious beliefs, and that it’s not necessary to disclose your religion during one’s daily dealings.

Moreover, parliament member Mohamed Abo Hamed said that the constitution confirmed citizenship rights and the development of anti-discriminatory behaviours, and that abolishing the religion field entails details in social matters such as marriage and work, and that he supports the abolition of the religion field if it will not result in any legal default.

The head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Naguib Gabriel said the existence of religion field in the card is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by Egypt and the international covenants that the Egyptian Constitution requires respect and commitment to.

Gabriel added that existence of religion field in the national ID card is a form of discrimination between citizens on the basis of religion, which violates Article 53 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states that citizens are equal according to the law and the rights, freedoms and public duties, and that there is no distinction between them for any reason.

He suggested that the existence of religion field in the national ID led to sectarian congestion because some people have exploited the religion disclosure in acts which promoted discrimination, citing that businesspersons, and decision-makers can put regulations to not hire Christians in their vacant job announcements.

Meanwhile Hafez Abu Saada, member of the National Council for Human Rights, rejected in a televised interview the calls to remove the religion field from the ID at the current time, believing that it will stir social issues that will not help to solve the discrimination crisis.

In response to fears of marriage problems, Gabriel said that abolition of the religion cannot lead to Christian marriages to a Muslim, saying that this is untrue because Christians must obtain a certificate from the church to confirm their religion.

Professor at Al-Azhar University Mohamed Wahdan said that what is proposed is good, but the timing is not appropriate, as passing such bill needs a prelude period since there are some extremists, and first we need to conduct a community dialogue on the matter, and the presence of the religion field in ID cards does stir nor represent any discriminatory behaviour. As for his opinion on the draft law, he said that Islam respects religions and the freedom of others, both Muslims and Christians believe in God, and we are all Egyptians, and we do not walk in the street pointing out each other’s religions.

Religion is important only when we are burying deceased people, to differentiate between Muslims and Christians, he concluded.

Every citizen must hold at all times Egypt’s national ID card, which will include basic information about individuals including age, occupation, place of residence, marital status and religious affiliation.

According to Article 53 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution, citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, gender, origin, race, colour, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason.

Coptic Christians make up 10-15 percent of Egypt’s 104 million population. In the last several years, Coptic churches have been the target of several deadly terrorist attacks, which left tens dead and injured. In one of the latest attack, seven people killed in the terrorist attack against buses carrying Copts in Upper Egypt’s Minya a few weeks ago.

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Parliament drafts new law to face ‘fatwa chaos’ amid division between Azhar, endowment ministry https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/11/parliament-drafts-new-law-to-face-fatwa-chaos-amid-division-between-azhar-endowment-ministry/ https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/2018/12/11/parliament-drafts-new-law-to-face-fatwa-chaos-amid-division-between-azhar-endowment-ministry/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:00:48 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=683520 Dozens of invalid fatwas spread recently, debated by religious scholars

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Amid ongoing disputes between the two major Islamic institutions, Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments, over finding an appropriate vision to renew the religious discourse, the Egyptian Parliament drafted a new law to regulate the process.

Discussions about the renewal of religious discourse were immensely tackled in the media in the past years, while also being addressed in different seminars and conferences, to combat terrorism and protect young people from extremist thoughts.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been calling for the renewal of religious discourse since he took office in 2013. On several occasions, he asserted that a religious reform is required to harmonise with the latest developments of the current age.

Al-Sisi believes that there is a problem concerning the understanding of religious texts and that it needs to be re-revised, especially after the worldwide distortion of the image of Islam as a result of acts of violence and hate speech conducted by extremists in the name of Islam. Thus, the president stressed the importance of renewing the religious discourse as one of the basic elements to fight extremism and terrorism with.

Egypt’s concern about the issue did not come out of the blue, but due to the challenges long suffered in the region as a consequence of political Islam, which is believed to be the main instigator of terrorist operations.

Al-Azhar and the religious endowments ministry have organised several campaigns to fight extremism and terrorism, but nothing was completely satisfactory and up to the standards expected by the ambitions of the Egyptian president.

Draft law to regulate fatwa chaos

MP Omar Hamroush, secretary-general of the religious affairs parliamentary committee, who drafted the new law, said that it would help Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments to reach common grounds.

“The law is of great importance in the renewal of religious discourse and will confront abnormal fatwas – ruling of Islamic law – which dramatically spread in Egypt,” Hamroush said, adding that his draft law will prevent extremist clerics from issuing invalid fatwas by criminalising the issuance of fatwas without obtaining licenses from Al-Azhar or the ministry of religious endowments.

He noted that invalid fatwas harm the stability of the state, as many were issued by extremist Salafi clerics that legitimised extremism by encouraging youth to join terrorist groups to bomb churches and monasteries.

Hamroush pointed out that such invalid fatwas began when the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Salafists came to power in Egypt in 2012.

Osama El-Abd, head of the committee, said that if the differences between the two institutions were not settled soon, the parliament will intervene to solve the issue.

Another member of the committee, Mohamed Abu Hamed, said that Al-Azhar seemed as if it were rejecting reforming religious discourse, however it is not the sole religious arbiter in accordance to the constitution.

Article 7 of the constitution states that “Al-Azhar is the main reference on religious sciences and Islamic affairs”, but does not stipulate it is the sole reference. The parliamentary member noted that this article opens the door to other institutions and intellectuals to give their views on religious issues.

The state attempts to regulate the chaos of fatwa which recently appeared, as many invalid fatwas have been spreading and were widely debated which caused widespread backlash.

Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Iftaa, Egypt’s principal Islamic legal institution for issuing fatwas, are set to prepare a list of only 50 religious scholars and clerics who will be permitted to issue fatwas via the media.

In 2017, Dar Al-Iftaa launched fatwa kiosks at the Cairo Metro to offer religious advice to commuters and fight extremist ideas. It focused on daily life issues, such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, as well as correcting misinterpretations of Islam.

The division between religious institutions occurred when the ministry of religious endowments said it has the right to issue fatwas, while Al-Azhar rejected the ministry’s interference in this regard, insisting that one of its affiliated committees has been tasked to issue fatwas since the 1980s and it should continue to do so.

A fatwa is normally issued by a recognised religious authority or individual based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance (Sunnah) on the routine of daily life subjects, such as marriage and inheritance.

In Egypt, Dar Al-Iftaa, under the ministry of justice, is the official institution devoted to issuing fatwas, along with Al-Azhar’s clerics in nationwide offices. For example, all court sentences of death ought be approved in consideration with Dar Al-Iftaa.

However, the state’s top clerics and religious scholars, mainly those affiliated to Al-Azhar and the endowments ministry, are still unable to agree on a fixed vision for the reform, as some believe they have to adhere to the Holy Quran only and minimise the independence on Sunnah.

The difference between Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments reached a crescendo last week when the representative of Al-Azhar announced he would not attend any more meetings on the law.

Stances of Al-Azhar and endowment ministry over Sunnah

The Minister of Endowments, Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, had contradictory visions over the new anticipated discourse which that clearly apparent during the celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday (Mawled) in November which was attended by Al-Sisi.

The minister urged that the renewal of religious discourse should consider the requirements of the current age and place as well, saying that the “early scientists succeeded to come up with religious discourse corresponding with the conditions and circumstances of their time, so in terms of changes and developments, now we have to take into account the circumstances of our times and conditions.”

Gomaa cited one of the sayings of the Prophet that was applicable in previous eras, explaining that it cannot be followed in the current time due to developments and changes.

Al-Tayeb said that he rejects questioning the validity of the Prophet’s sayings and Sunnah in general, while Gomaa suggested coming up with a new legislation that will be suitable with the current conditions of people.

Al-Tayeb also highlighted that the Sunnah is the second source of legislation in Islam preceded by Al-Quran, pointing out that it provided more details that were not mentioned in Islam’s holy book, and that there is a need to maintain the Sunnah along with Al-Quran in the legislation and provisions for Muslims.

His statements came in response to calls of excluding some of the Sunnah from the legislation process, stressing that these calls are not new, as they were initially launched in India in early 20th century.

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