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Brotherhood Airways for Egypt?

Brotherhood Airways for Egypt? | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

Businessman and prominent leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, engineer Khairat al-Shater, has begun investing in the aviation in recent weeks, a source familiar with the matter told Al Arabiya on Monday. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said Shater “is currently looking for a partnership to buy seven airplanes from Egypt Air that owns (many planes) but is operating with half of its capacity since the revolution erupted (in 2011).”

Shater’s attempt comes after a deal with Coptic businessman and leader of the Masrena (Our Egypt) Party Rami Lakah was not sealed, according to the source.

The source said that Shater’s rejection of letting Lakah be the sole manager brought the expected deal to an end.

According to the source, the new company was set to launch flights to and from Cairo and Tehran, while also flying to and from Cairo and America. 

Lakah, who previously made investments in the aviation field, had been able through one of his companies to gain the approval of American authorities to land in American airports after paying 1.2 billion dollars. 

The deal between Lakah and Shater was supposed to result in buying seven airplanes from Egypt Air, three Boeing 37500 and four Airbus 340 and 320. The price of each is nearly $45 million.

 

http://www.albawaba.com/business/-egypt-airline-shater-476651http://www.albawaba.com/business/-egypt-airline-shater-476651

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Égypt-actus
revue de presse sur l'actualité culturelle, archéologique, politique et sociale de l'Égypte
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Pour suivre l'actualité de l'Égypte...

Pour suivre l'actualité de l'Égypte... | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

https://www.facebook.com/pages/%C3%89gypte-actualit%C3%A9s/423633907711768

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Egypt announces long-term cease-fire between Israel, Palestine

Egypt announces long-term cease-fire between Israel, Palestine | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By AYA IBRAHIM

CAIRO: A Gaza cease-fire between Israel and Palestine has been reached, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced in a Monday statement.

The cease-fire came into effect as of 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the statement read.

“In order to prevent bloodshed as well as to save the lives of the Palestinian people and on the basis of the Egyptian proposal for a Gaza cease-fire, Egypt has called for a comprehensive and long-term  truce in conjunction with the opening of the crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, allowing the speedy entry of humanitarian and relief aid and reconstructions materials, allowing the expansion of a fishing area starting from 6 miles and continuing the indirect talks between the two parties over other topics within a month after starting the cease-fire,” the statement said.

The ministry also praised the United States’ efforts and the role it has played in reaching the truce.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that a cease-fire had been reached with Israel to end seven weeks of fighting in Gaza.

“I want to announce the Palestinian leadership’s agreement to neighboring Egypt’s call for a comprehensive and permanent truce, beginning at 7 p.m. (1900 GMT) today,” he said in a televised speech in Ramallah at the start of a leadership meeting.

Hamas representatives and spokespersons announced in a press conference Tuesday their agreement on the cease-fire proposal, describing it as a “victory” for the movement and the Palestinian people.

Hamas representative Izzat Risheq tweeted “We won,” and said the cease-fire would lead to the opening of the crossing, the immediate lifting of the blockade and reconstruction of Gaza.

Earlier Tuesday before the cease-fire came into effect, two Palestinians were killed and 20 injured by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, Reuters reported.

Since the beginning of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war in July, 2,131 Palestinians have been killed and 10,890 injured according to Palestinian Healthy Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra Monday. In that same period, 68 Israelis have been killed; four of them civilians and the rest soldiers, AFP reported.

Egypt previously succeeded in organizing a 3-day cease-fire on Aug. 10, which was then extended by another five days, but expired on Aug. 18.

Additional Reporting by Samar Samir.

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Sisi transfers presidential powers to PM

Sisi transfers presidential powers to PM | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued Monday Presidential Decree No. 293 for year 2014, which hands off a number of previously presidential powers to Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, in accordance with the Constitution.

“The President of the Republic may delegate some of his powers to the Prime Minister, his deputies, ministers, or governors. None of them may delegate such authorities to others. All of the foregoing shall be regulated by Law,” Article 148 of the 2014 Constitution reads.

Mahlab’s new duties allow him to “dispose of state property and the expropriation of property free of charge, for the public benefit and protection of monuments,” the decision statement read.

The prime minister is now also allowed to grant exceptional pensions and rewards, to approve allowances, loans or grant compensation for damages or losses that include state employees, public bodies, public sector companies, public businesses, Al-Azhar, the Arabic Language Academy, universities, public facilities and the local administrations.

Constitutionalist Shawqy el-Sayed said that the delegation of these tasks will simplify the decision-making process and make it faster, ensuring that “the president is keen to his responsibilities but also that he believes in distribution of power and assumption of responsibility,” Youm7 reported.

The decision also delegated Mahlab to choose from the ministers who will work in his place should he be absent or unable to work.

Sisi’s decision has so far met with little opposition, but previous executive decisions made by former President Mohamed Morsi did.

Morsi issued a constitutional declaration on Nov. 21, 2012 in which he gave himself wide executive powers, and gave his decisions immunity from appeal. This irked many of his critics.

On Dec. 9, 2012, Morsi canceled the declaration after protests against it kicked off, followed by clashes at Ithadeya presidential palace.

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Eugène Fromentin, un orientaliste entre la plume et les pinceaux

Eugène Fromentin, un orientaliste entre la plume et les pinceaux | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

Dans la famille Fromentin, il semble établi que l'on doit être juriste ou médecin... Ainsi Eugène Fromentin, né le 24 octobre 1820, ne sera pas autorisé à faire les Beaux-Arts. Loin des pinceaux, des pigments, des couleurs et des palettes, il est contraint de "faire son droit".

Ce n'est qu'en 1843, après avoir obtenu sa licence, qu’il est enfin autorisé par son père à prendre des cours de peinture. Il ne réussira cependant jamais à se considérer totalement comme un peintre.


En 1846, il se rend pour la première fois en Algérie : c'est ce voyage-là qui fera naître en lui le peintre orientaliste. Ses peintures lui apportent une belle notoriété consacrée par des récompenses et des médailles. Parallèlement, il publie de nombreuses critiques d'art.

Son second voyage en Algérie, dont il fait le récit dans "Une année dans le Sahel", consacre sa double reconnaissance en tant que peintre et écrivain. "Dominique", un roman autobiographique qui paraît en 1863, rencontre également un franc succès.

C'est ainsi qu'en 1869, il est officiellement invité par le Khédive, avec de nombreux autres artistes européens (Ismaïl aurait lancé plus de 1000 invitations !), à l'inauguration du Canal de Suez.

En partant pour l’Égypte il prévient pourtant : "J’écrirai plus que je ne dessinerai." Il n'a "que" 49 ans, mais il annonce : "Il est trop tard, je suis trop vieux." Il trouve le rythme des visites beaucoup trop soutenu : "Si j’avais un peu de la forme qui m’échappe, pour joindre aux impressions de lumière et de couleurs dont je fais provision, ce rapide, trop rapide défilé devant des merveilles, ne serait pas cependant sans profit."


Subjugué par les paysages égyptiens, il n’est cependant pas pleinement satisfait par ce court séjour, car il "a conscience qu’il manque à ses observations l’élément humain qu’il n’a pas le temps de le rencontrer". Il se plaint ainsi à juste titre de ce que l'on pourrait qualifier de frustrations : "Le paysage, les habitudes, les habitants, ces délicieuses marines à tous les tournants du fleuve. On a jugé naturellement que cela n’entrait pas dans un programme d’exploration. Et nous autres peintres, on nous fait impitoyablement passer à toute vapeur devant nos véritables sujets d’étude !"  

Mais ce qu'il a vu ou ressenti, même furtivement, ce qu'il a mémorisé de ces instants, de ces sensations, il saura très bien le retrouver et le restituer soit à la pointe de sa plume, soit au bout des ses pinceaux.

"La vallée du Nil, en automne, avec ses grandes lignes étirées, son paysage élargi par la crue, sa tendre lumière et son humide douceur."

"L’esclave du ton", comme l’appelait son ami Armand du Mesnil, ne se lasse point de faire vibrer la gamme des couleurs éphémères et le classique s’attarde à dégager les caractères durables et généraux. Il a su dire la magie fugitive des soirs d’octobre sur le Nil ou dessiner les traits immuables de la campagne ou du désert.

L’Égypte à la fin de l’été, l’Égypte de tous les temps, voilà ce qu’a pu fixer Fromentin avec sa plume".

Les tableaux qui lui sont inspirés "donnent tous une impression d’harmonie, de justesse, d’équilibre et de douceur". Le Nil, ses felouques, les personnages, tout nous enchante. "Fromentin sait jouer avec toute la gamme des tons, depuis le jaune soufre jusqu’à l’ocre pâle. Il sait faire chatoyer les moires entre le violet, le gris-bleu, le lilas et le rose."


L'influence de Delacroix est évidente dans le traitement des personnages, et le naturalisme est là, dans le rendu des paysages. Il se peut même que l'on se plaise à retrouver parfois, dans la texture des ciels et des couchers de soleil, des touches "impressionnistes" (courant qu'il a pourtant décrié !).

C'est le 27 août 1876 qu'Eugène Fromentin a dit adieu aux couleurs de vie.

Marie Grillot


Sources

Dictionnaire des orientalistes de langue française, François Pouillon, IISMM - Khartala

http://www.inha.fr/fr/ressources/publications/dictionnaire-critique-des-historiens-de-l-art/fromentin-eugene.html

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/remmm_0035-1474_1974_num_17_1_1267

Eugène Fromentin (1820-1876) – L’Orient révélé 2 – L’Egypte

http://www.mmediene.fr/litterature/eugenefromentin1820-1876-egypte/

http://books.google.fr/books?id=UVPhEUNg7CcC&pg=PA434&lpg=PA434&dq=fromentin+dictionnaire+orientalistes&source=bl&ots=-n3LjPM9Vu&sig=6mRDyc_0aXxjLurJAFMxdaHAPVo&hl=fr&sa=X&ei=j_L0U4yvDem70QWphoGgBg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=fromentin%20dictionnaire%20orientalistes&f=false

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Fromentin

http://www.espacefrancais.com/eugene-fromentin/

 

***************

Pour consulter l’ensemble des Unes d’ “Égypte-actualités” : http://egyptophile.blogspot.fr/2014/06/egyptophile-un-recueil-des-unes-degypte.html?view=flipcard


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Mahienour El-Massry starts hunger strike

Mahienour El-Massry starts hunger strike | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
Alexandrian lawyer and activist Mahienour El-Massry started a hunger strike on Sunday in support of all those detained over the controversial 2013 Protest Law.
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Le Caire tente une nouvelle médiation à Gaza - L'essentiel

Le Caire tente une nouvelle médiation à Gaza - L'essentiel | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
Le Caire tente une nouvelle médiation à Gaza L'essentiel Le Caire, voisin et médiateur habituel des conflits israélo-palestiniens, est en train de soumettre une nouvelle proposition de cessez-le-feu dans la guerre qui a fait plus de 2 100 morts...
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Activists to organize ‘global rally’ to free Mohamed Sultan

Activists to organize ‘global rally’ to free Mohamed Sultan | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
CAIRO: The family of detained activist Mohamed Sultan will organize a rally to support him centered at the Press Syndicate on Monday evening, the Freedom for the Brave movement defending prisoners announced Sunday.
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L'Egypte dément être impliquée dans des raids aériens sur la Libye

L'Egypte dément être impliquée dans des raids aériens sur la Libye | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
Le Monde L'Egypte dément être impliquée dans des raids aériens sur la Libye Le Monde Après cinq jours de spéculation sur l'identité des avions qui ont attaqué à deux reprises, de nuit, les rangs islamistes aux abords de l'aéroport de la capitale,...
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Mais où va l'économie de l'Égypte ?

Mais où va l'économie de l'Égypte ? | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

Après plus de trois années de croissance atone, l'économie égyptienne ressemble à un gros paquebot à la dérive. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, alors candidat à la présidence de la République, s'était prémuni de tout reproche en soulignant la dureté de sa mission à venir. Amarrer le bateau prendra plusieurs années et demandera le concours des 87 millions d'Égyptiens. "Tout ce dont j'ai besoin, c'est du temps, car il existe un fossé entre vos souhaits et les capacités de l'État", déclarait-il début mai.

Un an plus tôt, la gestion désastreuse de la crise économique figurait dans la liste des reproches faits au président islamiste Mohamed Morsi. Le 30 juin 2013, des millions d'Égyptiens sont descendus dans la rue pour réclamer son départ. Les mouvements de grève, les interminables files d'attente devant les pompes à essence, et les coupures d'électricité à répétition résument alors, à leurs yeux, l'incurie des Frères musulmans. "Ce jour-là, beaucoup avaient manifesté dans l'espoir d'une vie meilleure", rappelle Dalia Moussa, membre du Centre égyptien des droits économiques et sociaux. "Pour une partie des manifestants, le maréchal Sissi incarnait la promesse d'un retour à la croissance, même si ce dernier n'a jamais présenté de programme économique clair durant la campagne présidentielle", poursuit-elle.

La crise en quelques chiffres

Depuis 2011, tous les indicateurs économiques du pays virent peu à peu au rouge. La croissance recule, le taux de chômage des jeunes atteint 13,5 % en 2013 contre 9 % en 2010, l'instabilité politique perdure, repoussant le retour des investisseurs étrangers. La somme de tous ces mauvais points creuse chaque année le déficit budgétaire de l'État, un déficit estimé à 14 % du PIB pour l'année 2013. "La crise actuelle est différente de celles que l'Égypte a pu connaître par le passé, notamment dans les années 1980", souligne Mohamed Abu Basha, économiste au sein de la banque d'investissement EFG Hermes. "À cette époque, le déficit budgétaire pouvait dépasser les 15 % du PIB, mais cela était en partie compensé par les surplus de gaz et de pétrole. Par ailleurs, contrairement aux quatre dernières années, le pays était politiquement stable. Les investisseurs étrangers n'avaient pas déserté le pays", ajoute-t-il.

Une dramatique spirale d'endettement et de déficit

Une image résume l'urgence de la situation : des quartiers entiers sont plongés dans le noir après une énième panne de courant. Celles-ci avaient marqué les derniers mois de la présidence Morsi. Un an plus tard, elles font toujours la une des principaux journaux du pays. Second producteur de gaz de l'Afrique, après l'Algérie, l'Égypte manque paradoxalement d'énergie pour le quotidien des populations et le fonctionnement de l'économie. Le niveau de gaz extrait baisse depuis 2011. Cela entraîne dans son sillage une diminution de la production d'électricité qui en dépendrait à 70 %. Avec un secteur énergétique fortement déficitaire, Le Caire peut certes compter sur l'aide financière de plusieurs monarchies du Golfe pour payer ses factures de combustibles et ses dettes depuis le renversement de Mohamed Morsi, le 3 juillet 2013. Mais les perfusions de pétrodollars ne suffisent pas à sortir le pays de l'infernale spirale de l'endettement : les arriérés envers les compagnies étrangères, auxquelles l'Égypte est liée par des contrats d'exportation de combustibles, s'accumulent. La dette intérieure, elle, atteint un niveau record : plus l'Égypte importe du gaz aux prix du marché, plus elle augmente la part du budget consacré aux subventions - qui représentent plus d'un quart des dépenses de l'État - et plus le déficit se creuse.

Al-Sissi instaure une politique d'austérité

L'une des premières mesures prises par le président Sissi a été la réduction de ces subventions et la hausse des prix de l'électricité d'ici la fin 2014. L'objectif affiché est de réduire le déficit de l'État et d'augmenter le budget des ministères de la Santé et de l'Éducation. Il faut dire que plusieurs rapports d'économistes ont préconisé depuis longtemps une réforme profonde des subventions. Principal reproche : elles ne profiteraient pas seulement aux plus nécessiteux. Une bonne part du gâteau bénéficierait également aux grandes industries, grandes consommatrices d'énergie. "Le gouvernement n'avait pas d'autres options", soutient l'économiste d'EFG Hermès. "C'est une décision impopulaire à court terme, mais il fallait envoyer un signal fort aux investisseurs et aux partenaires de l'Égypte. Parmi eux, les pays du Golfe - l'Arabie saoudite, les Émirats et le Koweït - qui ont soutenu le pays à hauteur de vingt milliards de dollars", ajoute-t-il. Objectif : montrer que les pétrodollars ne se perdent pas dans les abîmes du déficit et que le pays s'engage dans une sérieuse réforme structurelle de son économie.

Dans la suite des grands projets, un nouveau canal de Suez

Début août, c'est un autre projet économique - plus prestigieux - qui a retenu l'attention des médias : le creusement d'un nouveau canal de Suez. Passage stratégique entre la mer Méditerranée et la mer Rouge, le canal rapporte 5 milliards de dollars par an aux caisses de l'État. Des recettes que le gouvernement voudrait voir grossir dans les prochaines années. Pour l'heure, se pose toutefois la question du financement de ce chantier pharaonique évalué à 4 milliards de dollars. Il vient s'ajouter à la longue liste des chantiers de construction lancés depuis l'été 2013 par les gouvernements successifs et l'armée. Leur coût total s'élèverait à 14 milliards de dollars. "Les autorités espèrent que les riches contribueront à l'effort de relance", remarque Mohamed Abu Basha. "Avec la réalisation de ces nouveaux projets, l'État veut regagner la confiance des investisseurs égyptiens et étrangers", poursuit-il.

"Les gens sont effrayés. Ils ne manifestent pas"

Si tout le monde s'accorde sur la profondeur de la crise économique et l'urgence à la circonscrire, les solutions apportées, elles, font l'objet d'un profond débat. Alors que certains économistes applaudissent les nouvelles mesures, d'autres dénoncent l'absence de concertation dans les prises de décision et les atteintes à la justice sociale. "Le gouvernement a subitement décidé de couper les subventions sans penser à ses conséquences désastreuses dans les classes les plus pauvres", soutient Dalia Moussa du Centre égyptien pour les droits économiques et sociaux. "Deux tiers de la population bénéficient de ces aides, et beaucoup ne pourraient pas survivre sans elles", ajoute-t-elle. En d'autres termes, cette initiative serait impopulaire et le malaise palpable. Comment alors expliquer l'absence d'émeutes ou de manifestations au lendemain de la hausse effective du prix du carburant début juillet ? "Les gens sont effrayés. Ils ne manifestent pas", affirme Dalia. "La répression contre les partisans des Frères et les activistes a été féroce. Dans le contexte de la guerre contre le terrorisme, les autorités considèrent que toute manifestation menace la sécurité du pays", affirme-t-elle.

Autant dire qu'à côté de la répression des Frères musulmans et de la "lutte contre le terrorisme", clé de voûte de l'action politique depuis plus d'un an, la guerre économique menée par le nouveau pouvoir militaire a encore bien des batailles à affronter. Oui, le chemin à parcourir pour un retour rapide à la stabilité et à une meilleure situation économique s'annonce des plus périlleux. De quoi mettre encore plus à l'épreuve la patience déjà bien éprouvée des populations.

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Egypt is witnessing less freedom of expression than under Mubarak or Morsi : John R. Bradley

Egypt is witnessing less freedom of expression than under Mubarak or Morsi : John R. Bradley | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By Huda Badri and Adham Youssef

 Since the 25 January Revolution in 2011, political unrest has held Egypt in its grip amid rapid regime changes. The ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak was followed by military rule, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the ascent and ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and finally the crackdown on the Brotherhood and rise to power of current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

As parliamentary elections are approaching, Egypt is still witnessing a volatile, unstable political and social scene, including threats of militants in the Sinai and western borders with Libya. Also, the regime has been widely criticised by different entities for using excessive force against protesters and civilians as well as launching a mass scale crackdown on political opposition.

John R. Bradley, author and internationally published journalist was one of the few Middle East experts who predicted the massive popular uprising against the Mubarak regime in his book Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution, published in 2008. The book discussed political opposition, human rights and security issues in Egypt.

Daily News Egypt interviewed Bradley to discuss Egypt’s internal political situation and its foreign affairs, ranging from human rights abuses to the recent geopolitical developments in the region.

 

What is your opinion about what is happening now in Egypt after three years from the 25 January Revolution?

 

One baby step forward, twenty giant tyrannical leaps backwards. Hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent, unarmed Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been murdered in cold blood by the military and security forces – the worst atrocity by the Egyptian state in the country’s modern history.

Even the British occupiers during colonial rule, for all their considerable and unpardonable colonial violence and oppression, were never quite that barbaric in their treatment of the Egyptian masses.

Tens of thousands of men, women and even children – Islamists and secularists alike – have been arrested on the flimsiest of charges, or on no legal basis whatsoever. They languish in Egypt’s prison cells that have once again become notorious torture chambers, and which are run by state-hired thugs who carry out their ghastly deeds with almost complete impunity.

The economy is in tatters as the oligarchy that surrounded former president Hosni Mubarak and the military establishment (that controls about 40% of the economy) reasserted their dominance. But in the real Egypt there is rampant poverty, there are almost unbelievably high crime rates, the education system is on the brink of collapse, and as a result the masses are filled with nothing but a sense of hopelessness and helplessness – to the extent that polls show a growing number wish that the so-called revolution had never happened. They have therefore taken comfort in the tried and tested: military rule.

All this is happening at a time when official censorship has never been so shamelessly and ruthlessly enforced, with the state-run print and broadcast media now so subservient to the new president that it would make one laugh if it were not such a criminal betrayal of their profession – and such an insult to their readers’ and viewers’ intelligence. One gets the feeling that even Al-Sisi, since he’s obviously an intelligent and well-educated individual, might think that such sycophancy is a bit too much.

 

Human Rights Watch stated that the Rabaa dispersal was a “crime against humanity”. What do you think of this assessment?

 

Of course it was a crime against humanity. But I have mixed feelings when it comes to NGOs operating in, and reporting on, the internal affairs of other countries. For a start, it all seems to be coming from one direction – as in American (often government-funded) organisations reporting on abuses in so-called third-world countries, often doing fieldwork without any official accreditation or permission from the local government. Now, if I wanted to conduct a study on human rights abuses in America – which are legion – as a British citizen I would have to apply for a special visa in order to do so. Can you imagine how Washington would react if Egypt or Russia or China suddenly established, without any official notification, dozens of NGOs across the United States in order to promote their own values and constantly highlight what they saw as abuses committed by the US government and its legendary out-of-control SWAT teams? They would do what Egypt did: shut them down and kick them out of the country.

Of course, any Egyptian author could travel to the US or Britain and write about his experience of living in the country, however critical, which is all I did when living in and writing about Egypt and what Al-Aswany did in his novel Chicago. But I don’t believe foreigners should directly engage in Egypt’s internal political affairs – which is why I turned down every one of the numerous invitations I received in the months following the revolution to speak at events in Cairo organised by local NGOs and human rights organisations.

So, yes, the massacre was a disgrace. But that would better be highlighted by Egyptian-based and Egyptian-staffed NGOs, rather than by foreign groups that have a broader agenda in doing so.

 

What is your opinion about the situation in Egypt after Al-Sisi became president?

 

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is a curious figure. Unlike Mubarak and his family, Al-Sisi clearly is not personally corrupt. I mean, he is not in it for the money. He demonstrated this by voluntarily cutting his own salary and donating half of his personal wealth to the state. And he’s obviously not a tyrant in the form of Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi – I really do feel that Al-Sisi is probably personally pained by all the bloodshed that has occurred under his rule. I mean, he seems to be acting in the genuine – if misguided – belief that everyone his security forces are killing is a bonafide terrorist. I mean, he’s not the kind of Arab tyrant who would massacre whole sections of his population just for the perverted feeling of power it would momentarily give him.

Nor does he appear aloof and an egomaniac like Mubarak. By all accounts he listens to the advice of those who surround him, although whether it is of any use is another question; and he is fully aware – as he makes clear in his public speeches – of the desperate circumstances faced on a daily basis by the overwhelming majority of Egyptian people. He also has a big advantage in that he is from the military.

The Islamists and secularist opposition may both hate the fact that Egypt has effectively returned to military dictatorship under the veneer of democracy – almost as much as they hate each other. But there is no denying that the military establishment has massive support among ordinary Egyptians, who – in their legendary apathy when it comes to the nitty gritty of party politics – appear to support neither the secularists nor the Islamists.

That makes the probability of another revolutionary uprising in the near future – this time against Al-Sisi – very slim. It would mean the Egyptian masses directly confronting the military, and, while that cannot be ruled out, as things stand I cannot for a second imagine that happening.

Al-Sisi also understands very clearly that it takes years, perhaps decades, to establish a flourishing Western-style democracy, even if we accept (as I do not) that this a viable and worthy goal for a country like Egypt that has its own unique and complex traditions and customs. Believing the opposite was the folly of those who called for the January 25 Revolution, the Westernised elite who naively thought they could change Egypt for the better overnight by having Western-style free-and-fair elections. Well, they lost every single election, and now most of those youth leaders and intellectuals are languishing in prison or have been silenced.

Essentially, what the president is asking for is a period of stability and an end to public demonstrations and endless political infighting so he can get the country back on its feet again. He understands that most Egyptian care most not about human rights and democracy, but rather about being able to work and feed their families. What use are free-and-fair elections every six years if in the meantime your kids are starving to death?

However, there are no quick fixes in this regard, and Al-Sisi’s personal donations in the end amount only to gestures and even, however well-meaning, in many Egyptian opposition activists’ eyes, to a patronising sense of paternalism.

In the meantime, by allowing his security forces to act with such mindless brutality and by silencing all criticism of his rule – and with the strong possibility that he will fail in any significant way to alleviate in the short term the fundamental problems of unemployment and poverty – he risks undermining in the long term the good-will of those who voted for him.

After all, Egyptians have a famous saying: ila el karama! [anything but dignity] Those sycophantic advisers who surround the president, instead of telling him how much the people adore him, should whisper that saying in the president’s ear at every opportunity. It was, in my opinion, a deep sense of a lack of personal dignity that led to the initial revolution.

 

Don’t you think that there is a contradiction between saying that a violent crackdown took place on peaceful Muslim Brotherhood protesters, and saying that Al-Sisi stepped in to take over for the good of the country?

 

Of course there is a contradiction, and that’s the root of the problem for those who argue that Egypt is now a democracy.

But there is no contradiction if you subscribe to the false narrative put forward by both the military establishment and the secular/leftist elite – the latter clearly out of touch with the sentiment of the Egyptian masses from the outset.

Remember, the military was initially seen as the saviour of the January 25 Revolution, and were warmly welcomed by the Tahrir demonstrators. They saw a clear distinction between the military establishment and the Mubarak dynasty – with the latter’s vast network of incredibly brutal internal police forces. Anyway, Mubarak hadn’t been active in the military for decades. Nor did his son Gamal, who was poised to succeed Mubarak, have any links to the military.

When the secularists/leftists realised that a military counter-revolution had taken place – the generals basically sacrificed Mubarak in order to retain their own privileges and stop the country from descending into civil war – the locals joined the security forces and military on the streets in pelting the anti-military demonstrators with stones and firebombs.

Al-Sisi believes that the military is destined to have a prominent and permanent role as a force for Egyptian unity and stability, even if he claims it has no direct role in the political running of the country; and since most Egyptians see the military establishment as a force for good, and have fond memories of their time as conscripts (when they lived in an almost parallel world that was not brutal and demeaning as was Egyptian society under Mubarak), that works to Al-Sisi’s advantage.

The regime has presented the peaceful demonstrates as armed terrorists who threaten to drag Egypt into the abyss of armed civil war. In that context, from Al-Sisi’s point of view, they had to eliminate for the good of the country as a whole, and if that means suspended all civil liberties then so be it.

In your opinion, what went wrong for the Muslim Brotherhood to reach to this end?

 

The Muslim Brotherhood dug its own grave. They committed three main, inter-related mistakes, and by doing so they have no one to blame but themselves for their spectacular fall into political oblivion – and I say that despite condemning in the strongest possible terms the way its peaceful supporters have been massacred and incarcerated.

 

The first mistake the Muslim Brotherhood made was that they interpreted their electoral victories to mean that they had the overwhelming support of the Egyptian masses. This led them to become arrogant in the belief that they could move swiftly to impose Sharia law, in cahoots with their then Salafi allies.

But elections are complicated events, and to be legitimate they depend on a high turnout of registered voters

Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood won 70 or so percent in most of the elections. But the voter turnout was usually appallingly low – sometimes as little as 25%. Winning 70% of the 25% who turned out actually demonstrated, to anyone who looked at the figures objectively, their lack of popular support. It simply meant that they could only get about 10 to 15% of the total population to vote for them. To put it in a nut shell: the Muslim Brotherhood never managed to galvanise more than their core base, which are – and always have been – a very small minority of the total Egyptian population.

That is why they quickly alienated the great majority of Egyptians, who are by and large a tolerant people – an alienation that led to the June 30 uprising against them.

Egyptians cannot countenance the idea, for example, that their president would call – as Morsi did – for all able-bodied Muslims in the country to join the jihad in Syria, while creating nothing but economic catastrophe in their own country. For ordinary Egyptian Muslims, the idea of travelling to a brotherly Arab country to slaughter its religious minorities is an insane idea, pure and simple. It goes completely against their mindset and historic principle of religious coexistence. Despite what the Islamaphobes in the West say, the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Muslims do not see Christian Egyptians as inferiors, but rather as brothers and sisters in a united nation.

Incidentally, while I haven’t seen any polling data in this regard, I suspect that for this reason most Egyptians, like me, hope that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the end crushes the jihadist maniacs who now call themselves the Islamic State and want to impose what they call Islamic law – that is so strict and barbaric that even Saudi Arabia, of all countries, has now washed its hands of them.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s third mistake was to underestimate the power of what is called the “deep state” – meaning the military establishment, media moguls and the billionaire business elite. I think this so-called “deep state” would have tolerated the Muslim Brotherhood if they had not directly threatened their interests. But when it became clear that Morsi was absolutely determined to radically undermine those interests, for example by threatening to send the traditionally secular Egyptian Army into conflict alongside the jihadists against the secular Syrian regime, the “deep state” mobilised its massive resources in tandem with the masses – and that combination (of self-serving outrage amongst the elite and the acute alienation among the masses) proved fatal – literally so, for thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters.

 

Since 2008, when you published your book, what has differed when it comes to human rights?

 

Things are as bad as ever, if not worse. And the problem is that now the dream of Western-style democracy has gone up in smoke, the whole issue has been couched in terms of Western interference in internal Egyptian affairs – in the midst of a mindless whipping up of rank anti-foreigner hatred. The new regime has been very clever in, on the one hand, crushing internal dissent, while on the other blaming all criticism on hostile outside powers – using every last ridiculous conspiracy theory it has up its sleeve. With the local press joining in the chorus of anti-foreigner abuse, coupled with its failure (compared to under Mubarak’s rule) to try to hold the regime to account when it comes to human rights abuses or anything else, the security forces seem to have a green light to do what the hell they like.

 

What do you think of the vicious war taking place now in Sinai? Does the lack of media coverage concerns you?

 

The war in Sinai is obviously different to the so-called war on the Muslim Brotherhood. In Sinai, those fighting the regime are undeniably jihadist terrorists who murder indiscriminately and want to overthrow the current regime through violence to create a strict Islamic state.

The Egyptian government has no option but to try to eliminate every last one of them, because violence is all they understand – and, believing that God is on their side, they will not end their so-called jihad until they are either murdered, captured or achieve their goal. I think there are a number of reasons why this is not getting the international attention it deserves.

For a start, the Egyptian government will not allow journalists to work freely in the region, so how are they supposed to report on what’s going on there? It’s also a very complex situation, having its roots in a sense of alienation felt by the local Bedouin tribes. The Western media doesn’t like complicated narratives; it prefers articles that pitch goodies against baddies.

Also, there’s so much mayhem in this world at the moment and there’s only so much the Western press can focus on. So you tend to see the region reported on only when the jihadist nutcases launch attacks against foreign tourists, which obviously makes for eye-catching, sensationalist headlines in the Western press because it’s something that Westerners who holiday in Egypt can directly relate to.

 

With putting the status of journalists in mind, how do you see freedom of speech now in Egypt?

 

As I pointed out earlier, there is no freedom of expression in Egypt now in any meaningful sense of the term. Let me give a brief account of my own personal experience – not as a crude form of self promotion, but in order to justify that bold statement.

When my book Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution was published in 2008, it was initially banned by the Mubarak regime. But at the time there was a very vibrant and feisty opposition press, and they came out very strongly in my defence and against the decision to ban the book. For almost a month, my photograph and the cover of the book was featured in articles and accompanying lengthy interviews with me – in Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Dostour and countless other newspapers and magazines, often on the front pages.

Eventually, the Mubarak regime rescinded its ban. But it did so under pressure from the – at the time – courageous Egyptian opposition media, not from the West. And I am certain of this that because no articles appeared in Britain or America about the initial book ban – apart from a few little dispatches from AP and AFP.

Moreover, when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, a prestigious Cairo-based publishing house published an Arabic translation of Inside Egypt and, shortly afterwards, an Arabic-translation of my latest book After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts (2012) with an new introduction aimed at Arabic-language readers. After the Arab Spring is basically a ferocious polemic against the Muslim Brotherhood and everything they stand for, just as Inside Egypt has a chapter very critical of them. I call them, very frankly, fascists and hypocrites, an opinion I continue to hold.

 

However, the Morsi regime, for all its considerable faults, did not ban either book – indeed, After the Arab Spring received as many reviews in Egypt as had Inside Egypt, including a full-page positive feature in the state-controlled Al-Ahram (which at the time was broadly supportive of Morsi). At the time, both books were in their window displays of all the bookshops I walked past in Cairo. And I felt at ease living in Egypt at the time –as much as anyone could during the continuing mayhem – just as I had during Mubarak’s rule even during all the fuss over Inside Egypt.

Now, imagine for a moment that I was about to publish a new book about Egypt under Al-Sisi’s rule, detailing in a similarly anecdotal manner all the outrageous human rights abuses his regime has committed. As it happens, I have no plan to do so – I can’t see the point in writing more than one book on a single country. But if I was planning on doing so, do you think the Al-Sisi regime goons would hesitate for a moment before banning it, then arresting me, torturing me and sending me to one its ridiculous kangaroo courts, with accusations that I was an Israeli spy or in collusion with Islamist terrorists or some other such nonsense? And if that were to happen, the so-called opposition and independent Arabic-language newspapers – the ones that gave me their full support during the Inside Egypt hoo-haa – would, of course, do their utmost to justify the resulting nightmarish show-trial.

The point here is not about me, but to illustrate that there is less freedom of expression in Egypt these days than under either the Mubarak or the Morsi regimes – both for foreigners and locals. The fact that a writer as courageous and principled as Alaa Al-Aswany, who is an Egyptian national treasure, has taken a vow of silence tells us all we need to know about how intellectual figures are facing what could justifiably described as a fanatical assault by the idiots now in control of the Ministry of Information and their lackeys who edit the state and most of the now not-so-independent media. The latter are nothing more than what some wit has termed “presstitutes” for their equivalents in the Western media.

 

Some experts may argue that the “security solution” may give a rise to a new wave of extremism. Do you have any comment on that?

 

Al-Sisi is apparently the most popular Egyptian leader since Gamal Abdel Nasser, who with his fellow Free Officers seized power in 1952 and established the military dictatorship from which Al-Sisi hails. Like Nasser, Al-Sisi has shut down the free media, outlawed the political opposition, encouraged mindless xenophobia and banned all criticism of himself and his policies. Especially targeted, as they were during Nasser’s rule, are the Islamist critics, against whom – as we have said – he has launched a ferocious crackdown.

But Nasser’s own legacy shows that any Egyptian president puts his country’s long-term stability in grave danger by resorting to such brutal repression, especially against the Islamist minority. Nasser, you will recall, similarly suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood, and the result was a jihadist blowback that began in the early 1970s and lasted three decades. Alas, most Egyptians, like Al-Sisi, appear more concerned with evoking the imagined glories of a more dignified, Nasser-dominated past, in order to forget the dismal present, than learning from this dark earlier period of Egypt’s history.

Sooner or later the Muslim Brotherhood will, once again, have to be incorporated in some form or other into the political process if stability is to be restored. Some Egyptian officials have already hinted that this could take place. Like them or loathe them, the Muslim Brotherhood have been around for a century and represent a strong if minority voice in Egyptian society.

The only alternative would be to kill or imprison them all, which is sheer madness as a political strategy. It will only encourage their supporters to join the more extremist groups.

How do you see the scene after the Arab revolutions of the Arab Spring? And what about the role the Western powers played during the last period?

 

The decision by the Western powers, along with its allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to train, fund and arm the jihadists fighting to topple President Al-Assad was the most insane and inexcusable imperial foreign policy blunder since the decision by Britain, France and Israel to try to take over the Suez Canal in 1956.

The idea was that the “moderate” and Western-friendly Islamists would take over Syria, thus weakening Iran and Hezbollah. This was done with the aim, firstly, of furthering the ambitions of right-wing in Israel, which obviously wants Hezbollah eradicated and at the same time sees a potentially nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat to its existence; but it was also done to empower key Western ally Saudi Arabia, which – for no reason other than anti-Shi’a bigotry – wants to see Iran contained and weakened.

Well, it all backfired, the Saudis lost control of their jihadist foot soldiers, and now the Islamic State is calling not only for the destruction of Israel but the overthrow of the Saudi regime too. And, contrary to popular myth and the hopes of Washington, London and Tel Aviv, ordinary Syrians did not rise up against President Al-Assad.

So now we have a clearly defined battle line. On the one side are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other oil monarchies, Israel, the moderate Palestinian factions and the West – all of whom have a shared interest in ensuring that the Islamic State is crushed. On the other side are Qatar, Hamas, Turkey and the Islamic State itself – all of whom are determined to back, albeit in different ways and at their own singular pace, the new so-called Caliphate.

The country everyone should be watching very closely is Saudi Arabia. I lived there for a number of years, and published a book on the country called Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis (2005). If it was in a state of crisis then, it is now ripe for a popular revolution.

If the House of Saud falls, it would mean not only unimaginable inter-tribal and sectarian bloodshed inside the Wahhabi kingdom itself, but also the Islamic State moving to take control of Mecca and Medina. So, although it almost makes one vomit to say it, one must admit that the Saudi royal family is the best option for that country, at least in the short term. Its fall would also mean the almost immediate subsequent overthrow of the ruling regimes in the Saudi client states of Bahrain (which is majority Shi’a but ruled over by a Sunni ruling family) and Jordan (whose population is mostly of Palestinian origin and where the only opposition is the Muslim Brotherhood). That would mean Iran moving into Bahrain and the Islamic State into Jordan. No one in their right mind wants either scenario to become a reality.

The fall of the House of Saud would also have terrible consequences for Egypt specifically, since it is aid from the Saudi royal family, and remittances from Egyptian expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia, that is essential in the short term to keeping the Egyptian economy from total implosion.

As for the more general role of the West in all this, as you can imagine, despite all its empty talk about promoting human rights and democracy, Washington will do absolutely everything in its power to keep the Saudi king on the throne, while Western-allied Arab states will continue their pressure on Qatar to stop funding the Islamist terrorists.

And so long as Al-Sisi maintains the peace treaty with Israel, keeps the Suez Canal open, maintains close ties with Saudi Arabia and continues his “war on terror”, his regime thugs will be free to commit however many human rights abuses they want to – without fear of any serious repercussions from the West.

 

Some might argue that the Islamic State (IS) is a creation of the West. How reasonable is this assessment?

There’s no doubt that the Islamic State is a creation of the West. That much we can take for granted. But the real question is: was this done by design or by sheer stupidity?

Those who argue that there is a method to the West’s madness claim that it’s all part of a project to “Balkanise” the region – to use Bernard Lewis’ famous term. Their aim is to weaken strong states that are hostile to the West in order to steal their oil reserves and weaken Israel’s enemies. This has clearly been the intention of the Neocons [Neoconservatives] and Likudiks [Likud affiliated member] since the invasion of Iraq. But I really don’t think there was a well-thought out plan to create the Islamic State. Even the neocons are not that insane.

Rather, it’s yet another case of the West fooling itself into thinking that it can hire jihadists to do its dirty work for them – meaning in this case overthrowing the Syrian regime, and thus establish a “moderate” pro-Western regime in Damascus while by default weakening Iran and Hezbollah – all with the hope of keeping them onside in the long term. Obviously, they have learned nothing from the experience of Afghanistan, whose mujahadeen were armed, funded and trained by the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and then moved into the West’s Enemy Number 1: the Taliban. Or, more recently, from the experience of Libya, where NATO aided the radical jihadists who turned on their Western backers within months of Gaddafi’s assassination.

 

So, no, I think it’s more a case of ignorance, inhumanity and wishful thinking on the part of the dimwits who run the West’s strategy in the Middle East from Washington and London than some great conspiracy to impose a mediaeval-style Caliphate that will serve their imperial interests. After all, the Islamic State serves nobody’s interest but its own.

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Mahlab announces project to build green city in Alamein

Mahlab announces project to build green city in Alamein | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

 Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced preparations for new projects in North Coast Saturday, including the establishment of a new, green, city of Alamein, in a Saturday press conference.

Mahlab said the project aims to develop the housing infrastructure and boost tourism in the area, which Mahlab said “has undiscovered resources.”

Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouli presented the project, which is scheduled to enter its first phase by early 2015, and should have a housing capacity between 3 to 4 million. New Alamein city is to be established over a space of 88,000 feddans, roughly equivalent to 91 thousand acres.

The press conference followed a Wednesday presidential decree on the re-demarcation of the borders of 10 governorates, as a part of developmental plans by the ministries of housing and local development, which should allow urban expansion, agricultural and industrial growth by integrating neglected desert lands into governorates.

“Sponsored by UN-Habitat, the new city falls under the ‘fourth generation of new cities’ meaning that the infrastructure will be eco-oriented, aiming at sustainable development, exploring water desalination and other renewable energy methods,” Madbouli stated.

Madbouli added that there will also be a large medical center, complex of universities and an industrial zone. The total housing capacity varies between three to four million people. However, the city is yet to face challenges, including landmines still left from front lines in World War II. With the cooperation of the military forces, the area should be gradually cleared, Madbouli declared.

The North Coast area extends over the Mediterranean shoreline, all the way from Alexandria to Marsa Matrouh. Beach resorts were and continue to be built along the coastline, in addition to recently established hotels. On Saturday, Mahlab officially opened Alamein Rexus Hotel.

Minister of Toursim Hisham Zaazou called on and beach camps’ owners to speed up the construction of tourist units, and on investors to invest in Alamein’s hotels.

Ambassador James Moran Head of European Union Delegation to Egypt and Maurizio Massari, Italian Ambassador to Cairo expressed enthusiasm about the new project, believing that “tourism will pick up again,” as Massari stated.

Alamein is the largest city of the North Coast, and is famous for having witnessed famous battles during World War II. The main touristic attractions in Alamein are the cemeteries, notably the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Australian 9th Division War Memorial, the Italian and German military cemeteries, in addition to Alamein’s War Museum.

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Draft law to counter crimes against humanity targets Brotherhood: EOHR head

Draft law to counter crimes against humanity targets Brotherhood: EOHR head | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By AYA IBRAHIM

CAIRO: A new draft law to counter war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity is primarily intended to deter members of the Muslim Brotherhood from sabotaging state infrastructure, the head of an Egyptian rights group told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) Hafez Abu Seada said the timing of the law, currently being considered by the Cabinet, indicates that the Brotherhood is its intended target.

“Under the new law, attacks on electricity pylons by the Muslim Brotherhood [would be] considered  a crime against huminaty,” Seada said.

Attacking civilians or state infrastructure would be considered crimes against humanity under the law, punishable by imprisonment or a fine of 1-3 million EGP (U.S. $140,000-420,000.)

The Brotherhood has been widely blamed for attacking police and military forces in Egypt as well as targeting state infrastructure, such as electrical towers, since the violent dispersal of the Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Square sit-ins in August 2013. The Egyptian government declared the group a terrorist organization in December.

The Brotherhood has sought international legal condemnation of the violent dispersals, calling on the International Criminal Court to bring a case against the Egyptian governent.

“As Egypt has not signed or ratified the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not have the right to sue the Egyptian regime as the Brotherhood called for,” said Abdel-Ghaffar Shokr, vice president of the National Council for Human Rights and president of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party.

The ICC was founded by the Rome Statute in 2002 to “help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” according to the court’s website. So far, 122 countries have ratified the statute, bringing them uncer ICC jurisdiction.

“Egypt is not among the signatories,” Shokr told The Cairo Post, and consequently the ICC “could not intervene with the Brotherhood claimed that the Rabaa dispersal was a crime against humanity.”

“That’s why the Brotherhood is now calling on the UN Security Council to sue the Egyptian regime,” he added.

He suggested that the new draft law could prevent the international community, including the Security Council, from holding Egypt accountable, as “Egypt could hold itself accountable to the law.”

Potential for Use Against the Government

The new law may pave the way for the Brotherhood to bring a case agains the government over last summer’s violent sit-in dispersals.

The dispersal of Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares on Aug. 14, 2013 had the largest death toll of any event in Egypt’s modern history since the Citadel Massacre in March 1811 by Mohamed Ali Pacha. The sit-ins, which formed in late June and early July 2013, denounced the army’s removal of then-PresidentMohamed Morsi July 3 following mass demonstrations calling on him to step down as a coup d’etat. The military moved to disperse the protestors the morning of Aug. 14, prompting a violent exchange of fire and leaving 623 dead, according to the National Council for Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch estimated that more than 1,000 may have been killed.

“Execution or rigorous imprisonment for no less than ten years are the penalties for those committing or engaging with others in  large-scale or systematic attacks against civilians, including intentional killing of a person within the population, imposing harsh living conditions on civilians, deporting people with legal residence status, or raping women and impregnanting them with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population,” stipulates Article 15 of the law.

The law would apparently be applied to those intending to commit or plan such crimes equally, regardless of their official capacity or any immunity they may be afforded. “Whoever holds Egyptian nationality or foreign nationality who commits  or attempts to commit these crimes, stateless people or permanent residents in Egypt, will be subjected to the law,” according to the draft.

The draft law also imposes harsh penalties for war crimes.

In Article 16 makes execution or life imprisonment the penalty for commiting war crimes in the context of a domestic or international armed conflict. A minimum of five years imprisonment and a fine ranging from 500-500,000 EGP (U.S. $70-70,000) would be the penality for those who deprive a prisoner of a trial where judicial and procedural guarantees are provided by law, forces a prisoner to serve among the ranks of an enemy force, or destroys the enemy’s property in a manner not necessitated by the military forces.

“Execution or life imprisonment are the penalties for anyone who commits war crimes using prohibited fighting methods,” the draft law stipulates.

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Abbas: Egypt’s proposal only choice to stop flood of Gazan blood

Abbas: Egypt’s proposal only choice to stop flood of Gazan blood | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

Egypt’s cease-fire proposal is the only option to put an end to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in the Ithadeya Presidential Palace in Cairo.

“We talked with Hamas  and the Egyptian proposal is the only choice posed” to stop the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, Abbas said during the press conference, held jointly with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the presidential palace.

The Palestinian president added that he agreed with Sisi to find a solution for the Gaza Strip crisis, noting that his Egyptian counterpart vowed to resume cease-fire negotiations soon.

“We hope to resume negotiations with the Israeli side to put an end to the war in Gaza,” Abbas said.

Cairo-brokered cease-fire talks failed on Aug. 19 after renewed shelling from both sides a few hours before the 24-hour extension of a five-day truce would have ended.

In related news, Hamas has signed a document proposed by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to unite the two factions and pave the way for Palestine to sign the Rome Statute, which would grant Palestine membership in the International Criminal Court, said the deputy to Hamas’ political bureau chair, Abu Mosa al-Marzouki, on his Facebook page. The document was signed after Abbas met with Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashaal and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Qatar on Thursday.

Palestine hopes to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court over charges of war crimes committed against the Palestinian people, Hamas leaders said Saturday.

Israel has rejected the unity government.

Hamas leader Izzat Risheq, the movement’s representative in cease-fire talks, said Saturday on his Twitter account that signing the paper could lead “the enemy leaders be sued over the crimes and massacres committed against our people.”

On Nov. 29, 2012, the UN General Assembly granted Palestine non-permanent membership. Without membership in the UN, Palestine could not be party to the ICC.

More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and 10,500 injured during the conflict that started at the beginning of July, said Palestinian Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qedra on his Facebook page Friday. Meanwhile, four Israeli civilians and 64 soldiers have been killed, according to the Israeli Army.

The latest Israeli raids on Gaza began July 1, a day after Israel found the bodies of three kidnapped settlers in the West Bank. The body of Palestinian Mohamed Abo Khodeir, 16, was found mutilated and burned, in what is widely seen as a revenge killing for the death of the Israelis. Hamas started launching rockets into Israel in its latest campaign on July 4.

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Mali and Egypt aim to strengthen military cooperation

Mali and Egypt aim to strengthen military cooperation | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi met Bah N’Dao, the Malian minister of defence and veterans affairs, in Egypt on Monday to discuss the current regional situation and the implications on the security and stability in Africa.
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Authorities arrest members of the Helwan Brigades

Authorities arrest members of the Helwan Brigades | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

State security has launched a crackdown on what it is calling a new jihadist cell in Cairo and Giza, which is calling itself the Helwan Brigades, a Ministry of Interior source told Youm7.

A video published by the group Aug. 14 showed a dozen masked youth holding automatic weapons. One of them, Magdy Fonia, kept threatening and inciting against police and army forces, saying that the police were torturing citizens assisted by the army and they have killed protesters in peaceful marches.

The video was released a few hours after the killing of a police officer in Helwan and the injury of another. However, the Helwan Brigades were not accused of targeting the victims, Al-Masry Al-Youmreported.

The source told Youm7 that security arrested five new members of the group Tuesday and they are being interrogated by the National Security Agency.

He added that Fonia was among the arrested members and that security had managed to identify 20 other suspects.

Ministry of Interior deputy Maj. Gen. Sayed Shafiq told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the crackdown on the Helwan Brigades lasted for seven days in seven different governorates and that security is still pursuing eight of the men in the video.

Additional reporting by Ahmed Marie.

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Gov’t reaches deal with cement companies to recycle cement dust

Gov’t reaches deal with cement companies to recycle cement dust | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By DALIA FAROUK

CAIRO: A protocol to recycle cement dust by incorporating it into road construction was signed Tuesday between Alexandria Portland Cement and The Arab Contractors companies in the presence of Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy.

A ministry press release documenting the signing said the agreement not only makes use of cement dust—a byproduct of cement production—but also helps the environment, as cement dust left unused can have negative health effects and would otherwise just be buried underground.

Ibrahim Hussein, the former head of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency in Upper Egypt, told The Cairo Post Tuesday that cement factories are one of the biggest polluters in Egypt, in no small part due to cement dust.

Hussein said the dust and other ingredients used in cement production can cause congenital pneumonia—usually in factory workers—but also sometimes in residents living near factories and disposal sites.

Fahmy said in press statements Tuesday the new protocol ensures cement dust will be recycled into road pavement, which he said was environmentally friendly and negated its potential ill health effects.

Hussein agreed, telling The Cairo Post that recycling the dust and using it in other industries will minimize the hazards of improper disposal measures. Burying the dust he said often pollutes the surrounding land and makes it unsuitable for living and agriculture.

He also said using the dust in the manufacture of cement tiles used in paving roads will minimize the cost of the pavement process.

Hussein added the tiles could be exported in the future to create a new source of income.

The agreement is expected to provide road projects with between 150 to 300 tons of cement dust daily, according to the Environmental Ministry statement.

It added that in Cairo alone, 3,000 tons of cement dust was produced daily in cement production, and disposing of it properly will minimize pollution.

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Tahya Masr donations yet to exceed EGP 5bn: Fund board member

Donations for the Tahya Masr (Long Live Egypt) Fund are yet to exceed EGP 5bn, businessman Salah Diab, a member of the board of directors, told Daily News Egypt Monday.
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Finance ministry yet to impose property tax on petroleum companies: Adviser

Finance ministry yet to impose property tax on petroleum companies: Adviser | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it
An anonymous senior official at the Tax Authority said that the property law will likely provide exemptions for public petroleum company premises and fields but will be applied on private ones.
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Restaurée, rénovée, l'église “suspendue” retrouve sa splendeur

Restaurée, rénovée, l'église “suspendue” retrouve sa splendeur | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

Le ministre des Antiquités égyptien a annoncé la réouverture de l'église “suspendue" (“al-Mu’allaqa), ou “église de la Vierge”, dans le Vieux Caire, pour le mois d’octobre prochain, au terme de quatre années de restauration et rénovation.

C’est en 1997 que la décision avait été prise, par le Conseil suprême des antiquités, de lancer un projet de restauration complète pour préserver le sanctuaire et lui redonner sa splendeur originelle. Comme d'autres monuments situés dans des quartiers très peuplés, l’église était en effet fortement endommagée par la pollution de l'air, ainsi que par un niveau d'eau élevé dans le sous-sol, un fort taux d'humidité, des fuites d'eau et la proximité d’égouts dans un état délabré. Les décorations du plafond en bois de l'église étaient noircis par la fumée, et ses murs et fondations avaient été endommagés par le tremblement de terre de 1992.


Cet édifice est l'une des plus anciennes églises en Égypte. Elle a probablement été construite au Ve ou VIe siècle, à l’emplacement d’une église antérieure datant du IIIe ou IVe siècle, sur les tours de l’ancienne forteresse romaine de Babylone recouvertes de troncs de palmier et d’une couche de pierres pour former le plancher (d’où son nom de “suspendue”).

Elle a été détruite à plusieurs reprises, notamment au IXe siècle suite à un conflit entre le gouverneur de l’Égypte et le patriarche copte. Reconstruite vers 975, elle fut, du XIe au XIVe siècle, le siège du patriarcat copte.


L’église est édifiée suivant un plan basilical à quatre nefs, une d’elles ayant été ajoutée aux trois autres tardivement, lors de la restauration par Ubayd Abî Khuzâm en 1775. Les nefs sont séparées par des colonnes en marbre blanc ou basalte noir, toutes surmontées de chapiteaux corinthiens.

“Le décor utilise principalement le bois et le marbre. À l’extérieur, des moucharabiehs emplissent les fenêtres et constituent la balustrade qui surplombe la colonnade. Cette technique, qui consiste à assembler de petites bobines en bois tourné était une spécialité du Caire ; à partir de l’époque ottomane, les panneaux ainsi formés furent utilisés pour masquer les fenêtres.(...) La façade sous le porche est ornée d’incrustations de marbres colorés qui rappellent les décors d’ablaq fréquemment utilisés sous les Mamluks.

À l’intérieur, le bois est utilisé pour l’iconostase, faite d’ébène et d’ivoire, qui présente des motifs de croix et des éléments géométriques.” (“Qantara, patrimoine méditerranéen”)


Dans un quartier qui renferme également la synagogue Ben Ezra, fondée en 1115, l'église Saint-Serge construite à la fin du IVe siècle au-dessus d'une crypte où la sainte Famille se serait réfugiée lors de sa fuite en Égypte, et l'église Sainte-Barbara (reconstruite au XIe siècle), du nom d'une jeune fille martyrisée pour avoir essayé de convertir son père au christianisme, la “Mu’allaqa” est l’un des hauts lieux du Caire copte et, plus globalement, de l’histoire monumentale de l’Égypte.


Plus d’informations :

http://www.qantara-med.org/qantara4/public/show_document.php?do_id=1068


Illustration (copie d’écran) extraite de egypttoursplus.com

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Pour consulter l’ensemble des Unes d’ “Égypte-actualités” : http://egyptophile.blogspot.fr/2014/06/egyptophile-un-recueil-des-unes-degypte.html?view=flipcard


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Millions of meters of land: the Myth of Gulf Investment in Egypt

Millions of meters of land: the Myth of Gulf Investment in Egypt | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

According to Egypt’s current president, the country has received more than $20 billion in “aid” from Gulf countries, namely, Saudi Arabia (a trailblazer in promoting democracy and freedoms in the region), the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. $20 billion is a lot of money but where did it go? Furthermore, what qualifies that sum of money as “aid?” To put the number into perspective, this Gulf “aid” is about four times the annual revenue of the Suez Canal. That sum of money could have paid for completing the third metro line and building the entire fourth metro line in Cairo with some spare change to do a tram line somewhere. That sum of money is also about 12 times the annual US aid to Egypt. However, just like the US aid is not as philanthropic as it sounds (most of the money is actually military contracts and Egypt ends up spending more than the “aid” money annually for US military equipment and maintenance), Gulf “aid” isn’t the gift to the Egyptian people that it purports to be. Where has this money actually gone and what impact on the lives of Egyptians, particularly those living in cities, has this money made? This is not a Marshall Plan type of aid, resulting in specific development projects that actually impact the economy, provide sustained jobs and services. To put it bluntly, what are Gulf backers of the regime getting for their money? (besides the political clout they buy in Egypt, for example see the size of the new Saudi embassy in Cairo)

One possible answer is land. Lots of land. Millions of square meters of Egyptian land.

We’ve heard before about Walid bin Talal’s land in Toshka, south Egypt. The Saudi business tycoon acquired 100,000 faddan from the Egyptian government for 50 EGP/faddan (a faddan is roughly 4200 sqm), that’s $7 per 4200 square meters! This state-sanctioned land grab was brought to public attention after the 2011 protests started, a time when people thought corruption can be brought to justice. This led to a friendly resolution and bin Talal generously gave back some of the land at its original cost and kept the majority.

More recently, another massive land sale was in court. This time it was land in Giza with one side of the “property” overlooking the great pyramids. The land was sold to a Kuwaiti company during Mubarak’s years and was also brought to court after the revolt started. The exact area of the disputed land is unclear, one report suggests that the total land was 110 million square meters (one and half the total size of the city of Beirut) sold at 200 pounds per faddan or 4.5 piasters per square meter! Other reports, including al-Ahram, confirm the size of the disputed land but they use the less foreboding number of 26,000 faddans (which roughly equals 110 million square meters). That land was designated by the government as desert land for agricultural reclamation. However, not only did the Kuwaiti company not invest in its reclamation for food production, it carried out illegal digs in search of antiquities and carried out extensive quarrying to sell millions of dollars worth of Egyptian stone. The court case, which just ended earlier this month, not only allowed the company to retain the land but also gave it permission to urbanize it rather than its original purpose of transforming it into agriculture. All this for a sum of cash totaling nearly 45 billion Egyptian pounds to be paid by the company to compensate the Egyptian state. But don’t hold your breath, most probably after the first installment nothing will be paid and everything will be forgotten.

Another case is Port Ghalib in Marsa Alam on the Red Sea. There, a Kuwaiti businessman bought an estimated one million square meters of land on a virgin beach in one of Egypt’s still unexploited coasts. In addition, the same buyer, Al-Kharafi, also bought the airport across the road from his private resort city of five and four star hotels and built a power station. This is Egypt’s only privately owned/managed airport. Egypt Air passengers aren’t exempted from the additional fees added to tickets for flying to this airport: a flight from Cairo costs around LE1500. It is not clear if the government built Marsa Alam International Airport then sold it to Al-Kharafi or if he built the airport. Reporting on the land and airport sale is slim, but according to al-Sharq al-Awsat the Kuwaiti investor plans to spend a total of $1.2 billion in total in this project(including everything: airport, power station, land, construction and management of a collection of high-end hotels and resorts, a marina, etc.). That is a bargain. What we have here is a situation in which one person owns the airport and the collection of resorts and hotels across the road only a ten minute ride away and possibly even the transport options between the two so that mostly European tourists arrive at his airport, take his bus or limousine to his hotel then leave the country with minimal contribution to the national GDP. Great investment for Egypt!

These deals are only the tip of the iceberg. Other deals are much more vast and involve the Egyptian government in more direct ways such as the privileges accessed by Emaarand the recent deal with the UAE company Arabtec. The Suez Canal project also involves the Saudi Dar al-Handasah, and the UAE’s Dubai Ports. There are certainly more opaque deals with great financial losses for Egypt where Gulf investors have their way with the country’s resources with little return to Egypt’s economy. These gulf regimes are not only backing the Egyptian regime financially, they and their businessmen have access to concessions that depend on approval of the highest echelons in the Egyptian regime and the military, which acts as the gatekeeper to Egypt’s resources and lands. In the absence of transparency, civilian oversight, and democratic governance, Egyptians will never fully know the extent of missed opportunities to the Egyptian economy brought onto the country with these “investments.”

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24-25 août 2006 : Ramsès II quitte la gare pour le plateau de Guizeh

24-25 août 2006 : Ramsès II quitte la gare pour le plateau de Guizeh | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

En ce jeudi soir, de nombreux cairotes viennent assister au déplacement de l'imposante statue de Ramsès II. Elle trônait place la gare depuis 1955. "Gamal Abdel Nasser, qui venait de renverser la monarchie, voulait ainsi renouer avec les racines historiques de l'Egypte." La statue "Le Réveil de l'Egypte" de Mahmoud Moukhtar est dès lors déplacée vers le quartier de l'université et la "voie" de la reine Nazli est rebaptisée "avenue Ramsès". L'endroit est alors bien dégagé et une grande fontaine est érigée devant la statue.


Mais depuis un demi-siècle, les automobiles n'ont cessé d'envahir le Caire et les milliers de véhicules qui chaque jour passent à ses pieds émettent du gaz carbonique qui attaque le granite rose, le ternit et le fragilise.

Ramsès, ce pharaon qui a combattu tant d'ennemis, le maître du double pays, est désormais en danger, victime d'un ennemi presque invisible qui s'infiltre en lui et menace sa survie : la pollution !


Afin de sauvegarder sa statue, il est décidé de la déplacer vers Guizeh, plus précisément vers le futur GEM : "Au Grand Musée égyptien, elle sera mieux protégée, car les conditions environnementales du plateau relativement éloigné de la ville sont beaucoup plus appropriées. Elle sera aussi en totale osmose avec l'atmosphère antique égyptienne, à la fois le plateau et le nouveau complexe muséal" explique alors le ministre de la Culture Farouk Hosni.

Le transport de la royale statue est "ultra sécurisé". Le trajet est minutieusement étudié, chaque imperfection de la route constituant un potentiel danger. La statue haute de plus de dix mètres, pesant une centaine de tonnes, est placée dans un corset de fer rempli de mousse pour absorber les chocs. Placée en position verticale sur un "porte-char" de 30 m de long, qui avance à 5 km/h et fait de nombreux arrêts, elle met 10 heures pour atteindre Guizeh. "Le trajet, long de 30 kilomètres, est filmé par un hélicoptère militaire et la police ouvre la voie au cortège, qui comprend des archéologues chargés de surveiller l'état de la statue pendant son transport."

Ce déplacement qui aurait, selon certaines sources coûté 6 millions de livres, est retransmis en direct à la télé égyptienne.


C'est ainsi que tout un peuple peut suivre la progression – presque une procession ! - de la statue du grand Ramsès II repartant non loin de l'emplacement où elle était initialement érigée. Elle provient du grand temple de Ptah - dieu tutélaire de l'ancienne capitale Memphis - où elle a été découverte, en six fragments en 1882. Les ruines memphites se trouvent principalement sur le site actuel du petit village de Mit Rahinah.

Marie Grillot


http://www.sca-egypt.org/eng/SITE_Mit_Rahina.htm

https://www.academia.edu/4214681/ADLY_E._GRIMAL_N._BIA._2005._Vol._30  

http://www.egyptos.net/egyptos/pharaon/statue-ramses-2-deplacee.php

http://www.live2times.com/2006-deplacement-de-la-statue-geante-de-ramses-ii-e--12022/

http://www1.rfi.fr/actufr/articles/080/article_45769.asp

http://www.liberation.fr/culture/1997/

http://www.egy.com/landmarks/97-08-07.php

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=894988860515005&set=vb.100000116980079&type=2&theater

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Pour consulter l’ensemble des Unes d’ “Égypte-actualités” : http://egyptophile.blogspot.fr/2014/06/egyptophile-un-recueil-des-unes-degypte.html?view=flipcard


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Tourism Authority will set up sound and light show at Meidum Pyramid

Tourism Authority will set up sound and light show at Meidum Pyramid | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: The Tourism Development Authority (TDA) plans to set up a sound and light show at the Meidum Pyramid in coordination with Ministry of Antiquities, TDA chief executive Serag Eddin Saad told The Cairo Post Thursday.

Members of TDA’s New Projects Committee were dispatched last week to the Meidum area to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies to investigate the possible negative and positive outcomes of the project, Saad said.

“If approved, the project will be funded by the Ministry of International Cooperation and Antiquities while technical support will be provided by the governorate of Beni Suef,” he added.

Misr Company for Sound, Light, and Cinema operates the sound and light shows at various archeological sites, including the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza, Karnak Temple in Luxor, Philae, Edfu, and Abu Simbel temples in Aswan.

The sound and light show is a laser show that narrates the history of an archaeological site along with the Pharaohs involved and relevant myths and deities.

The Meidum Pyramid, located 100 km south of Cairo in Beni Suef, is thought to originally have been built for the third dynasty Pharaoh Huni in 2640 B.C. but it was completed by Pharaoh Sneferu (2613 B.C. to 2589 B.C.), Dean of Minya University’s Faculty of Tourism and Hotels Sherif el-Sabban told The Cairo Post Friday.

“It was possibly the first true and smooth-sided pyramid to be built in ancient Egypt but unfortunately its outer polished limestone casing collapsed in the 1950s,” Sabban said. Unlike the great Pyramids of Giza, the Meidum Pyramid is relatively out of the way for most travelers who have no time to visit the area.

Veteran tour guide Magdy Abdel Mohsen told The Cairo Post the burial chamber of the Pyramid seems to have never been completed with raw walls and wooden supports still inside the chamber.

“The first access to the burial chamber of the Meidum Pyramid was made by Schiaparelli, an Italian traveler visited Egypt in the 19th century and left graffiti of his name inside,” Mohsen said and that the burial chamber is currently empty.

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Egypt ‘free of ISIS’: interior ministry

Egypt ‘free of ISIS’: interior ministry | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By AYA SAMIR

CAIRO: There is no presence of the Islamic State in Egypt, official spokes person for the ministry of interior Hany Abdel Latif told the Okaz Saudi newspaper Saturday.

Abdel Latif said such “rumors”are”psychological warfare” to frighten Egyptian citizens, and insinuate that the Muslim brotherhood is still present in Egyptian streets.

Abdel Latif said that all terrorist groups that appeared recently including IS, al-Nusra Front, Ansar al-Sharia or Helwan Brigades “are only part of two international organizations:the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.”

“The threats that we are facing now on the Egyptian borders comes as a result due to the conflicts inside some of our neighboring countries including Libya, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Egypt is stable in comparison with what’s happening in the rest of the region.”

Libya has faced unrest since its revolution in 2011, but the situation has recently worsened; militias from different parties and backgrounds started to fight to control different parts of the state including airports, and diplomatic relations with Egypt have soured.

Former assistant defense minister, and former director of  the Research and Strategic Studies Center of the Armed Forces, Major General Hossam Sweilm told The Cairo Post in previous statements that Ansar al-Sharia, which is based in Benghazi, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis or any other terrorist groups are only claiming to have different ideologies.

” All of them are using religion to come to power. ISIS was part of Al-Qaeda before they disband to control Syria and Iraq. The differences are not just about names, but about authoritarian interests. Each one of them wants to control different part of the world,” he said.

Youm7 reported Saturday that police forces in Dakahlia arrested a person who was returning from training with the Islamic State, and had in his possession a laptop with data proving he had travelled to Syria to train with militia fighter.

Military strategist Major General Nabil Fouad, told the Cairo post that The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is all about Syria and Iraq, and there is no way that it can do anything to Egypt for many reasons, “it’s unthinkable”.

“Syria and Iraq have a common ground borders, therefore they  were able to remove it, but Egypt is a different case As we don’t have any common border with them, all what they can do is to be involved in any terrorist operations may happen inside the country. We have a very powerful military,” he added.

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Birth rate decreases 0.9% in 2013: CAPMAS

Birth rate decreases 0.9% in 2013: CAPMAS | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

The birth rate in 2013 decreased by .09% compared to the rate in 2012, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization And Statistics (CAPMAS) reported Saturday its annual population report.

The report stated 2013 saw 2,621,902 live births in 2013, compared to 2,629,769 births in 2012, adding that the Cairo governorate ranked first in terms of numbers of birth, with 256,657.

The reported added the number of deaths reached 511,183 in 2013 compared to 529, 512 deaths in 2012, marking a 3.5 percent decrease.

Cairo also ranked first in terms of the number of deaths among other governorates, asmortality reached 8.8 per thousand in 2013 compared to 9.3 per thousand in 2012.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s population according to CAPMAS reached 87 million, not includinga total of approximately eight million expatriates.

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Tourism Police foil unprecedented underwater antiquity theft attempt

Tourism Police foil unprecedented underwater antiquity theft attempt | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: Tourism and Antiquities Police (TAA) foiled an unprecedented attempt to loot an archaeological site where the would-be thieves dove into the Nile River and began to dig a tunnel underneath the adjacent site of Houd Zelikha, south of Giza, TAA investigation department head Maj. Gen. Osama el-Nawawy told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Preliminary investigations by TAA policemen revealed that armed gangs had conducted several illegal excavations in the Houd Zelikha archaeological site in the town of Al-Badrashin, 40 km south of the Giza pyramids, Nawawy said.

They planned to reach the foundation of the archaeological site through an underwater tunnel that they started to dig, he added.

“Members of the gang, including a 40-year-old lawyer, a farmer and four Palestinian nationals, were arrested in possession of waterproof wireless drills, diving suits, underwater breathing apparatuses, and depth gauges,” Nawawy said.

Limestone fragments, small statues and a rose granite pillar base, most likely a part of a temple colonnade, were found in the house of the farmer for future sale, said Nawawy, adding that an antiquities committee has examined the damaged objects and suggested they are ruins of a temple dating back to the Middle Kingdom (2055 B.C. – 1650 B.C.)

Since the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011 and its consequent security lapse across Egypt, the TAA, in coordination with Cairo Airport authorities, has thwarted several attempts to smuggle Egyptian antiquities out of the country.

Former Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a statement that since the outbreak of the 2011 revolution, over 1,524 artifacts were stolen from several museums and archaeological sites across the country.

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Copts celebrate feast of Saint Mary’s assumption

Copts celebrate feast of Saint Mary’s assumption | Égypt-actus | Scoop.it

By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: Coptic Christians across Egypt celebrated Friday the Feast of St. Mary. According to Christian belief, the feast marks the assumption of the Virgin Mary’s body, which was carried by the angels to heaven after the end of her earthly life.

Coptic families flocked to several Coptic Churches across Egypt to celebrate the feast, known in Coptic as Dormition of Theotokos and in Arabic as Eid al-Adra, or ‘Feast of the Virgin,’ with chants relevant to the occasion.

The Virgin Mary Church in Cairo’s northern district of Mostorod, which houses representations of the Holy Family’s journey in Egypt, witnessed a notable turnout to celebrate the holy feast and to break the 15-day fast that preceded it, according to Al-Shorouq.

This year, the fast of the Virgin Mary began on the 7th day of the Coptic month of Mesora and ended on the 21st, this year falling on Aug. 7-21, with the Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary celebrated on the 22nd, Bishop Angaelos, formerly the private secretary to the late Pope Shenouda III, was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram Friday.

“Copts fast for two weeks prior to the feast in order to ask for the intercessions of the Virgin Mary,” Angaelos said.

In Upper Egypt’s governorate of Asyut, the feast culminates the end of the celebration of Mulid al-Adra, or the ‘Birthday of the Virgin,’ which features circus artists, singing, street performances, tattoos of religious symbols and games with tents set up to house thousands of Copts, Coptic history professor at Minya University’s Faculty of Tourism and Hotels Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Saturday.

“The feast is usually preceded by Mulids in churches and monasteries where Jesus and the Virgin Mary are thought to have stayed during their Holy Journey in Egypt,” Khourshid said.

These churches include the Virgin Mary Monastery in Asyut, the Virgin Monastery in Bayad Al-Arab in Beni Suef, and the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo’s district of al-Zatoon, in which the Virgin was reportedly sighted in 1968, he added.

Copts represent approximately 10 percent of Egypt’s population, making it the largest Christian community in the Middle East and Africa, said Khourshid. He said he wanted to join Copts in Egypt and across the world in their celebrations glorifying the Virgin Mary and extended his greetings to them.

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