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Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon praised the Egyptian government’s efforts to end the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, in light of the Israeli military escalation. At a press conference on Monday, Ban expressed the international community’s appreciation of the Egyptian efforts, stressing the significance of Egypt as a regional power seeking peace and stability in the region. Ban stated that the international community should assist Egypt in its efforts to put an end to the agony of all women and children, who are paying the price of the situation in Gaza. For his part, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri expressed Egypt’s gratitude to the UN’s role to maintain peace and aid development in the region. Ban will fly to Israel to hold talks with officials on Tuesday, according to Israeli media. The Israel military operation in Gaza entered its 15th day, resulting in the death of more than 500 Palestinians, mostly civilians. Israel says its operations against Gaza aim at stopping rocket attacks from the Strip by Hamas organisation against its territories.
C’est le sujet du moment en Egypte : l’augmentation continue des prix de tous les biens et services. A l’origine de cette inflation, il y a la décision du gouvernement de couper ses aides à l’industrie pétrolière. Il en résulte une forte hausse du prix de l’essence utilisée pour transporter les produits.
“Nous ne pourrons pas supporter cela longtemps, confie un Cairote. Devons-nous aller dans la rue pour mendier ? Le gouvernement devrait nous aider et soutenir la production de denrées alimentaires.”
Les autorités expliquent vouloir utiliser l’argent des aides pétrolières pour abonder le fond destiné à lutter contre la crise économique très sévère dans le pays depuis plusieurs années.
“La raison des prix élevés des fruits par exemple, c’est le prix élevé de l’essence, explique un commerçant. Par le passé, nous payions 80 livres pour transporter les denrées ici. Aujourd’hui nous payons environ 170 livres. Et cela entraîne aussi une augmentation de prix de la nourriture.”
De plus en plus d’Egyptiens demandent au gouvernement d’imposer un contrôle des prix. Cette inflation touche toutes les classes sociales même si les plus bas revenus sont bien sûr touchés de plein fouet.
“La décision du gouvernement de supprimer les aides à l’industrie pétrolière était nécessaire pour réduire le déficit public. C’est en tout cas ce que disent les autorités, rapporte notre correspondant Mohammed Shaikhibrahim. Mais la question demeure : les Egyptiens pourront-ils vraiment et rapidement voir les effets positifs d’une telle mesure ?”
Education Minister Mahmoud Abou al-Nasr met Monday with Sayed Abo, the secretary-general of the National Council for the Care of Martyrs’ Families and Injured of the Revolution, to discuss a program to exempt children of January 25 Revolution victims from paying student fees, Youm7 reported.
“Ministerial decision number 272 for the year 2013 states that children of revolutionary martyrs and victims of terrorism will be exempted from paying student fees,” Abou al-Nasr said.
Abou al-Nasr added that martyrs’ families should submit proof that the claimant’s parent’s death was related to the January 25 Revolution either by presenting the revolutionary victim’s personal ID card or by an official letter from the National Council for the Care of Martyrs’ Families and the Injured of the Revolution.
Abou al-Nasr also agreed to a proposal submitted by the council to provide training opportunities for the children of the injured and called on the council to send their names and ages to the ministry in order to be able to select the appropriate programs for them.
Ehab Al-Sayed, the general coordinator of the National Council for the Care of Martyrs’ Families and the Injured of the Revolution told Youm7 in April that Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab had promised to solve all the problems related to the martyrs’ families during a three-hour meeting with Abo.
The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a promotional campaign to attract visitors from Europe throughout August in France, Germany, Britain, Italy, and Russia, said Ahmed Shoukry, head of the international tourism sector at the Tourism Activation Authority.
Shoukry said that the campaign would engage directly with the markets that account for 72% of total annual tourism traffic.
Incoming tourism traffic in Egypt fell during the first half of this year to 4.4 million tourists, a decrease of 25% from the same period in 2013.
Shoukry described a number of European countries lifting travel warnings for Sharm El-Sheikh as an important step on the path to restore tourism from these markets.
According to deputy chairman of Egypt’s Chamber of Hotels, Hany Al-Shaer, the direct promotional campaigns executed by hotel management companies garners more success than other means, adding that tourism will increase starting in October.
Occupancies in the city of Sharm El-Sheikh increased to over 40% this week after four European countries lifted travel warnings to the city, said Al-Shaer.
The Ministry of Tourism conducted an evaluation of the charter flight system in order to understand how to continuously subsidise vacant seats , employ a new system for filled seats, or work in accordance with the two filled and vacant seat systems according to the Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Tourism Ilhamy Zayat.
He mentioned that it is necessary to incentivise tourism traffic in Egypt, especially from the European market, as this represents more than 90% of total tourism to Egypt.
Allocations for charter flights last year were valued at $15m according to Zayat, who does not expect the figure to increase over the next year.
Par Marc Henry
By SARA OSAMA SHOUREAP
CAIRO: A number of insurance companies are studying issuing policies against sexual assault, al-Masry al-Youm reported.
Sources at the Misr Insurance Holding Company told al-Masry al-Youm that they are still studying the content and form of the policy and they are considering listing it under personal accidents which will make harassment injuries covered by insurance for all nationalities and not only for Egyptians.
There are personal accident policies that may ease the process for issuing this policy but some companies are afraid due to the spread of this phenomenon, a source who requested anonymity said.
A 2013 United Nations study found that 99.3 percent of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed. Non-governmental organizations and anti-harassment movements have been pressuring the government to address the chronic problem for a long time.
The source added that the proposed policy may be issued during the coming months, including financial compensation and medical care, adding that they thought about this proposal due to the Tahrir square incident and many other incidents reported by foreigners.
A British tourist was raped in the Sinai resort city of Sharm el Sheikh in March, and a hotel security guard was accused of the crime.
A 43-year-old woman who was attending the celebrations of the inauguration of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has been sexually assaulted and stripped naked in Tahrir Square June 8.
Inauguration celebrations witnessed seven other cases of girls who were sexually assaulted while they were celebrating at Tahrir according to forensic reports.
President Sisi visited the assaulted woman in the hospital on June 11 after a viral video of her sparked widespread outrage.
Continuous assault incidents have sparked anger among several rights organizations and women organizations.
Last month, assistant Interior Minister for Human Rights General Abu Bakr Abdel-Karim said that the Interior Ministry will establish a new department to combat crimes of sexual violence and harassment inside all security directorates across Egypt.
In a phone interview with Mehwar TV channel, Abdel-Karim said “police officers working in this department will be deployed in all crowded places across Egypt where harassment is most likely to take place.”
After the incident in June, around 200 people participated in a protest in Cairo’s upscale district of Zamalek, condemning sexual harassment and calling authorities to take action against such crimes.
Several defendants have been arrested. Seven defendants have been sentenced last Wednesday to life in prison over charges of sexual harassment and two others were sentenced to 20 years in prison over the same charges. Three of them were fined 10,000 EGP (U.S. $1,400).
The defendants faced charges in four cases of harassment, kidnapping, stealing, and indecent assault.
In early June, former Interim President Adly Mansour issued a decision to amend some articles in the criminal law issued in 1937 to include criminalizing sexual harassment, presidential spokesperson Ehab Badawy said, Youm7 reported.
The amendments stated that any person who sexually harasses a man or a woman will be imprisoned for at least six months, fined 3,000 to 5,000 EGP, or both. If the act of sexual harassment is repeated through stalking the victim, the punishment will be at least one year in prison, a 5,000 to 10,000 EGP fine, or both.
If the harasser is the superior of the victim professionally, educationally, or a relative and pressures the victim or if the crime is committed by more than one person, or under the threat of a weapon, the imprisonment will be from two to five years and the fine will be between 20,000 and 50,000 EGP.
Source at the Misr Insurance Holding Company categorized the harms of sexual assault as physical and psychological, asserting that they can’t issue an insurance policy compensating someone for psychological harms due to the difficulty of estimating such harms in financial terms in contrast to physical harms.
Vice Chairman of Financial Supervisory Authority Mohamed Moeet said in previous statements that the authority didn’t receive any requests from insurance companies regarding issuing a policy against sexual assault, asserting that such policies provide coverage on abuse and harassment and will not be offered to clients except after the authority’s approval.
The Egyptian Union for insurance is studying all similar policies in other countries and rephrasing them according to Egypt’s social situation after which it will be sent to the authority and studied by technical committees, Moeet added.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab ordered Saturday the formation of a committee including the Ministers of Planning and of Investment to restructure the textile sector and provide public spinners the required quantities of cotton, Youm7 reported.
Over governmental efforts to flourish the textile sector and end its crisis, Mahlab directed the formed committee to provide the employees their due wages before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
During his meeting with the Ministers of Planning, Local Development, Housing, and Investment, and a number of textile sectors’ officials, Mahlab called for the necessity to remove the sector obstacles, support the public spinners, and attract new investment.
Forming the committee is within the Cabinet’s new strategy to restructure the public sector, especially the textile sector. The government planned on finishing the textile factories’ infrastructures and providing public spinners the needed finance to restore its productivity.
In the past few years, the textile sector suffered many problems represented in the lack of cotton production, harsh decline in cotton exports, declining national consumption, and a wide-range of employee strikes and protests for not getting their financial dues.
In May 2014, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) monitored a 46.5 percent decline in cotton exports, totaling at 126,600 metric kantars compared to 236,800 kantars during the same period last year.
Egypt’s consumption of local cotton edged down sharply by 79.9 percent, totaling at 81,600 kantarsduring the second quarter of the current agricultural year, compared to 504,400 kantars in the previous year.
To promote the national consumption of cotton, the government would provide 200 million EGP ($28 million) to support public spinners and allow them to purchase Egyptian cotton. They refrain from purchase Egyptian cotton for its high prices of 1,300 EGP per kantar while imported would be 750 EGP, Al-Mal Business daily previously reported in May. The public spinners would get a 200 EGP subsidy for each consumed kantar.
The government is preparing to offer a number of public sector companies to the Egyptian Stock Exchange EGX as to provide the needed liquidity to restructure the sector and provide the public spinners subsidy, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported in May.
The success of Initial Public Offerings at EGX late May comprised of the Sabaa International Company for Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industry and the Arabian Cement Company. Subscription requests increased to 26.8 and 18.5 times over respectively. The government will offer part of the Public Spinners shares at EGX, Minister of Trade and Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said.
“Besides offering part of the Public Spinners shares at EGX, the government is working on redrafting the investment measures and transferring the textile sector’s factories and spinners from the public sector to a will established sovereign fund,” he added.
By Rana Khaled
With a distinctive black outfit, white facemask, red nose and silky wig, Ahmed Nabil has represented a wide range of characters on many local and international theatres all over the world. Depending only on his body language and facial expressions, he can impersonate the naïve bus thief, the cheerful balloon seller, the troubled ambassador, the clever surgeon and many other characters without saying a word.
Nabil, Egypt’s first pantomime artist, has been ranked among the best 20 pantomime artists in the world. The 68-year-old uses his talent along with with a unique sense of humour to tackle social issues, including the bright and tragic sides of the 25 January Revolution, hoping to spread love, peace and brotherhood between Egyptian citizens, regardless of their different ideological and political affiliations.
Nabil, 68, has been interested in miming since he was a small child, when he used to perform shows and plays without speaking, using only gestures, expressions and body movements. However, he wasn’t aware of the different aspects of the pantomime art until he met an American orientalist who used to perform pantomime plays. He accompanied him to the American Library and brought him books about the art and advised him to travel to Europe to learn it properly.
“Pantomime mustn’t be confused with silent acting that was first introduced during the old days of silent movies and depended mainly on accessories and decorations that could help the artist deliver his message to the audience,” Nabil said.
On the other hand, pantomime depends only on the artist, who stands alone on the stage with a black curtain behind him and slight usage of short music audios. In pantomime, the artist carries the responsibility of reflecting the place, the timing and the emotions to the viewers without any external help, he added.
Ancient Egyptians were proved to be the real inventors of pantomime art, as they were pioneers in medicine, engineering, musical instruments and many other fields. On the walls of the Pharaonic temples in Edfo and Minya, you can find a lot of pictures that represent how Pharos used pantomime to reflect their celebrations and spiritual rituals, he said.
In 1972, Nabil obtained a scholarship for directing pantomime shows in the former USSR, and by the end of this scholarship, he was ready to participate in an international pantomime competition where he was ranked 3rd out of 44 competitors from around the world.
After returning to Egypt, he decided to shoulder the responsibility of spreading this innovative art. Thus, he started presenting pantomime shows on Egyptian television and performing plays in the Opera house as well as many other Egyptian and foreign cultural centres. He also devoted himself to teaching pantomime at the Alexandria University and the American University in Cairo. However, he was eventually shocked by the ugly truth.
Nabil struggled many years to spread this art in Egypt, but his efforts appeared to be in vain. He tried to form a pantomime theatre troop, but the artists left when they found better opportunities with higher salaries. He tried to provide training workshops in cultural centres and Al-Sawi cultural wheel, but most individuals stopped attending because they couldn’t pay for the fees.
Although former Culture Minister Farouk Hosni paid attention to him and allowed him to represent Egypt’s name in many international modern dance theatre festivals, this wasn’t an effective way for increasing Egyptians’ awareness regarding this art on a local scale.
“I was honoured in many international festivals and I received many certificates of merit from different Arab and European countries like Oman, Bahrain, Germany, India, Australia, Russia and Italy; however, I feel deep sorrow inside my heart when I see my art completely neglected in my own country,” he asserted.
Nabil said that his older son refused to follow in his steps, although he was very talented at pantomime. “My son decided to stop learning pantomime and study engineering, as he experienced how pantomime doesn’t receive any appreciation in our homeland,” he added.
After long years of struggle and hard work, Nabil decided to quit performing pantomime shows in Egypt. “The Egyptian art scene witnessed [a] huge regression in all fields. Nowadays, artists care about money more than the value of the roles they play or the content they present. Cinema and drama scripts are full of insults and sexually abusive expressions. Ballet, folklore dance, pantomime and many other important arts are suffering badly on the verge of extinction,” he said.
Nabil believes that paying more attention to pantomime will contribute to improving the audience’s artistic taste.
“Pantomime combines acting and ballet and it defeats the language barrier, as it finds its way to the audience from different nationalities. I think television must spotlight on the unpopular arts in Egypt and raise citizens’ awareness about them,” he said.