The Egyptian Ministry of Interior pardoned 139 prisoners on Tuesday in honour of Sinai Liberation Day. The Prison Service sector in the Interior Ministry held committees to examine the files of prisoners across the nation to determine the remaining years of their sentences. The ministry grants pardons to prisoners in a regular manner before major occasions. Three months ago, a presidential pardon to 203 prisoners was made for the second list that was recommended by the Presidency’s Detained Youth Committee, whereas the first list released in November included 82 presidential pardons. Muslim Brotherhood members are excluded from the committee lists.
June 20, 2017 14:48 UTC
Head of the National Council for Women (NCW) Maya Morsi presented the 2030 Egyptian Women Empowerment Strategy on Tuesday during her speech alongside the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) meeting, according to an NCW statement. Furthermore, chairperson of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights Nihad Abul-Qumsan reviewed the strategy to confront violence against women, discussing the objectives of the strategy and its implementation of the activities and role of stakeholders. Egypt’s 2030 Egyptian Women Empowerment Strategy was first outlined in 2014 to highlight 12 key areas of focus, including education, social justice, economic empowerment, urban development, foreign policy, national security, and health, among other sectors. The women empowerment strategy is set to include legal, social, economic, and psychological support services for women. The article obliges the state to protect women against all forms of violence and to provide mothers and children with adequate care.
June 20, 2017 13:41 UTC
London’s fire department posted photos of famed British pop singer Adele meeting with firefighters to offer support following a devastating fire in the Kensignton borough that is believed to have killed at least 79 people. The pictures were posted on Twitter on Tuesday, showing the singer posing with firefighters. Adele had a cup of tea with the firefighters and thanked them for their efforts in battling the fire that engulfed the 27-story Grenfell Tower. (Kirsty Wigglesworth / PA via AP)“We are so humbled by everyone’s support,” the London Fire Brigade tweeted. “Not everyday the wonderfully grounded and caring Adele pops into Chelsea Fire Station for a cup of tea and a cuddle x,” he wrote.
June 20, 2017 13:30 UTC
Egypt’s revenues from the Suez Canal increased by 0.7% to $439.8m in May, compared to the $436.8m revenue of May 2016, according to official figures released on Tuesday by the cabinet. Suez Canal revenues reached $427.9m in April and $425.1m last March. The canal is the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, and is one of the Egyptian government’s main sources of foreign currency. Egypt has been struggling to revive its economy since the 2011 uprising, which scared away tourists and foreign investors, the country’s other main sources of hard currency. Suez Canal revenues have amounted to $5.005bn in 2016, marking 3.2% less than 2015 total revenues, during which revenues amounted to $5.175bn.
June 20, 2017 12:56 UTC
Egypt’s air force targeted on Tuesday militant leaders allegedly belonging to “Sinai Province” in North Sinai, according to a state-owned broadcaster. Police forces also blocked an attempt by militants to target a police checkpoint with a bombed car in Al-Arish city in North Sinai on Monday, according to the Ministry of Interior statement. Furthermore, security forces were sent to the area of the checkpoint following the incident. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis group declared its affiliation to the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014, and has since then launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints. This came following two separate attacks on churches during Palm Sunday prayers, which killed more than 40 people and injured over 100 others.
June 20, 2017 12:45 UTC
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the attack that targeted Muslims praying in a mosque in Finsbury Park, in north London, early on Monday, resulting in the death of one, while 11 were injured. In an official statement, the ministry stressed Egypt’s solidarity with families of the casualty victims and with the British government and people. The statement reaffirmed Egypt’s rejection of all kinds of terrorism and discrimination based on race, religion, and gender. The ministry also warned against Islamophobia and called on the international community to cooperate against terrorism. The victims were all Muslims and the incident was declared a terror attack on the Muslim community.
June 20, 2017 12:45 UTC
An additional seven websites have been blocked in Egypt, raising the total number of blocked sites to at least 101 as of Tuesday. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) published on its website on Tuesday that newly blocked sites include Akhbar al-Sabah, Hermes Press, Waraa el-Ahdath, Sada net, Al-Araby TV, Masr al-Ekhbaria, and Aml al-Ommah. In their report, titled “A decision from an unknown source on the blocking of websites in Egypt”, AFTE called on the Egyptian government to lift the ban on these websites and to disclose what the ban is actually based on. Since May 24, a number of news websites have been blocked to the Egyptian public, including a number of websites licensed to work in Egypt. Amnesty International condemned the blockage of news websites in a statement, criticizing the state’s reasoning of “protecting national security” as justification for the continued repression of media freedoms.
June 20, 2017 12:45 UTC
An Egyptian parliament delegation headed to the United States in early June to attend a meeting with US congress members to discuss bilateral relations. “Egypt’s parliament visit to the US congress was aimed at building bridges of communication between the two countries at the parliamentary level, in addition to discuss issues of common concern,” member of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said on Tuesday. These statement came within the member’s explanation about the visit. Member of parliament (MP) Tarek El-Khouly asserted the importance of the visit, noting that the delegation held a number of meeting with the three major sides in the congress, which included US decision-makers and members from the new administration. In April, a delegation from the US congress arrived to Egypt and met with the country’s top officials as well as MPs to discuss bilateral relations.
June 20, 2017 12:33 UTC
Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil announced that the Egyptian non-oil exports to the Spanish market during the first quarter (Q1) of the current year significantly increased by 77.6% to a record €177.4m, compared to €99.9m during the same period of 2016. The trade deficit recorded €79m during Q1, compared to €230m during the same period of 2016, with a decreased rate of 66%. He added that the most important items of other Egyptian exports that were exported to the Spanish market during this period included iron and steel, ready-made garments, inorganic chemical products, plastic products, and leather products. Exports of fertilisers and chemicals increased during the first four months of 2017 from $1bn in the same period of 2016 to $1.341bn—an increase of 34%. Egypt’s imports decreased by 30% and exports increased by 14%, with a decrease in the trade balance deficit by 48% during the first four months of 2017.
June 20, 2017 12:33 UTC
The leaders of the largest British companies operating in Egypt intend to increase their investments in the next period, especially after the approval of the New Investment Law by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. The British investors hailed the improvement experienced in the investment climate in Egypt after their meeting with Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr on Tuesday. The minister expressed her desire to attract more British investments to Egypt, which amounted to about $43bn over the last 10 years, stressing that Egypt has an open market suitable for British investments. Amr Mamdouh, chairperson and managing director of GlaxoSmithKline, said that his company’s investments in Egypt reached $800m. Moreover, Khaled Zaki, regional manager of British group Carillion, said his company’s investments reached $1bn in Egypt.
June 20, 2017 12:11 UTC
The Egyptian Air Forces launched on Monday an air strike that targeted a gathering of leading figures from the IS-affiliated group ‘Sinai Province’ in North Sinai. The strike led to the death of 12 militants from the group. According to a statement issued from the Egyptian Armed Forces official spokesperson Tamer El Refaay , the strike was launched following the army leadership’s receiving information from intelligence apparatuses on the gathering place of Sinai Province’s leading figures. “The Egyptian Air Forces executed an air strike on a gathering place of a number of ‘Ansar Byat El Maqdis’ [currently known as ‘Sinai Province’] leading figures; it targeted their gathering place, and it killed 12 militants from the group and destroyed 4 four-wheel vehicles” the army’s statement read. Since the beginning of 2017, the activity of the ‘ Sinai Province’ witnessed a decrease, as the armed forces launched intensive attacks against the group’s stationing points in that area.
June 20, 2017 12:11 UTC
The Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah [Egyptian state-run Islamic institution assigned to issue religious edicts] released a statement on Monday in which it severely criticized a recently established mosque in Berlin. Circulating photos of the mosque show male and female worshipers praying side by side– a prohibited act in Islam. The mosque’s name, ‘Liberal’, is meant to signify the founders’ intentions to promote liberal and egalitarian ideology in mosques, such as allowing women to lead prayers. However, as this is not allowed according to traditional Islamic teachings, Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah said in the statement that the mosque’s ideology is a clear violation of the rules of Islam. The statement concluded by mentioning that such acts are not ways to combat extremism and terrorism; instead these acts are representing a violation of Islam.
June 20, 2017 12:00 UTC
Australia said on Tuesday it had suspended air strikes into Syria following the U.S. downing of a Syrian military jet and Russia’s subsequent threat against U.S.-led coalition aircraft. “As a precautionary measure, Australian Defense Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased,” Australia’s Department of Defense said in a statement. Russia made clear it was changing its military posture in response to the U.S. downing of a Syrian military jet on Sunday, something Damascus said was the first such incident since the start of the country’s conflict in 2011. “ADF personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course,” Australia’s Department of Defense said, adding its operations in Iraq would continue as part of the coalition. “Australian Defence Force protection is regularly reviewed in response to a range of potential threats,” it said.
Police forces stationed on a highway in northern Sinai’s city of al-Arish managed on Monday to curb a militant attack that targeted their checkpoint. According to a statement released by the Interior Ministry, police forces stationed at a coastal road of al-Arish city were approached by a suicide bomber in a vehicle. As the armed vehicle approached the checkpoint, many conscripts and officers opened heavy fire against it, the shooting destroying the vehicle before it reached the checkpoint. Moreover, the ministry added that a number of other militants have made ground attempts to attack police conscripts and officers. Recently, ‘Sinai Province’ claimed responsibility for deadly attacks that targeted Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria, which led to the death of nearly 45 people.
The dollar index — which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, including sterling — edged up to 97.623, its highest since the end of May. Separately, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Monday it may be worthwhile for the U.S. central bank to wait until year-end to decide whether to raise interest rates again. Against the yen, the dollar rose to as high as 111.90, its strongest level since May 26. That marked a gain of almost 3 percent from the dollar’s near 2-month low of 108.81 yen set on June 14. However, any weakness in U.S. inflation data going forward would pose a risk for dollar bulls, he added.