In Focus – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Thu, 23 May 2019 01:41:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 “You break our fast”: Women struggle from different kinds of harassment in Ramadan Sun, 19 May 2019 12:30:24 +0000 “I fear that some of them will eventually hurt me,” young female translator says 

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Since Ramadan has begun, the holy spiritual month in which people compete to perform good deeds, many Egyptian women reported facing different, but not new, kinds of harassment that range from insults, loudly rebukes, spitting, yelling, and sometimes beatings due to their outfits.

It is widely typical in a patriarchal society that men would try to change what they believe are sins in Ramadan, especially if they think they have the last say regarding women’s outfits–even if they don’t even personally know those women.

Consequently, walking down the streets without being modest enough according to Egyptian society’s standards or without putting on headscarves or a Abaya (full-length outer garment worn by some Muslim females) could simply lead to insults, curses, or public harsh criticisms.

Women say that those men who bother them in the streets usually repeat comments such as “O’ Allah, I am fasting (meaning he is fighting temptation), or, “you are breaking our fast (accusing her of seducing men)” and, “I ask forgiveness of Allah (apparently for her or for himself for gazing at her.)

Apart from Ramadan, women and girls face on a daily basis distinct forms of sexual violence in the streets of Egypt, in both public and private spaces, whether in transportation vehicles or in workplaces. Women are usually blamed by society for being subjected to such acts. They are accused of ‘provoking’ men via their outfits or actions.

A report issued by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in October 2017 showed that Cairo is the world’s most dangerous megacity for women.

An additional report by the Brazilian-based organisation ‘Instituto Promundo’ revealed that 64% of men admitted to sexually harassing women in the streets of Egypt. Harassment forms of ranged from ogling, stalking to even rape.

Meanwhile, an earlier study by the United Nations in 2013 showed that 99.3% of Egyptian women surveyed have been subjected to sexual harassment in the streets.

Gender violence

“It is a very complicated issue which certainly has cultural roots,” Said Sadek, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo (AUC), told Daily News Egypt.

“When a man sees a woman in the streets, he expects that she definitely would follow his standards regarding outfits. If she was not wearing hijab, then she is challenging his masculinity. This is how he thinks,” Sadek explained.

Therefore, some men tend to annoy or harass women in the streets to prove to themselves that they are still ‘the masters’ of society, Sadek added. 

He also mentioned that the reason behind men’s aggression toward women in Ramadan or at any time is because of a feeling of loss. “They feel they lost their economic and social power and dominant position over females, especially since most women are currently economically independents or active partners in society,” Sadek highlighted. 

Furthermore, Sadek noted that cursing or insulting women in the streets over their outfits in Ramadan gives men a sense of satisfaction. “They want to restore their cultural and patriarchal dominant status in society. They want to control everything to maintain their identity,” Sadek stressed.   

“I would not even call it harassment, it is gender violence that takes different shapes,” the professor concluded. 

I fear they will hurt me

Merna Maher, a 25-year old pharmacist, was sitting next to an elderly man on a bus when he frowned: “I ask forgiveness of Allah,” and glared at her.

“This often happens to me,” Maher told DNE.

“I am a Christian woman, so I do not wear the hijab (head cover). However, I was modest and wore a long sleeved jacket. But this changed nothing,” Maher noted.

Maher recalled how frustrated she felt at that moment, adding that this man kept staring at her mobile’s screen as she was texting her fiancé.

Another time, Maher remembered a teenage girl who grabbed her hair in the street and then ran to her colleagues to laugh at Maher. “I did nothing. I always cannot react in such situations,” Maher expressed.

Maher continued to elaborate that even in preparatory school, she has gone through unforgettable situations in the streets that she could has not recovered from until this moment.  “They could beat or push me or even sexually harass me. I never was able to take a reaction. This strengthened my feelings of how weak I am, who could not do anything to protect herself, not to mention the terrible feelings over the situation itself.”

Meanwhile, translator and content creator, Monica El-Taweel, 26,  revealed that she always faces this kind of aggression in the streets, hearing comments of “O’ Allah, I am fasting,” or “you are breaking our fast,” and sometimes even, “go to hell.”

“Most times, I get really scared. I fear that some of them will eventually hurt me,” El-Taweel told DNE.

In addition to insults and rebuke in the streets, El-Taweel said that she also faces harsh critique if she eats during Ramadan fasting days. “I went to a restaurant at Cairo’s downtown area to have a meal but they refused to let me in, saying they could not serve me during Ramadan days. However, I insisted to eat inside,” El-Taweel added.

He hit me in head

Randa Khaled, a marketing specialist aged 29, said that she got used to hearing “O’ Allah. I am fasting” a dozen times a day during the month of Ramadan. “A woman once kicked me off a bus to take my seat because she believes I am not fasting (Randa does wear a hijab),” she told DNE.

“Even my mother kept blaming me and urging me to put a headscarf in Ramadan to not breaking men’s fasts!” Khaled added. 

Khaled acknowledged that she always ignores such comments or actions. However, she said that those actions have no justifications. “Fasting is imposed on people who have to be responsible for their actions, not annoy women in the streets or blame them over their failure to control themselves,” Khaled said.

But things sometimes go farther than just undesirable comments. Zahwa Essam, a student at the Faculty of Arts, Kafrelsheikh University was travelling from her hometown, Alexandria, when a driver, at a bus station, hit her hard on the head.

“He yelled at me: ‘Hey slut’, this (hit) is for you to cover your hair in Ramadan,” Essam told DNE, adding that she quickly left the place because she feared that if she took an action the other drivers might gather together and hurt her.

I feel I am vulnerable

Mariam Shawki, a young pharmacist was walking with her friends in the streets, (all without hijab), a few days before Ramadan, when an elderly man yelled at them “Be modest, Ramadan is coming soon,” Shawki told DNE. 

She added, “He also said that theses ‘scantily clad outfits’ are not permitted during Ramadan.” 

However, even women with headscarves face criticisms over their outfits. Asmaa Gad, a 27-year-old pharmacist, said that people always call on her to wear an abaya or a veil during the holy month.

“A tuk-tuk driver once urged me to put on a veil because I am too beautiful to seduce men and break their fast,” Gad recalled.

Additionally, her colleagues at work in a public hospital also criticise her outfit. “I am one of those who changes their religious habits for the sake of Ramadan. I am committed to the hijab and pray whether during Ramadan or not,” Gad added.

Meanwhile, other women reported that men or boys spit on them in the streets during Ramadan.

Samiha El-Sawaf, a 30-year-old architect also faces such situations. “A man once yelled at me saying: Is this a suitable appearance for Ramadan? And you get surprised when we raped you,” El-Sawaf told DNE.

“I feel I am vulnerable as if I am undressed,” El-Sawaf added.

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Al-Bashir might be tried for crimes against humanity: Amnesty International Tue, 14 May 2019 07:30:04 +0000 Despite his removal, Sudan continues to suffer from human rights violations

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Omar Al-Bashir may have been deposed as president of Sudan after three decades of deeply repressive rule, but he has not faced justice for the litany of grave human rights violations and crimes under international law he allegedly committed while in power.

Al-Bashir is one of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) longest-running fugitives. The court has issued two arrest warrants for the former Sudanese leader – the first on 4 March 2009 and the second on 12 July 2010. He stands accused of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide following the killing, maiming, and torturing of hundreds of thousands of people in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

Darfur has been the setting of a bloody conflict that has persisted since 2003 and continues to this day, according to Amnesty International. An exact figure for the civilian death toll as a result of the conflict is unconfirmed, but some estimates have put it in excess of 500,000 people. The situation in Darfur was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. The ICC charges against al-Bashir relate to events that took place between 2003 and 2008.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for al-Bashir on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, along with war crimes and crimes against humanity, he has committed genocide against the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups. These groups were perceived to be close to the armed groups fighting the government. In all, al-Bashir faces five counts of war crimes, two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of genocide in Darfur.

The charges against al-Bashir relate to human rights violations carried out by his security forces including the Sudanese army and their allied Janjaweed militia, the police, and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The ICC says there are reasonable grounds to believe that al-Bahir played an “essential role” in organising these groups.

During the campaign in Darfur, these forces were allegedly responsible for numerous unlawful attacks against civilians – mainly from the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups. These included the murder of thousands of civilians, the rape of thousands of women, the torture of countless civilians, the pillaging of towns and villages, and the forcible desplace of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

The ICC says a core component of the Sudan government’s campaign against armed groups, in particular the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement, was the unlawful attack on the civilian population of Darfur.

Al-Bashir is accused of being responsible for pursuing the extermination of these groups. The court found that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Omar al-Bashir acted with specific intent to destroy in part the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups.”

In 2016, an Amnesty International investigation gathered horrific evidence of the repeated use of what were believed to be chemical weapons used against civilians, including very young children, by Sudanese government forces in Jebel Marra region of Darfur. The scale and brutality of these attacks, which would also amount to war crimes rivals those previously investigated by the ICC. Amnesty International said it has documented human rights violations carried out by Sudanese forces in Darfur.

Amnesty International said in a report in April 2019 that all parties to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC are obliged under the international law to arrest al-Bashir if he sets foot in their country. The organisation said that al-Bashir, during his presidency, travelled extensively throughout Africa and beyond without ever being arrested.

South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Chad, Malawi, the Central African Republic, Egypt, and Jordan are among the countries that al-Bashir has visited without facing arrest.

“It is an international scandal that al-Bashir has continued to evade arrest, and a betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of victims of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur,” Amnesty said.    

The Sudanese people have been protesting since December 2018 when they took to the streets to express their anger over rising costs of living and the decline of political freedom. Their pressure worked and on 11 April, Sudan’s military overthrew the National Congress Party (NCP) government, arresting al-Bashir and other senior party leaders.

But while al-Bashir’s 30-year rule has come to an end, the human rights situation in Sudan, which has deteriorated dramatically since the beginning of the protests, continues to worsen. Many of the protestors calling for peace, justice, rule of law, and economic reforms have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty.

The Sudanese security forces brutally suppressed the protests by unlawfully killing protestors, mercilessly beating them in the streets, and unlawfully detaining and subjecting them to torture and other ill-treatment. Security forces stormed hospitals firing live ammunition and tear gas at patients and medical staff attempting to arrest injured protestors, in an outrageous violation of international law.

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Ridesharing applications’ cost, prevalence Tue, 14 May 2019 07:00:36 +0000 Sometimes using the underground to commute to your full-time job is not convenient, while waiting for the bus is difficult or unbearable, and because some companies know this, ridesharing applications had to come into the picture. A few years ago, the transportations sector welcomed ridesharing applications. What is not to like about them? They are …

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Sometimes using the underground to commute to your full-time job is not convenient, while waiting for the bus is difficult or unbearable, and because some companies know this, ridesharing applications had to come into the picture. A few years ago, the transportations sector welcomed ridesharing applications. What is not to like about them? They are fast, efficient, and safer than regular public transportation means. Ever since these smartphone applications became part of the transportation system in many countries around the world, the economics of passengers and their spending on transportation have changed – perhaps to the worst.

These easily-accessible applications make it easy to overspend. Millennials in America specifically are spending over $100 a month to use ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, according to Business Insider. Both Uber and Lyft are the two top car hailing applications in the United States.

“Money-managing app ‘Empower’ compiled user data to calculate exactly how much money Millennials spend on Uber and Lyft per month. The platform helps users build budgets and monitor spending and encourages users to link their main payment account to track their transactions.

Empower identified users who used Uber or Lyft at least once in the three months prior to the day the app surveyed the data. The data was grouped by location with a minimum of 50 ridesharing users in top metropolitan cities. The data reflects raw transactions pulled from 50,000 users across the US,” Business Insider reported.

According to Business of Apps, Uber is available in over 600 cities across 65 countries. Spread across these are 75 million Uber passengers, who are served by a total of 3.9 million drivers.

“We don’t have a breakdown of how many are based in the US, and how many in the rest of the world. It has been estimated around a quarter of the driver base are domestic.

Uber’s biggest market is the US (with 41.8 million users in March 2018), though it is a truly global enterprise – with the exception of certain regions in which local business has been sold to regional operators. Read more about these regional rivals in the section below on Uber competitors. The second-biggest Uber market is Brazil, in which 17 million were using the app in March 2018. London, UK is the biggest European Uber market, with 3.5 million users. In India, there were reportedly over 5 million weekly active riders as of August 2017,” Business of Apps said. The average cost of taking an Uber for business travellers in the US is $25.19, it added. says that users of ridesharing apps can easily spend a massive amount of money without noticing, as after all, spending $20 for a ride home on Uber or Lyft or any other ridesharing application does not seem like a lot. “For the average 20-something, the 25-year cost of those Uber rides is an eye-popping $323,190, according to a new analysis by investment platform Betterment. In other words, if you just skipped the Uber or Lyft ride and invested that money instead, you’d be well on your way to a decent retirement stash.

Americans who use ride-sharing apps spend just over $4,000 a year on them, Credit Karma estimates, based on an average Lyft and Uber ride charge of about $22 and assuming three to four trips per week—an assumption based on data from the US Department of Transportation’s National Household Travel Survey and American Automobile Association’s American Driving Survey,” reported.

According to Business of Apps, the four most widely-used ridesharing applications worldwide include Uber, Lyft, Grab, and Didi. Uber operates in 600 cities in 65 countries worldwide. It is headquartered in San Francisco, serving 75 million users who take 14m rides per day. Lyft operates in 300 US cities and two Canadian cities. It is headquartered in San Franciso as well, serving 23 million users who take 1.4m rides per day. Grab operates in Southeast Asia and is headquartered in Singapore, serving 36 million users who take 4m rides per day. Finally, Didi, that operates in 400 Chinese cities, in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, is headquartered in Beijing, China, serving 550 million users who take 30m rides per day.

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Bin Laden’s 8th death anniversary: Al-Qaeda improving Sun, 12 May 2019 11:00:29 +0000 “Al-Qaeda managed to achieve important political gains precisely because it has learned strategic benefits of civilian restraint,” says analyst

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After the death of Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda’ founder and mastermind of the deadliest 11 September 2001 attacks eight years ago, the terrorist group have been overshadowed by its extremist rival Islamic State (ISIS) which has dominated for several years the jihadist scene, and attracted global attention by beheading and slaughtering civilians.

However, with the fading of ISIS and its significant territory losses in Syria and Iraq, Al-Qaeda has a chance to re-emerge and rebuild its alliances with regional groups as well as funding resources.

Al-Qaeda has been most active in the Middle East, but now its focus has turned toward Africa. “Between 2015 and 2017, 69% of terror-related deaths caused by the group occurred in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the Global Terrorism Index 2018 report.

The report explained that under the leadership of the Egyptian physician, co-founder of Al-Qaeda, and the current uncharismatic leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, “the group’s affiliates have gained traction throughout Africa, most notably in the Maghreb and Sahel regions and at the Horn of Africa.”

On 2 May 2011, the same year witnessed what become known as the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria, former United States president, Barack Obama, announced that the most wanted terrorist was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan.

“For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al-Qaeda’s leader and symbol and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and our allies,” Obama declared in a televised address.

Al-Zawahiri has taken the lead of Al-Qaeda. The group has largely weakened following the killing of its leader, while at the same time, a new brutal brand of jihadism has been emerging in Iraq and Syria.   

Leaders are strengthening the network

According to the 2019 report of the US national intelligence, “Al-Qaeda senior leaders are strengthening the network’s global command structure and continuing to encourage attacks against the west, including the US, although most Al-Qaeda affiliates’ attacks to date have been small scale and limited to their regional areas.” 

All al-Qaeda affiliates “are involved in insurgencies and maintain safe havens, resources, and the intent to strike local and regional US interests in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia,” the report added.

Meanwhile, the report revealed that Al-Qaeda affiliates in east and north Africa, the Sahel, and Yemen remain the largest and “most capable terrorist groups” in their regions, adding that all have maintained “a high pace of operations.”

In Syria, “Al-Qaeda elements continue to undermine efforts to resolve that conflict, while the network’s affiliate in South Asia provides support to the Taliban,” the report continued.

Who is Bin Laden?

Bin Laden was born in 1957 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is a son of construction millionaire businessman father, Muhammad Awad bin Laden. Bin laden was one of 50 children from the same father.

Bin Laden, who studied public administration and economics at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, would have little chance to take advantage of his degree. After graduation in 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Bin Laden headed there to join the jihad, among other jihadists, against the Soviet Union.

In 1988, Bin Laden founded Al-Qaeda (the Base in Arabic) with his accomplice Al-Zawahiri, bringing together Arab Islamists to join a “holy war” not against the Soviet Union, but against the US, Israel, and their allies from Muslim governments.

The Saudi Jihadist was expelled from his homeland in 1991, and moved to Sudan with his followers. He strengthened his terrorist network which was supported by assets that reached around $20m. Five years later, he was expelled from Sudan and went to Afghanistan with his three wives and children.

Bin Laden ran military training camps for thousands of foreign jihadists, and under his leadership, the group was further enhanced and began orchestrating global attacks worldwide.

Al Qaeda is politically improving

“People generally evaluate the success of militant groups in terms of the amount of carnage that they inflict. My research shows, however, that militant groups are more likely to achieve their political goals when they exercise restraint toward civilians,” Max Abrahms, the author of Rules for Rebels, and a professor of political science at Northeastern University told Daily News Egypt.

“Al Qaeda is generally underestimated because the group commits less violence against civilians than it has historically and certainly compared to the IS group which was notorious for beheading, caging, roof-chucking, and raping civilians,” Abrahms added. 

Meanwhile, Abrahms opined that Al-Qaeda has managed to achieve important political gains precisely because it has learned the strategic benefits of civilian restraint. “By contrast, groups that focus their violence on civilians suffer politically,” Abrahms highlighted.

“An illustrative case is in Syria. The Al-Qaeda-related group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) currently controls Idlib in Syria, whereas Raqqa and other areas of the country are largely ISIS-free,” Abrahms illustrated.

Abrahms suggested that the media made the mistake of fixating on civilian violence and failing to realise it has historically doomed militant groups at least from achieving their political platforms.

“I would say that Al-Qaeda is doing better politically than many people realise. Al-Qaeda has outperformed ISIS politically because the former has a superior strategy to the latter,” Abrahms concluded.

New face for the terror group

US officials believe that Hamza, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, is emerging recently as the future leader of Al-Qaeda.

Since at least August 2015, Hamza has occasionally released audio and video messages, urging his followers to launch attacks against the US and its western allies, the US Department said earlier in February this year.

The US believes that Hamza is seeking revenge for the killing of his father. The young jihadist, thought to be in his early 30s, is believed to be married to the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The US said that it found letters and documents in the compound of Abbottabad, where Bin Laden was killed. Those notes indicate that Bin Laden had prepared his son for the group’s leadership.

Washington allocated $1m for any information on his whereabouts for his capture. It also named Hamza as a “specially designated global terrorist” in January 2017. The award put for the young expected future leader was less than that which was set for his father’s head–$25m.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia declared earlier this year, that it stripped Hamza from his citizenship.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS 

The ISIS caliphate officially declared by Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in July 2014 in Al-Mosul, Iraq, could be in ruins after the significant leadership and territorial losses, but this does not mean that ISIS is completely gone.

According to the US national intelligence report this year, “ISIS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks, and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world.”

ISIS will seek to “exploit Sunni grievances, societal instability, and stretched security forces to regain territory in Iraq and Syria in the long term,” the report suggested.

In February 2014, Al-Qaeda broke with Islamic State in Iraq, the movement which was formed by the followers of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq. He was killed by a US airstrike in June 2006.

The dispute between Al-Qaeda and its branch in Iraq emerged in the era of Al-Zarqawi, over of the Jordanian terrorist’s obsession of killing Shi’ites and beheading civilians as well as forcing the whole world to watch those slaughters in videos on the internet.

In several letters, Al-Qaeda leaders urged Al-Zarqawi to stop the bloodshed against the Shi’ites and keep the focus on the Americans. However, Al-Zarqawi ignored them.

After Al-Baghdadi declared in April 2013 the newly merged organisation called Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), Al-Zawahiri became angered. He publicly rebuked Al-Baghdadi for taking such a decision without consulting Al-Qaeda’s main leadership. 

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MPs insist on their old rent draft, Parliament to discuss government’s bill Tue, 07 May 2019 09:00:50 +0000 Government bill focuses on non-residential units, while MPs’ bill includes both cases

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The fourth legislative term of Egypt’s Parliament is expected to end in July, and the parliament is expected to reduce its session during the holy month of Ramadan, as the first ordinary plenary session will be held in the middle of the month, which would impact the main goal of parliament to conclude several bills before the end of the term.

Reducing the sessions will delay discussions of some bills of other laws that have been long awaited, including the old rent bill which concerns millions of citizens.

While some members of the housing committee are debating with the parliament’s administration to start discussing the law, unexpectedly the head of the housing committee, Alaa Wally, announced that the committee will begin discussing the old rents bill as soon as it receives the draft from the government.

This comes after the government sent the draft law of old rents on non-residential units and shops to the parliament, and the housing committee is expecting to receive the bill from parliament speaker, Ali Abdel Aal, and will directly start discussions in the coming days.

The government’s bill focuses only on non-residential purposes including commercial, administrative, or service rental for normal citizens.

Wally said in a press statement that the government’s draft law granted a period of four years for people who will rent non-residential units in order to reconcile with the old owner according to the new law, with an annual increase of 15%.

He also said that the rental value of non-residential units and shops will be calculated at five times of the current value. For example, “Whoever currently pays a rent of EGP 100 will pay EGP 500,” Wally clarified.

This would be implemented after the completion of the four year period, he noted.

Member of the housing committee, Ismail Nasr Al-Din, and member of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee, Abdel-Monem Al-Oleimi, are the ones who have previously attempted to amend the current old Rent Law, urging that the legislative relationship between the owner and the tenant is not regulated in the current law, along with 60 other members.

Both members have submitted a bill suggesting the regulation of the relationship between the property owner and the tenant, but none of their committees have approved discussing their drafts.

The members said that ignoring their committees’ bill violates internal parliament bylaws.

However, Al-Oleimi said that he is committed to the draft law on the old rent which he had submitted to the committee, as it includes regulating the relationship of owners and tenants on residential and non-residential units.

“Laws regulating the landlord-tenant relationship in Egypt have been a gross injustice to landlords since the mid-1960s,” said Al-Oleimi

“My draft amendment of the law proposes an annual 25% rise in rents for four years, after which the relationship will be governed by the civil code. This goes both in line with the constitution and helps landlords and tenants reach common ground at last,” said Al-Oleimi.

The member had submitted on Saturday a request to the general secretariat of the council to discuss the draft law, pointing out that the bill submitted by the government does not belong to the member, and he upholds his draft’s right to be discussed.

Moreover, Nasr Al-Din said that the draft law, which he has already submitted, aims to eliminate the dispute between the owner and the tenant, through the realisation of the rule of ‘no harm or damage,’ and suggested that it be applied in three stages, the first phase would be units concerning illegal entities, the second would be non-residential units commercial units, and finally the third would be residential units.

He said his draft not include expelling anyone case from his residential unit, stressing on the need to consider the law in general to be based on no harm or damage as the prevailing rule, and to work according to it.


In October, the parliament conducted several sessions to discuss the draft law of old rents in attendance of all concerned bodies during the past few days, where some media reports circulated that the bill is witnessing final discussions, however Wally denied these rumours.

During the sessions, the committee listened to opinions of tenants, property owners, and housing experts concerning the issue, as well as parliament members. The sessions aimed to address viewpoints of both sides to reach a suitable solution for all parties.

Some members submitted a number of proposals for draft laws on old rents, all of which were discussed, and some were found controversial and unsatisfactory.

The committee prepared a report on the outcome of the sessions and was expected to start drafting a new law in order to be ready for general discussions soon.

The current parliament is the first to discuss the law of old rents to regulate the relationship between owners and tenants which has witnessed several complications for long years under the current law. 

Property owners and tenants are always in tense relations due to the constant value of the rent which has been determined for protracted years, even before issuing the new rent laws, which cannot be changed, as according to the current law, the old rent contracts cannot be changed or terminated.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said that there are 3m apartments under the old rent system, of which 1.2m are inhabited across the nation.

Landlords have long demanded that the law – originally issued in 1964 to regulate the relationship between tenants and landlords – be amended to change its articles which complicates rents.

The old Rent Law is considered one of the severe defects in the renting law in Egypt. Property owners complain about losing a lot of money as a result of being unable to change the rent value which was agreed and signed between owners and tenants many years ago and before issuing the new renting laws. As real estate prices hiked significantly, property owners claim that the old rent is no longer compatible with the current value of the rented property. 

In 1996, the Egyptian government amended the law to state that rent in new buildings will not be frozen; however, the rule does not apply to buildings constructed prior to the amendments.

On May 5, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court nullified a provision in a 1981 law concerning the relationship between landlords and their tenants. The abolished provision stated, “The landlord may not demand the tenant to vacate the leased premises even after the expiry of the term of the lease agreement.” The new ruling allows landlords to end old lease agreements that have persisted long past their initial contract periods.

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Young Arabs call on their governments for reforms Tue, 07 May 2019 08:00:49 +0000 The 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey disclosed its results on Sunday, providing governments, the private sector, and civil society with insights into the concerns, hopes, and aspirations of Arab youth. This year survey is the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, namely “A Call for Reform,” giving an overview of the Arab youth …

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The 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey disclosed its results on Sunday, providing governments, the private sector, and civil society with insights into the concerns, hopes, and aspirations of Arab youth.

This year survey is the 11th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, namely “A Call for Reform,” giving an overview of the Arab youth opinions on 10 topics.

The 10 topics that the survey dug into include religion; the government’s role; education; foreign relations; conflicts; model nations; drug use; mental health; e-commerce, and media consumption.

The ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey was launched in 2008, and is considered as the largest survey of its kind of the Middle East.

This year’s survey included youth from 15 Arab countries, which are Bahrain; Kuwait; Oman; Saudi Arabia; the UAE; Algeria; Egypt; Libya; Morocco; Tunisia; Jordan; Iraq; Lebanon; the Palestinian Territories, and Yemen.

Daily News Egypt investigated further into the results of the survey and classified them into points.

Young Arabs think religious institutions need to be reformed

Regarding religion, the survey found out that 79% of young Arabs believe that the Arab world needs to reform its religious institutions, meanwhile 66% think that religion plays too big of a role in the Middle East.

“Half of young Arabs say religious values are holding the region back,” according to the results of the Arab Youth survey.

At the same time, many say religion is losing its influence, particularly outside the GCC countries.

As the region faces economic concerns, Arab youth feel entitled to government support

The rising cost of living, unemployment, and the threat of terrorism are, for the third year in row, considered the top three concerns facing the youth in the Middle East, according to 2019 Arab Youth Survey.

The survey results explained that in 2019, 56% of young Arabs believe that the biggest obstacle is the rising cost of living, while 45% think that the largest obstacle is the unemployment rate, with 26% of youth believing that the threat of terrorism is the vital concern facing youth in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the survey found that two in three of the young Arabs say their countries are not doing enough to help young families.

Likewise, the majority of Arab youth become more aware that it is the government’s responsibility to provide safety, education, healthcare, energy subsidies, jobs, and housing to all citizens.

Three in four young Arabs are unhappy with the quality of education in their country

Talking in depth about the education file, unfortunately the findings of the survey let on that 78% of young Arabs across the region are concerned about the quality of education they receive in their countries.

Unfortunately, 49% of Arab youth in the MENA region feel their country’s education system does not prepare them for future jobs.

Regrettably, merely one in three young Arabs would prefer to pursue higher education in their own country, with 53% wanting to attend college or university in the West and only 32% prefer to continue their higher education in their countries.

Death of Jamal Khashoggi will have no long-term negative impact on Saudi Arabia’s image abroad

Concerning foreign relations, the survey discovered that 37% of Arab youth think that Saudi Arabia is increasing its influence on the Arab world more than any other Arab country, and 27% think the UAE is the most influential Arab country, while 11% believe Egypt to be the most influential country among Arab countries.

This led the survey to ask the youth about the impact of the death of Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi Arabia’s image abroad, where it discovered that the majority of young Arabs think that the death will have no long-term negative impact on Saudi Arabia’s foreign image.

In that context, the survey explained how Saudi Arabia is perceived internationally, explaining that 16% think that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi has no real negative impact on Saudi Arabia’s image abroad, while 44% believe that it has a temporary negative impact, at the same time 35% believe that it has a long-term negative impact.

Furthermore, the survey results discussed how Saudi Arabia is perceived in the Arab world, stating that 20% think that murder of Jamal Khashoggi has no real negative impact on Saudi Arabia’s image abroad, while 40% believe that it has a temporary negative impact, at the same time 35% believe that it has a long-term negative impact.

It is time to put an end to regional conflicts

Young Arabs view ongoing geopolitical conflicts within the region among the top obstacles facing the Middle East, as according to the results of the survey 35% of young Arabs believe that the lack of Arab unity is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East, while 28% think that Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the biggest obstacle, and 28% think thank the civil war in Syria is the top obstacle, while 26% think that the biggest obstacle is the threat of terrorism.

73% of young Arabs think Syria civil war should end

The survey talked in depth about the Syrian civil war and took the opinions of young Arabs on the most likely scenarios, revealing that 73% say that the war should end regardless of whether Bashar Al-Assad stays in power or not, while 26% of them think that the war should not end until the Syrian people can freely elect their leaders.

Two in five young Arabs would like to live in the UAE

Concerning model nations, the Arab youth’s top country to live in and to emulate continued for the eighth year running to be the UAE, in which 44% of young Arabs said that they prefer to live in, while 22% preferred Canada, and 21% said that they preferred to live in United States.

The survey findings uncovered that young Arabs are drawn to the UAE by job opportunities and salary packages, as well as safety and security.

A majority of young Arabs say drug use is on the rise

Digging further into the topic of drug use, unfortunately, the findings disclosed that 57% of young Arabs said that drugs are easy to get in their countries, and drug use is on the rise.

By asking young Arabs about the reasons why young people start using drugs, the results of the survey revealed that Arab youth view peer pressure as the top driver of drug use; many also point to stress relief and boredom.

Regarding the best ways to combat drug use, young Arabs thought that stricter laws, better law enforcement, and education are viewed as the best results.

Mental health illness is a sigma

Concerning mental health, the survey results stated that mental health issues impact many young Arabs, yet access to quality medical care is scarce.

It further showed that one-third of young Arabs stated that they know someone suffering from mental health issues.

Regrettably, 54% complained about that the quality medical care for mental health issues and that it is difficult to access in their country.

Shamefully, half of Arab youth say there is a stigma around seeking medical care for mental health issues.

The biggest sources of stress in the Arab youths’ daily lives, according to the survey, disclosed that personal relationships and difficult financial situations are the top sources of stress in the North Africa.

Young Arabs are driving the region’s e-commerce boom

The findings of the survey imparted that young Arabs are driving the region’s e-commerce boom.

The results unveiled that the number of young Arabs shopping online has significantly spiked over the past year, stating that in 2019 ,71% of youth stated that they shop online, up from only 53% in 2018.

“Clothing, meals, and electronics are the key drivers of e-commerce among young Arabs,” according to the survey results.

When shopping online, 35% of Arab youth in North Africa stated that they prefer to use Credit/debit/pre-paid cards.

Social media is more trustworthy than traditional media

The survey results found out that among Arab youth, social media is more popular and seen as more trustworthy than traditional media.

Over the past five years, social media has become the dominant source for news among Arab youth, while online news portals are now on par with TV.

The findings uncovered the development of the usage and trust of social media throughout the past five years, noting that 80% of young Arabs stated that they get their news from social media in 2019 compared to only 25% in 2015.

Meanwhile, 66% of young Arabs get their news from television, up from 60% in 2015, also 61% of Arab youth stated that they get their news from online news sources in 2019, up from 40% in 2015.

Unfortunately, in 2019, 42% of youth get their news from their friends and family, compared to only 29% on 2015.

In terms of the newspapers, 27% of youth get their news from them in 2019, up from 22% in 2015.

Furthermore, in terms of radios, 19% of young Arabs get their news from them, versus 10% in 2015.

Concerning magazines, 9% of youth get their news from them, compared to 8% in 2015.

The survey findings stated that more young Arabs get their daily news from Facebook or online portals rather than TV news channels.

“34% of Arab youth get their daily news from TV news channels, 50% of them get their daily news from Facebook, while 39% get their daily news from online portals, with only 4% getting their daily news from newspapers,” the results of the survey further explained.

“Nine in ten young Arabs use at least one of the major social media channels daily,” according to the survey results.

The post Young Arabs call on their governments for reforms appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Fake bullion coins spread in Egypt’s gold market Mon, 06 May 2019 11:30:27 +0000 90% of gold bullion coins traded in Egypt are not incompatible with specifications

The post Fake bullion coins spread in Egypt’s gold market appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Purchasing gold bullion coins is one of the traditional and common tools of savings as they preserve the value of money at the time of inflation. George V Sovereign coin is the most famous bullion coin in the world and the Arab region. However, what is traded now in the market is different than the original one in shape, weight, and karat.

Gold bullion coins gained a bad reputation in the Egyptian market during the recent period because some workshops produced fake coins because of its low handy charges fees.

The Sovereign (English Pound) is a coin minted from 22ct gold and contains 7.32 grams of pure gold. It was first produced in 1817 and was available in large numbers until the First World War. Afterwards, the coins have been reissued on a regular basis, with varying designs. This coin has the nominal value of 1 pound Sterling, but is traded as a collector coin with a numismatic value.

Some traders tend to manipulate the karat of coins to make profits, decreasing its weight by 10 or 25 milligram.

Amir Rizk, a gold trader, said that the gold bullion coin is a common savings tool among citizens.

The English pound currently traded in the Egyptian market is minted from 21ct and weighs 8 grams.

He pointed out that the manufacturing of the gold bullion coin is more expensive than the manufacture of golden alloy, ranging between EGP 50-100.

Ahmed Habib, a goldsmith, said he examined some of the gold bullion coins traded in the local market, and found that there is a manipulation in its karat. He added that consumers stopped to buy gold coins because of this manipulation.

Sanaa Mohamed, a gold shop owner, said the handy charges fee is under EGP 3 per gram, while the consumer pays extra EGP 50 or 120 as “gratuity”.

Hani Saad Bshari, a gold trader, said that the decline of handy charges fees of bullion coins led to high demand by consumers, especially after the flotation of the pound.

He pointed out that 90% of gold bullion coins traded in Egypt are not incompatible with specifications.

Wasef Zaki, a gold trader, said he found some gold bullion coins stuffed with other metal and gold plated. He pointed out that there are organized “gangs” that manufacture fake gold bullion coins to take advantage of the high demand for them.

Mohamed Ashraf, a gold merchant in Sharqia, said he was offered a gold bullion coin from a customer and after examining it, he found it was stuffed with silver and coated with a thin layer of gold.

The post Fake bullion coins spread in Egypt’s gold market appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Believe it or not, trading of used gold jewellery is illegal in Egypt Mon, 06 May 2019 11:00:51 +0000 Egyptians prefer used gold jewellery as savings tool instead of gold bullion, pounds of gold

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Observers believe the used gold jewellery has become an alternative savings tool for many Egyptians instead of gold bullion and pounds of gold, noting that women consider it as accessories and also investment, because its handy charges fee is low, only EGP 10, without an additional expense like stamp duty or sales tax. Moreover, traders sometimes resort to increase their handy charges fees of new gold jewellery to compensate their losses as a result of the current market recession.

Experts believe the high demand for used gold increases its investment risk, where the law provides that any change in the gold works makes them inconsistent with the specifications, therefore it would be illegal to trade them in the market, except only after examination and stamping again by the Assay and Weights Administration.

Hence, the used gold jewellery is usually traded secretly at gold shops or hidden places in El Sagha (goldsmiths) area because it is illegal.

The used gold jewellery is known as “Admoon” in the goldsmith’s market. It is a Hebrew word used by goldsmiths in different governorates to describe used jewellery before melting it to create new jewellery.

In a report published by Al-Monitor quoting Gabriel Rosenbaum, a professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem who specialises in the Egyptian Jews affairs and the modern Egyptian language, on the secret language the Jew jewellery merchants adopted to outsmart customers, Admoon is used to refer to used or old gold jewellery that has been fixed and polished for resale. The researcher pointed out that the origin of this word in Hebrew is Kadmon, which means ancient or old. The letter “K” is silent, so it was pronounced as Admoon.

“The countryside is the main source of used gold jewellery,” said Fouad Abdel Baqi, a jeweller in El-Sagha. “The used gold jewellery look very good if they age five years or less. Some of them need restoration, other may only need polishing.”

The law states that any change in gold jewellery makes it incompatible with specifications and is not allowed to be traded on the market, unless it is examined and stamped again at the Assay and Weights Administration, according to its head Abdullah Montaser.

He added that the law imposes a penalty of prison sentence for a period of not less than one year and a fine not less than EGP 10,000 for anyone changes or amends gold works for illegal purposes after stamping in a way that make them incompatible with specifications.

Used gold jewellery trading is not safe as it is a fertile environment for manipulation.

Montaser explained that the resale of used gold jewellery requires providing an invoice with the details and specifications of the gold jewellery, but the merchant cannot give such information to the consumer being coming from unknown source, so the consumer has to sell it only to the trader from whom he first bought the jewellery.

Laila Mohamed, a housewife, said she prefers to buy used gold jewellery a s savings tool because its handy charges fee is much less than the new ones, and its form is not much different from the new ones.

She added that her work colleagues advised her to buy used gold jewellery as the handy charges fee was only EGP 7, while new jewellery’s exceeds EGP 60.

Enas Mustafa Rashed, a public employee, said she does not like to wear used jewellery in general and gold in particular, but she bought it only as a savings tool.

She added that she sold a gold ring to one of the gold shops and discovered after a while that they cleaned and polished it and offered for sale again as if it’s new.

“There is no woman who has not made a profit from the value of her investment in gold,” said Dalia Saad, a public employee.

She added that her gold dowry was worth EGP 10,000 about eight years ago and is now worth EGP 40,000.

She explained that investment in gold is guaranteed and makes profits, even if the handy charges fee is high because gold prices are increasing.

The post Believe it or not, trading of used gold jewellery is illegal in Egypt appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Lanterns still find their way to Egyptians’ lives despite economic conditions Sun, 05 May 2019 10:30:12 +0000 “It is a tradition. No one can start Ramadan without getting a new Fanoos” says merchant

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As usual, every year, Egyptian Muslims have geared up to the holy month of Ramadan by hanging up coloured lanterns (known in Arabic as Fanoos) and traditional decorations, as well as other long-established customs despite the price hike of lanterns and difficult economic conditions.

Across the country, many streets in urban and rural areas have been decorated by different shapes, sizes, and kinds of folk lanterns. However, more streets were devoid of this tradition.

Egyptians are not the only people who celebrate Ramadan with lanterns, many other Muslim countries adopt the tradition. The lantern’s origin went back to Fatimid era in Egypt, according to historical narratives.

It was first connected with Ramadan when Caliph Al-Muizz Lidinillah Fatimid arrived in Cairo during the holy month. In order to welcome him, Egyptians turned to streets holding decorated colourful lanterns to light the roads. The lanterns remained lighting the road till the month ended. Since then, it became a symbol of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Ramadan has become also a symbol of warm family and friend gatherings who usually prepare themselves for fasting for a month as well as evening prayers (Taraweeh), performed following the evening Isha prayer.

Inside Egypt, many workshops are devoted to making Ramadan lanterns. One of Cairo’s most known district of making lanterns is Al-Sayeda Zeinab folkloric neighbourhood.

Just in front of the historic mosque which gave the neighbourhood its name, there is a long street which has been long known as a main local market for those seeking different kinds, sizes, and shapes of lanterns as well as other decorations. Lantern merchants set up large vendor tents to sell their products there.

Over the years, the shape of traditional Fanoos has barely changed. lantern makers usually begin factoring the pieces almost a year before Ramadan. Men mostly dominated the business, but there are also women who are involved either in making lanterns or in selling them.

Made by Egyptians

Essam Mohamed, 44, is a lantern merchant who inherited the profession from his parents. “All lanterns have been made by Egyptians. We deal with different workshops, and we also deal directly with lanterns makers,” he told Daily News Egypt.

“It is a tradition. No one can start Ramadan without getting a new Fanoos. No way,” Mohamed argued with a smile.

Regarding the Chinese lanterns which were supposed to be banned from the Egyptian market in recent years, Mohamed said he still sells them, as they are imported now as children’s toys. “It is almost vanishing from the market anyway. People returned to buy their folkloric lanterns.”

In 2015, the ministry of trade and industry issued a decree No 232 to ban importing products and goods which have a folkloric artistic nature, called “National Folklore.” This includes products made of ceramics, jewellery, metal, and wood. Ramadan lanterns are considered one of those products. 

“There are wooden and metal lanterns as well as other kinds. The prices of the wooden lanterns start from EGP 10 to 120.”

However, the metal lantern’s price could reach EGP 160 and more, Mohamed revealed. He argued that workshops increase the prices of lanterns, not the merchants.

Despite their high prices, he affirmed he has his customers who keep buying from him every year from different social classes.

Moreover, Mohamed revealed that he passed on the passion of his profession into his daughters’ hearts, as he wishes they would continue his path afterwards.

It is my livelihood

Inside Mohamed’s vendor tent, a forty-year-old man settled down aside to finish creating a Fanoos. “I was only six years old when I started learning this craft. I inherited it from my father and grandfather,” Yasser Ahmed told DNE.

“By the time, I have fallen in love with it. I am proud of what I do because it is my livelihood,” Ahmed voiced.

Ahmed revealed that this is his only profession–manufacturing Ramadan lanterns. “We have been working all year. Thankfully, the income is moderate and satisfying.”

Ahmed shares the profession with his brother, father, and uncles. He plans to teach the craft to his son.

However, he refused to teach his daughter the profession. “I do not mind teaching her and even my wife, it will be their honour to do what I do,” Ahmed said, noting however, that he does not want them to face the profession’s struggles.

Next to Mohamed’s tent, Hamada Anwar, a thirty-year-old merchant, stands to sell lanterns to his customers. Most of them were women. “I do not make lanterns; I only sell them.”

Anwar, who has started this profession 18 years ago, revealed that workshops try every year to create new shapes of lanterns to attract more customers.

“The prices of metal lanterns range from EGP 100 to 300. However, sometimes it depends on the customers. We often reduce the prices to satisfy them,” Anwar said.

Anwar revealed that they keep selling until 27 Ramadan, noting that the two weeks ahead of the holy month are the high season. 

No difference between men and women

A cheerful 30-year-old merchant asked to be introduced by Om Essam, said that she worked with her mother- in-law. “Before I got married (16-years-old), I started working,” Om Essam told DNE.

“I do not know how to make lanterns, but I could perfectly distinguish the good one from the bad one based on my experience,” Om Essam bragged.

“There is no difference between men and women. We share financial responsibilities together. Most times women bear additional burdens,” she said.

Om Essam is a mother of four–three sons and a daughter. She would never let her daughter work in the same field, as she would only teach her boys the profession.

Income is not enough

Ramadan Qatch, a 21-year-old salesman, who is named after the holy month, works in other fields so that he can provide for his family.

Qatch started working in lantern trading more than 10 years ago. However, he said that the wage he usually receives from it has never been enough. “I might work for two weeks and get only EGP 500,” Qatch revealed.

He noted that some lanterns are so expensive to the extent that some customers could not buy them due to their harsh economic conditions. “I sometimes wish I could pay for them. Unfortunately, I cannot.” 

Qatch noted that large lantern prices could reach EGP 600. He said that unprivileged people often choose small lanterns of only EGP 35 or 65.

“If I had a tent or a shop, I would give underprivileged people lanterns without money to cheer them up, because these people do not even have enough money to feed their families nor to buy them lanterns,” Qatch concluded. 

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7th AMF: Calls for Media Literacy’s integration into schools, universities’ curriculum Sun, 21 Apr 2019 10:00:33 +0000 We totally support such proposals, waiting for suggestions to consider them in ministry's plans, says Education Ministry

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“The forum tackles this year the media information literacy and its close connection to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). We believe that eliminating cyberbullying, fake news, obsession with online platforms are to the point,” Ahmed Esmat, founder and CEO of the Alexandria Media Forum (AMF), briefed during the opening of the forum’s seventh edition.

This edition was not held in Alexandria as usual, instead, it was held at the American University in Cairo (AUC) on 18, 19, 20 April, called ‘Media Information Literacy and Sustainable Development,’ in partnership with the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism.

More than 300 participants took part in the forum throughout the three days which hosted around 52 speakers, academics, and trainers from Egypt, Jordan, France, Yemen, and Sweden. It contained over 30 sessions and panels.

Meanwhile, the forum addressed three pillars: Media Information Literacy, Media Literacy and Data, Media Literacy and Content Media Literacy and Technology, and finally Media Literacy and Sustainable Development.

“We seek to integrate Media literacy into the curriculum of schools and universities,” Esmat told Daily News Egypt (DNE), adding, “We are preparing proposals with the Kamal Adham Center to be submitted to the education ministry to consider integrating them into the new curriculum.”

Furthermore, Esmat highlighted that the forum is always keen on providing journalists with training and workshops to enhance their skills and to shed light on the ever-changing challenges in the field of media. 

“We have been planning for the subject of this edition for two years. Actually, it is an extension to the criteria of the previous forum which tackled fake news, and was called ‘Technology, Media, and Post-Truth,’” Esmat added.

“I think we are dealing with a different generation. The one who was born technology-embedded. So we have to understand their thoughts and emotions to know how to help them in recognising the disadvantages and advantages of online platforms.”

Shawki welcomes the initiative

The Education Minister, Tarek Shawki, opened the AMF’s seventh edition with a speech on the need to set regulations in social media platforms, as they became a source of rumours, he noted. 

“Actually, our ministry occupies the second place regarding the number of rumours for the second year in a row,” Shawki revealed during the opening of the forum on Thursday. “We face an organised attack to undermine the ministry’s real efforts on the ground.”

Moreover, Shawki launched a massive attack against journalists, critical of their resort to the ministry to confirm or deny rumours.

“This is called abuse and it must stop. Journalists do not have to resort to us on every rumour, instead, they have to ask the real source of the ‘fake news’. We-because of such pressure-do not sleep at night,” Shawki complained.

At an event full of journalists, Shawki continued to lambaste the Egyptian media, claiming that the new media completely depends on social media as a source of news, which he said, is not a true way to ‘tell the truth’ as social media is full of fake news and rumours.

Journalists did not have the chance to comment on the minister’s criticism, as the window of questions has not been opened to them.

“Facebook administrators now are more important than editors-in-chief of newspapers and media websites in producing news and shifting public opinion, which I believe, reflects the situation we have reached,” Shawki said sarcastically.

Meanwhile, Shawki noted that fake news is popular among people because they prefer negative news more than positive news. “The journalist who writes positive news might be punished by readers and could be accused of being biased toward the state.”

Shawki hardly tackled the forum’s subject, but by the end of his speech, he voiced support to integrate media literacy into the ministry’s new curriculum. “We totally support this suggestion and we are waiting for the forum’s proposals to consider them in the ministry’s new plans.”

In a nice gesture, the forum honoured Shawki for his efforts in the ministry and in improving the educational system in Egypt. Similarly, other speakers and academics were honoured too.

Furthermore, Rasha Allam, assistant professor and associate chair at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the AUC, necessitated the significance of media literacy for school students.

“We will already start in the first semester (Fall 2019) to teach a course on media literacy. We, in the Kamal Adham Center, will also cooperate with the education ministry to draft a curriculum on media literacy for the first stages for school students,” Allam told DNE.

Furthermore, Allam clarified that the curriculum will teach children how to log in on a website, learn its history, check whether it is a credible source for information or not, how to deal with social media, and how to fact-check news, and to be aware of how to use social media platforms.

“The media field faces many challenges including fake news, the violation of people’s privacy, and cyberbullying,” Allam maintained.

Similarly, TV host Amr El-Leithy, one of the forum speakers, asserted that one of the most critical issues in media today is the abandonment of media ethics and standards.

Digital content issues

On Friday, the second day of the forum, a series of sessions have been held on ‘Media literacy and Content.’ The discussions tackled the challenges confronting Arab digital content.

Khaled El-Baramawy, Egyptian journalist and digital media specialist, said that the main source of revenues of media institution are advertisements and paid content. However, both sources face several difficulties in Egypt and in the Arab world, he noted.

“We have to produce a content that forces readers to subscribe, such as the entertaining and humanitarian content which is based on true stories,” El-Baramawy told DNE.

Moreover, El-Baramawy asserted the need for producing content that has a value and also to be unique. “Readers will never pay for something that has no value, benefit, or not enjoyable for them.”

Furthermore, El-Baramawy stated that understanding the nature of media and social media platforms and suitable content for each platform, has become a necessity to overcome ever-changing obstacles facing digital content in the Arab world.

“Journalism has a crisis related regarding probability. Therefore, it is important to think before publishing or producing content on a suitable platform,” El-Baramawy.

El-Baramawy pointed out that each media institution has to pay more effort in producing different kinds of content and recognise the best media and social media platform for them. He elaborated and stated that there is a need, “To carefully study your audience and platforms, as well as the nature of your content,” El-Baramawy concluded.

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‘Menstrual leave’: delayed right or preferential move? Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:00:51 +0000 Debates over women’s rights for days off during their periods

The post ‘Menstrual leave’: delayed right or preferential move? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Throughout several days every month, many women around the world suffer from menstrual pain (the symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle) by varying degrees. Some turn to pain killers in order to manage their daily duties, hiding sickness during work, while others can barely leave their beds.

For the first time in Egypt, a marketing company decreed earlier this month to offer its female employees a day off every month: the first or second day of their menstruation. The move raised debates among both women and men equally over the positive and negative effects of such a decision if applied in the country’s labour market.

Critics claim that business owners would hire fewer women, viewing women as less capable of working. Some of them already prefer unmarried women or females without children to reduce the numbers of days off during their work hours, they added. 

However, supporters believe that the ‘menstrual leave’ is a much-delayed right, especially since several companies around the world have already been offering this kind of vacation to women.

In fact, the ‘menstrual leave’ already exists in several countries where women who severely suffer from menstrual pain are offered one or two days off, either paid or unpaid. Those countries include Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and South Korea. In other parts of the world, ‘menstrual leave’ policies emerged in some companies including the United Kingdom. 

In Egypt, female workers already have the right to take a paid vacation of three months after giving birth only twice throughout their work history, according to the country’s Labour Law. Female labourers are also allowed to take an unpaid vacation not exceeding two years to take care of their children, only twice throughout their work history.

Menstruation is stigmatised

Menstrual symptoms usually include psychological and physical sickness. Women feel pain in the form of stomach cramps, lower back pain, breast pain, headaches, lack of concentration as well as mood swings.

As menstruation is still stigmatised, women prefer not to mention such symptoms if they need to take a day off from work. Female workers rarely talk openly about their menstrual cycles and their need to a paid vacation as they fear they might lose their jobs or because menstruation is still a taboo subject in society. 

A 2016 research revealed that menstrual pain can be “as bad as having a heart attack,” according to John Guillebaud, professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College London. However, ‘period pain’ still is not taken seriously by many doctors.

On the other hand, women experience menstrual pain differently. A 2012 study found that 20% of women experience their periods painful enough to interfere with their daily activities.

First of its kind in Egypt

The Egyptian company which took the initiative stated that every female employee is allowed to take a paid day off from their menstruation days. If there is an urgent need for work, women could work from home, the company explained. 

“This came following an initiative launched by a number of feminist organisations and out of our keenness toward our employees being in sound mind and body,” Rania Youssef, the office and human resources manager of the company told Daily News Egypt (DNE).

“We want all female employees to feel comfortable in their workplace. If they are not ok, they have the right to leave the office and get some rest for a day,” Youssef added.

Youssef disclosed that 90% of the company’s workforce are females, with ages ranging from 23 to 28. “The decree was not faced by any kind of rejection from the male employees,” Youssef noted. 

Some detractors claim that the company, which was launched two years ago, took such a move to draw attention to itself. Yet, Youssef said that they did so for the sake of the health of the company’s female employees.

One day is not enough

Mahmoud Ragab, an art director and a team leader said that one day will not be enough for women during their menstruation. “I witness these kinds of physical pain and physiological changes with my wife, as she usually becomes very sick during her periods,” Ragab told DNE. “Therefore, I believe that the vacation could range from two or three days, as one day is really not enough.”

Meanwhile, Ragab said that he would not mind allowing a female employee within his team to take days off if she is menstruating. “I will never hesitate to allow her days off. I do not believe it is an unjust measure, as women really suffer during their periods.” 

Similarly, Eman agreed with the new measure, criticising those who accused women of being incapable in the labour market. “Every woman has the right to take a ‘menstrual leave’ if she feels sick and cannot manage her work,” Eman told DNE.

Furthermore, Eman noted that even people suffering from mental illness have the right to have days off, as this shall never undermine their abilities or skills.

Meanwhile, Fatma said that she wishes everyone, males or females, would have the right to wake up in the morning and request a day off if they are not ok, “Without needing to reveal the reason behind their request,” Fatma told DNE.

It is inequitable

Yet, other women warned that such a decision, if applied in each institution or business, would have a negative effect on the female’s participation rate in the labour market.

“I am totally against such a measure. It would lead to a remarkable decrease in women’s employment opportunities in the labour market. We already suffer from such a cut-down,” Yousra told DNE.

Meanwhile, Heba opposed the concept of the ‘menstrual leave’, explaining that such a move might make business owners prefer men over women. “Such a measure will support the notion that women should not leave their homes or work and such ridiculous ideas.”

Yet, Mariam said that companies have to be aware that some women will not be able to work during the first day of their menstruation.

“Unfortunately, there are companies which include doctors and pharmacists who are not aware how severe period pain is,” Mariam told DNE.

“Once I was very sick, and I turned to the company’s clinic and asked for a day off. I was literally crying from the pain. However, the doctor refused to authorise my request, noting that he can’t allow me a day off just because I have my period! This is not fair,” Mariam recalled.

Concurrently, Hebatullah voiced that the concept should be optional, as women who cannot work during menstruation can take a day off, while others who do not suffer much should go to work as usual. “By the way, I am from these women whose first day of menstruation is like hell. I might even faint from the severity of the pain.”

On the other hand, Karim Al-Sayed, a marketing consultant, revealed that he does not mind that his female colleagues take days off more than him. “I think they need to take a day off if they are suffering from period pain. They really need it.”

However, Al-Sayed said that in a patriarchal society, women would face ridiculous comments due to their ‘menstrual leave.’

“They are already struggling with such a sexist society, and if they reveal the reasons behind their vacation they will face more undesirable comments as the period is still a taboo subject.”    

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Spring meetings: IMF urges policymakers to prepare for slower growth through smart decisions, cooperative work Thu, 11 Apr 2019 08:00:25 +0000 Washington, DC- Thousands of delegates and officials have arrived in Washington, DC, for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which is taking place from 8 to 14 April. The spring meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring together central bankers, ministers of …

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Washington, DC- Thousands of delegates and officials have arrived in Washington, DC, for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which is taking place from 8 to 14 April.

The spring meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook (WEO), poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The sessions include the influence of macroprudential policies on household credit and spending, export diversification, debt vulnerabilities, and development needs in low-income countries, managing capital flow, as well as curbing corruption by improving economic governance in the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition, the sessions also tackle the issue of illicit financial flows, money, and payments in the digital age, cyber-security, as well as tackling the next wave of the sovereign debt crisis.

During the current year’s meetings, the IMF expressed its concern regarding the decline of global economies’ growth, calling on policymakers to adjust their policies by making changes to conditions which may occur and constrain their countries’ economic growth.

The IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said on 2 April in Washington that the global economy is experiencing a “delicate moment” with increasing risks to growth and an unsettled climate.

Citing trade tensions, tighter financial conditions, and geopolitical uncertainty surrounding Brexit and other events, global growth has lost momentum, she highlighted during a speech at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing. So, it was a synchronised growth acceleration, and for this year we expect not 75%, but 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth, exactly the opposite of what we had,” Lagarde said.

She added: “But just to be clear we do not see a recession in the near term. In fact, we expect some pickup in growth in the second half (H2) of 2019 and into 2020. And indeed, the global economy is at a delicate moment.”

The expected rebound in global growth is precarious

The expected rebound in global growth later this year and into early 2020 is precarious because it is vulnerable to downside risks, including country related uncertainties, such as Brexit for instance, and broader uncertainties such as high debt in some sectors. In some countries, tensions around trade policy are still uncertain. And there is a sense of unease in financial markets for example. There should be a sharp unexpected tightening of financial conditions. It could create serious challenges for many governments and companies around the world in terms of refinancing and debt services, particularly those that have borrowed in non-domestic currencies, which could amplify exchange rate movements and financial market corrections. Indeed, it is a delicate moment in itself and it requires a delicate mix of policies, the WEO indicated.

Furthermore, Lagarde urged policymakers to prepare for slower growth by making smart decisions in trade and fiscal policies.

Additionally, Gita Gopinath, the IMF economic counsellor and director of the Research Department, stressed that policymakers need to work cooperatively to help ensure that policy uncertainty does not weaken investment.

“Now I don’t want to be overly dramatic because we don’t see a recession. But we believe that because it is so delicate as it is filled with in a way with self-inflicted wounds that only men and women can address. That’s why it requires this, ‘handle with care’ approach that brings together all domestic policies across-borders and international coordination,” Gopinath related.

According to the WEO, after strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in H2 of last year, reflecting a confluence of factors affecting major economies. China’s growth declined following a combination of needed regulatory tightening to rein in shadow banking, and an increase in trade tensions with the US.

The euro area economy lost more momentum than expected as consumer and business confidence weakened, and car production in Germany was disrupted by the introduction of new emission standards. Investment dropped in Italy as sovereign spreads widened, and external demand, especially from emerging Asia, softened. Elsewhere, natural disasters hurt activity in Japan.

Trade tensions increasingly took a toll on business confidence and, so, financial market sentiment worsened, with financial conditions tightening for vulnerable emerging markets (EMs) in the spring of 2018, and then in advanced economies later in the year, weighing on global demand. Conditions have eased in 2019 as the US Federal Reserve (Fed) signalled a more accommodative monetary policy stance, and markets became more optimistic about a US-China trade deal, but they remain slightly more restrictive than in the fall.

As a result of these developments, the WEO projected that global growth would slow from 3.6% in 2018 to 3.3% in 2019, before returning to 3.6% in 2020. Growth for 2018 was revised down by 0.1% relative to the October 2018 WEO, reflecting weakness in the H2 of the year, and the forecasts for 2019 and 2020 are now marked down by 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively.

The current forecast envisages that global growth will level off in the H1 of 2019 and firm up after that.

“The projected pickup in the H2 of 2019 is predicated on an ongoing build-up of policy stimulus in China, recent improvements in global financial market sentiment, the waning of some temporary drags on growth in the euro area, and a gradual stabilisation of conditions in stressed EM economies, including Argentina and Turkey. Improved momentum for EM and developing economies is projected to continue into 2020, primarily reflecting developments in economies currently experiencing macroeconomic distress–a forecast subject to notable uncertainty. By contrast, activity in advanced economies is projected to continue to slow gradually as the impact of US fiscal stimulus fades, and growth tends toward the modest potential for the group,” the WEO read.

Growth across EMs projected to stabilise slightly below 5%

Growth across EMs and developing economies is projected to stabilise slightly below 5%, though with variations by region and country. The baseline outlook for emerging Asia remains favourable, with China’s growth projected to slow gradually toward sustainable levels, and convergence in frontier economies toward higher income levels. For other regions, the outlook is complicated by a combination of structural bottlenecks, slower advanced economy growth, and, in some cases, high debt and tighter financial conditions. These factors, alongside subdued commodity prices and civil strife, or conflict in some cases, contribute to subdued medium-term prospects for Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Pakistan region, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, convergence prospects are bleak for some 41 EMs and developing economies, accounting for close to 10% of the global GDP in purchasing-power-parity terms, and with total population close to 1 billion, where per capita incomes are projected to fall further behind those in advanced economies over the next five years.

Global energy prices declined by 17%

Regarding commodity prices, global energy prices declined by 17% between the reference periods for the October 2018 and the current WEO, as oil prices dropped from a four-year peak of $81 a barrel in October to $61 in February. Meanwhile supply influences dominated initially–notably a temporary waiver in US sanctions on Iranian oil exports to certain countries and record-high US crude oil production–weakening global growth added downward pressure on prices toward the end of 2018. Since the beginning of this year, oil prices have recovered somewhat thanks to production cuts by oil-exporting countries. Prices of base metals have increased by 7.6% since August, as a result of supply disruption in some metal markets, more than offsetting subdued global demand.

Following the tightening of financial conditions in late 2018, market sentiment rebounded in early 2019. Signs of slowing global growth, moderately less buoyant corporate earnings, and market concerns about the pace of the Fed policy tightening weighed on sentiment at the end of 2018.

Egypt’s inflation is expected to reach 14.5% in 2019, 12.3% in 2020

Consumer price inflation remained muted across advanced economies, given the drop in commodity prices. For most countries in this group, core inflation is well below central bank targets, despite the pickup in domestic demand in the past two years; in the US and the United Kingdom it is close to 2%. Although wage growth has been picking up across most advanced economies, notably in the US and the UK, it is still sluggish despite lower unemployment rates and diminished labour market slack.

The WEO projected that Egypt’s inflation is expected to reach 14.5% in 2019, compared to 20.9% in 2018. Additionally, the IMF forecasted that the country’s inflation will continue to drop to reach 12.3% in 2020 and 6.9% in 2024.

Global current account deficits and surpluses are estimated to have widened marginally in 2018, compared with the previous year. Higher oil prices have been the main driver of this widening: they are estimated to have boosted the current account balance of oil exporters by about 3.5% of their GDP.

Furthermore, the IMF’s projection for Egypt’s current account deficit this year is to reach 2.4% of the GDP. However, it forecasts a decrease reaching 1.7% in 2020, and 1% in 2024.

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Risk of energy price shock, unemployment top MENA risks landscape: WEF Tue, 09 Apr 2019 08:00:10 +0000 Perception of insecurity remains concern in region

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As geo-economic tensions across the globe ratcheted up during 2018, respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), said that expecting increasing risks in 2019 related to “economic confrontations between major powers” (91% of respondents) and “erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements” (88% of respondents).

According to the WEF report released, geo-economic divisions come as the rate of global growth appears to have peaked. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a gradual slowdown over the next few years. This is mainly the result of developments in advanced economies, but projections of a slowdown in China – from 6.6% growth in 2018 to 6.2% this year and 5.8% by 2022 – are a source of concern.

So, too, is the global debt burden, which is significantly higher than before the global financial crisis, at around 225% of the GDP.

In addition, a tightening of global financial conditions has placed a strain on countries that built up dollar-denominated liabilities while interest rates were low.

Furthermore, the report cites that as the global economy faces some headwinds, cross- border trade – long seen as a means of mitigating geopolitical risk by embedding powers in mutually beneficial relationships – is now frequently seen as a tool of strategic competition.

The potential costs of deepening trade tensions were highlighted in January 2019 when the IMF cited trade disputes as one reason for revising down its global growth projections for the second time in three


These developments hold risk for the MENA region, home to trade-dependent economies, where, according to the IMF, total trade-to-GDP ratio amounts to approximately 66%.

Economic and governance risks to the MENA region

The report indicates that exogenous factors, such as geo-economic division, climate change and technological threats all pose a particular risk to the MENA, but so, too, do hazards that are more regional in nature.

According to respondents in the Middle East and North Africa to the Executive Opinion Survey, the top two risks across the region for doing business are “energy price shocks” and “unemployment or underemployment”.

These risks are largely economic in nature and affected by the health of governance in the region. Similarly, the number five risk “fiscal crises”, the number seven risk “unmanageable inflation”, and the number 10 risk “failure of financial mechanism or institutions” follow the same pattern of being largely economic in nature and potentially governance-driven.

Furthermore, according to respondents’ top risk, “energy price shock”, comes at a time when some countries have taken steps towards diversification, but the region is still largely a hydrocarbon economy, heavily reliant on revenue from this sector. Oil prices increased substantially between 2017 and 2018, from around $50 to$75.

This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of three percentage points of the GDP.

However, vulnerabilities to swings in oil prices have not disappeared and are particularly pronounced in countries where government spending is rising. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88, 26% above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil price target of $70–$80.

“It is no surprise, then, that Saudi Arabia remains one of five countries in the region that rank “energy price shock” as the top risk to doing business in our survey, along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar,” the report indicates.

The risk of an episodic energy price shock signals a broader, systemic risk for the region. Unless the MENA economies diversify, business and society will not only be hostage to oil market fluctuation in the short term but also will be ill-prepared to thrive in the global economic landscape of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As technology increasingly disrupts the business landscape, economies will place a premium on what is above ground – skills and innovation – rather than on what is below.

On the labour side, the changes brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create disruption to employment across industries.

According to McKinsey, by 2030, up to 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) may need to find different occupations because of new efficiencies such as automation. Yet, already in the Middle East the labour landscape is dire.

For the past 25 years, the rate of unemployment among young people in the MENA region has been the highest in the world and in 2017, the rate was 30%. 

There are significant risks to the economies being able to absorb the labour force, particularly since 27 million young people will enter the labour market over the next five years.

Speaking in Dubai in February 2019, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, was critical of “spending kept off-budget” as well as well as high levels of borrowing. Lagarde said, “With better governance, we can replace the ‘disintegration’ of corruption with the ‘integration’ of all into the productive economy. We can replace fasad with islah – reforms to set things right, to reconcile people with one another.”

Insecurity remains a risk

“Terrorist attacks” were ranked as the third-leading risk in the Middle East and North Africa, according to respondents in the region to the Executive Opinion Survey. Similar to economic and governance issues, this risk is one that manifests from inside, rather than outside, the region.

Yet, it is notable that terrorism ranked so high in the opinion survey because it runs counter to the data on attacks. According to the Global Terrorism Database, the number of attacks in the MENA dropped by 38% in 2017 from the year before and the number of deaths fell by 44%. The most significant drops in

terms of incidents were in Turkey, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

According to the respondents, despite the fact that while the absolute numbers may be declining, the relative number is high: the MENA is home to the largest share of incidents and deaths compared to the rest of the world, 31% and 44%, respectively.

Furthermore, the report cites another possibility that “terrorism” is acting as a proxy for respondents to capture an overall sense of insecurity in the region. Some analysts point to continued, longstanding frictions as a reason to dub the area from Morocco to Iran a “band of instability”.

More specifically, Syria and Yemen are ranked as countries of “very high alert” and Iraq as “high alert”, according to the Fragile State Index, and negative developments in these states can have repercussions that manifest in other states.

Similarly, instability in other countries, such as Libya, and fractures –and even outright hostilities – between some states in the Gulf and Levant add to overall regional insecurity. This, even as some factors, like the aforementioned drop in terrorist activity and the decline of the Islamic State, are trending in the right direction.

Toward risk mitigation and resiliency

For stakeholders across the globe, risk mitigation and resiliency can be heightened through a coordinated rather than go-at-it-alone approach. Preventing the harms of climate change from being realised – or, responding to effects in an effective manner when they manifest – for instance, is only possible through cross-sector and cross-border partnerships. Similarly, strengthening economic structures and governing institutions in the MENA region can best be achieved through a multi-stakeholder approach that leverages diverse resources, including skills and expertise, and aligns actors towards a common goal.

The risks of climate change and cracks in the global response

Eighty-five percent of respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey expect “political confrontations/frictions between major powers” to increase in 2019. These rising geopolitical divisions are making it more challenging to address the biggest global risk – climate change.

Environmental risks dominate the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey for the third year in a row. This year, climate-related issues accounted for three of the top five risks by likelihood and four by impact over the next 10years.

Extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, but survey respondents were increasingly worried about environmental policy failure. “Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation” ranked as number two in terms of impact this year.

The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The year 2018 was the fourth warmest on record.

In the MENA region, Algeria had the hottest temperature –51.3oC – ever reliably recorded across the whole of Africa and Oman recorded a minimum temperature of 42.6oC. 6

Rising temperatures led the UN to warn that melting ice sheets were causing sea-level rise to accelerate. The World Bank identified 24 port cities in the Middle East and 19 in North Africa at particular risk of rising waters.

Climate change will also bring a second-order risk for the region. As countries around the world take steps to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels to stem the effects of climate change, the oil-based economies of the MENA region will feel the repercussions.

Yet, in stark contrast to the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey – respondents to which are the global stakeholder community – respondents in the Middle East and North Africa to the Executive Opinion Survey did not rank environmental issues high on the list of risks in the region. The lack of prioritising climate change points to a blind spot among stakeholders when it comes to considering the risks of the issue to the region.

Global technological threats

Technology plays a profound role in shaping the global risks landscape in the near and longer term. Concerns about data fraud and cyberattacks were prominent again in the Global Risks Perception Survey, with 82% of respondents expecting cyberattacks in the form of theft of data or money and 80% expecting it in the form of disruptions of operations or infrastructure to increase in 2019. Similarly, “data fraud or theft” and “cyberattacks” ranked as the fourth and fifth risks, respectively, in terms of likelihood over the next decade.

Indeed, there were further data breaches in 2018, new hardware weaknesses were revealed, and research pointed to the potential uses of artificial intelligence to engineer more potent cyberattacks. Last year also provided further evidence that cyberattacks pose risks to critical infrastructure, prompting countries to strengthen their screening of cross-border partnerships on national security grounds. According to Cisco, 94% of companies in the MENA said they experienced a cyberattack in the past year and almost half of attacks, 48%, resulted in damage valued at over $500,000. 

The rise in the flow of data across borders means that these types of risks are only expected to increase.

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Israel elections: Netanyahu’s win scathing impact on Middle East Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:00:47 +0000 'Polls could give Netanyahu win, lead to Israel de facto annexation of West Bank,' says analyst

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Ahead of the Israeli parliamentary elections, to be held on Tuesday 9 April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chance of winning is swelling after the United States President Donald Trump granted him the Golan Heights on a silver platter. However, the final opinion polls suggested a fall of Netanyahu’s right-wing party Likud seats in the Knesset.

During his visit to Washington, Netanyahu won what he kept pushing Trump’s administration for, the American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied plateau, the grant expected to strengthen the Israeli leader in the polls, as he has been under intense political pressure in Israel.

However, not only the US did award Netanyahu a gift before the elections. Last week, Russia announced that its soldiers in Syria found the remains of the Israeli soldier, Zachary Baumel, who went missing during the war in Lebanon in 1982. The body was transferred from Syria to Israel, where hundreds, astonished and surprised, gathered in Jerusalem for his funeral.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu, overwhelmed by awards, still faces many pending challenges. The Israeli prime minister faces ‘dangerous’ charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases pending a final hearing, according to the Israeli prosecution office. Netanyahu denied them all.

Another challenge awaiting the Israeli leader is his competitor and long-time political rival, Benny Gantz. The 59-year-old former army chief who managed to gain ground in recent months, represents in a short time a serious threat to his rival, according to Israeli opinion polls.

Netanyahu’s Likud National Liberal Movement is a right-wing party established in 1973. Israel’s prime minister has been in power since 2009. He also led Israel from 1996 to 1999.

Tough competition? 

In February, Gantz formed the centrist Blue and White alliance with a promise to unite the country from the division which took place in recent years. The alliance is also led by the former minister of finance, Yair Lapid, and other top former army commanders.

Gantz, whose parents were survivors of the holocaust, pledged during his speech in the Munich Security Conference 2019 to protect the Jewish state. “The Jewish people and the Jewish state will never again put their fate in the hands of others,” Gantz said, adding, “Israelis will protect themselves by themselves and guarantee the future of their people.”

Friday’s final opinion polls showed Gantz’s Blue and White alliance advancing, with a prediction of grabbing 30 seats, more than the 26 for Netanyahu’s Likud, according to an opinion poll in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. However, the poll also predicted that the parties of Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc could take around 63 seats in the Knesset. 

Meanwhile, another poll suggests that the right-wing bloc would win 66 seats, while centre-left parties might take 54, according to Israeli television. The right-wing block includes the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism, the centre-right Kulanu party, the right-wing Union of Right-Wing Parties, and the right-wing Zehut party.

Huge impact on the Middle East

“The Israeli elections will have a big impact on the Israel-Palestine question if Netanyahu wins again,” Nicholas A Heras, a Middle East security fellow at the Centre for a New American Security told Daily News Egypt.

“One dynamic to watch closely is whether Netanyahu – in order to stay in power as prime minister – has to cut a deal with far right-wing Israeli parties,” Heras added.

Heras clarified that far right-wing parties want Israel to move closer to the outright annexation of the West Bank, in a manner similar to what Israel has done with the Golan Heights.

“The elections could give these Israeli parties a lot more power than they have ever had because Netanyahu needs them to be able to stay as prime minister,” Heras continued. 

Meanwhile, Heras pointed out that “Trump’s decision over the Golan Heights was an attempt to give Netanyahu a big political win right before the elections.” But, he added, that “it is already having a tough impact throughout the region, especially in Jordan.”

“Jordan is a close ally of the US, but Trump’s decision regarding the Golan is putting significant pressure on Jordan as Jordanians fear that Trump’s Golan decision is a preview of a US ‘peace plan’ that would seek to make Jordan the Palestinian state,” Heras simplified. 

Heras then continued, “Trump’s Golan decision is creating a political crisis in Jordan, which is an unwelcome development for US policy toward Israel and Palestine, because Jordan is so important for the stability of Palestine and the broader Middle East.”

Heras projected that Israel’s elections “could give Netanyahu a win, empower far-right Israeli groups, lead to the de facto annexation of the West Bank by Israel, and undermine Jordan’s stability.”

“That would be a nightmare scenario for the United States, but perhaps not for the Trump team which has been so pro-Netanyahu and pro-Likud,” Heras concluded.

Deal of the Century

As Trump’s administration is expected to make an announcement of what becomes known as ‘the Deal of Century,’ following the Israeli general election, many expectations have been raised regarding the details of the pact.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt are the officials responsible for drafting the so-called peace plan which aims to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“Of course, the results of the Israeli elections would affect the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian cause,” Samir Ghattas, an expert in Palestinian affairs and director of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies told DNE.

Ghattas stated that despite Gantz advance against the Likud, the right-wing bloc is expected to take around 64 seats in the Knesset, according to final polls, compared to around 56 seats for centre-left parties. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu would form the new cabinet once more, Ghattas noted. 

“Recent polls also suggested that Arab parties, including the Arab-Israeli party Raam-Taal headed by Ahmad Tibi, will take 6 seats,” Ghatts said. He added that if Gantz and the Arab parties accept to unite together to form the new government, they would have 62 seats, which are enough to form the government, as the Knesset requires 61 seats to form the cabinet.

However, Ghattas said such alliance seems unlikely and very difficult. “But it is not impossible,” he noted.   

Regarding Netanyahu’s chance in staying in power, Ghattas voiced that the prime minister has recently received many gifts from Trump and Putin, which enhanced his standing in the elections. Those grants are the Golan Heights and the body of the Israeli soldier who died 37 years ago. However, Netanyahu still faces charges of corruption, Ghattas said. 

Ghattas noted that one of those cases is related to Egypt, referring to the German submarine deal. Seven people-Netanyahu’s allies-have been arrested over charges of bribery, tax fraud, and money laundering in deals worth over €1.5bn.

The deal was to buy Dolphin submarines and patrol corvettes from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany. Recently, the Israeli prosecution said that it is considering opening a criminal investigation against Netanyahu over profits from shares he purchased in a steel factory in Texas.

Back to Trump’s peace plan, Ghattas argued that the deal is very clear, despite the fact that its details have not yet been announced. “The deal is that Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are under Israeli sovereignty, as well as tackling the issue of Palestinian refugees through four factors,” Ghattas revealed.

The first is the cutting of the aids to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Secondly, redefining the definition of a ‘Palestinian refugee’.

Israel wants the definition to only include the refugee who was displaced in 1948. This would not include the new generations, the sons and the grandchildren, Gattas highlighted.

“Only those refugees will get compensation or have the option to return home,” Gattas noted. 

The third factor, Ghattas continued, is through putting pressure on Arab countries which host large numbers of Palestinian refugees, to either give them the nationalities or settle them in these countries, including Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, Ghattas noted. 

The fourth factor is allowing Gaza to be a Palestinian ministate under Hamas’s rule, Ghattas forecasted. He mentioned that there is an old project to expand Gaza through including parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Furthermore, Ghattas noted that the old project, presented in 2005, was to renounce some area of the peninsula to the strip, through giving up its sovereignty over those lands to Palestinians to establish their state.  However, new amendments were set to this plan, Ghattas said, adding that the expansion project will include 1,000 sq km in South Sinai without renouncing the Egyptian sovereignty and to be a free industrial zone as part of the megacity called Neom. 

In a recent interview with the Yisrael Hayom daily on Friday, Netanyahu voiced that he told Trump that he would never allow any Jewish settler to be evacuated from the West Bank. On the possible US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, Netanyahu avoided a direct answer and said: “Wait for the next term.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu revealed his wishes regarding the ‘Deal of the Century’, saying that he hopes it includes controlling the territory west of Jordan, and not dividing Jerusalem.

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On sidelines of Al Sisi’s visit to US: Egyptian success, American resentment Mon, 08 Apr 2019 10:00:25 +0000 Egypt will not accept pressure regarding diversifying its weapons’ sources, says Major General Mahmoud Diaa

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After the 2013 protests, there were fluctuations in Egypt’s foreign relations, and one of the files was the American weapon deal which was halted since October 2013. It includes 12 F16 aircrafts, 20 harpoons, and 125 MPA 1 tanks. They were suspended later in 2016.

The deals then varied and included five Abram M1A1 tanks, which are produced through Egyptian-US joint cooperation. These tanks are assembled in a joint production factory after receiving their spare parts from US. There were also Apache planes which Egypt received 10 from, and F16 aircrafts, as well as a mobile surveillance system in order to monitor the situation on the Egyptian-Libyan borders.

Since Al Sisi took office, Egypt has been trying to diversify its sources of weapons from many countries, including France, Germany, Croatia, and Russia. Experts have estimated that Egypt imported about 70% of its weapons from Russia.

With Al Sisi’s visit to the US, the talk about weapons returns, as well as the impact of diversifying weapons in Egypt and breaking the cycle of dependence on the US weapons.

Commenting on that file, Major General Mahmoud Diaa, Egypt’s defence consultant, said that Egypt is adopting a policy to diversify its weapons, because relying on one source of weapons is a kind of hegemony, and Egypt is now completely against this.

Diaa provided the example of Egypt-Russian cooperation, saying that the military cooperation with Russia was halted for years, as the political leadership saw the high priority of taking the US side as a result of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel which included an American commitment to supply Egypt with major aid, including weapons. This required joint trainings between Egypt and the US.

Right now, the strategic point of view has changed. Diversifying weapons has become one of the Egyptian deterrent weapons.

Regarding the possibility of bringing up the weapons file or seeing the US’ resentment toward the Egyptian desire to diversify its sources for weapons, Diaa said that the visit aims to deepen the relations and the pivotal role of Egypt in the regional key issues. It is natural to bring up again the weapons file; however, it is difficult to pressure Egypt in this matter.

On the other hand, Major General Adel El Omda, adviser at Nasser Higher Military Academy and member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said that Egypt’s regional role in the files of Libya, Sudan, Palestine, and Israel is severely important.

The intelligence of the Egyptian leadership lies in the fact that it has managed to utilise the importance of its regional and international role and make sure there is a balance in its foreign affairs with the superpowers, at least with the permanent members at the Security Council. He added that the US resentment is natural, as it is evaluated from an economic aspect. Each state is concerned with exporting the largest amount of everything. “But we are also concerned with our interests and we have our completely independent decision,” he added.

El Omda ruled out the attempt of the US to impose pressure on Egypt in terms of the weapons diversification issue, especially that the US knows Egypt’s position and its importance in many files in the region.

Regarding the difference between the Egyptian and the Turkish situations, where the latter has seen direct pressure from the US and official warnings from sealing the Russian defence system ‘S 400’, El Omda stated that the situation is different. He added, “The American pressure on Turkey is natural because a major American military base is present in Turkey, unlike the case in Egypt, and also because Turkey’s relations with the surrounding countries have become more tense. Additionally, there is a general feeling in the world that Erdogan is looking for a kind of personal glory”.

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Will Middle East crises affect Egypt-US relations? Mon, 08 Apr 2019 09:30:09 +0000 Egypt will not accept relocating Palestinians in Sinai

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Despite the appeared agreement between Egypt under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the United States under President Donald Trump, but the two administrations have different policies in regard to the Middle East issues.

Golan escalation

The Golan Heights is the latest point of difference between Egypt and US policies. In March, the US president recognised the Syrian Golan as Israeli land, in a move which contradicts the international law and was considered as an aggression on the Arabian rights in the strategic plateau.

Trump said: “It is the time for American recognition of Israel sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” ending decades of US policy regarding never-ending crises, such as the Golan issue. The US -as well as- the international community used to call the region as the “occupied Golan Heights”.

For its part, Egypt rejected the US move, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry stressed Egypt’s stance which recognises the Golan Heights as occupied Arab land according to the international law.

Palestinian Cause

The “deal of the century” according to the US and Israeli media is a supposed proposal for “regional peace”. The core of the plan is “showering tens of billions on economic aid on the Palestinians, as well as on Egypt, Jordan, and possibly even Lebanon,” according to New York Times.

Egypt’s announced stance regarding the Palestinian Cause is the two-state solution, and the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as a capital.

Ahmed Abd Rabou, a visiting assistant professor of political science at Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, told Daily News Egypt that there is no accurate evidence that Egypt is involved in the “deal of the century”, only indications.

“I do believe that there is something called “deal of century” and it aims to relocate the Palestinian people outside Palestine in other countries to end the issue of the Palestinian refugees, in the US-Israeli point of view,” he said, adding that Egypt should be part of any arrangements.

Abd Rabou noted that he doubts that Egypt would accept relocating Palestinians in Sinai, and the Palestinians themselves will never accept that.


There are some differences between Egypt’s and the US stances in Libya. Egypt is one of the countries that have mutual borders with Libya, and is very interested in the Libyan issue.

Egypt, the UAE, and France support the Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, in his moves to reunify Libya under his leadership. However, the US believes that the solution in Libya should be a shared-power system in accordance with the United Nations’ plan.

In 2017, Egypt air forces stroke sites in eastern Libya in revenge for Egyptian citizens who were killed by a terrorist group in the region. Analysts believed that the Egyptian strikes came as part of its support for Haftar.

During the same year, the US rejected Haftar’s military campaign on the UN-US backed government in Tripoli.

On Thursday, Haftar forces have moved from eastern Libya, launching a new military campaign to entre Tripoli where the internationally recognised government is based. Haftar appeared in a video, calling for liberating the capital from the militias and restoring stability in the entire country.

The US and the UN Security Council warned of entering the capital. Despite its support to Haftar, Egypt issued a late statement calling for halting military actions in Libya.

Abd Rabou said that Egypt is taking the side of Haftar but the US, the UK, the UN, and a number of countries have another view for the situation, as they believe in mediation between the main rivals.

Abd Rabou added that the closest scenario in Libya is a civil war as the two main sides have equal power. He noted there are differences between the positions of the US and Egypt in Libya, but he believed that these differences will not affect the relations between the two countries for two reasons.

The two reasons are: the US had abandoned the situation in Libya since the accident of killing its ambassador in Libya, and the US has other priorities. The other reason is that Trump is not interested in Libya and he does not know a lot about the country.

Abd Rabou, however, believes that the differences between the two administrations are not affecting the relations between the US and Egypt.

The post Will Middle East crises affect Egypt-US relations? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Fatwa Law: regulation or restricting freedom of expression? Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:00:07 +0000 ‘Bill aims to regulate public fatwas, fight extremist, radical ideologies,’ says Hamroush

The post Fatwa Law: regulation or restricting freedom of expression?  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A bill to regulate fatwas (religious edict), expected to soon be passed by the Egyptian Parliament, raises concerns over setting more restrictions on freedom of expression, especially since the draft law imposes a prison sentence and a fine without accurately defining the “irregular fatwa,” the one in violation of the draft. 

Omar Hamroush, secretary of the religious affairs committee in parliament, submitted the draft law which was already approved by the committee in December 2018. The bill is expected to be passed during the current parliamentary session.

The bill came in response to the calls of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for the renewal of religious discourse, and to prevent those issuing ‘extremist’ fatwas from being broadcasted in the media.

According to the bill, it is prohibited, in any way, to issue a public fatwa, which is connected to the fate of the homeland, and to have it broadcasted in the media, unless it is issued by Al-Azhar’s Supreme Council of Scholars, Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta, the Islamic Research Complex, and the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department, or someone who is authorised to issue fatwas by one of the previously mentioned bodies.

Only the previously mentioned institutions have the right to issue public fatwas in the media. Anyone in violation of this draft law will face a prison sentence for a term not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding EGP 5,000. If repeated, they will face imprisonment and a fine not less than EGP 10,000.

However, the bill raised controversy among Al-Azhar’s senior scholars, the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department, and other institutions responsible for issuing fatwas.

Al-Azhar stated that the department is an executive body, not a scholarly one, and demanded that the state’s Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department be excluded, in order to ensure the independence of fatwas from the state. 

Fatwa is a responsibility

“There are people who issue extreme fatwas with political intentions to break up a nation’s unity,” Hamroush said during a seminar called, ‘Draft law on public Fatwa: A new regulatory mechanism of Ifta in Egypt?’ organised by the Law and Society Research Unit of the American University in Cairo last Tuesday. 

“Therefore, I drafted a bill to tackle this phenomenon, and to regulate public fatwas in the media,” Hamroush added.

Furthermore, Hamroush argued that Egypt faces internal and external conflicts aiming to undermine the country, emphasising the significance of uniting against “inciters of dissent.”

Yet, Hamroush disagreed that the bill would restrict freedom of expression, as it aims to regulate public fatwas in the media in order to avoid extremist or radical ideologies from being spread amongst people. 

Regarding Al-Azhar’s reservation toward the bill, Hamroush claimed it has already been settled, revealing that a representative from Al-Azhar attended the discussions regarding the bill. The representative he mentioned was Ali Gomaa, the former Egyptian Grand Mufti.

Nothing new, except penalties

Fatma Hafez, a researcher and historian, and author of the book ‘Fatwa and Modernity’, revealed that the regulation of fatwas underwent various phases throughout Egypt’s modern history, yet, she said, Hamroush did not introduce anything new except for the penalties.

During the seminar, Hafez recounted that the bill is an extension of the efforts aiming to regulate fatwas in the 1860s and 1870s, however, the novelty here are the penalties, including fines and prison sentences.

Furthermore, Hafez said that before the 19th century, issuing fatwas was a pro bono practice issued by religious clerks, and fatwas were not affected by the state’s inclination. 

“I agree with regulating public fatwas in the media but through abiding by media ethics and standards,” Hafez told Daily News Egypt (DNE). 

“Sure, there could be a law for fatwa regulation, but the concept of the imprisonment penalty is very worrying,” Hafez noted.

Moreover, Hafez does not oppose the concept of punishment if mistakes occur, but they should not include imprisonment, she said. It might include depriving those in violation of the law from issuing fatwas for a while or implementing other kinds of administrative penalties.

Meanwhile, Hafez argued that the bill will result in choosing specific people to issue a fatwa, and it will exclude others who might be more qualified. “There are concerns that fatwas could be limited to specific people,” Hafez maintained.

Furthermore, Hafez predicted that the bill would be passed. “It might include some amendments regarding the definitions of ‘the public fatwa’, or the ‘irregular fatwas,’ which requires punishing muftis.”

It is hate speech

“The bill set standards for who have the right to issue fatwas and it does not touch freedom of expression,” Abdel Ghany Hendy, a member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, told DNE.

Hendy argued that issuing fatwas requires more experience than just being a religious clerk–it demands an Islamic scholar and someone who has the necessary background and the scientific knowledge to tackle people’s public affairs. 

Furthermore, Hendy asserted that the bill allows plurality of opinions, yet the fatwas must not have any political leanings; however, it must serve peoples’ needs.

Furthermore, Hendy insisted on publishing moderate religious content on the internet against the extremist ideologies of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, which almost dominates the web content, he said. 

“Islam came to spread peace and reform people. We have to fight the provocative religious discourse currently dominating the scene. It is a form of hate speech and it has been prohibited throughout the world. We have to prevent disturbing fatwas such as those calling for Muslims to not shake the hands of Christians. It is a form of hate speech and it must be stopped,” Hendy concluded.

The post Fatwa Law: regulation or restricting freedom of expression?  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

On ‘Great March of Return’ 1st anniversary, Israeli fire kills Palestinians Sun, 31 Mar 2019 10:00:48 +0000 Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army since protests started last year

The post On ‘Great March of Return’ 1st anniversary, Israeli fire kills Palestinians appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A Palestinian man in his early 20s was killed by Israeli armed forces early on Saturday on the Gaza Strip’s border, the territory’s health ministry stated. The ministry said Mohammed Saad died after suffering from head wounds caused by shrapnel.

The incident came just hours before the Gazans’ expected mass protests which could disrupt a fragile calm between Israel and Hamas, as the Jewish state is preparing to hold elections within 10 days. 

Last Monday, more than 10 airstrikes were carried out across the coastal enclave, Israeli security officials said. Hamas-affiliated radio station Sawt al-Aqsa said an Israeli airstrike demolished the office of Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

Haniyeh had gone into hiding since Monday, fearing retaliation from Israeli forces, following the recent rocket attack in Tel Aviv. He said in a written statement that the Palestinian people “will not surrender” and its military factions “will deter the enemy if it exceeds the red lines.”

In response to the Israeli airstrikes, Hamas fired at least 10 rockets toward the southern Israeli town of Sderot late Monday. There were no immediate reports of casualties. 

Rockets do not normally reach so far into the country. The Monday’s attack comes 10 days after other rockets were fired at Tel Aviv for the first time in two years. Hamas leaders in Gaza claimed that incident was an accident. Nevertheless, Israel responded with heavy fire.

The planned demonstrations will cap off a year of regular protests calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes from which they were forced to leave in the 1948 war which accompanied the creation of Israel.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army since the protests began. At least 62 were shot dead in a single day in last May during clashes, fuelled by the transfer of the US embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem. About three Israeli soldiers have also been killed in those clashes.

Palestinians called to celebrate the first anniversary of ‘Great March of Return’ which was kicked off on 30 March 2018 by refugees protesting against Israeli occupation which displaced them from their homes and land. The ‘Great March of Return’ commemorates the ‘Land Day’ which started in 1976 after Zionist authorities expropriated many lands.

What commemorated the protests was the decision of United States President Donald Trump who announced the transfer of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestine has been suffering from violent and brutal attacks since it has been occupied by Israel, leading to all kinds of resistance starting from stone-throwing which is often responded to by heavily shooting from Israel. Lately, Palestinians have started launching fire kites and explosive balloons from the northern Gaza strip into southern Israel.

Noteworthy, Israel passed a law in 1980 declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) interfered and declared a resolution stating that the law was null and void and that Israel is violating the international law.

Early last week, the UN said it will step up the presence of monitors in Gaza after its human rights body said Israel’s shootings of Palestinians could be deemed as crimes against humanity. 

Five UN human rights officers will be sent to Gaza to monitor “ongoing violations” against civilian protesters after hundreds were killed in demonstrations last year.  

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Friday condemning the “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force by Israel” and called for the perpetrators to face justice.

The body asked for cooperation with an International Criminal Court examination into Israeli violations opened in 2015. The resolution passed with 23 votes in favour, eight against, and 15 abstentions, with European states divided.

Saturday’s planned protests could increase pressure on right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show that he is in control in the confrontations with Hamas ahead of the elections, where he is facing a strong challenge from former army chief Benny Gantz. Last week, the Israeli military struck dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a rocket fired by unidentified group against Israel.

The demonstrations are expected to draw thousands to various sites along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where 2 million Palestinians reside in living conditions described by the UN last September as causing “profound suffering and aid dependency.” Israel has maintained a blockade on the enclave for more than a decade, greatly reducing the territory’s productive capacity.

Israel says the blockade is necessary to contain Hamas. It also rejects the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes, saying Israel could not cope with the mass influx.

Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli General Prosecutor, accused Netanyahu of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, arising from three different corruption cases, which are pending a hearing.

Netanyahu’s political opponents accused him of making Israel lose its power to deter attacks, after Hamas launched two rockets toward Tel Aviv on 14 March, for the first time since the 2014 war.

Israeli forces responded by striking 100 suspected Hamas targets on 15 March in the Gaza Strip, which made the ‘Great March of Return’ committee cancel the weekly protests on 15 March for the first time since last March.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the cancellation is to avoid further steps from Israeli forces, saying that “Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations decided to cancel last Friday’s weekly violent protests on the Israeli-Gaza border in order to avoid an escalation with Israel.”

Similarly, The Times of Israel reported that the Palestinian committee which organises weekly protests on the Gazan border has decided “to postpone” today’s protests “out of concern for our people and in preparation for a much larger protest on March 30,” the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Centre reported.


“In Hamas they are very, very concerned about an Israeli decision to strike them, the deterrence exists 100%,” Likud’s ‘Netanyahu’s party’ member of the Knesset, Yoav Kisch said at a cultural event.

“The prime minister is dealing with the security issue as if there are no elections, and if need be we’ll conquer Gaza before the elections” he added.

Meir Cohen from the opposite political party, Blue and White, criticised Netanyahu for making the situation in Israel terrible, “When people on the street tell me Bibi is a magician, I tell them he is a magician of one thing: He made Israel’s deterrence disappear,” Cohen said.

Another, Blue and White party member, Orna Barbivai said “On the one hand we need to strike Hamas, which is a brutal terror group, and on the other hand recognise the needs of the civilian population in Gaza, which itself is beginning to understand the need to oppose Hamas,”

It all started when in the 1920s Britain mandated Palestine according to the Balfour Declaration, which supports the establishment of a national home for the Jews around the world in Palestine. Jerusalem was the capital of the mandate, where the British rulers and institutions of the mandate government lived, and in the mid-1930s, Britain changed its policy and tried to stop the migration of Jews into Palestine.

The mandate on Palestine ended on 14 May 1948, and Britain announced its withdrawal from Palestine, however, after Britain’s announcement, Israel was recognised over large parts of the British mandate on Palestine, and the Arab-Israeli conflict began.

In 1948, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia entered a war against the armed Zionist entity in Palestine, which was formed out of the Palmach, the Arjun, the Haganah, the Stern and Jewish volunteers.

The war started on May 1948, and on 10 June 1948 UN Security Council interfered, and imposed a ceasefire upon all the parties, and a truce was in place for four weeks. Despite the prohibition of arming and any new troops’ supply, Israel did not comply with this prohibition, and quickly reinforced its losses, and it was heavily supplied with arms, especially planes, with many European Jews volunteering to go to the war front. 

In July, the Israeli army continued the war, despite the UN’s attempts to extend the truce, so the battle took a different turn and Arab forces suffered defeats and losses, and Israel was able to illegally occupy great expanses of Palestinian territory.

In 1949, following the 1948 war and the abolition of the British mandate, Palestine was divided into three political units, which is Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Since then, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been suffering from violations and the brutal Israeli occupation.

The post On ‘Great March of Return’ 1st anniversary, Israeli fire kills Palestinians appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Far-right terrorism: gaining momentum around world Sun, 24 Mar 2019 09:00:51 +0000 'It came in response to racism, globalisation, mass migration,' says analyst 

The post Far-right terrorism: gaining momentum around world appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The ruthless killing of 50 Muslim worshipers while they were performing Friday prayers in Christchurch city, New Zealand, more than a week ago, has renewed concerns over right-wing terror, which apparently is not less murderous than Islamist terrorism.

The preparator of the bloody attack, identified later as Brenton Tarrant, published a lengthy manifesto before carrying out his attack against two mosques, killing and injuring dozens of different Arab nationals, in which he revealed his motivations and reasons.

The 74-page document titled, The Great Replacement, included praise for US President Donald Trump, describing him as a symbol of white identity. However, Trump condemned the attack on Twitter describing it as a “horrific event.”

The 28-year-old white extremist revealed that he had been preparing for the attack for two years and moved from Australia to New Zealand to carry out his plan. He unveiled that he was inspired by American white supremacist, the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, and the far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bomb and shooting rampage in Norway in 2011.

He added that he was not seeking fame, but to cause a shock that will last for years– as well as fear–and required change. He noted that he targeted the worshippers because they are, “a large group of invaders from a culture with high fertility rates, strong traditions that seek to occupy my homeland and ethnically replace my own people.”

Asked if he hates Muslims, Tarrant said that he does not hate Muslims who live in their homelands, but he dislikes Muslims living on his soil. The only Muslims he truly hates are the ‘converts’ as they abandoned their true cultures and roots, he explained.

He added that the results of the French presidential elections in 2017 also motivated his attack, as he views the winner (President Emmanuel Macron) as a globalist and ex-investment banker without any national beliefs.

Furthermore, he expressed his disappointment over the loss of a civil nationalist (the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen). The French elections’ results are a clear sign that there will be no political solution for what he called a “demographic war” in Europe against white people, Tarrant said.

Increase in right-wing terrorist attacks

In the latest years, there is a remarkable increase in the number of right-wing terrorist attacks, according to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index. The report said that between 2013 and 2017, right-wing groups and individuals killed 66 people, killing 17 and attacking in 2017. In the UK alone, 12 far-right terror attacks took place. 

The majority of the attacks, according to the index, were carried out by “lone actors with far-right, white nationalists, or anti-Muslim believers.”

In June 2018, the UK Home Office said that the number of far-right terrorists jailed in Britain more than tripled in 2017/18, of whom 13% were far-right extremists. 

Meanwhile, the Europol 2018 report, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, stated that “the largest number of attacks in 2017 in which a terrorist affiliations could be identified were carried out by ethno-nationalist and separatist extremists (137).”

The report noted that “the attacks carried out by left-wing violent extremists have been on the rise since 2014, as they reached 24 acts in 2017, of which the majority (16) were reported by Italy.”

“The total number of jihadist terrorist attacks reached 17 in 2015, 13 in 2016, and 33 in 2017. While 135 of the 142 victims of terrorist attacks in 2016 were killed in the 13 jihadist attacks,” the report added.

Muslims and Jews are the main targets

“There’s no doubt that far-right extremism and terrorism are on the rise around the world,” Max Abrahms, the author of Rules for Rebels and a professor of political science at Northeastern University told Daily News Egypt.

“This is in response to racism, globalisation, and mass migration. Muslims and Jews are the main targets.”

“It’s unfortunate whenever there is a far-right attack, people trivialise it by emphasising that Islamist terrorism is also a big problem. They are both big problems,” Abrahms stressed.

“Terrorism is perpetrated by people for many different political reasons. Presently, we are in a religious and far-right wing wave,’ Abrahms argued.

The political science professor clarified that New Zealand’s perpetrator was very publicly-oriented. “He left a lengthy manifesto to broadcast his neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and anti-multiculturalism views, and then live-streamed the attack to draw attention to it.’

However, Abrahms suggested that he suspect that “we will continue to see more attacks like this one, where Islamophobics prey on Muslims around the world.’

Migration crisis

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), “the overall number of international migrants has increased in the last few years from the estimated 152 million in 1990 to 173 million in 2000 and to 250 million in the present.”

The number of people who migrated to foreign countries increased by 41% in the last 15 years (2000-2015), the IOM added.

The IOM stated that in 2015, 67% of “all international migrants were living in just 20 countries.”

The majority of them live in the US (46.6 million, or 19.1% of all migrants) followed by Germany with 12 million migrants. Russia received 11.6 million migrants; Saudi Arabia with 10.1 million; the UK with 8.5 million; the UAE with 8.1 million; Canada with 7.8 million; France with 7.7 million; Australia with 6.7 million and Spain with 5.8 million migrants (including those born outside of the country of their citizenship).

Far-right extremism in Australia

Following the New Zealand attack, an Australian senator Fraser Anning blamed New Zealand’s attack on Muslim migration. “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim migration and violence?” he tweeted following the attack.

However, the Australian senator was largely criticised in his country by a number of Australian politicians and the country’s prime minister himself.

Kristy Campion, an Austrian terrorism historian, revealed that the problem with far-right extremism in her country does not lie with migration policies, as it has a long history in the country.

Campion clarified, in a piece of analysis published in The Conversation, that “the issue is with the broader Australian community that ignores or accepts the presence of right-wing extremists in its midst, which tolerates the increasingly Islamophobic and anti-immigrant discourse in Australia.”

The Austrian researcher continued that “Australian right-wing extremists tend to position themselves in response to an imagined or constructed threat.”

Furthermore, Campion mentioned that “right-wing extremism began to rise in 2009 across the world, in response to a supposedly existential threat, jihadism, and the broader Muslim community in the West.’ 

“Groups with international connections, such as the Australian Defence League and Right-Wing Resistance, were formed,” she added.

“The rise of Reclaim Australia – a nationalist protest group – also saw extremist members of these groups splinter off to form new groups, such as the True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front,” Campion wrote.

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New Zealand mosque attacks: terrorism or act of violence? Sun, 17 Mar 2019 08:00:30 +0000 ‘It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,’ says New Zealand Prime Minister

The post New Zealand mosque attacks: terrorism or act of violence? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

In one of the deadliest attacks in the history of New Zealand against civilians based on their religion, race, colure, or identity, 49 Muslims have been killed and 48 others were severely wounded when an Australian right-wing extremist opened fire on worshipers in two mosques during the Friday prayer in Christchurch city and livestreamed video of the attack.

The attacker, identified as Brenton Tarrant, was apprehended and appeared in court on Saturday over charges of murder. He has been described by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as having “extremist views.” Three others were taken into custody in connection with the terrorist attack. All are Australians.

The terror attack drew huge reactions including anger and condemnation among world leaders who differently termed that attack. For New Zealand, Ardern condemned the mosque shooting saying it was one of New Zealand’s darkest days. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern told reporters following the attack.

According to the Small Arms Survey in 2017, residents in New Zealand own an estimated 1.2m firearms. There are no strict measures on ownership of military-style weapons as most firearms can be easily and legally sold on the internet. Meanwhile, Ardern vowed on Friday to consider banning semi-automatic firearms. “Our gun laws will change,” she confirmed.

About 1.1% of New Zealand’s population, almost 4.25 million people, are Muslim, according to the country’s most recent survey. The victims of the two attacks included refugees and migrants who fled the war and violence in their countries, seeking better living conditions and peaceful places. Egyptian, Saudi, and Jordanian nationals were among the casualties. Women and children were also killed or injured.

Terrorist or shooter?

Muslims and their supporters around the world criticised a few international media outlets or state leaders and politicians who considered the attack as an “act of violence,” rather than “terrorism”.

Some argue that far-right terrorism is not less dangerous or widespread than Islamic terrorism, such as the Islamic State. Jewish Russian journalist Leonid Bershidsky wrote in a recent column in Bloomberg that the number of violent incidents committed by the far-right is on the rise. “The Institute for Economics and Peace noted in its 2018 Global Terrorism Index report that the number of such killings increased from three in 2014 to 17 in 2017,” he added.

On Twitter, tens of thousands of users used the hashtag “#NewZealandTerroristAttack,” to pay tribute to the victims and criticise media outlets that used “act of violence” to describe the incident instead of “terrorist attack,” and the use of “shooter” rather than “terrorist”. 

“This terrorist killed 49 Muslims, but the world media calls him ‘the shooter’ not ‘the terrorist’ because he is not ‘Muslim!’ A Muslim is the only one who is punished and called a ‘terrorist,’ but others are called mentally unstable. Why?” wrote a Twitter user Kashif Khan.

Another tweet by Adam Saleh read: “This guy is not just a ‘shooter’ as what the media is saying. He’s also a Terrorist. Terrorism has no religion.” Meanwhile, Eman Ali wrote: “He [the attacker] is not mentally sick, He’s a terrorist.”

Furthermore, Abdel Allah asserted, “Don’t call him a shooter, he is a terrorist. Terrorism doesn’t belong to any religion. Keep this in mind.”

Mark Pavelich tweeted: “The first victim of the Terrorist Attack in New Zealand is shown on the video greeting the gunman with ‘Hello Brother.’ Those were his last words. Love in the face of hate.”

Mariam Mostafa tweeted, “White Supremacy and normalisation of Islamophobia are the real monsters threatening humanity right now. Please, don’t feed the beast with your silence and SPEAK UP.”

“This is terrorism”

Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and the author of Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History, tweeted shortly after the attack: “This is terrorism, Non-state actor. Civilian target and Political goal.”

“The terrorist who struck in New Zealand claimed to do it to oppose Muslims. Of course, the attack will have the exact opposite political effect. It will increase international sympathy towards Muslims and marginalise their fiercest political opponents,” Abrahms highlighted.

He noted that mass shootings in New Zealand are exceedingly rare. “The deadliest in modern history occurred in the small town of Aramoana in 1990 when gunman David Gray shot and killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour,” Abrahms articled.

Abrahms further tweeted that “the terrorist in New Zealand was very public-faced. He recorded the attack and left a manifesto. This will inevitably prompt questions about how much info the media should share to inform without incentivising the violent behaviour.”

Meanwhile, Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow and the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World, asserted in a tweet: “It’s not quite right to say the Christchurch shooter was ‘crazy, mad, insane,’ and certainly not thoughtless. Similarly, I was opposed to calling ISIS crazy, because that seemed a way to reduce the importance of what was happening, making it harder to confront the threat.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian writer Khaled Mansour emphasised the significance to describe what happened in New Zealand as a terrorist act, as such a description would open the doors for applying specific police procedures and laws and more restrictions against specific organisations or associations.

Global reactions

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on Friday, describing it as “terrorist”. According to the Ministry of Immigration, four Egyptians were killed in the attack. They are Mounir Soliman, Ahmed Gamal El-Din, Ashraf AL-Morsi, and Ashraf Al-Masry.

Globally, the US President Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke with the Prime Minister of New Zealand regarding “the horrific events” that have taken place on Friday. “I informed the Prime Minister…that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand, and that any assistance the US can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand,” Trump wrote.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel also tweeted: “This is an attack directed against Muslims. It is also an attack on New Zealand’s democracy and an open and tolerant society”.

Outrage over Facebook

The terrorist appeared to use a Twitter account holding the name of Brenton Tarrant to publish a racist 74-page manifesto called “The Great Replacement”, in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old man born in Australia.

The attacker also apparently used Facebook’s live stream service to release a shooting video, which he ironically warned he would live stream before the attack. The video, which contained graphic footage, reportedly ran for nearly 17 minutes and showed part of the attack. It is believed to be taken from an action  camera worn by the terrorist. Copies of the video continued to appear on Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram over a few hours after the attack.

In a statement on Friday, Facebook said it removed the video and the account which published the content. “We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Facebook stated.

The social media platform revealed that New Zealand police alerted them to the video shortly after the live stream commenced. “We quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as the video,” Facebook added. 

Democratic US Senator Cory Booker, who is running for presidency, criticised Facebook’s slow response to the spread of the graphic content of the video. Booker said at his election campaign event that “tech companies have a responsibility to do the morally right thing.”

Booker added, “this is a case where you’re giving a platform for hate. That’s unacceptable, it should have never happened, and it should have been taken down a lot more swiftly.”

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Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections Thu, 14 Mar 2019 12:00:25 +0000 General assembly election will take place on Friday to choose leader, six members

The post Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Eleven candidates are competing to lead Egypt’s Press Syndicate, the largest number of nominees in the history of the union, in which their electoral campaigns are focused on increasing the allowance granted to support digital journalists.

A total of 51 candidates are also competing over the six seats available of the syndicate’s board in the mid-term election, all of them focused on social and health rights, with hardly any of them focusing on freedoms.

On 1 March, the midterm election of the syndicate over the president and six seats in the syndicate’s board council was postponed to 15 March due to lack of completion of the quorum. A general assembly was held in the presence of 716 journalists but was not enough to hold the election, as at least 4,312 journalist members out of a total 8,624 members are requested to register their attendance in the general assembly.

The election could be postponed for another two weeks in case the quorum is not complete on 15 March.

Members who are running for the board of those who finished the previous terms are Hatem Zakaria, Khaled Miri, Mohamed Shabana, and Mahmoud Kamel, while former members of the council in general are Khalid Al Balashi, Hanan Fikri, and Hisham Younis.

 The majority of the candidates running for the council’s membership are from state-owned news outlets, with 11 from Al-Akhbar and Akhbar Al-Youm newspapers, seven from Al-Ahram newspaper, four from Al-Gomhouriya newspaper, and three from the Middle East News Agency (MENA).

A smaller number of candidates are running from private-owned newspapers, while three are running as independent journalists, the most known of which is Khaled Al-Balshi. Al-Balshi, a former member of the council and a human rights activist, used to head the online leftist news site Al-Badia.

Renowned journalist Diaa Rashwan, who is running for the presidency seat, vowed to improve the financial conditions of journalists and increase their monthly technology allowance, saying that Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, and the Minister of Finance, Mohamed Moeit, had already agreed to increase the allowance by 25%, starting from July to reach EGP 2,100 and promised to increase pensions, currently set at EGP 1,450, by 20%.

Rashwan is planning to increase the allowance based to the inflation index by forwarding a draft government. This is one of his previous plans when he was the head of syndicate in 2013.  Rashwan was elected as the head of the Egyptian Press Syndicate, however, he failed to secure a second term in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of state-run Al Gomhouria newspaper, Sayed Alexandrani, said that after submitting his candidacy papers, he went to the prime minister’s office to request an increase of the allowance to EGP 5,000.

Alexandrani also confirmed his ability to solve all problems of the union within six months throughout his full time, noting that he has failed in all the previous rounds, however he decided to run for the current election to serve journalists.

Moreover, Talaat Hashem, the Editor-in-Chief of the Young Egypt Party (Misr El-Fataa), running for the presidency seat, said that this was the third and final time to compete in the elections and that he will work on increasing the allowance to EGP 5,000 because the allowance is one of the means which honours journalists.

Despite the fact that the number of candidates running for the seat of the press syndicate has reached eleven, the competition seems to be dissolved between Rashwan, and board member of Akhbar Al-Youm Rafaat Rashad, due to their popularity in the press milieu and the fact that they have considerable work experience comparing to the rest of candidates running for the same seat.

Akhbar Al-Youm’s Rashad said that he was standing to “protect fellow journalists and freedom of expression” and would prioritise journalists’ cases who have been expelled from their workplaces as well as fight for increases in wages and pensions.

He wants the monthly technology allowance to be linked to inflation and promised to work to improve healthcare services available to journalists. Rashad also warned that the newspaper industry was passing through a critical phase, the repercussions of which pose a threat to the livelihood of journalists.

The eleven candidates include the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ghad newspaper, Abdel Nabi Abdel Sattar; journalist Samia Agouz; the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of state-run Al-Gomhouria, Ahmed El-Shamy; Journalist Mohamed Maghrabi, and Essam Rashwan.

Abdel Sattar said that the profession needs a boost and that comes on the top of his electoral programme to solve the problem of 2,000 journalists affiliated to political parties, and he refused for the increase of the allowance to be described as a way to buy votes, suggesting its increase as periodic bonuses per year by 10%.

Meanwhile, Maghrabi said that “this is the third time to nominate myself for the post of president, and my message is always to stand as a correspondent for journalists as a first step to run for president.”

Al-Agouz said that her programme is based on restoring journalists’ financial and moral rights. “I am trying to make the value of the allowance EGP 2,500 and increase it periodically and it is stipulated in the law so no one can ever change it.”

Allowances, which currently stand at EGP 1,680, are amounts of money given monthly to journalists to improve their financial conditions as a majority are not receiving profitable salaries due to the profession’s financial struggles.

Some of the candidates running for board’s seat did not ignore the families of journalists who were killed as they were covering various clashes. Mostafa Abeedo, a candidate for the membership of the syndicate, asserted the necessity to care for the families of the killed journalists, and immediately execute their needs.

Many journalists were killed during the course of their work in order to convey the events taking place in Egypt since the 25 January Revolution in 2011, most notably “Ahmed Assem, Husseini Abu Daif, Mayada Ashraf, Habiba Abdel Aziz, and Ahmed Abdel Gawad.”

Also, journalist Samia Abu Al-Nasr, said it was necessary to communicate with the social affairs committee to provide a social pension for the families of the killed journalists.

The Press Syndicate membership is currently restricted to journalists working in print media and the syndicate’s law would have to be changed to allow the membership base to broaden. The last Press Syndicate elections were held in 2017 when Salama was elected as head.

Moreover, Amira Al-Adly, journalist from state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, suggested to conduct a survey amongst the members of the general assembly on the most pressing problems of the press and trade union work, and received answers from some 400 members, and said that she is willing to open a committee to follow the conditions and issues of female journalists.

She added that the most important features of her electoral programme will be divided into two axes, the first is service, and the main one is wages, by providing a minimum for journalists to afford a decent life, and working to raise the level of the medical project after the recent deterioration.

Candidate Yousef Ayoub, editor of the privately-owned newspaper Sout Al-Umma, said that in case he wins, he will double the cuts granted to reporters on the subway and railway subscriptions, and that he will demand to get discounts on Super jet tickets and mass transport companies for the benefit of journalists, and that he had received promises from officials to discuss services that could be provided to journalists.

Hisham Younis, editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram newspaper, who was a member of the Journalists Syndicate Council from 2011 to 2015, said “the press is facing a historic turning point that requires all members of the profession to join hands. The next period requires focusing on issues of legislation and arbitrary dismissals of journalists, which also requires a legislative amendment that allows institutions’ accountability which separates journalists, as well as the return of discipline.”

He also said that the issue of wages requires from the members of the general assembly and the elected president to forward the issue to the House of Representatives and the cabinet, to place a fair solution, pointing out that the union must go toward the establishment of investment entities to spend on activities, services, and emergencies.

The post Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law Sun, 10 Mar 2019 09:00:03 +0000 National Council for Women only cares about divorced custody holders 

The post Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee, along with others, drafted a new personal status draft law after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s call to consider amending family laws to ensure stability of Egyptian families and reduce divorce rates.

The proposed law included some articles that raised wide objection and debate among those interested in women’s issues as well as family and personal status.

The highlights of those articles included the reduction of child custody age from 15 years in the current law to 9 years, the other party can host the child for a period of one or two days with a pledge to return them to the custody holder, allowing appeals in khula – a form of divorce initiated by the wife in Islamic Sharia Law – cases, and adding movables like furniture and household appliances to the wife’s dowry.

Other controversial articles proposed limiting responsibility of educational expenses to the father in divorce cases, imposing penalties on the husband who fails to document divorce to competent authorities, and the establishment of a specialised family police.

In order to reflect both views of the new draft law, Daily News Egypt interviewed MP Mohamed Fouad and Nermeen Abu Salem, founder of the Egyptian Single Mothers Group, that won an award from Facebook as one of the most influential pages in its community.


MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee

There are no alternatives to proposed law, Al-Azhar’s opinion is advisory: Fouad

Why was the discussion over the draft law delayed?

I do not know. A few days ago, I sent a letter to the head of the legislative and constitutional affairs parliamentary committee to speed up the discussion process of the draft law.

According to the conclusion of the committee on 13 January 2019, concerning the discussion of the new draft law, the committee will resume discussion on it during its first meeting in February and send letters to concerned bodies whose recommendations were delayed until the session in order to seek their opinions for the last time. They were informed that if no recommendations were made during this period, the committee will proceed with the law discussion.

The agreed time within the committee has passed. The committee should have resumed the discussion sessions of the draft law, but this has not happened so far.

This is why I call for a meeting to resume the discussion of the draft personal status law in the committee, in view of the president’s interest concerning the situation of the Egyptian family and the current Personal Status Law, especially his remarks in the 6th Youth Forum at Cairo University.

What are the concerned parties?

Al-Azhar, the National Council for Women (NCW), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

But Al-Azhar announced it is preparing another draft law?

Al-Azhar’s role is to provide its opinion about draft laws, not to make laws. In over 1,000 years of its history, Al-Azhar has never drafted laws. The Constitution specifies that the government, the presidency, and the parliament are entitled to propose bills. I have no objection to holding discussion on the current draft law and amending it, but they must first read it before making decisions, especially since their role is advisory.

What about the NCW and other specialised councils?

National councils, such as the NCW and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, have not responded to our letters concerning the draft law. They said they are drafting another law, which is incorrect. They know that the proposed law serves the interests of children and families. But the NCW has turned into an entity that does not care about women in general, and has changed into a council for divorced women only.

There are electronic platforms trying to distort the submitted bill without reading or hearing the discussions held over the law.

The national councils were supposed to respond to the draft articles in a written letter, but they pushed electronic platforms to reject the bill without a real reason for this, and spread rumours that the bill will facilitate the abduction of children by any of the family members, which is completely contrary to the truth, because the current penal code does not criminalise the kidnapping of children by parents, while the new draft law imposes deterrent penalties on those who refrain from returning minors to the custody holders.

We met with a large number of people with family issues. We formed a special committee to listen to them and conduct more than 25 community talks in several governorates, in the presence of family issues victims, lawyers, judges, scientists from the Islamic Research Centre, and some public figures.

What is the primary purpose of introducing this new law?

It aims to achieve justice and balance between the parties of the Egyptian family, protect the rights of children and achieve their interests, and provide an appropriate environment for the parents to establish a better Egyptian family. This was stressed by the president in several occasions, especially during the Youth Forum held in the Cairo University.

Have you read similar laws of other countries prior to the preparation of this law?

We have read many similar laws and we have not found any country with a law like ours that deprives children of one of their parents on the grounds of not holding custody. The current law turns children into monkeys, where a parent will meet them at a park for three hours. All Arab countries apply the principle of joint custody. I have been in Morocco recently and I read their Personal Status Law and I hope that can be adopted in Egypt.

Why do you insist on replacing the current system with a joint custody?

The current law has been in place for 100 years and has not been developed, despite all the societal changes. The current system limit contact between the child and his non-custodial parent as if they are punishing them for the divorce. We proposed that the non-custodial parent hosts his child for one or two days to maintain the psychological integrity and balanced relationship between the child and his parents.

But there are fears that extending the hosting period would lead to child abduction?

The law addressed this fear by stipulating that the child must be returned after the period specified by the new legislation, whether it is a day or two days. This will prevent abductions. According to the current law, non-custodial parents do not have to return their children to the custodial parent.

What is the proposed penalty for not returning the child after temporary hosting?

The proposed legislation imposes a six-month prison sentence, based on a court ruling, and in order to ensure that the custodian does not abduct the child, a travel ban is issued in case of failure to commit to the hosting rules on time.

What about reducing the age of custody?

The current law sets the age of custody at 15, while the proposal law will reduce it to nine years old.

What prompted you to present this proposal?

Because most of the concerning studies and real cases we saw in a daily basis showed that the child needs his father before the age of 15. The argument of the father’s work was defeated because women now work like men.

Why does the draft law propose changing the father’s position in custody?

Because the father’s turn in the order of custodians is 16th in the current law, while they come second in all countries after the mother. This is not realistic and would not produce healthy children or youth.

What about the proposal to establish a specialised family police?

This department will follow the Ministry of Interior and will be tasked with implementing the rulings of family courts and conducting inquiries about the father’s income and other matters concerning personal status issues. The proposed police sector will be trained to deal with such cases because they are different from other criminal offenses.

The draft law also obligates registering a divorce. Does the article face any opposition?

There has been a call for setting a period of time to document the verbal divorce to reduce divorce rates. The president has alerted us of the terrible divorce rates and those children living without parents. I do not understand the objection, especially from clerics, as we only recognise documented marriages. Why would we accept that in marriages and reject it in divorces?


Nermeen Abu Salem

Allowing appeals in Khula cases defeats women: Abu Salem

Why do you object the personal status draft law?

We do not object the amendment of the current Personal Status Law, but we have some reservations on the proposed amendments such as khula, custody conditions, educational guardianship, and others.

What are your concerns regarding the Khula?

The draft law propose allowing appeals in khula cases, which is an abuse of women’s rights and a violation of their dignity and legitimate right to continue or end the relation. If women choose to drop all their legitimate rights, this indicates they have suffered from serious harm in marriage.

The proposed law leads to unnecessary prolongation of litigation, causing further harm and abuse of women’s rights.

In Khula, the wife waives all of her rights, such as her dowry, while the husband loses nothing.

But some believe that allowing appeals in khula gives a chance for fixing the relation?

In order to give spouses an opportunity to reconsider prior separation, during the course of the khula proceedings, the reconciliation was already presented to both parties by the court at least twice during the case.

Consequently, there is no legal or humanitarian justification for this step, but it does expose women to more oppression and injustice, and deprives her from her human right.

The new draft law proposes reducing the custody age, why do you reject it?

The Sharia law admitted that the custody age is the age at which the child can give up the mother’s care psychological needs. We do not see this is possible at the age of 7 or 9 years old. Al-Azhar agrees with us. And what law deprived the mother of her children, when she is unmarried, in favour of the father and step mother at that age?

According to the World Health Organisation, the child is generally legally defined as a person under the age of 18 and he does not complete his mental and physical maturity.

The Egyptian Child Law stipulates that at the age of 18, a child remains with his mother until adulthood. I do not only ask to keep the custody age at 15, but to increase it to 18 years old.

There is a lot of confusion about the educational guardianship, what is its problem?

In March 2018, the Supreme Constitutional Court acknowledged the right of the custodian in the educational guardianship. There is no doubt that this ruling was correct. It makes sense to keep the educational guardianship in the hands of the custodian since they best know the child and his abilities, in addition to supervising them all the time.

Do you agree with the part of the wife’s dowry?

We will agree only in one case, if it was agreed in advance, and frankly that the list of movables includes furniture, household appliances, and others as part of the wife’s dowry, but otherwise there is no legal text. The Sharia obligates the husband to prepare the marital home from A to Z. If the woman partakes in that, she is only contributing to facilitate the marriage, but this does not give the man the right to claim what the woman has contributed in case of divorce or Khula.

Why do you object the non-custodial parent’s hosting of child without the consent of the custodian?

We do object the father’s right to participate in raising his children. The current law and the constitution gave the full custody to mothers. This means that it is not permissible in any way to divide the week between the mother and the father leading to the child’s instability. The Court of Cassation came to uphold the ruling on 9 March 2010.

As for the religious side, there is no disagreement on it. Islamic law did not mention hosting in the Quran or Sunna. Some, however, indicate that the child belongs to the mother.

The fatwa of the Islamic Research Complex No. 445 for 2012 stated that hosting the child should be in accordance to the custodian’s consent.

The Islamic Research Academy also confirmed in April 2017 that the hosting must be approved by the custodian and the child after reaching 10 years old.

The term ‘host’ was not mentioned in Quran, Sunnah, or any of the Islamic doctrines. It is an imported term from the European society, which is characterised by strict disciplines, rules, and acts as an immediate deterrent with penalties toward the interests of the young. The hosting system in Egyptian society without the controls of the European community will create countless problems and courts will accumulate more issues we need.

But the law proposal says that this is necessary for the child’s psychological health?

This is not true. Hosting by a judicial decision and without the consent of the custodian and the child negatively affects the psychological health of children, as it forces children to move from a place to another every week against their will. We all know the extent to which a child is attached to their home and toys. They have their own world, which may not be found in the other parent’s house. Even if the stepmother loves the child, she will never become their mother. Also, what if hosting takes place in a different governorate from the one where the child originally lives?

But there are guarantees in the proposal to return the child to his custodian?

Those calling for the application of hosting said that there is no problem of hosting as long as there are guarantees for the return of the children. We believe that the guarantee of imprisonment is not genuine. What about mothers who received rulings to return their children and were unable to force the father to do so? If we stop children from travelling abroad, what about traveling within Egypt? There are so many cases in courts with unfulfilled rulings.

The previous rulings must be implemented before offering future guarantees. What would a mother do if she sues the father and the court gives him a prison sentence but she could not reach her child?

The post Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Africa drowning in armed conflicts Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:00:18 +0000 Conflict over diamonds, power, ravages continent

The post Africa drowning in armed conflicts appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

Boko Haram in Nigeria

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

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

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

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

The civil war in Somalia

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

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

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

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

Civil war in Libya

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

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

Civil war in South Sudan

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

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

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

Conflict in Darfur

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

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

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

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

Conflict in Central Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conflict over northern Mali

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

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

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

LRA rebellion

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

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

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

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

Conflict in Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

Union of Resistance Forces in Chad

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

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

The post Africa drowning in armed conflicts appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Controversy resurfaces over polygamy among Egyptians Tue, 05 Mar 2019 10:30:13 +0000 People divided as some think Al Tayeb’s statements are diversions from texts of Sunnah, Quran, while others praised them

The post Controversy resurfaces over polygamy among Egyptians appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al-Azhar is too late

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

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

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

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

What do psychiatrists think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do people think?

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

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

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

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

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Cairo deadly train accident: Rundown railways, continued neglect Sun, 03 Mar 2019 11:00:29 +0000 "They were heading to a wedding in Alexandria, children died, parents are in intensive care," says victims’ family 

The post Cairo deadly train accident: Rundown railways, continued neglect appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rundown railways

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

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

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

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

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

They were going to a wedding

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

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

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

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

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

All must be held accountable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury Tue, 26 Feb 2019 08:30:15 +0000 Bouteflika announced his bid for fifth term

The post Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other candidates

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

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

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

Reactions and media coverage

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

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

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

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

Algeria’s economic situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Egyptian-Kuwaiti cooperation bonds remain robust Mon, 25 Feb 2019 07:00:54 +0000 There are 1,258 Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt with $3.67bn investments, says GAFI

The post Egyptian-Kuwaiti cooperation bonds remain robust appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

Economic cooperation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political aspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Military activities

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

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

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

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

Mutual visits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cultural relations

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

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

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

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

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

History behind Kuwait’s National Day

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

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

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Uniform for teachers: fatuous, overt disregard to essential requirements Sun, 24 Feb 2019 10:00:49 +0000 ‘Unfortunately, teachers are poor, desperate, frustrated over their conditions,’ says researcher

The post Uniform for teachers: fatuous, overt disregard to essential requirements appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the point?

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

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

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

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

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

Back to fascist times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Covering ‘sex leaks’: Professional, ethical lapses, law violations Sun, 17 Feb 2019 09:00:17 +0000 ‘Digging into private affairs this far suggests negative deliberate intention to defame, hurt suspects,’ says lawyer

The post Covering ‘sex leaks’: Professional, ethical lapses, law violations appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media gag

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

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

Laws, constitutional violations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has nothing to do with journalism

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

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

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

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

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Iran’s 40th revolution anniversary: Islamic Republic tired but surviving Sun, 10 Feb 2019 10:30:30 +0000 ‘Country devastated by 40 years of Islamic rule, no wonder its people demand regime’s overthrow,’ says analyst 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iranians keep protesting 

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

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

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

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

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

Overthrow of regime

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

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

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

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

Tired but surviving

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

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

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

The US-Iran relations

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

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

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

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

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

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

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

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

Iran’s influence in the Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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