|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
10 - 16 January 2002
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Comparing notesThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just received the latest tally on those Egyptians detained in US prisons since the 11 September attacks. According to the report received by the ministry, 112 Egyptians were detained in the last quarter of 2001. From those 112, 24 have been released, deported or asked to leave the country.
Furthermore, according to Ambassador Mohamed Abbas, assistant foreign minister for consular affairs and the affairs of Egyptians abroad, another 37 have been asked to leave the country or been deported by judicial orders issued by American courts. A third of these remain in the country. "We are now comparing the information that the ministry of foreign affairs has with the information that the Americans have provided, especially regarding the remaining Egyptians whose cases the US authorities have not finished investigating," Abbas said.
Abbas has also continued to call on Egyptian families in Cairo and in the US to inform the ministry of any family members who are detained in the US. In the meantime, the ambassador explained that the ministry has established a hotline in all of its missions abroad, allowing detainees to contact Egyptian consular officials free of charge. Abbas indicated that 51 detainees have already made use of this service.
Pleading innocentTHE SOHAG Criminal Court resumed on Saturday the daily hearing sessions in the retrial of 96 suspects accused of involvement in one of Egypt's worst sectarian strife, reports Jailan Halawi. All the defendants pleaded innocent, denying they had taken part in the fight that broke out two years ago on New Year's Eve, killing 20 Coptic Christians and a Muslim.
The defendants -- 58 Muslims and 38 Coptic Christians -- will remain behind bars only during the court sessions, even though some of them are charged with murder. While the murder accusations are against Muslims, the Christians are charged of rioting, looting and burning property.
Last February, the court acquitted 92 defendants and convicted four on minor charges. The four were given jail terms ranging between one and 12 years.
Egypt's Coptic clerics, including Pope Shenouda III, head of the Orthodox Church, expressed dissatisfaction with the court ruling. However, Egypt's Cassation Court ordered on 30 July the defendants be retried in a different circuit of the Sohag court. The retrial began on 3 November 2001.
Gamaleddin winsAFTER a year of legal battles, Abdel-Ahad Gamaleddin, a prominent 71-year-old lawyer, won last Thursday's by- elections in Cairo's downtown district of Al-Azbaqiya. Gamaleddin, the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) official candidate, was Al-Azbaqiya's deputy in the outgoing parliament, but lost the constituency to businessman Rami Lakah in the 2000 elections.
In the by-elections, Gamaleddin, facing only two independent rivals, gained 2,500 votes. Gamaleddin, however, faced a tough year-long battle to regain his old Al-Azbaqiya seat which he had held for 14 years. The battle for Al- Azbaqiya began with the disqualification of Lakah from running in the elections due to his Egyptian-French dual nationality. This was confirmed on 27 August 2001 when the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that citizens holding dual nationality should be barred from running in elections. This led the People's Assembly to rescind Lakah's membership on 18 November 2001.
Mahfouz standsA STATUE of Nobel literature laureate Naguib Mahfouz will stand in Sphinx Square in the west Cairo district of Mohandessin. The decision was taken by Giza governor Mahfouz Abu Leil. Mahfouz, who turned 90 on 11 December, is among the most prolific Arab writers, having produced 35 novels and 14 collections of short stories. He has also worked on 25 screenplays, none of which are based on his novels.
During his long career he has received many awards. In 1957 he received the State Literary Prize for the Novel and in 1968 he was awarded the State Merit Award. In 1988 he acquired the greatest prize of all, the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Osiris uncoveredA SIZEABLE statue of the ancient god Osiris has been unearthed in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya, Nevine El-Aref reports. A team of excavators were conspicuously milling about the site in Al-Bahnasa village, once an important settlement in Minya during the Ptolemaic era.
Osiris was worshipped as the god of the underworld from as far back as early Pharaonic times up to the Roman period. The three-metre-high limestone statue dates to Ptolemaic times, around the second century BC.
A number of limestone shrines used as burials for other Osiris figurines were also found. The names of Ptolemy V and Cleopatra, his wife, were inscribed on the façades. Inside the shrines, the excavation team found offering tables, scarabs, pottery and slithers of gold that once covered the Osiris statues. The offering tables were inscribed in demotic, a late form of hieroglyphics.
Gaballah Ali Gaballah, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) described the discovery as "very important" and said that it will help Egyptologists identify the exact location of the ancient city of Per Khef, which is mentioned in several papyruses but has never been found. Hassan Ibrahim, the head of the excavation mission, said that the newly discovered site could be one of Osiris' symbolic tombs, where annual funerary rituals were once held to commemorate Osiris's life, death and rebirth. Gaballah explained that excavation work has been carried out by an SCA team, in collaboration with archaeologists from Cairo University.
The newly discovered Osiris statue will be restored and put on display at Minya's regional museum. The shrines will be restored in situ. Last year, a tomb dating from the 26th dynasty was found in the same area, along with a limestone anthropoid sarcophagus. Wall inscriptions proved to date back to the early Christian period.
Circus tragedyTHE AUDIENCE who visited the national circus recently were treated to more than the usual programme. After the famous lion and tiger trainer Mohamed El-Helw ended his show, he told a number of guards outside the caged stage to help him direct the wild animals back to their cages. One of the guards, Soliman Ashour, got his leg stuck between the cage bars and became a tempting meal for one of the tigers.
The tiger devoured his foot until El-Helw came to the rescue by hitting the tiger over the head. Ashour is in hospital in a bad condition.
Euro winds"IT IS so cold," was the common comment by Egyptians this week. Egypt was hit by a cold wave which swept over Europe, causing severe snow and rainfalls and leading to temperatures dropping to lower-than-average levels. In Cairo, early morning temperature stood at around seven degrees Celsius compared to a seasonal average of 12 degrees Celsius or above, according to weather forecasters.
The weather bureau said that Egypt has been feeling the effect of very cold air coming from central and southern Europe.
Compiled by Shaden Shehab
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