Al-Ahram Weekly Online   25 October - 31 November 2012
Issue No. 1120
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

News reel

By Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Visit to Algeria

PRIME Minister Hisham Kandil on Wednesday ended a three-day visit to Algeria which aims to revive relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Kandil said in a statement that the purpose of his visit was to "revive" the spirit of cooperation between the two brotherly countries and to "warm up historical and long-standing relations".

"There is coordination between the two countries in politics, economy and security," he said, pointing out that the most important thing was "rapprochement".

During the first day of his visit, Kandil held a meeting with his Algerian counterpart Abdel-Malek Sellal.

Kandil was accompanied by a delegation of government officials, including the ministers of foreign affairs, petroleum, industry and foreign trade, planning and international cooperation, and housing, plus a number of businessmen.

Kandil is the first senior Egyptian official to pay an official visit to Algeria since the outbreak of Egypt's unrest in early 2011.

Women diplomats

THE 25 JANUARY Revolution put diplomacy in the limelight and made the job of the diplomat more demanding, said Saad Al-Farargi, a prominent diplomat and former assistant foreign minister, in the stylish but simple ceremony that witnessed the graduation of 41 budding diplomats from the Egyptian Institute for Diplomatic Studies this week.

The group of attach├ęs who will start their work soon is the 44th batch of Egyptian diplomatic attach├ęs to join the Foreign Ministry. They are named after Al-Farargi. By tradition, each new batch of graduates is named after a prominent diplomat. Other groups were named after former ministers of foreign affairs Boutros Boutros Ghali and Ahmed Maher.

The young diplomats are due to start their one-year training soon.

The ceremony is a cause for pride for the ministry every year, said Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr.

Senior figures including Ghali, Al-Farargi and Mustafa Al-Feki, the former head of the Diplomatic Institute, attended the ceremony.

Amr said more than half the batch joining the ministry are women. "It is an indication that the ministry believes in the role of women in serving their country."

The ceremony ended with a souvenir picture of the group with Amr.

In the open

A GROUP of members of the dissolved parliament staged a street protest on Sunday during which they called upon Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to intervene for the reinstatement of the parliament.

Some 50 former MPs, led by independent parliamentarian Mohamed Al-Omda, were forced to hold their press conference at Al-Sawi Cultural Wheel in Zamalek after security personnel prevented them from holding an emergency session inside parliament.

Security officials told Al-Ahram that they had been ordered to prevent the former MPs from entering the premises because they no longer had parliamentary credentials.

The former MPs urged Saad Al-Katatni, speaker of the dissolved parliament and the newly elected chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, to implement a decree issued in June by President Morsi calling for the parliament's reinstatement.

"This decree was invalidated by the Supreme Constitutional Court [SCC] without legal basis. Al-Katatni should assume his powers to implement it," said a statement issued by the group.

Hair cut punishment

A SCHOOLTEACHER in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor was referred to the prosecution-general for investigation after a complaint was filed against her for cutting the hair of two girl students as punishment for not wearing the veil.

Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud ordered a swift investigation. The prosecution spokesman Adel Al-Said said the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) had filed a complaint over the incident. Al-Said said the teacher broke the law in a clear violation of the rights of children and their private lives.

The teacher who wears the face veil, had instructed all female students to wear the veil because they entered grade six. When two girls appeared the following day without the veil, she cut seven centimetres of their hair as punishment.

Egyptian media reported that the families of the two students withdrew their complaint against the teacher on Monday, while the NCCM did not.

Faraeen online

THE OWNER of the controversial Faraeen TV channel, Tawfik Okasha, said on Monday that the NileSat administration refused to return his channel on the air even after he won a court ruling allowing its broadcast.

NileSat said that it will not implement the court ruling until the channel pays its LE4 million debt.

In a press conference on Monday, Okasha said the NileSat decision not to broadcast his channel was a "conspiracy" by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to settle political accounts with him. On Tuesday, Okasha broadcast his two-hour show on the Internet.

In a related development, the court in the southern province of Luxor on Monday sentenced Okasha to four months in jail for defaming President Mohamed Morsi. The court based its ruling on Article 179 of the penal code which criminalises the libel of any state head.

Ousting Mahmoud

A GROUP of Islamist political parties announced on Monday the formation of a new coalition to press for the dismissal of Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud. The newly formed coalition includes the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the Building and Development Party which was established by the Islamic group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, and the Salafist Front.

"He was the prosecutor-general during former president Hosni Mubarak's regime. He helped the ousted president and his men to steal the money of Egyptians and smuggle it abroad," the group said in a statement that was released during a press conference.

The group said in a statement that sacking Mahmoud is one of the core demands of last year's revolution, "as this prosecutor-general was responsible for playing with the evidence related to the killing of peaceful protesters during the last two years.

"We respect the judicial authority and we respect the concept of the separation of state powers, but we do want a prosecutor-general who cannot hold the killers of Egyptian youth during the revolution accountable," the statement said.

The group called for a million-man march to the prosecutor-general's office to force him to resign.

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