Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Tribal efforts

The Sinai Tribal Federation, comprised of nearly 30 Sinai tribes, held its first meeting on Sunday. It vowed to confront the Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis militant group, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police personnel.

The tribes will work “in coordination with the concerned state support the state and the armed forces in their war against terrorism,” the federation said in a statement.

They agreed to form two groups of young volunteers, one of which will help security forces gather information on suspected militants and their supporters as well as monitor the routes used for weapons smuggling. The second will participate in the military campaign launched by Egypt’s armed forces.

An insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula has intensified since 2013 when Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted following mass protests against his rule.

Last month, Egypt extended by three months a state of emergency imposed on Northern Sinai in October after Islamist militants stepped up attacks in the thinly populated but strategic peninsula bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal.

Surviving assassination

Judge Moataz Khafagi, who had sentenced dozens of Islamists to death and long jail terms, survived an assassination attempt on Sunday morning when a bomb exploded near his house in Zahraa Helwan, south of Cairo.

Another bomb ready to explode was also found on the scene. A pharmacist suspected of being involved in the incident was remanded in custody for 15 days pending investigations, according to a Southern Cairo Prosecution decree. Efforts are ongoing to arrest two other suspects who managed to escape following the explosion, which damaged the facade of the judge’s building and three cars.

Four citizens were reported seriously injured while the judge, who was at his apartment at the time of the explosion, was not wounded.

Khafagi sentenced 12 Islamists to death and ten to life over the killing of a police general during an assault in the town of Kerdasa, a stronghold of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s supporters.

He also sentenced the top leader of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to life in jail along with 14 others on charges of murder and incitement to violence during clashes in Cairo in 2013.

Police officer wanted

The Cairo Criminal Court ordered on Sunday the arrest of the Central Security officer Yassin Hatem, charged with killing the left-wing activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh, who was a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party.

The prosecution had accused Hatem of shooting Al-Sabbagh with a pellet gun and injuring other party members while dispersing a peaceful protest in downtown Cairo to commemorate the fourth anniversary of January 25 Revolution.

The defendant had no intention of “murder”, the prosecution said, though the shooting led to Al-Sabagh’s death.

After examining pictures and videos filmed during the protest, the court adjourned the trial of the police officer to 14 May.

Al-Sabbagh’s killing had caused local and international outrage and placed police abuse in the spotlight again. Rights groups harshly criticised the incident, which they said was evidence of the excessive use of force by the police in dealing with peaceful protesters.

Some 17 members of the party, witnesses to the killing, are standing trial on charges of participating in the same, unauthorised protest with the slain activist. Egypt’s protest law, issued in late 2013, stipulates protesters have to obtain police approval prior to demonstrations. Violators could face jail terms and heavy fines.

Maspero in darkness

Egyptian public television and radio channels came back on air after an hour-long power cut on Saturday afternoon at the Radio and Television Union building in Maspero, Cairo. The power cut was caused by a malfunction in the main lighting system of the Maspero building, according to union head Essam Al-Amir.

Osama Asran, the deputy minister of electricity and energy, said late on Saturday that the disruption was due to a failure in the main lighting interface of the building complex and in a link to backup feeding devices, according to the state TV website.

This was not the first time that Egyptian television was taken off the air in recent months. In mid-April, an explosion targeting the electricity pylons supplying the state-run Media Production City, where most of the country’s satellite channels broadcast, led to a power cut that forced several stations off the air for several hours.

Demolition expected

The building of Egypt’s formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), badly damaged since it was set ablaze during the January 25 Revolution, will be demolished within a month, sources at the Cairo Governorate said on Saturday.

“The official permits to demolish the building were issued by the west Cairo municipality while the Egyptian Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority has been tasked with the demolition, expected to be completed within 30 days of delivery,” deputy governor for West Cairo Mohamed Ayman Abdel-Tawab said.

He added that the governmental Standing Committee, formed to protect Egypt’s architectural heritage, had examined the burnt building and declared that “keeping the building in its current condition is pointless” by consensus.

On 28 March, the cabinet decided to demolish the building and annex its land to that of the adjoining garden and buildings of the Egyptian Museum, according to the State Information Service. According to Abdel-Tawab, the committee said that “the fire caused a failure in the structural concrete of the building; thus it represents a serious threat as it might collapse at any time.”

The assets of the NDP were seized by the government after it was dissolved by a court ruling in April 2011.

Village raided

A policeman and three suspected supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood died early on Saturday following a police raid to arrest individuals wanted on criminal charges. Clashes erupted between alleged Brotherhood members and security forces as soon as police personnel entered Basarta village, near the Egyptian city of Damietta.

The head of Damietta’s Security Directorate, Hassan Al-Bardissi, said that as soon as police officers arrived in the village they were shot at by the suspects. The police fired back, and the resulting clashes left four people dead. A policeman had been killed and six people were injured in another police raid on Wednesday in the same village.

Basarta is seen as a hotspot of Muslim Brotherhood support, with many marches in support of the group starting in the village before heading into Damietta. The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist group by the government in 2013, and membership or support of the group criminalised.

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