Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Wednesday,18 October, 2017
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Briefs

Al-Ahram Weekly

Christians unite

THE COUNCIL of Egyptian Churches held its first meeting on Monday at the headquarters of the Orthodox Cathedral in the presence of leaders of five Egyptian churches. The Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, Episcopal and Greek Orthodox churches will form the council. Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II headed the meeting. The new council is to help coordination among Egyptian churches and encourage dialogue on social and political issues while maintaining the independence of each church. This will help deepen the concept of Christian unity, according to council members. A council convention was signed at the Cathedral. In a joint statement signed by leaders of the five churches, it was stressed that the council will serve churches and the country without meddling in politics.

 

Coptic protest

DOZENS of Copts held a protest march on Sunday from Shubra Square to the downtown Higher Judiciary House to denounce the attack on the Anglican Mary Girgis Church in a small village in Fayoum province. A few political movements and Muslim protesters took part in the march, carrying banners showing support for the Copts’ demands. The protesters blamed the Interior Ministry for failing to protect the church.

It was reported that a crowd, led by a Salafi leader, attacked the church and burnt parts of it last Friday. The cross on the dome was destroyed, as were many of the icons and sacred portraits.

The raid came after Muslims living in the nearby area opposed the construction of a building annexed to the church. Although Muslim and Coptic figures in the area were invited to a reconciliation session, the problem has not been resolved.

 

New Islamist party

THE ISLAMIST-oriented Islah (reform) Party made its debut at the headquarters of the Press Syndicate on Saturday. Party chairman Attia Adlan and a group of founders stressed that overall reform and the rule of Islamic law are the two main aims behind founding the party. “The party will adopt a new philosophy that will help complete the targets of the revolution through bringing up a new generation capable of undertaking such a mission,” Adlan said, addressing the conference in which a large number of Salafi figures attended. The Islah Party submitted its registration papers to the Political Parties Committee last month after collecting around 6,000 proxies from more than 15 governorates. After which the committee approved its membership.

 

Shutting border tunnels

EGYPTIAN forces are flooding smuggling tunnels under the border with the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down.

Military sources stressed that the campaign which began 10 days ago would continue to destroy the tunnels and “abort the criminal activities committed through them targeting Egyptian lands.” “We are using water to close the tunnels by raising water from one of the wells,” the sources stated.

According to unofficial figures, Gaza gets almost 30 per cent of its need of goods through the underground tunnels against a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years.

Following the killing of 16 Egyptian army soldiers in August at the border city of Rafah in Northern Sinai by militants, the military launched a large scale operation code named Eagle, later changed to Sinai, to chase militants who settled over the years in Sinai.

Between 150 to 200 tunnels have been shut down since the Sinai attack. At one stage an estimated 2,500-3,000 tunnels snaked their way under the desert fence but the network has shrunk markedly since 2010, when Israel eased some of the limits they imposed on imports into the coastal enclave.

The military said it believed that some of the gunmen had crossed into Egypt via the tunnels, alluding to Hamas. Three months ago, Egypt played a key role in reaching a ceasefire agreement between Gaza’s Hamas and the Israeli government.

The hostile activities targeting the Egyptian Armed Forces in Sinai over the past few weeks may justify the serious procedures applied recently to shut down the tunnels. Last week, the army discovered a lorry carrying two tonnes of explosives while attempting to cross Suez Canal under a tunnel into Sinai.

 

YouTube still on

THE NATIONAL Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) filed an appeal contesting a recently-issued court ruling that obliged the government to block access to the video-sharing website YouTube for 30 days in Egypt for broadcasting a film deprecating Prophet Mohamed.

The appeal was filed because the ruling “was impossible to be implemented”, said NTRA in a statement released last Thursday. NTRA cited very high technical costs as the reason behind the inability to carry out the ruling.

Blocking YouTube will affect Google, it said, adding that Egypt is ranked second in the Middle East in using the search engine. The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression in Egypt had also filed an appeal, calling the verdict “collective punishment”.

“Banning these websites will deprive Internet users of the right to express themselves,” the statement said.

Previous court rulings banning pornography websites were similarly not implemented due to technical difficulties.

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