Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)
Wednesday,20 February, 2019
Issue 1408, (6 - 12 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly


Blast near US Embassy

SECURITY forces on Tuesday detained a man, 24, after a bottle containing flammable chemicals caught fire in his backpack near the American Embassy in Cairo.

No casualties were reported in the incident.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that [Abdallah Ayman] Abdel-Samie embraces some extremist ideas and was intending to use them to commit an act of aggression,” a statement said.

“We are aware of reports that public transportation near the area has been disrupted due to the incident. Please exercise caution,” the embassy said on its twitter account.

The whole area surrounding the embassy is heavily secured and blocked off with large concrete slabs that prevent direct access to it.

Promising outlook           

MOODY’s Investors Service recently changed the outlook on Egypt as a long-term bond-issuer from positive to stable. However, the credit-rating agency kept Egypt’s B3 issuer-rating, saying the country’s refinancing risk remained a credit challenge.

The decision to change the outlook was made due to structural improvements in Egypt’s fiscal and current account balances resulting from the ongoing implementation of the country’s IMF-backed economic reform programme, the report said. It also referred to early signs of business-environment reform that offer the prospect of a sustainable and inclusive growth path capable of improving competitiveness and absorbing the country’s rapidly expanding labour force.

The report hinted that the government’s progress in implementing reforms agreed with the IMF had imparted a further degree of financial stability. Primary deficits have shrunk, and the debt burden has begun to fall. Foreign exchange buffers have also been rebuilt. Economic experts expect that future months may see a higher rating of Egypt’s credit profile provided that the implementation of the economic reform programme continues.

Detention renewed

THE SUPREME State Security Prosecution Authority renewed its 15-day detention order against former diplomat Maasoum Marzouk and six other figures on Monday, pending investigations into case 1305 of 2018. The suspects face charges of joining a terrorist group, receiving foreign funds for terrorist purposes and inciting action against the governing system.

Together with Marzouk, the detainees include Yehia Al-Qazzaz, a member of the 9 March Movement for University Independence, Raed Salama, a leader of the Popular Current Party and activists Nermine Hussein, Abdel-Fattah Said, Sameh Seoudi and Amr Mohamed. They were arrested on 24 August in accordance with a Prosecution warrant.

Marzouk had called for a referendum on President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s rule, a step viewed as inciting action against the state.

Sectarian events

THE SECURITY forces have arrested more than 30 residents of a village in the southern province of Minya in the wake of last Friday’s sectarian events. The arrested villagers had attacked properties owned by Copts in the Demshaw Hashem village in the Minya governorate in protest at the use of homes as places of worship.

“The homes of four Coptic villagers were attacked and properties set ablaze on Friday by groups from the village and nearby areas. Three people including a firefighter were injured,” said Bishop Makarios of Minya. In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Church in Minya said “there had been reports about the intention of some villagers to carry out the attack because of the existence of a church in the village. The authorities were informed of the threats, but the security forces arrived in the village after the attack.”

Similar attacks took place in a nearby village a few weeks ago because of Muslim opposition at Copts turning their homes into places of worship, the statement said. The Minya governorate has witnessed 77 sectarian attacks since 2011, mainly for reasons related to unauthorised churches. Many churches are built illegally in Egypt due to complicated administrative procedures. A law passed in 2016 regulating the construction and restoration of churches did not put an end to the problem.

Anti-fruit campaign           

A SOCIAL-media campaign is urging the public not to buy fruit for nine days, as a protest measure against what it says are exorbitant prices. Guavas are being sold for LE20 a kg and apples at LE40, nearly double their prices last year. The price of a kg of mangos ranges from LE25 to LE60 depending on the variety.

The campaign, which started on 1 September with the hashtag “let it rot,” is in protest at what it says is the greed of fruit-traders. Campaign members hope the boycott will reduce the demand for fruit, leading to a decrease in prices. “I hope we succeed and a large number of consumers join the campaign, as this is the only effective tool to stop sellers exploiting ordinary people,” said Facebook users. 

Fruits sellers claim the campaign is not effective and that it has not affected trade. They said there was a shortage of fruit due to recurrent heat waves and disease, and that this had led to the increase in prices.

Foiled suicide

AN EMPLOYEE in his forties attempted to commit suicide on Sunday by throwing himself under an underground train at the Gamal Abdel-Nasser station in Cairo. The suicide attempt failed, and only the man’s foot was injured. However, trains were halted for 15 minutes until the man had been removed and taken to hospital. The necessary legal measures were taken.

A statement from the Metro company later stirred wide public criticism, however. The statement said that “anyone wanting to commit suicide should keep away from this vital utility that serves the needs of millions of people daily.” Sunday’s suicide attempt was the latest in a series of attempts committed on the Metro in recent months. Psychological disturbances, familial disputes and economic problems are usually the main causes.

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