Egypt's Christian Pope blasts Islamist president


CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country's Islamist president over his handling of recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo.
The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt. They were his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt's Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel political turmoil that has been roiling the country since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago.


Egypt calls in favors as credit crunch hits key imports

A man is reflected on a door of an exchange bureau in central Cairo, March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

By Julia Payne, Sarah McFarlane and Yasmine Saleh

LONDON/CAIRO | Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:35pm EDT

LONDON/CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has hit breaking point in its ability to pay for imports of oil, wheat and other basic commodities, forcing it to call in diplomatic favors or seek easy payment terms from suppliers who hope for future advantage in return.


Egypt mourns Mohamed Yousri Salama

Political figures from across political spectrum offer condolences on death of Mohamed Yousri Salama who died on Sunday aged 39

Mohamed Yousri Salama, one of the Constitution Party founders


Political activist and scholar Mohamed Yousri Salama has died aged 39 from a stomach condition.


Salama was spokesperson for the Salafist Nour Party when it emerged as a significant political force after the January 25 Revolution.

He resigned from the party in August 2011 less than three months before it came second to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt's first post-revolution parliamentary elections.

I cannot remain the spokesman for a party that does not represent my views, Salama said at the time.


Egypt women's council slams Islamist rejection of UN rights document

Head of Egypt's Women's Rights Council criticises Muslim Brotherhood's negative stance regarding controversial UN declaration on women's rights

Egypt's official women's rights council says Islamists who reject a UN blueprint to combat violence against women and girls are promoting the idea that Islam favors violence against women. 

Last week, 131 countries at the United Nations approved the non-binding document to combat violence against women and girls. Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood strongly objected to the document, saying it clashed with Islamic principles and sought to destroy the family.


Egypt is not lost to Islamists: RAND report  

The think tank's most recent report on Egypt is to be launched today in the US Congress  

After analysing post-revolution voting in Egypt, RAND, a US think tank, reports that Islamists are losing ground and recommends the US not interfere in Egyptian politics.


'Voting Patterns in Post-Mubarak Egypt,' issued by RAND, a non-profit organisation that provides research and analysis to US policymakers, analyses four major votes that followed the 25 January revolution and identifies areas within Egypt where Islamists run strongest and, conversely, where non-Islamists are most competitive.

In a press briefing in the US Congress RAND will announce the publication of their new report.

The report reveals that Islamists showed their strongest performance in Upper Egypt, North Sinai and the "sparsely populated" governorates in the west, while non-Islamist parties proved popular in Cairo, Port Said, South Sinai and the Red Sea governorates.



Thousands protest at Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood offices

By Maggie Michael

An Egyptian boy wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask held bread, a symbol of poverty, during an anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstration in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, March 22, 2013.

Amr Nabil/AP Photo

An Egyptian boy wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask held bread, a symbol of poverty, during an anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstration in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, March 22, 2013.

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian protesters clashed with the president’s Muslim Brotherhood backers and ransacked three offices nationwide Friday as anger over allegations of beatings and power-grabbing boiled over into the largest and most violent demonstrations yet on the doorstep of the powerful group.

Anger erupted a week ago when Brotherhood members beat journalists and liberal and secular activists during a protest outside the group’s Cairo headquarters. Journalists were there to cover a meeting. Protesters demand an apology, but the fundamentalist movement said its guards were provoked and acted in self-defense.

Egypt downgraded by Moody’s, again

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Egypt’s government bond rating to Caa1 from B3 on Thursday, moving the country to seven notches below investment grade – barely a month after its previous downgrade on February 12.

The downgrade takes Egypt, by Moody’s definition, from obligations “considered speculative and… subject to high credit risk” to those “judged to be of poor standing and… subject to very high credit risk.”

The news came shortly before Egypt’s central bank was due to announce its latest decision on interest rates on Thursday afternoon. For the first time in more than a year, Bloomberg reported, analysts are split over what the move will be. Most expect the bank to stay put at 9.25 per cent in a bid to leave room for the economy to grow. But Bloomberg said two out of the seven market economists it polls expected a rate increase to deal with the threat of inflation.

Here is how Moody’s explained its downgrade:


Locusts Swarm Egypt, Put Israel On High Alert Ahead Of Passover


JERUSALEM — Israel is on a locust alert as swarms of the destructive bugs descend on neighboring Egypt ahead of the Passover holiday.

Israel's Agriculture Ministry set up an emergency hotline Monday and is asking Israelis to be vigilant in reporting locust sightings to prevent an outbreak.

Locusts have a devastating effect on agriculture by quickly stripping crops.

Swarms of locusts have descended on Egypt, raising fears they could spread to Israel.

Egypt hits problems over IMF loan

Egypt’s efforts to secure a critical $4.8bn loan from the International Monetary Fund have run into fresh difficulty, possibly leading the government to seek emergency financing to avoid economic collapse.

The IMF is believed to have expressed reservations over the government’s economic plan needed to seal an agreement that has been in the works, on and off, for almost two years, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

At a time when Egypt’s foreign reserves have reached $13.5bn, below the critical level of two months of imports, and the government is being forced to cut its imports of fuel and wheat, Cairo is thought to favour a gradual approach to reform. Another complicating factor in IMF negotiations is the fact that Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president, is reluctant to introduce measures such as a sales tax ahead of parliamentary elections.


Egypt struggles as joblessness soars

Until he lost his job earlier this year, Emad Saqr used to oversee six shops selling souvenirs dotted around different hotels in the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The owner had to shut them down, Mr Saqr explains, because he could no longer afford the high rents charged by the hotels which had made sense during the boom years before the 2011 revolution.

Now the 34-year-old, married with two small children, has returned to his home town of Alexandria, where the family is living off his savings supplemented by gifts of food from his parents.


Egypt police shoot dead protester in Port Said clashes

Protesters shout slogans at riot police during clashes along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo, on 7 March 2013. (Photo: Reuters - Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Police shot dead an Egyptian protester overnight Friday in a fifth consecutive day of clashes in the restive city of Port Said, a doctor said.

Karim Sayid Abdel Aziz, 33, died of a bullet wound to the head, said physician Mohammed Arnous who treated him in a Port Said hospital. Abdel Aziz had been shot three times.


Egypt cancels parliamentary vote dates after court ruling

Riot police try to stop clashes and ask protesters, opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, to back away along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square in Cairo March 7, 2013. REUTERS-Amr Abdallah Dalsh
By Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's election committee has scrapped a timetable under which voting for the lower house of parliament should have begun next month, state media reported on Thursday, following a court ruling that threw the entire polling process into confusion.

Egypt now lies in limbo, with no election dates at a time when uncertainty is taking a heavy toll on the economy - the Egyptian pound is falling, foreign currency reserves are sliding and the budget deficit is soaring to an unmanageable level.

The political crisis deepened on Wednesday when the Administrative Court canceled a decree issued by President Mohamed Mursi calling the election.

Screen shot 2012-11-02 at 3.46.37 PM 

Two Egyptian Boys Convicted of Desecrating Koran, but Released

Judge quietly sends Coptic Christian children home; appeal denied.

By Our Middle East Correspondent, Egypt, March 6, 2013 (Morning Star News) – A court in Egypt has quietly found two Coptic Christian boys guilty of “showing contempt for Islam” but only remanded them to the custody of their parents, an attorney for one of the children said.

In a case of alleged blasphemy that inflamed passions in provincial Egypt, a judge in Beni Suef, 62 miles south of Cairo, ruled the two boys guilty of desecrating pages of the Koran in spite of conflicting statements by the accuser and doubts about the functionally illiterate boys’ capacity to identify Koranic verses, attorney Karam Ghoubrial said.

The judge cited the boys’ age in the light sentence; they were 9 and 10 at the time of the Sept. 30 incident. By issuing a guilty verdict in near secrecy on Feb. 4 – the ruling came to light only the past week – and declining to hand down prison time or a fine, the judge seems to have averted foreign criticism while quelling the anger of Muslim villagers.


Kerry in Egypt 'with a poor hand of cards' as IMF money mean cuts and tax increases

US Secretary of State John Kerry waves goodbye as he leaves Cairo March 3, 2013

The US bet their money on the wrong horse by backing the ‘undemocratic’ Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, geopolitical analyst F. William Engdahl told RT, adding that the IMF loan for which Washington is pushing, will make people’s life even harder in Egypt.

Kerry’s arrival in Cairo on March 2 has been greeted with street riots in several of the country’s cities, which saw one person killed and dozens injured. The country’s opposition leader, Hamdeen Sabahi, and his ally, Mohamed ElBaradei, have turned down invitations to meet with the new US Secretary of the State, due to America’s backing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The aim of Kerry’s visit is to persuade Egypt to pass a set of unpopular reforms in order to qualify for a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan package, with the US also promising to provide $450 million of financial help of their own to Mohamed Morsi’s government because of its promises of economic and political reforms.


Israel Locust Alert: 'Great Damage' In Egypt

وش النحس يا مرسى

Millions of locusts destroy crops in Egypt, as neighbouring Israel tries to prevent an outbreak there.

A locust resting on some vegetation

Locusts have already damaged farm land in Egypt (file pic)

An enormous swarm of locusts has descended on Egypt, with authorities in Israel worried they could spread across the border.

Millions of insects have already devastated agricultural land near the Egyptian capital Cairo by stripping crops.

Fears of a similar wave of destruction in Israel prompted the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to set up an emergency hotline.


Egypt’s El Baradei urges election boycott

CAIRO: Opposition leader Mohamed El Baradei on Saturday called for a boycott of Egypt’s upcoming legislative elections as the president was set to reschedule the first round which clashes with a Christian holiday.


“Called for parliamentary election boycott in 2010 to expose sham democracy. Today I repeat my call, will not be part of an act of deception,” the Nobel Peace laureate and former head of the UN atomic watchdog wrote on Twitter.

Former foreign minister Amr Mussa, another leader in the National Salvation Front (NSF), said many members of the opposition bloc were inclined to boycott the four-round election, but a final position had not yet been taken.

“There is a large group that wants a boycott, but it has not yet been discussed, and no decision has been taken,” he told AFP.

The election is scheduled to begin on April 27, with a new parliament to convene on July 6.


Egyptian protesters: send Mursi to space

Mohamed Mursi

Mohamed Mursi Photo: Reuters

CAIRO: An Egyptian opposition group is using a novel way to protest against President Mohammed Mursi: sign him up for a chance to win a trip to space.

The April 6 Youth Movement said on its official Facebook page on Thursday that it had entered the Islamist leader's name in the online contest because it wanted to be rid of him. It called on supporters to vote for the president so he'd have a chance to win the trip into space.

There was no immediate response from the president's press office to an email seeking comment.

The Guardian

Egypt 'spent £1.7m on teargas' amid economic crisis

Activists condemn government's purchase of 140,000 canisters at a time when foreign reserves are at critical low and IMF loan is delayed

By : Patrick Kingsley in Cairo  

Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy – and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression.

The Guardian home 

Egypt 'spent £1.7m on teargas' amid economic crisis

Activists condemn government's purchase of 140,000 canisters at a time when foreign reserves are at critical low and IMF loan is delayed

Egyptian protesters attack a police vehicle during a demonstration in Cairo

Egyptian protesters attack a police vehicle during a demonstration in Cairo. Activists have labelled the wave of police brutality as a return to Mubarak-era repression. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Egypt spent the equivalent of £1.7m on 140,000 US-sourced teargas canisters last month, despite the Egyptian government nearing bankruptcy – and amid a wave of police brutality that 21 human rights groups this week labelled a return to Mubarak-era state repression.

Egypt's interior ministry made the emergency order at the end of January, according to records retrieved by Egyptian broadsheet al-Masry al-Youm. It came at the start of a week of civil unrest sparked by protests against President Mohamed Morsi, his Muslim Brotherhood, and police malpractice.


Egypt to seek IMF talks as it reveals grim economy data


By Asma Alsharif

CAIRO Feb 21 (Reuters) - Egypt plans to invite an IMF mission to Cairo within a week, the government said on Thursday, signalling an imminent resumption of negotiations over a $4.8 billion loan as it struggles with an acute foreign currency shortage.

Planning Minister Ashraf al-Araby said foreign investment in Egypt had all but dried up and announced grim economic data, exposing the depth of the country's financial crisis before elections expected in the spring.

Analysts had expected the government of President Mohamed Mursi to try to delay a deal with the International Monetary Fund until after the elections, as the loan's terms will demand highly unpopular austerity measures. Parliamentary polls are expected to begin in April or May.

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