UPDATE – Egypt’s politics digest Nov. 19: Dozens protest against ruling to sentence 3 journos in Egypt
Dozens of journalists launched a vigil outside Journalists Union to protest a court ruling to sentence Union head and two board members to prison over "harbouring fugitives." Photo by Youm7 on Nov. 19, 2016.

CAIRO: No more browsing from site to site, view the top politics news stories on Nov. 19 here:


Dozens protest against ruling to sentence 3 journos in Egypt

Dozens of journalists organized a vigil Saturday evening to protest a court ruling to sentence head of Journalists union Yehia Qallash and two other board members to two years in prison.

The ruling was handed to the trio over charges of harboring fugitives.

The charges stem from a police raid at the union’s HQ early this year to arrest two journalists claimed to be wanted by police.

The lawyer for the trio Shaaban Saeed said that a bail of 10K for each of them will be paid within the coming few days, and an appeal against the ruling will be sought.

The participants in the vigil denounced the ruling, repeated anti-police chants and raised signs that read “Journalism is not a crime.”

The union has announced it will hold an urgent meeting after the court ruling.


TV presenter Moataz Matar sentenced to 3 yrs in absentia

A Cairo court issued a ruling Saturday to sentence TV Presenter Moataz Matar in Sharq TV Channel to three years in prison in absentia over spreading false news.

Matar is also facing a charge of inciting against state institutions through his show “With Moataz;” he is known for his harsh criticism of the current regime as illegitimate, accusing it of overthrowing an elected President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.


Sisi calls for not ‘jumping into conclusions’ on Trump

President Abdel Fatah al Sisi has praised U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, saying that his “inflammatory statements” during the presidential campaign do not necessarily reflect the actions he will take as president, according to the Associated Press.

In an interview with Portuguese news agency LUSA aired on Saturday, Sisi said, “let’s not jump into conclusions or worry” about future U.S. actions or policies in the Middle East.”

Sisi, who was the first Arab leader to congratulate Trump hours after winning U.S. presidential elections, expressed his hope that Trump would “pump new life” into Egyptian-American relations, according to a presidential statement released Nov. 9.

Sisi is scheduled to visit Portugal on Monday upon an invitation by his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo de Sousa.


Egypt’s amb. to UK blames PM for failing to resume flights to Sharm al Sheikh

Egypt’s ambassador to Britain Nasser Kamel has blamed Prime Minister Theresa May for failing to resume flights to Sharm el-Sheikh which were halted following the Russian plane crash disaster that left 224 passengers killed last year.

Following the crash, several European countries have suspended direct flights to Egypt over security concerns.  Several British committees have inspected security measures and facilities at Cairo and Sharm al Sheikh airports following the crash that took place over Sinai in October 2015.

“Egypt has done its share. We have implemented the program; we have brought independent security firms to assess the situation. All EU countries have resumed flights to Egypt – including Germany, which does not take the security of its citizens lightly – and the only EU country which is not flying to Sharm el-Sheikh is the UK,” Kamel was quoted RT news on Thursday, citing a statement on BBC Radio 4.

When asked why the UK government still insists on flight ban to Egypt airports, Kamel said, “It’s mind-boggling. Whenever I speak to any officials about the prolonged suspension, they all seem for the resumption. It seems that the delay is stuck somewhere higher.”

The number of tourists visiting Egypt has witnessed a sharp decline following the crash.

In June, British Airways announced that it would indefinitely extend its suspension of flights to Sharm al Sheikh.

In February, the U.K.-based Thomas Cook travel company cancelled all bookings to Sharm al-Sheikh until November 2016, extending a travel ban that began when the government suspended flights following the Russian airliner crash.

British and Italian tourists account for more than 65 percent of Sharm al-Sheikh holiday makers, the Tourism Ministry’s economy adviser Adela Ragab was quoted earlier by Youm7.

The sector, which is the nation’s second highest source of national income after the Suez Canal, provides direct and indirect employment to up to 12.6 percent of the country’s workforce.

Egypt’s tourism revenues retreated 40.5 percent or $2.2 billion in the first nine months of 2016, recording $3.3 billion, compared to $5.5 billion during the same period of the last year, The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said in October.

The tourism industry even took a further dive following the murder of Italian Cambridge University graduate, Giulio Regeni, whose body was dumped along a highway with signs of torture in Egypt’s Giza governorate in early February.


Armenian genocide could be debated by Egypt’s parl’t after 300 MPs sign petition

The Egyptian parliament is preparing to include a draft resolution on condemning the Armenian genocide committed by Turkey in 1915 in its agenda, Armen Mazlumyan, head of the Armenian National Committee in Egypt said on Friday.

“MP Mustafa Bakry has briefed the members of the delegation on the stance of the Egyptian Parliament regarding the Armenian Genocide, affirming that they are preparing to present the resolution on condemning the massacres by Turkey to voting,” Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Mazlumyan.

According to Mazlumyan, Bakry said that more than 300 of the parliaments 596 members MPs have approved a petition initiated to recognize the Armenian genocide, in which 1.2 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I.

In response to the request of the Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church in Cairo held a mass to commemorate the centenary of the massacre last year.

More than 20 countries, including Germany France and Russia have recognized the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide, while Turkey has denied a systematic slaughter of Armenians as an ethnic group during World War One.

Relations between Egypt and Turkey have been tense since the ouster of former President Morsi in July 2013. Erdogan has repeatedly criticized the Egyptian government and called for Morsi’s release from detention.


Rafah border crossing closes after 5-day opening

T he Egyptian authorities on Saturday closed the Rafah crossing between Egypt’s North Sinai and the Palestinian Gaza Strip five days after re-opening it, Youm7 reported.

A total of 403 Palestinians and Egyptians living in Gaza has crossed the border into the Egyptian territory while 226 people left the Egyptian borders into Gaza on Saturday before the crossing was closed at 05:00 a.m. Cairo local time, according to Gaza’s crossings and borders committee.

On Thursday, 588 students passed through the Rafah crossing, the committee said.

Last week, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi has ordered the opening of the crossing for five days to allow the passage of humanitarian cases, students, and the entry of Palestinians stranded outside of the besieged enclave.

The President ordered the crossing would be open to students on Thursday and Friday.

The crossing was partially opened Sunday to allow the passage of a 120-member Palestinian business delegation into Egypt in order to take part in an economic conference currently held at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Ain Sokhna.

Egypt, which also shares border with Gaza, has been imposing restrictions on opening the crossing with Gaza after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.


‘Rabaa Dispersal’ trial adjourned to Dec. 10

Cairo Criminal Court on Saturday adjourned to Dec. 10 the trial in the case known as ‘Rabaa Dispersal’, which involves many senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood group, Youm7 reported.

A total of 739 defendants, including Mohammed Badie, the supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed El-Beltagy, a senior group member and Osama, ousted President Mohamed Morsi’s son stand the trial over violence related charges that followed the deadly dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins in Cairo and Giza in August 2013.

The charges include organizing an armed gathering, blocking streets, premeditated murder or civilians and police officers who tried to break up the sit-in and disrupting transport links.

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