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Thread: Egypt News

  1. #41
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    Egypt blocks 21 websites, including Al Jazeera


    Websites were blocked for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or for being funded by Qatar, security sources said

    Egypt has banned 21 news websites, including the main website of Qatar-based Al Jazeera television, for "supporting terrorism", state news agency MENA and security sources said on Wednesday.

    Reuters tried to access five websites named by local Egyptian newspapers and broadcasters, including the Al Jazeera website, and found them all inaccessible.

    There was no immediate official comment available. An official from the National Telecom Regulatory Authority could not confirm or deny the news, but said: "So what if it is true? It should not be a problem."

    MENA cited a senior security source as saying the websites, which also included some Egypt-focused outlets hosted abroad such as Masr Al Arabiya that the government says are financed by Qatar, were blocked because they supported "terrorism".

    "A senior security source said 21 websites have been blocked inside Egypt for having content that supports terrorism and extremism as well [as] publishing lies," MENA said.

    The security source said legal action would be taken against the websites, MENA reported.

    Two security sources told Reuters the websites were blocked for being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood or for being funded by Qatar.

    Cairo accuses Qatar of supporting the Brotherhood, which was ousted from power in Egypt in 2013 when the military removed elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule.

    However, Mada Masr, an Egyptian news website based inside the country which describes itself as progressive and has no Islamist or Qatari affiliations, was also inaccessible on Wednesday.

    The Huffington Post's Arabic website also was inaccessible, although the international version was accessible.

    Mada and the Huffington Post were not named by security sources - who said there were 21 websites but named only five - as part of the list of blocked websites.

    The block follows similar actions taken earlier on Wednesday by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who got into a war of words with Qatar and blocked Al Jazeera and other websites.

    Qatar said hackers had posted fake remarks by its emir against US foreign policy but Saudi and UAE state-run media reported the comments anyway.


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    Egypt: Gulf siege against Qatar should include Turkey

    June 14, 2017

    The Egyptian president has called on allies in the Gulf to escalate the diplomatic row with Qatar to include Turkey, the New Arab reported.

    According to the news outlet, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi urged Gulf leaders to expand their boycott until Ankara gives up support for Qatar. He is reported to have said that this would maintain the pressure on Doha to respond positively and help bring a speedy end to the regional siege.

    The sources said that Al-Sisi raised the matter during a meeting with the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, last Thursday in Cairo. They added that Al-Sisi pushed for the escalation of the Arab campaign and accused Turkey of funding and hosting groups classified as “terrorist” such as the Muslim Brotherhood or organisations in Syria.

    According to the news outlet, Al-Sisi has not received a response to his suggestion. The sources pointed out that the Gulf countries were keen; however, to at least neutralise Turkey from assisting Qatar in the crisis.

    After his visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the King of Bahrain sent his Foreign Minister, Khalid Bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, to Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an attempt to ease the conflict – especially in light of the agreement by Ankara to send Turkish troops to Doha.

    Egypt’s desire to escalate the matter with Turkey follows Erdogan’s sharp criticisms of the current Egyptian regime since the overthrow of the first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup.

    Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is scheduled to visit Qatar today, said that his government aimed to protect the security of the region as a whole not just a particular country and he added that he hoped the dispute with Qatar would be resolved before the end of Ramadan.


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    Rabaa field doctor: ‘They burned them dead and alive’

    Dr. Hanan Al-Amin was in a makeshift operating room in the Rabaa field hospital when security forces burst into the room and ordered her and another doctor to leave. A patient was on the table with his abdomen open – they had found six bullets in his liver, his spleen and his diaphragm.
    She told the officer that she couldn’t leave her patients, pointing to three other people in front of her. He took his gun and shot each one of them in the heart.
    “At that point I lost the ability to think,” she recalls. “All I could think is that there is no way this person is a human being, there’s no way we’re in Egypt, there’s no way these are my people,” says Al-Amin and begins to cry at the memory.
    “My life paused on 14 August 2013” she says eventually. “I can’t move on to the 15th, my life agenda stopped on that day.”
    It was four years ago today that security forces advanced on protesters in Rabaa Square who had gathered to protest against the ouster of the country’s first elected president Mohammed Morsi.
    For 12 long hours snipers fired indiscriminately into the crowd, bulldozers crushed the camp beneath their tracks and security forces set fire to the tents.
    Once they had massacred as many demonstrators as they could they turned to the field hospital where a number of doctors including Al-Amin were volunteering. Some 1,000 people died that day.
    Protesters begun congregating roughly one and a half months before the massacre. Al-Amin lived opposite and in the beginning would go for a few hours a day before or after work at the University of Zagazig, where she was a paediatrics professor.
    As the days went by and the protesters continued to demand their rights she decided to commit herself to serving in the square. Al-Amin began to feel it was the nation’s cause and the future of her children.
    “I wanted to set an example for people to volunteer,” she says, “for peaceful demonstrations and to rescue the country and demand a better life for the people.”
    As top of her school, not just her class, when she was young Al-Amin was confident she could be a good doctor. But nothing she had learnt at school or university could prepare her for what she saw in the square that day.
    “Never for one second did I imagine throughout the whole time of studying and being a doctor for 30 years that I’d have to treat the severity of the wounds I saw in Rabaa,” she says. “I saw what was done to Palestinians during the Nakba by the Israeli occupation but I never thought I would see Egyptians doing it to their own people.”
    “I never thought that I’d see so many people who are protesting and demanding their rights be wounded by their own army and police who are put in place to defend them,” she adds.

    A file photo dated July 26, 2013 shows an aerial view of Rabia Adaweya Square where tens of thousands people protest against the military coup that removed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Elshamy / Anadolu Agency]

    In the days before the massacre Al-Amin herself participated in the demonstrations. In the afternoons, when most people were resting, they organised women’s marches to help motivate others. She would go out for an hour or so then come back and continue working. “They were my way to recharge,” she recalls.
    “I felt like the demonstrations were really what kept everything alive in the square. On some days when I didn’t go out I could see them and it would give me motivation and I would wish I was out there with them. We saw all the marches and protests that started at Rabaa or anywhere else as a form of reviving our intention and hope.”
    A lot of the doctors in the field hospital were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood but not all of them, she says. The director of the hospital, for example, was not; there were also groups among the protesters who simply believed in Egyptians’ right to live freely.
    “Everyone believed in the people’s rights to express their opinion and people’s right to self-determination,” she continues. “We believed in our right to exercise democracy, that the Egyptian people that wowed everyone with their revolution have the right to live their lives in the way they want to.”
    But this was not enough to save people that day.
    The massacre began at 7am and from the start Al-Amin and her colleagues worked tirelessly to try to treat the wounded. By around 3pm there was barely any medication left, she recalls, not even pain killers. “I was just standing there helpless, I couldn’t do anything. In those moments I hated myself and hated medicine. I just hated everything,” she says.
    Terrified children had gathered in the mosque in search of safety but were suffocating from the tear gas. Ambulances were prevented from entering the square: “It was a war zone,” she says. “The whole aim behind that was to instil fear and intimidate the people. They declared genocide on us that day.”
    Hospitals around Rabaa square were equipped but Al-Amin says they were given direct orders from authorities not only to block the ambulances but prohibit them from admitting patients. Even the surrounding pharmacies were instructed not to supply medication.
    As Al-Amin was escorted out of the field hospital by the man who shot her patients, a young boy called out to her not to leave him. She didn’t dare to look at him in case he was shot too.
    Outside she turned to see smoke rising out of the hospital, which was still full of wounded people. Security forces set fire to it – “they burned them dead and alive,” she says.
    Al-Amin knows one doctor who was shot in the back and is now paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. But some of the doctors were spared that day. Perhaps God destined some of them to live so they could bear witness to the massacre, Al-Amin suggests. Or maybe the criminals were too busy killing the opposition.

    Because people at the protests were so afraid of repercussions from authorities they smuggled their children’s bodies out of the square wrapped in cloth and hidden in baskets, and then buried them. Many did not wait for official death certificates as they were too scared their loved ones or siblings would be punished by association.
    Some time after the massacre one of the officers admitted they had scooped up 700 bodies in the metal plate of a bulldozer and transported them to Gebel Al-Ahmar near Heliopolis and buried them, some dead and some still alive. That’s why Al-Amin believes the death toll is likely to be far higher than 1,000.
    Security forces had three clear goals on the 14 August 2013, she reflects. First, they wanted to eliminate everyone who was there; second they wanted to send a message of fear and intimidation to anyone else who was considering opposing the regime. Finally, they wanted to portray this as a military victory.
    What they’ve succeeded in doing, says Al-Amin, is splitting society in two. “One half has been killed and the other half is happy they’ve been killed,” she says. “The split that emerged will take years, if not decades, to heal.
    “Anyone who was involved will be punished,” she continues. “We will see them punished in this life time in order for the people to heal.”
    As for the international community, “they stood watching silently from 7am to 6pm while not Muslims but the human race were being burnt and killed and murdered before the eyes and ears of the world. That day is a day of shame and disgrace for humanity as a whole,” she reiterates.
    “As a paediatrician I have never loved and hated a profession more than on the day of Rabaa. I felt the true value of medicine. I loved my profession because I felt the value of it but I also hated it so much because I’ve never felt so helpless. I never thought that I’d ever be a helpless doctor. I never thought I’d see a patient in front of me without being able to treat them.”
    The effects of Rabaa will be felt for years to come, she says. Some people were so afraid of the government their children weren’t treated in the aftermath and are suffering the psychological effects today. Some have been orphaned; many have fathers in prison.
    “I am certain that the children who were in Rabaa are our strategic treasure,” says Al-Amin, “because after witnessing Rabaa they will refuse to live as slaves”.


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    Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the Muslim Brotherhood’s own Mandela figure, is finally free

    On 1 April 2008, I learned that the authorities in Egypt had ordered Alhiwar TV channel to be removed from Nilesat, the Egyptian-owned satellite, one of three through which Alhiwar was being transmitted to the Arab world. Just one day earlier, I had finished recording a set of six programmes with Muhammad Mahdi Akef, who was at the time the General Guide (or top leader) of the Muslim Brotherhood. The programmes were for my weekly Morajaat (biographical) series on Alhiwar. He spoke to me about his childhood, his youth, and his participation in the Egyptian resistance against the British occupation of Egypt and the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Above all, though, he told me about the twenty years that he spent in prison from 1954 to 1974.
    Early on in his term of imprisonment, he complained jokingly to senior members of the movement incarcerated with him that upon completing his prison sentence it might already be too late for him to get married. Omar Al-Tilimisani, who became the third General Guide of the Brotherhood, told him: “Don’t worry. The girl you will marry is already in her mother’s womb.” Indeed, a year after he was released twenty years later, at the age of 47, he married a twenty-year-old woman who had not yet been born when he was sent to prison by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime.
    Last Friday, 22 September, Muhammad Mahdi Akef passed away in an Egyptian prison at the age of 89. He is famous for being the first to hold the title of “ex-General Guide” since no one before him had left office while still alive. Traditionally, the post-holder was there until he died, but Akef campaigned several years before being elected for the term of office to be restricted to six years renewable for one term only. Following the death of his predecessor, Ma’mun Al-Hudaibi, in 2004, Akef was elected as the 7th General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. Upon the expiry of his first term in 2010, he refused to be nominated for a second term and was succeeded by Muhammad Badi’, the current General Guide who is now serving a life sentence in prison.
    Despite his age and health problems, the military junta imprisoned Akef soon after the military coup in July 2013 that toppled Dr Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically-elected civilian president in the history of Egypt. The coup authorities refused to release him despite repeated appeals from lawyers and human rights organisations. He was sent to jail by a military court on the pretext that he showed contempt for the country’s judiciary.

    Akef was born in 1928, the year in which the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt by Hassan Al-Banna. He joined the movement at the age of 12 and remained a loyal member until he passed away, getting to know Al-Banna and working closely with him. He impressed the group’s founder when he first met him and was encouraged by him to pursue his education in the field of sport. Akef was physically well-built and had been an eager sportsman. At the age of 17, Al-Banna recruited him to serve in the group’s secretive “special organisation”, a quasi-military setup designed for special missions, primarily against the British troops occupying Egypt and against the Zionist invasion of Palestine.
    He was jailed by all successive governments in Egypt since the movement was first persecuted in 1948. Akef’s only crime was to be involved in the struggle for his country’s independence and for his people’s emancipation from the shackles of despotism. In 1954 he was among the thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members who were detained by the country’s military ruler, Gamal Abdel Nasser, after he fell out with the movement which had helped him to topple the monarchy only two years earlier. Twelve of them were sentenced to death, including Akef who was number seven on death row. Following the execution of numbers 1 to 6, the regime ordered the sentences of the six remaining defendants to be commuted to life imprisonment with hard labour.
    Despite the length of his incarceration and the hardships he experienced, this was not a man who bore grudges. When a group of angry and frustrated young Brotherhood prisoners reacted to the severe persecution and torture with the idea of “takfir” (excommunication), he was one of those who engaged them in lengthy discussions to dissuade them from going down that dangerous path.

    Three years after his release in 1974, Akef travelled to Saudi Arabia where he worked until 1983 for the World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY). He was responsible for the organisation of Muslim youth camps around the world. However, he could not continue in the job because of what he perceived as a change of direction by the Saudi-sponsored organisation under the guise of what was called at the time “Saudisation”, the official policy of replacing foreigners with Saudi nationals in key posts. Going to Europe in 1983, he spent four years in Germany heading the Islamic Centre in Munich. While there, he became increasingly involved with the Brotherhood’s International Organisation. This was a loose body coordinating the various chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood around the world.
    The time he spent in Europe exposed him to those aspects of Western life, such as democracy and civil liberties, which impressed him and had an impact on his thinking. It is not unlikely that the experience played a role in determining the direction taken by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt a decade later.
    Upon his return to Egypt in 1987 he was elected to the movement’s top leadership body known as the Guidance Bureau. During that same period, he won a parliamentary seat and served for three years as part of a sizable Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc of thirty-seven MPs. The Brotherhood had still not been allowed to run independently for parliament but did so through a special arrangement with the opposition socialist Labour Party with which it forged a political alliance.
    Parliamentary life provided the right environment for the Brotherhood to develop, for the first time, well-documented official positions about democracy, human rights, women’s rights and minority rights. The role played by Akef in this process was well-known and came to be a source of concern for the authorities. The movement seemed to be receiving a facelift, showing it to be tolerant and engaging, something which was bound to embarrass a regime bent on banning it and others from participating in any form of political activity.
    In the mid-1990s the Muslim Brotherhood suffered a series of major blows. The first was an internal dispute that led to the split of a group of young leaders. Akef was associated with that dispute because he was commissioned by the Guidance Office to instruct a group of young men in the organisation, who had already been involved in the Trade Unions, to explore the prospects of setting up a political party. He himself was strongly in favour of the idea of creating and registering a political party to be used as a platform for political activities while the parent group remained focused on religious and educational missionary activities.

    Headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt File photo]

    Enthusiastic about the project, and rather than submit their findings to the group’s leadership as required, the young men went all the way and applied for the registration of a political party. They were told that they had not been given the mandate to do so and were instructed not to appeal should the application be met with rejection from the Egyptian authorities. Apparently, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood did not want to be drawn into confrontation with the regime that banned the formation of new political parties. The application was turned down and the young men did not heed the advice of their elders and insisted on appealing. The Mubarak regime accused the Brotherhood of playing games and of embarking on some sort of a division of labour. Insisting that the dispute within the group was not genuine, the regime was bent on curtailing the movement before legal proceedings ended with it being given a licence to participate in politics.
    In 1996 the regime launched an onslaught on the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of plotting against the government. Akef and several of his comrades were tried before a military court and given jail sentences of various terms; he served three years in prison. While behind bars, he heard of the deepening crisis within the movement but there was little he could do from his prison cell.
    Although he sympathised with the young men who eventually split from the Brotherhood and formed Al-Wasat Party, he disagreed with their action. He was adamant that working from within to change things for the better was their best option. Nevertheless, he maintained good relations with them and provided the channel through which communication between them and the movement was resumed later on and even developed into cooperation.

    Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood pray during a protest in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, outside Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo, Egypt, 29 July 2013 [Ahmed Asad/Apaimages]

    When I interviewed Akef, he spoke to me about his vision as leader of the Muslim Brotherhood; he wanted above all to empower the new generation. He found himself leading a rapidly growing movement with a broad base of young men and women but one that had still been restricted by old ways and an ageing leadership. I was talking to a man already in his eighties but who spoke with the zeal and ambition of the youth. Young men in the movement loved him because of his approach. They felt that he related to them and understood their needs and grievances. He always spoke to them about the need for what he called “renewing the blood of the movement” and delegating responsibilities to those who are capable.
    Akef was already eighty-five years old when he was detained by the current military regime in Cairo four years ago. His health had been deteriorating and continued to do so until his death. It is very likely that he was sent to prison because the regime feared his potential to unite the Brotherhood, to heal any rifts occurring within it, and to halt the drainage of its talented young men afflicted with loss of hope, loss of direction and frustration in the wake of the major blow that their movement was dealt by the counterrevolution that killed the Arab Spring. Without the wisdom and vision of leaders such as Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the Muslim Brotherhood organisation was left orphaned, in distress and in a mess.
    Upon hearing the news of his passing away, his family readied themselves for his funeral. However, the authorities banned them from holding the customary congregational prayer. His brief funeral procession, from the prayers to the burial, was only allowed to take place at 2am on Saturday. Less than a dozen people were allowed to take part and only his wife, his daughter, his grandson and his lawyer were allowed to attend.
    To many people, this must have been reminiscent of the restricted funeral allowed for the Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan Al-Banna, who was assassinated by agents working for the British-supported monarchy in 1949. Only Al-Banna’s father and a group of close female relatives were allowed to attend. The assassination of Hassan Al-Banna never achieved its intended goal of finishing off the movement. Similarly, the death of Muhammad Mahdi Akef or his assassination — he was denied medical treatment — will likely play a role in reviving the Muslim Brotherhood and inspiring sympathisers and supporters across the world.
    Like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, whose iconic image was created by the Apartheid regime he fought against for many decades, Akef has been turned into an icon by one of the most brutal regimes of our times. Just as Mandela was an inspiration to many people globally, Akef will always inspire young people in Egypt and around the Muslim world in their struggle for freedom and dignity. Perhaps the only difference between Mandela and Akef is that the former managed to take that “long walk to freedom” while Akef was released from prison only to be carried to his grave.


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    Cairo ranked world’s most dangerous city for women

    The Egyptian capital Cairo has been described as the most threatening city for women, according to a report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    The survey asked experts on women’s issues in 19 megacities how well women were protected from sexual violence, from harmful cultural practices, and if they had access to good healthcare, finance and education.

    The poll of 380 people was conducted online and by phone between June 1 and July 28 with 20 experts questioned in each of the 19 cities with a response rate of 93 percent. The results were based on a minimum of 15 experts in each city.

    Cairo, the capital of the Arab world’s most populous country, fared worst globally, followed by Karachi in Pakistan, Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then the Indian capital New Delhi.

    Women’s rights campaigners and commentators said women in Cairo faced daily harassment while a weakened economy and high unemployment since the uprising in 2011 had eroded economic opportunities for women and seen health services deteriorate.

    There are few statistics on harassment in Egypt. A study conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights in 2008 found that 83 percent of women said they had been sexually harassed, many of them daily, and 62 percent of men admitted to harassing women. Advocates believe the percentage of women harassed is significantly higher.

    “The economy has become so bad in the last two, three years that we are suffering a setback in the thinking that women’s issues are not a priority,” said Omaima Abou-Bakr, co-founder of Women and Memory Forum, a non-government organisation set up to fight misconceptions of Arab women.

    However Naglaa el-Adly, who is part of Egypt’s National Council for Women, an independent governmental body, believes women’s rights have improved, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declaring 2017 as the “Year of Egyptian women”.

    “The Thomson Reuters Foundation study is not the first to identify Egypt as a place hostile to women. The country topped the list of places that are dangerous for women to visit in a Trip.com survey released in August, in large part due to the verbal and sexual harassment that women routinely face there”


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    Egypt rounds up Uyghur Muslims at behest of China

    Authorities crack down on community of thousands of east Asian Muslims, many of whom who had fled Chinese religious persecution

    by Khadija Awad - 24 July 2017

    Panic is spreading among Cairo's Uyghur community as Egyptian security forces round up students in raids on houses, schools and mosques as part of a crackdown apparently carried out at the behest of the Chinese government.

    "The government has been making arrests for three months now, but it was mostly people with expired visas," a Uyghur source in Cairo told Middle East Eye on Thursday.

    "They don't check for visas anymore. They just violently arrest, and we don't know where they [those arrested] are now."

    Photos of ransacked Cairo flats began circulating on social media on Wednesday, with reports of security forces arresting even those with valid visas and others holidaying on beaches near Alexandria.

    Meanwhile, students were reportedly hiding at home, but still face being rounded up by Egyptian police. The MEE source said there were reports of sweeping arrests at al-Azhar University, where many Uyghurs study Arabic and Islam.

    "They're mostly arresting the young men," a member of the Uyghur community called Sumaya told MEE. "But I know of women who have been taken too, though we hide when we hear the government knocking on our door."

    The raids and arrests come after Chinese authorities ordered Uyghur overseas students to return home by 20 May, as part of a government move to screen political views and activities, reported Chinese media at the time.

    Chinese government representatives have since reportedly shown up in predominantly Uyghur areas in Cairo, stopping by mosques and schools to order students to return to China, members of the community told MEE.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday urged Egyptian authorities to disclose where those who had been arrested were being held, and to "not deport them back to China, where they face persecution and torture".

    HRW said it believed dozens of people had been arrested and were due for deportation.

    Many in the Uyghur community claim that deportations will result in imprisonment in what they describe as death camps in China.

    Other members of the community who abruptly left Egypt out of fear of being arrested reportedly often disappear once they arrive in China.

    "Some of our friends who went home just disappeared,"
    Maryam, a Uyghur, told MEE. "We don't know what happened to them. It's not safe for us to go home."

    Egyptian authorities have not responded to MEE's requests for comment at the time of writing.
    Crackdown sows fear

    Cairo is home to thousands of Uyghurs, many of whom come to Egypt to escape the Chinese government's increasingly intrusive restrictions on religious freedom in their hometowns and villages. Others came to learn Arabic, study at the world renowned Azhar University, and experience life in a Muslim country.

    But members of the community told MEE that visa renewals are now regularly rejected, and students without valid papers are banned from enrolling at Azhar University.

    Uyghur students in Cairo told MEE that the community was increasingly worried about Egyptian authorities waiting outside Azhar University at dismissal hours to check student passports and potentially arrest Uyghur students.

    Meanwhile, students received frantic calls from relatives telling them to get on the first flight back to China or else their parents would be thrown in jail, Uyghur sources told MEE.

    Despite having been visible for many years on city buses and in the north-eastern suburb of Nasr City, Uyghurs are now rarely sighted in the city.

    Following the May announcement, a group of Uyghur students gathered to say goodbye at an ice cream shop in Nasr City's Hayy-el-Sabey, where most Uyghur students reside.

    Two Uyghur sisters, Salma, 19, and Maryam, 20, who had come to Cairo a year ago to learn Arabic, were flying to Dubai the next day. They told MEE they would not be able to return home because they feared persecution upon arrival.

    Friends of the girls said that most students who could afford to relocate or had family outside of China booked flights to countries such as Turkey. The rest were stranded in Egypt, unable to safely go home or relocate to another country.

    Three months later, the two sisters still reside with relatives in the UAE.

    Chinese repression of the Uyghurs

    Uyghur students say scarves, skullcaps, facial hair and veils are banned in the Xinjiang region.

    Women, who were initially forbidden from wearing black because they were told it was an extremist colour, are also restricted from wearing anything that reaches down below the knee. Meanwhile, women who dress modestly are threatened and profiled as extremists, members of the community told MEE.

    At the same time, travelling between towns and villages in China is considered hazardous because they are dotted with checkpoints manned by heavily armed guards, and young males travelling in groups of three or more are targeted, harassed and often imprisoned.

    Residents of Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan, are allowed one kitchen knife per household, which they must register. Cameras are installed in and outside mosques, and plans are underway to GPS track every car in the region. If a family or individual is caught studying Arabic or the Quran, they are imprisoned, and must pay between 10 and 100,000 rmb (as much as $15,000) to get out of jail, said Uyghurs in Egypt.

    Wealthy families who can afford to pay the fines often have their assets seized, while citizens are reportedly coerced or monetarily enticed to spy on their neighbours and encouraged to report "dangerous" behaviour, such as prayer.

    Coming from such a repressive climate in China, Uyghurs viewed life in Egypt as a veritable luxury, particularly as they were able to freely practice their religion, but now feel betrayed by a country they felt was a safe haven.

    Sumaya, who came to Cairo two years ago to practice her religion more freely, is currently hiding in the home of an Egyptian friend.

    She fears trying to leave because she heard of arrests happening at the airport as well.

    "I am safe for now, but if the situation escalates, I fear the worst," Sumaya told MEE.


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    Egypt's Black Friday: The killings of at least 235 worshippers

    Egypt's Black Friday: The killings of at least 235 worshippers in Sinai marks the country's worst terror attack in modern history

    video: https://www.facebook.com/trtworld/vi...7469776189835/

    Death Toll Soars over 300 in Egypt Mosque Attack

    November 25, 2017

    Authorities say up to 30 gunmen fired through all of the windows and doors of an Egyptian mosque before going inside. More 300 people are dead, 27 of them children.

    video: https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news...-1103574083816

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    Egypt: Sara and Rana: Islamophobia, profiling, and political imprisonment

    Sara ( 26 years old) and Rana ( 24 years old) are two sisters in their early twenties with medical and scientific degrees, one of them is a doctor and the other is a pharmacist, their father is a respected university professor of science.

    Two years ago, they were stopped while driving to Alexandria in a security checkpoint only because of the Niqab they wear (Egyptian security forces question all religious Muslim looking individuals for nothing but the way they look like) and then the two sisters where kidnapped and disappeared.

    They appeared in detention, they put them in prison and accused them of "Bombing the embassy of Niger!!" a completely random case with no evidence or basis to the accusation.

    Their brother was actively campaigning to release them and then eventually was arrested and put in prison too for speaking about the case.

    Today after 2 years of detention and out of nowhere one of the sisters (Sara) was given a death sentence and was told that she will be executed soon!

    There is a very long history of secular security forces led attitudes of Islamophobia and discrimination against religious looking Muslims in Egypt since the times of Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak.

    This targeting intensified since the military coup in 2013 and was encouraged by the Egyptian and western media alike. So many Egyptians are targeted and thrown into prison only on the basis of their looks.

    Women like Sara and Rana don't get any media or human rights support because of how they look like and this is very unfair. Please speak about their case!


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    Turkey-based TV airs Egypt tapes on Jerusalem

    A Turkey-based TV station has released audio recordings it said were of an Egyptian intelligence officer asking influential hosts in Egypt to persuade their viewers to accept a US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    The recordings in Arabic, aired by Mekameleen TV late on Sunday, were first reported on by the New York Times and appeared to contradict Egypt's public condemnation of the US move.

    Mekameleen TV is an Istanbul-based free-to-air satellite television channel, run mostly by exiled Egyptians.

    In the audio recordings, a man the Times identified as Captain Ashraf el-Kholi, tells the hosts that war with Israel was not in Egypt's national interest, and asked them to play down opposition to US President Donald Trump's move.

    Egypt's State Information Service has denied the Times' January 6 report in a statement, saying its stance on Jerusalem remains unchanged.

    Egypt's positions "are conveyed by the president, the foreign minister and in official statements", the statement said, adding that the Times does not provide evidence el-Kholi was an officer with the country's intelligence service.

    A Palestinian official also dismissed the content of the recordings on Monday.

    Qais Abdulkarim, a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's executive committee, told Al Jazeera he believed Egypt continues to support the Palestinian cause.

    He added, "I think the US is working intentionally to try to create an atmosphere which says that their move has been committed or taken with a tacit approval of certain Arab governments."

    Egypt was among one of the first countries to criticise Trump's move, which prompted widespread international condemnation and deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories.

    Cairo also submitted a resolution rejecting the move to the UN Security Council, but it was vetoed by the US.

    The recordings released by Mekameleen, however, has cast doubt over Egypt's position.
    'How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah?'

    In a call with Saeed Hassaseen, a TV host and member of parliament, el-Kholi says he was laying out "the stance of Egypt's national security apparatus and what it stands to benefit from in this matter of announcing Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel".

    "We like all our Arab brothers are denouncing this matter," el-Kholi continued. "After that, this thing will become a reality.

    "Palestinians can't resist, and we don't want to go to war. We have enough on our plate as you know."

    He went on to describe the reaction to Trump's decision "dangerous" and said it could strengthen Hamas, the group that controls the Gaza Strip.

    Egypt has long accused Hamas of supporting groups fighting its security forces in the Sinai peninsula, a region that borders Gaza and Israel.

    "An Intifada [uprising] would not serve Egypt's national security interests because an Intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas," el-Kholi said.

    The Times said Hassaseen backed out of an interview on the issue.

    El-Kholi's other conversations followed a similar line and were with Mofid Fawzy, who denied speaking to el-Kholi, and with Egyptian actress Youssra.

    Host Azmi Megahed, the fourth person el-Kholi spoke with, confirmed the conversation to the Times.

    In his call with Megahed, el-Kholi suggested that the Palestinians should be happy with the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, home to the Palestinian Authority.

    "How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?" el-Kholi said.

    He also asked Megahed to say that it was Egypt's regional rival, Qatar and its ruler, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who were guilty of collaborating with Israel.


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    Egyptian, Israeli firms sign $15bn natural gas deal

    Israel to export $15bn worth of natural gas to Egypt over 10-year period.

    Israeli company Delek Drilling has announced it will supply Egypt with $15bn worth of natural gas in the biggest export deal to date for Israel's natural gas industry.

    Egyptian company Dolphinus will buy 64 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Delek Drilling and its US partner Noble during a 10-year period, a statement released on Monday said.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the "historic" agreement.

    "This will bring billions into the country's coffers," he said in a statement.

    Netanyahu said the deal would "strengthen [Israel's] security, our economy, and also strengthen our regional relationships".

    Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling, said the agreement would "establish Egypt's status as a regional energy centre".

    Pending pipelines

    The companies have yet to determine what route the natural gas from Israel's Mediterranean Tamar and Leviathan fields will flow to Egypt. Delek's statement said "various possibilities" exist, including the use of the EMG pipeline.

    Running from al-Arish in North Sinai, Egypt to Ashkelon, Israel, the EMG pipeline formerly transported natural gas from Egypt, which has its own reserves, to Israel under a 20-year contract signed in 2005.

    The deal collapsed in 2012, however, after the pipeline was repeatedly attacked. The Hosni Mubarak-era agreement was unpopular with critics who argued the Jewish state did not pay enough for the gas.

    Israel discovered its Tamar and Leviathan gas fields in 2009 and 2010, respectively, and has since made efforts to become an exporter itself. In September 2016, Israeli and Jordanian firms signed a $10bn gas deal over 15 years.

    Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.


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    Egypt demands action over teen's death after Nottingham assault

    by Ben Quinn - 16 Mar 2018

    The Egyptian government is pressing UK authorities to act swiftly in their investigations into the death of an 18-year-old Egyptian student who was the victim of a street assault in Nottingham.

    Mariam Moustafa, who was left in a coma after the incident on 20 February, was pronounced dead on Wednesday. The teenager, an engineering student based in the city, was allegedly punched several times during a confrontation with a group of women in Parliament Street, Nottingham.

    While detectives investigating the death have said there is no information to suggest the attack was motivated by hate, the student’s family have reportedly been critical of the British authorities’ response.

    On the night of the incident, Moustafa got on a bus at the scene near the Victoria Centre shopping precinct and was followed by the group, who it is claimed were then threatening and abusive towards her.

    She was taken to a medical centre in Nottingham after the attack. She was then released, according to a report by Middle East Eye, but later suffered a brain haemorrhage and was placed in a medically induced coma.

    The newspaper quoted her father, Hatem Abdel Salam, as saying that the
    family had received no support from the British authorities or police.

    “It’s been nearly 20 days and the girls who were involved in the assault haven’t been arrested,” it quoted him as saying. “The British police haven’t given me any details about what happened nor has the hospital provided us a single report.”

    The Egyptian embassy in London said in a statement that its counsel general and medical counsel, as well as other representatives from the embassy, were immediately dispatched to offer support to the family following the attack and were briefed by the family’s lawyer.

    The government of Egypt and embassy have been closely following the circumstances of this vicious attack with the relevant British authorities and express the need for those responsible be be brought to justice swiftly,” it added.

    “The deep concern of the Egyptian public is evident and the embassy remains focused in its efforts to support and assist Mariam’s grieving family whose life has been shattered by the traumatic loss.”

    Nottinghamshire police said it was aware of social media posts and discussions with regard to the recent tragic death of Mariam Moustafa.

    “The content of these posts and discussions suggest that the incident is motivated by hate,” it added in a statement.

    “At this time, from our investigation, there is no information to suggest that the assault was motivated by hate but we continue to keep an open mind.

    “We would like to reassure the community that we are treating this incident very seriously and we are working hard to establish the circumstances.

    “We are also giving support to Mariam’s family at this very difficult time.”

    A 17-year-old girl arrested on suspicion of assault occasioning grievous bodily harm was bailed pending further investigation following the incident.

    Egypt wants answers in death of teenage student in UK

    By Bard Wilkinson and Heba Moussa - March 16, 2018

    Egyptian student Mariam Moustafa died after being attacked in the British city of Nottingham, where she was studying engineering.

    Egypt is pressing Britain to act after the death of an 18-year-old Egyptian student, who police say was assaulted in the city of Nottingham.

    Mariam Moustafa was assaulted outside a shopping mall at 8 p.m. on February 20 and fell into a coma before dying of her injuries on Wednesday, according to Nottinghamshire Police.

    Police said there was no information to suggest the attack was motivated by racial hate, but authorities will "continue to keep an open mind." A 17-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of "assault occasioning grievous bodily harm" and has been released on bail.

    Egypt's foreign ministry said it was following the case through the Egyptian Embassy in London and would work with the family's lawyer to make sure the attackers were brought to justice. It also said it would address concerns regarding medical care that Moustafa received after the attack.

    Egyptian officials want a parliamentary delegation to visit the UK to investigate the death.

    "We are in contact with the Egyptian foreign ministry... to help this delegation to [reach] England as soon as possible," Alaa Abed, the head of the Egyptian parliament's human rights committee, was quoted as saying by state news agency Ahram Online.

    Moustafa's death has prompted outrage in Egypt, with high-profile celebrities such as actor Ahmed Elsaka demanding justice.

    Nottingham City Transport said that CCTV footage from the bus had been provided to the police.


    Moustafa's uncle Amr El Hariry said in a video post on his Facebook page that Moustafa had been discharged from the hospital and fell into a coma after she went back to the hospital. He added that authorities had been slow to respond to her case.

    "I say that because when the girl was brutally beaten by the group and went to the hospital... the
    hospital discharged her five hours later and told her that she's fine despite the fact that she told them that she is feeling terrible."

    She went back to the hospital in a terrible condition where she was in a coma for many days. She went through about nine surgeries until she died today."

    Speaking to CNN, El Hariry said the family was "astonished" at how badly the case has been handled, and he criticized the actions of the British government, police and the hospital.

    He added that the
    family had provided all the evidence to the police, including video evidence they found online, but the case had failed to progress. "What more do you need?" he asked.

    El Hariry confirmed that his niece's body will be repatriated to Egypt, which is where her family want her to be buried.

    The British Foreign Office told CNN it is not aware of any contact from Egypt over Moustafa's death.

    A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Cairo said that authorities cannot comment on Moustafa's medical history or treatment because of the UK's privacy laws.

    In a statement, the spokeswoman said: "We share the desire to know the full facts as soon as possible. But as this is an ongoing investigation, the authorities cannot comment publicly on the details of the case, because this could prejudice court proceedings and make it more difficult to secure justice for Mariam."

    She added that UK authorities must ensure "this disgusting crime does not go unpunished."

    Police have asked people not to post comments on social media suggesting that the incident was motivated by hate, calling it an "active ongoing investigation" and saying that "legal proceedings are active."


    Islamophobic police wants to protect their own people by not wanting it to be a "hate crime" since punishment is more and it shows their ugly face of racism and Islamophobia. These Islamophobes tried doing the same thing in previous assaults on Muslims, in the USA and the UK.

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    Morsi facing early death in inhuman prison conditions, British MPs say


    Panel calls treatment of former Egyptian president 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' and says Sisi could be held liable for torture

    Mohamed Morsi is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, sleeps on a cement floor, and has been permitted to see his family once in the past three years, a panel of British parliamentarians and international lawyers has found.

    The former Egyptian president may die prematurely as a result of inadequate medical treatment, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi could be held liable for his treatment under international law, according to the panel.

    "We find that the conditions of Dr Morsi's detention would be of such continuing interest to the whole chain of command that the current president could, in principle, be responsible for the crime of torture," they said.

    The panel, led by MP Crispin Blunt, released its findings on Wednesday after it was commissioned by Morsi's family - through London-based law firm ITN Solicitors - to investigate the conditions in which the 67-year-old is being held.

    The panel asked to visit Morsi in Tora Prison and assess his situation first-hand earlier this month, but the Egyptian government has not responded.

    "We draw an inference that the Egyptian government do not wish for independent oversight of Dr Morsi's detention," the report said.

    A former warden at the maximum security prison, nicknamed Scorpion, said in 2012 that the complex had been designed "so that those who go in don't come out again, unless dead".

    "We would have rather hoped that the revolution would have addressed that," Blunt said. "I think the evidence is that it hasn't. President Sisi ought to."

    With his re-election expected this week, Blunt said it could be a chance, however unlikely, for the president to "heal the divisions in Egypt" through addressing the prison conditions of Morsi and others.

    "If the Egyptian authorities want to avoid the undoubted difficulties of him dying in custody, and it would appear a pretty serious case of neglect, then it’s an opportunity for them," he said.

    'Cruel, inhuman and degrading'

    Based on the testimonies of Morsi's family and others informed of his condition, the panel has called his treatment "cruel, inhuman and degrading" and said it could "meet the threshold for torture in accordance Egyptian and international law".

    Without urgent medical assistance, the damage to his health "may be permanent and possibly terminal", according to the report.

    "The consequence of this inadequate care is likely to be rapid deterioration of his long‐term conditions, which is likely to lead to premature death."

    Morsi is only served canned food, which is sometimes rotten, and is now suffering from deteriorating liver and kidney function potentially as a result of malnutrition
    , according to the panel.

    Morsi is also reported to be suffering from conditions linked to his diabetes and high blood pressure and reports indicate his health has deteriorated since his incarceration.

    He has suffered from diabetic coma and is losing vision in his left eye due to a lack of insulin, injuries to the neck and spine as a result of sleeping on a cement floor, abscesses in his jaws and conjunctivitis
    , reports say.

    His son, Abdullah Morsi, told the panel that a doctor examined his father six months ago, but only had a stethoscope and blood pressure monitor. Further examinations and treatments have not been offered.

    "The doctor in the prison is a general practitioner appointed by the state," Abdullah Morsi told the panel. "My father requires an assessment by a radiologist, blood tests, a physiotherapist and an ophthalmologist."

    His family has expressed fears that this denial of treatment may be purposeful.

    Tayyab Ali, a partner at ITN solicitors, said its likely that the report will be sent to the United Nations, the European Union and the African Union to join a growing body of evidence about what is happening at Scorpion Prison.

    "At some point, the various criminal acts that have occured in Egypt will need to be address in some sort of forum," Ali said.

    The panel, Ali added, have offered to write a second report if the Egyptian government grants them access to Morsi.

    The country's first democratically elected president and a member of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi has been held in prison since July 2013 coup by the Egyptian military.

    Since then, he has been sentenced to death by hanging and a total of 48 years in prison for various charges, including killing protesters, insulting the judiciary and collaborating with Hamas and Hezbollah.

    His death sentences have been overturned, but appeals that could reimpose them are pending.

    The Egyptian embassy in London has been contacted for comment.


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    Egyptians in Sinai living under siege due to anti-militant campaign, says HRW

    Up to 420,000 north Sinai residents in urgent need of humanitarian aid, says Human Rights Watch

    The Egyptian government’s ongoing military campaign against Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula has left citizens living under siege, according to Human Rights Watch.

    In a new report published on Monday, the organisation states that up to 420,000 residents of four cities in north Sinai are now in urgent need of humanitarian aid due to shortages of food, medicine and other cooking essentials, as well as cuts to water, electricity, communications and freedom of movement.

    The Egyptian military began a large-scale offensive against militants aligned to the Islamic State group in early February after the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, ordered the military to rid the peninsula of the insurgents within three months, in a speech last November. The command followed an attack on a mosque in north Sinai that killed over 300 people.

    “It is your responsibility to secure and stabilise Sinai within the next three months,” Sisi told the military in February, adding: “You can use all brute force necessary.”

    Yet testimony from local Sinai residents and activists as well as satellite footage, media reports and social media posts reviewed by Human Rights Watch attest that civilians in north Sinai are subject to a harsh crackdown that has led to a burgeoning humanitarian crisis.

    “The military campaign against the Islamic State-affiliate in north Sinai has included imposing severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods in almost all of the governorate,” it said. The report details how citizens’ movements through major cities in Sinai are heavily curtailed due to the presence of military checkpoints at major roads, adding that Egyptian military has closed schools and universities due to the ongoing operation.

    Residents from Sinai told the human rights organisation that soldiers besiege neighbourhoods when conducting house-to-house searches. The report adds that during these searches, “security forces seized all mobile phones, and sometimes laptops, computers, and other electronic devices, and did not return them”.

    Ashraf Hefny, Sinai-based activist and coordinator with the local “people’s committee” of tribal leaders and activists, described the situation as a siege. He described how “commodities began to disappear gradually and [then] quickly” after service stations closed the night before the military operation began in February. Egyptian authorities have since banned the sale or use of petrol in northern Sinai, according to the report.

    The government has also cut water and electricity, in an area already suffering from regular black- and brownouts, and cuts to internet and phone lines following a state of emergency imposed since 2014.

    Human Rights Watch details how “the absence of sufficient government measures to deal with the food crisis has stirred fears and led to incidents of violence,” including the army shooting to disperse crowds of civilians gathering to buy food.

    The Egyptian government has repeatedly touted the success of the operation in Sinai, claiming on 19 April that it had killed Nasser Abu Zaqul, the central Sinai commander of the Isis affiliate in Sinai, in a shootout. Independent observers and foreign media are banned from entering northern Sinai, making it impossible to independently verify the success of the ongoing military operation or its effect on the civilian population.

    Egyptian military spokesman Col Tamer el-Refai declined to comment on the report before its publication. A spokesman for the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

    “As the Human Rights Watch report manages to document, the general population of north Sinai continues to be stuck in between the battle between Isis-Sinai and Egypt,” said Zack Gold, a Sinai expert with the Virginia thinktank CNA. “While Op Sinai 2018 could dismantle Isis’s Sinai chapter, the harsh treatment HRW documents waters the seeds of a future insurgent movement,” he said.


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    Israel to hold 'independence day' celebration in Egypt amid deadly Palestine protests

    Israel's embassy in Egypt has organised an event at a Cairo hotel to celebrate 70th anniversary of Israeli statehood, seen by Palestinians as a catastrophe, or Nakba in Arabic.

    Israeli diplomats in Cairo will host the celebration on Tuesday at the Ritz Carlton and have invited hundreds of Egyptian officials, journalists, businessmen, cultural figures, Ynet reported.

    The Israeli news website said the event, which will be hosted Israeli Ambassador David Govrin, will take place under tight security.

    It added that Egyptian officials tried to have the event cancelled but Cairo allowed the event to go on after Israeli officials stressed it was "critical in order to resume normal diplomatic relations".

    News of the event was leaked to Egyptian weekly political magazine Rose al-Yousef, which published images of invitations to the event.
    Palestinians commemorate the anniversary of Israel's creation in 1948 as the "Nakba" or the "catastrophe" that forcibly displaced and exiled the first of successive waves of Palestinian refugees.

    Palestinians have been holding demonstrations demanding refugees be allowed to return to the homes they fled or were expelled from during the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

    At least 52 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since protests began along the Gaza border on March 30. No Israelis have been hurt in the weeks of protests.
    Egypt, as well as Jordan, are the only Arab states to have formal peace treaties with Israel.
    While there have long been suggestions of behind-the-scenes military and intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel, officials from both countries rarely comment publicly on them.

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly spoken of improving ties with Arab nations in recent months without providing details, with many analysts saying their shared concern over Iran and IS militants has drawn them closer together.

    The anniversary of the proclamation of the state of Israel was last month under the Hebrew calendar, but falls on May 14 according to the Western calendar.



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