Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

Egypt president approves contentious NGO law – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts president has signed into law a contentious new bill to regulate non-governmental organizations, the official gazette said on Monday, triggering fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society.

Authorities have led a brutal crackdown on all forms of opposition, at times targeting human rights organizations directly, since then-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Sissi approved the law on May 24 after parliament approved it in November last year, the gazette said.

Rights lawyer Gamal Eid slammed the text of the new bill, which the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch have also criticized.

An Egyptian girl is seen outside the Banati Foundation shelter, a civil society organization that works with street children, in the capital Cairo on February 16, 2017. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

The law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organizations, Eid said.

Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 300,000 pounds ($16,500, 14,800 euros) to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, the lawyer said.

No organization can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state.

Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000).

It requires for a national authority including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations.

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, government and security officials have accused civil society of wanting to destabilize the country.

Several human rights defenders have been forbidden to travel outside Egypt and have seen their assets frozen as part of an inquiry into foreign funding to civil society groups started in 2011.

In March last year, the authorities said around 47,000 Egyptian non-governmental groups and more than 100 foreign ones were working freely in the country.

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Egypt president approves contentious NGO law – The Times of Israel

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May 30, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt court acquits Mubarak-era tycoon over gas sales to Israel – Middle East Monitor

A Cairo criminal court acquitted the Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem yesterday of squandering public funds in a case related to exporting Egyptian natural gas to Israel at less than the global market price.

Salem is known for being a close associate of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in 2011 following a popular uprising.

Mubaraks 30-year era was marred by corruption and a strong influence of businessmen on the countrys political dynamics. After the 2011 uprising, Salem was convicted in a number of cases that included corruption, money laundering and seizing state property.

However, he recently entered into a reconciliation agreements with the present Sisi regime stipulating that charges against him will be dropped in exchange for Salem offering an undisclosed amount of his fortune to the Egyptian authorities.

Salems lawyer Mahmoud Kebeish was quoted in the Egyptian media as saying that in the next court session he will present to the court a reconciliation deal struck between Salem and the current Egyptian government, entailing the dropping of all lawsuits in which he was accused of money laundering, exporting gas to Israel at a low price and seizing state land.

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Egypt court acquits Mubarak-era tycoon over gas sales to Israel – Middle East Monitor

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

17 mummies found in ancient Egyptian burial site – The Times of Israel

TOUNA EL-GABAL, Egypt (AFP) Egyptian archaeologists have discovered 17 mummies in desert catacombs in Minya province, an unprecedented find for the area south of Cairo, the antiquities ministry announced Saturday.

Archaeologists found the non-royal mummies in a series of corridors after following the trail of burial shafts in the Touna-Gabal district of the central Egyptian province, the ministry said in a statement.

Along with the mummies, they found a golden sheet and two papyri in Demotic an ancient Egyptian script as well as a number of sarcophogi made of limestone and clay.

There were also animal and bird coffins, the ministry said.

But the mummies have not yet been dated.

A picture taken on May 13, 2017, shows mummies lying in catacombs following their discovery in the Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

The ministry said they belonged to the Late Period, which spanned almost 300 years up to Alexander the Greats conquest of Egypt in 332 BC.

But a spokeswoman told AFP they could also date from the Ptolemaic Dynasty, founded by Alexander the Greats general Ptolemy.

The discovery of the non-royal mummies is considered unprecedented because it is the first such find in the area, officials said at the site.

Egyptologist Salah al-Kholi told a news conference held near the desert site that the discovery was the first human necropolis found in central Egypt with so many mummies.

It could herald even more discoveries in the area, he said.

The discovery was important, unprecedented, Mohamed Hamza, director of excavations for Cairo University said.

A picture taken on May 13, 2017, shows mummies lying in catacombs following their discovery in the Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

The site is close to an ancient animal cemetery.

The discovery is still at its beginning, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters.

It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month.

In April, the ministry invited reporters to the southern city of Luxor to unveil eight mummies discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to a nobleman.

For the cash-strapped Egyptian government, the discoveries are a boon from the countrys glorious past as it struggles to attract tourists scared off by a series of Islamist militant attacks.

Egyptian archaeologists work on a wooden coffin discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, April 18, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)

Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt, Enany said. News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt.

Millions of tourists visited Egypt every year to see its Giza Pyramids the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and its ancient pharaonic temples and relics.

But a popular uprising in 2011 that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak ushered in years of unrest that battered the economy and drove away tourists.

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17 mummies found in ancient Egyptian burial site – The Times of Israel

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Why is Egypt ‘indifferent’ to the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike? – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The hunger strike being waged since April 16 by some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is being met with indifference in Egypt, an Egyptian activist lamented on Wednesday.

Ahmed Maher, one of the leaders of the demonstrations that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, wrote on the London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed website that lack of interest in the strike is a symptom that the Palestinian cause has stopped being a central cause for the Arabs as it was in the past.

The prisoners demands include an end to administrative detentions, an end to what they allege is negligence in health care, more family visits and use of public telephones. Israeli authorities deny there is maltreatment of prisoners.

Maher is no stranger to prison. In 2014, he was sentenced to jail for three years by the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for defying a law banning unauthorized public gatherings. He wrote that Egyptians are inured to news about Palestinians.

The news such as martyrdom of Palestinians, arrests of large numbers of Palestinian youths or raids against al-Aksa [Mosque] have become routine like events anywhere. Internal affairs are seen as most important. The local affairs news coverage is the biggest.

The Palestinian cause has become marginalized for the Arab youth, Maher wrote. Even the news about prisoners and their struggle and their empty stomachs campaign only attracts the attention of a few individuals here and there. It is a catastrophe that millions of Arab youth see any attention to Palestinian news as abnormal and have been influenced by Egyptian official media which justifies the warm relations with Israel by saying that Palestinians are the ones who sold their land voluntarily to the Jews and that the goal of Hamas is to destroy Egypt.

Maher wrote that Israeli and Egyptian prison authorities are alike in that they harass prisoners and dont care about prisoner rights and international law.

But, he added, What makes us more sorry is to know that whats happening to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons is more merciful than the Egyptian treatment of prisoners.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking in a televised speech on Tuesday, criticized Arab leaders for ignoring the strike. Palestinian hunger strikers are only demanding their basic rights as prisoners in Israeli jails. Where are the Arab leaders and Muslim organizations to see the situation of Palestinian hunger strikers? he said, according to Irans Press TV.

Meanwhile, the Arab48 website, citing the National Committee for Jordanian Detainees Affairs, reported that three Jordanian prisoners have joined the hunger strike. The three were identified as Riyad Saleh, Abdullah Abu Jaber and Rafat al-Sous. It could not immediately be determined what crimes they were imprisoned for, but each is serving a 20-year sentence, according to the committee.

There has been active support of the strike by Jordanian Facebook users with many people videotaping themselves drinking salted water, the only thing the prisoners ingest, The Jordan Times reported.

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Why is Egypt ‘indifferent’ to the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike? – Jerusalem Post Israel News

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May 4, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt – Wikipedia

This article is about the modern country. For the ancient realm, see Ancient Egypt.

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Egypt (i EE-jipt; Arabic: Mir, Egyptian Arabic: Mar,[15]Coptic: Kimi), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt. It is the world’s only contiguous Afrasian nation.

Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC.[16] Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. One of the earliest centres of Christianity, Egypt was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.

With over 92 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000sqmi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.

Modern Egypt is considered to be a regional and middle power, with significant cultural, political, and military influence in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world.[17] Egypt’s economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the 21st century. Egypt is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Mir (IPA:[misr] or Egyptian Arabic pronunciation:[mes]; Arabic: ) is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while Mar or Masar (IPA:[ms]; Egyptian Arabic: ) is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic.[19] The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew (Mitzryim). The oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian KURmi-i-ru miru,[20][21] related to miru/miirru/miaru, meaning “border” or “frontier”.[22]

There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society.[28]

By about 6000 BC, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley.[29] During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.[30]

A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 27002200 BC., which constructed many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza pyramids.

The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years.[31] Stronger Nile floods and stabilisation of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

The New Kingdom c. 15501070 BC began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Tombos in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first historically attested expression of monotheism came during this period as Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded and conquered by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.[32]

In 525BC, the powerful Achaemenid Persians, led by Cambyses II, began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh Psamtik III at the battle of Pelusium. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from his home of Susa in Persia (modern Iran), leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. The entire Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt, from 525 BC to 402 BC, save for Petubastis III, was an entirely Persian ruled period, with the Achaemenid kings all being granted the title of pharaoh. A few temporarily successful revolts against the Persians marked the fifth century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians.[33]

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians again in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. This Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt, however, did not last long, for the Persians were toppled several decades later by Alexander the Great.

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to Cyrene to the west, and south to the frontier with Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a centre of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.[34][35]

The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide following the burial of her lover Mark Antony who had died in her arms (from a self-inflicted stab wound), after Octavian had captured Alexandria and her mercenary forces had fled. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless, Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest.

Christianity was brought to Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century.[36]Diocletian’s reign (from 284 to 305 AD) marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.[37]

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Sasanian Persian invasion early in the 7th century amidst the ByzantineSasanian War of 602628 during which they established a new short-lived province for ten years known as Sasanian Egypt, until 63942, when Egypt was invaded and conquered by the Islamic Empire by the Muslim Arabs. When they defeated the Byzantine Armies in Egypt, the Arabs brought Sunni Islam to the country. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices, leading to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day.[36] These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.[38]

Muslim rulers nominated by the Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, with Cairo as the seat of the Fatimid Caliphate. With the end of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about 1250. By the late 13th century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies.[39] The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 40% of the country’s population.[40]

Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarisation damaged its civil society and economic institutions.[39] The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade.[39] Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines.[41] The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.[42]

Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control, due in part to the continuing power and influence of the Mamluks, the Egyptian military caste who had ruled the country for centuries.

Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte 1798 (see French campaign in Egypt and Syria). After the French were defeated by the British, a power vacuum was created in Egypt, and a three-way power struggle ensued between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans.

After the French were expelled, power was seized in 1805 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian military commander of the Ottoman army in Egypt. While he carried the title of viceroy of Egypt, his subordination to the Ottoman porte was merely nominal.[citation needed] Muhammad Ali established a dynasty that was to rule Egypt until the revolution of 1952.

The introduction in 1820 of long-staple cotton transformed its agriculture into a cash-crop monoculture before the end of the century, concentrating land ownership and shifting production towards international markets.[43]

Muhammad Ali annexed Northern Sudan (18201824), Syria (1833), and parts of Arabia and Anatolia; but in 1841 the European powers, fearful lest he topple the Ottoman Empire itself, forced him to return most of his conquests to the Ottomans. His military ambition required him to modernise the country: he built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.[43]

He constructed a military state with around four percent of the populace serving the army to raise Egypt to a powerful positioning in the Ottoman Empire in a way showing various similarities to the Soviet strategies (without communism) conducted in the 20th century.[44]

Muhammad Ali Pasha evolved the military from one that convened under the tradition of the corve to a great modernised army. He introduced conscription of the male peasantry in 19th century Egypt, and took a novel approach to create his great army, strengthening it with numbers and in skill. Education and training of the new soldiers was not an option; the new concepts were furthermore enforced by isolation. The men were held in barracks to avoid distraction of their growth as a military unit to be reckoned with. The resentment for the military way of life eventually faded from the men and a new ideology took hold, one of nationalism and pride. It was with the help of this newly reborn martial unit that Muhammad Ali imposed his rule over Egypt.[45]

The policy that Mohammad Ali Pasha followed during his reign explains partly why the numeracy in Egypt compared to other North-African and Middle-Eastern countries increased only at a remarkably small rate, as investment in further education only took place in the military and industrial sector.[46]

Muhammad Ali was succeeded briefly by his son Ibrahim (in September 1848), then by a grandson Abbas I (in November 1848), then by Said (in 1854), and Isma’il (in 1863) who encouraged science and agriculture and banned slavery in Egypt.[44]

Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty remained nominally an Ottoman province. It was granted the status of an autonomous vassal state or Khedivate in 1867, a status which was to remain in place until 1914.

The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. Its construction led to enormous debt to European banks, and caused popular discontent because of the onerous taxation it required. In 1875 Ismail was forced to sell Egypt’s share in the canal to the British government. Within three years this led to the imposition of British and French controllers who sat in the Egyptian cabinet, and, “with the financial power of the bondholders behind them, were the real power in the Government.”[47]

Other circumstances like epidemic diseases (cattle disease in the 1880s), floods and wars drove the economic downturn and increased Egypt’s dependency on foreign debt even further.[48]

In later years, the dynasty became a British puppet.[43]Isma’il and Tewfik Pasha governed Egypt as a quasi-independent state under Ottoman suzerainty until the British occupation of 1882.

Local dissatisfaction with Ismail and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmad Urabi a prominent figure. Fearing a reduction of their control, the UK and France intervened militarily, bombarding Alexandria and crushing the Egyptian army at the battle of Tel El Kebir.[49] They reinstalled Ismail’s son Tewfik as figurehead of a de facto British protectorate.[50]

In 1906, the Dinshaway Incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement.

The Khedivate of Egypt remained a de jure Ottoman province until 5 November 1914,[51] when it was declared a British protectorate in reaction to the decision of the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire to join World War I on the side of the Central Powers.

In 1914, the Protectorate was made official, and the title of the head of state was changed to sultan, to repudiate the vestigial suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, who was backing the Central powers in World War I. Abbas II was deposed as khedive and replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as sultan.[52]

After World War I, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates[dubious discuss] to Malta on 8 March 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. The revolt led the UK government to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt’s independence on 22 February 1922.[53]

The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability due to remaining British influence and increasing political involvement by the king led to the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d’tat known as the 1952 Revolution. The Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad. British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.[54]

Following the 1952 Revolution by the Free Officers Movement, the rule of Egypt passed to military hands. On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic.

Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser a Pan-Arabist and the real architect of the 1952 movement and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President in June 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on 13 June 1956. He nationalised the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956, prompting the 1956 Suez Crisis.

In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed a sovereign union known as the United Arab Republic. The union was short-lived, ending in 1961 when Syria seceded, thus ending the union. During most of its existence, the United Arab Republic was also in a loose confederation with North Yemen (or the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen), known as the United Arab States. In 1959, the All-Palestine Government of the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian client state, was absorbed into the United Arab Republic under the pretext of Arab union, and was never restored.

In the early 1960s, Egypt became fully involved in the North Yemen Civil War. The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, supported the Yemeni republicans with as many as 70,000 Egyptian troops and chemical weapons. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egyptian commitment in Yemen was greatly undermined later.

In mid May 1967, the Soviet Union issued warnings to Nasser of an impending Israeli attack on Syria. Although the chief of staff Mohamed Fawzi verified them as “baseless”,[55][56] Nasser took three successive steps that made the war virtually inevitable: On 14 May he deployed his troops in Sinai near the border with Israel, on 19 May he expelled the UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel, and on 23 May he closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.[57] On 26 May Nasser declared, “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”.[58]

Israel re-iterated that the Straits of Tiran closure was a Casus belli. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel attacked Egypt, and occupied Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which Egypt had occupied since the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. During the 1967 war, an Emergency Law was enacted, and remained in effect until 2012, with the exception of an 18-month break in 1980/81.[59] Under this law, police powers were extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship legalised.[citation needed]

At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor.[60] Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, most of them being boys. Nasser’s policies changed this. Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From academic year 195354 through 196566, overall public school enrolments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class. Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser.[60] During the 1960s, the Egyptian economy went from sluggish to the verge of collapse, the society became less free, and Nasser’s appeal waned considerably.[61]

In 1970, President Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt’s Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while clamping down on religious and secular opposition. In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack to regain part of the Sinai territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. It presented Sadat with a victory that allowed him to regain the Sinai later in return for peace with Israel.[62]

In 1975, Sadat shifted Nasser’s economic policies and sought to use his popularity to reduce government regulations and encourage foreign investment through his program of Infitah. Through this policy, incentives such as reduced taxes and import tariffs attracted some investors, but investments were mainly directed at low risk and profitable ventures like tourism and construction, abandoning Egypt’s infant industries.[63] Even though Sadat’s policy was intended to modernise Egypt and assist the middle class, it mainly benefited the higher class, and, because of the elimination of subsidies on basic foodstuffs, led to the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots.

Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat’s initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt’s expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by most Egyptians.[64]Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist in October 1981.

Hosni Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Sadat in a referendum in which he was the only candidate.[65]

Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed Egypt’s relationship with Israel yet eased the tensions with Egypt’s Arab neighbours. Domestically, Mubarak faced serious problems. Even though farm and industry output expanded, the economy could not keep pace with the population boom. Mass poverty and unemployment led rural families to stream into cities like Cairo where they ended up in crowded slums, barely managing to survive.

In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, terrorist attacks in Egypt became numerous and severe, and began to target Christian Copts, foreign tourists and government officials.[66] In the 1990s an Islamist group, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, engaged in an extended campaign of violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners. Serious damage was done to the largest sector of Egypt’s economytourism[67]and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depended for support.[68]

During Mubarak’s reign, the political scene was dominated by the National Democratic Party, which was created by Sadat in 1978. It passed the 1993 Syndicates Law, 1995 Press Law, and 1999 Nongovernmental Associations Law which hampered freedoms of association and expression by imposing new regulations and draconian penalties on violations.[citation needed] As a result, by the late 1990s parliamentary politics had become virtually irrelevant and alternative avenues for political expression were curtailed as well.[69]

On 17 November 1997, 62 people, mostly tourists, were massacred near Luxor.

In late February 2005, Mubarak announced a reform of the presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls for the first time since the 1952 movement.[70] However, the new law placed restrictions on the candidates, and led to Mubarak’s easy re-election victory.[71] Voter turnout was less than 25%.[72] Election observers also alleged government interference in the election process.[73] After the election, Mubarak imprisoned Ayman Nour, the runner-up.[74]

Human Rights Watch’s 2006 report on Egypt detailed serious human rights violations, including routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.[75] In 2007, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Egypt had become an international centre for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror.[76] Egypt’s foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report.[77]

Constitutional changes voted on 19 March 2007 prohibited parties from using religion as a basis for political activity, allowed the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law, authorised broad police powers of arrest and surveillance, and gave the president power to dissolve parliament and end judicial election monitoring.[78] In 2009, Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal Dessouki, Media Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), described Egypt as a “pharaonic” political system, and democracy as a “long-term goal”. Dessouki also stated that “the real center of power in Egypt is the military”.[79]

On 25 January 2011, widespread protests began against Mubarak’s government. On 11 February 2011, Mubarak resigned and fled Cairo. Jubilant celebrations broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the news.[80] The Egyptian military then assumed the power to govern.[81][82]Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, became the de facto interim head of state.[83][84] On 13 February 2011, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.[85]

A constitutional referendum was held on 19 March 2011. On 28 November 2011, Egypt held its first parliamentary election since the previous regime had been in power. Turnout was high and there were no reports of major irregularities or violence.[86]Mohamed Morsi was elected president on 24 June 2012.[87] On 2 August 2012, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35-member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers including four from the Muslim Brotherhood.[88]

Liberal and secular groups walked out of the constituent assembly because they believed that it would impose strict Islamic practices, while Muslim Brotherhood backers threw their support behind Morsi.[89] On 22 November 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary declaration immunising his decrees from challenge and seeking to protect the work of the constituent assembly.[90]

The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt.[91] On 5 December 2012, tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of president Morsi clashed, in what was described as the largest violent battle between Islamists and their foes since the country’s revolution.[92] Mohamed Morsi offered a “national dialogue” with opposition leaders but refused to cancel the December 2012 constitutional referendum.[93]

On 3 July 2013, after a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government,[94] the military removed President Morsi from power in a coup d’tat and installed an interim government.[95]

On 4 July 2013, 68-year-old Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt Adly Mansour was sworn in as acting president over the new government following the removal of Morsi. The military-backed Egyptian authorities cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, jailing thousands and killing hundreds of street protesters.[96][97] Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists have either been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a series of mass trials.[98][99][100]

On 18 January 2014, the interim government instituted a new constitution following a referendum in which 98.1% of voters were supportive. 38.6% of registered voters participated in the referendum[101] a higher number than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure.[102] On 26 March 2014 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, who at this time was in control of the country, resigned from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[103] The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a landslide victory for el-Sisi.[104] Sisi was sworn into office as President of Egypt on 8 June 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood and some liberal and secular activist groups boycotted the vote.[105] Even though the military-backed authorities extended voting to a third day, the 46% turnout was lower than the 52% turnout in the 2012 election.[106]

Egypt lies primarily between latitudes 22 and 32N, and longitudes 25 and 35E. At 1,001,450 square kilometres (386,660sqmi),[107] it is the world’s 30th-largest country. Due to the extreme aridity of Egypt’s climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses about 5.5% of the total land area.[108] 98% of Egyptians live on 3% of the territory.[109]

Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, the Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt’s important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean by way of the Red Sea.

Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt’s landscape is desert, with a few oases scattered about. Winds create prolific sand dunes that peak at more than 100 feet (30m) high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats and were referred to as the “red land” in ancient Egypt.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, the second largest city; Aswan; Asyut; Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital and largest city; El Mahalla El Kubra; Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu; Hurghada; Luxor; Kom Ombo; Port Safaga; Port Said; Sharm El Sheikh; Suez, where the south end of the Suez Canal is located; Zagazig; and Minya. Oases include Bahariya, Dakhla, Farafra, Kharga and Siwa. Protectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa.

On 13 March 2015, plans for a proposed new capital of Egypt were announced.[110]

Most of Egypt’s rain falls in the winter months.[111] South of Cairo, rainfall averages only around 2 to 5mm (0.1 to 0.2in) per year and at intervals of many years. On a very thin strip of the northern coast the rainfall can be as high as 410mm (16.1in),[112] mostly between October and March. Snow falls on Sinai’s mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as Damietta, Baltim and Sidi Barrani, and rarely in Alexandria. A very small amount of snow fell on Cairo on 13 December 2013, the first time in many decades.[113]Frost is also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt. Egypt is the driest and the sunniest country in the world, and most of its land surface is desert.

Egypt has an unusually hot, sunny and dry climate. Average high temperatures are high in the north but very to extremely high in the rest of the country during summer. The cooler Mediterranean winds consistently blow over the northern sea coast, which helps to get more moderated temperatures, especially at the height of the summertime. The Khamaseen is a hot, dry wind that originates from the vast deserts in the south and blows in the spring or in the early summer.

It bringing scorching sand and dust particles, and usually brings daytime temperatures over 40C (104F) and sometimes over 50C (122F) more in the interior, while the relative humidity can drop to 5% or even less. The absolute highest temperatures in Egypt occur when the Khamaseen blows. The weather is always sunny and clear in Egypt, especially in cities such as Aswan, Luxor and Asyut. It is one of the least cloudy and least rainy regions on Earth.

Prior to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Nile flooded annually (colloquially The Gift of the Nile) replenishing Egypt’s soil. This gave Egypt a consistent harvest throughout the years.

The potential rise in sea levels due to global warming could threaten Egypt’s densely populated coastal strip and have grave consequences for the country’s economy, agriculture and industry. Combined with growing demographic pressures, a significant rise in sea levels could turn millions of Egyptians into environmental refugees by the end of the 21st century, according to some climate experts.[114][115]

Egypt signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 2 June 1994.[116] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 31 July 1998.[117] Where many CBD National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans neglect biological kingdoms apart from animals and plants,[118] Egypt’s plan was unusual in providing balanced information about all forms of life.

The plan stated that the following numbers of species of different groups had been recorded from Egypt: algae (1483 species), animals (about 15,000 species of which more than 10,000 were insects), fungi (more than 627 species), monera (319 species), plants (2426 species), protozoans (371 species). For some major groups, for example lichen-forming fungi and nematode worms, the number was not known. Apart from small and well-studied groups like amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles, the many of those numbers are likely to increase as further species are recorded from Egypt. For the fungi, including lichen-forming species, for example, subsequent work has shown that over 2200 species have been recorded from Egypt, and the final figure of all fungi actually occurring in the country is expected to be much higher.[119] For the grasses, 284 native and naturalised species have been identified and recorded in Egypt.[120]

The House of Representatives, whose members are elected to serve five-year terms, specialises in legislation. Elections were last held between November 2011 and January 2012 which was later dissolved. The next parliamentary election was announced to be held within 6 months of the constitution’s ratification on 18 January 2014, and were held in two phases, from 17 October to 2 December 2015.[121] Originally, the parliament was to be formed before the president was elected, but interim president Adly Mansour pushed the date.[122] The Egyptian presidential election, 2014, took place on 2628 May 2014. Official figures showed a turnout of 25,578,233 or 47.5%, with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi winning with 23.78 million votes, or 96.91% compared to 757,511 (3.09%) for Hamdeen Sabahi.[123]

After a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi,[94] on 3 July 2013 General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi from office and the suspension of the constitution. A 50-member constitution committee was formed for modifying the constitution which was later published for public voting and was adopted on 18 January 2014.[124]

In 2013, Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt at “5” (with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least), and civil liberties at “5”, which gave it the freedom rating of “Partly Free”.[125]

Egyptian nationalism predates its Arab counterpart by many decades, having roots in the 19th century and becoming the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists and intellectuals until the early 20th century.[126] The ideology espoused by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood is mostly supported by the lower-middle strata of Egyptian society.[127]

Egypt has the oldest continuous parliamentary tradition in the Arab world.[128] The first popular assembly was established in 1866. It was disbanded as a result of the British occupation of 1882, and the British allowed only a consultative body to sit. In 1923, however, after the country’s independence was declared, a new constitution provided for a parliamentary monarchy.[128]

The legal system is based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes); and judicial review by a Supreme Court, which accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction only with reservations.[54]

Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation. Sharia courts and qadis are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice.[129] The personal status law that regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody is governed by Sharia. In a family court, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s testimony.[130]

On 26 December 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to institutionalise a controversial new constitution. It was approved by the public in a referendum held 1522 December 2012 with 64% support, but with only 33% electorate participation.[131] It replaced the 2011 Provisional Constitution of Egypt, adopted following the revolution.

The Penal code was unique as it contains a “Blasphemy Law.”[132] The present court system allows a death penalty including against an absent individual tried in absentia. Several Americans and Canadians were sentenced to death in 2012.[133]

On 18 January 2014, the interim government successfully institutionalised a more secular constitution.[134] The president is elected to a four-year term and may serve 2 terms.[134] The parliament may impeach the president.[134] Under the constitution, there is a guarantee of gender equality and absolute freedom of thought.[134] The military retains the ability to appoint the national Minister of Defence for the next 8 years.[134] Under the constitution, political parties may not be based on “religion, race, gender or geography”.[134]

The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt.[135] In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights.[136] The council came under heavy criticism by local activists, who contend it was a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its own violations[137] and to give legitimacy to repressive laws such as the Emergency Law.[138]

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranks Egypt as the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom.[139][140] The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent agency of the US government, has placed Egypt on its watch list of countries that require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.[141] According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 84% of Egyptians polled supported the death penalty for those who leave Islam; 77% supported whippings and cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 82% support stoning a person who commits adultery.[142]

In April 2016, such violations have also affected international students and tourists, when an Italian PhD student from the University of Cambridge was found brutally murdered in Cairo after he went missing in January of the same year. Subsequently, Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt for consultations in Rome regarding the criminal death of Giulio Regeni, who, at the time, conducted critical academic research on Egyptian labour rights and trade unions. Egyptian law enforcement produced conflicting information on the fate of the Italian citizen, which was unacceptable to Italian investigators. As a result, the Italian press and foreign ministry pointed at the systematic human right violations in Egypt, and threatened with political sanctions unless police leadership and practices undergo significant revisions.[143]

Coptic Christians face discrimination at multiple levels of the government, ranging from disproportionate representation in government ministries to laws that limit their ability to build or repair churches.[144] Intolerance of Bah’s and non-orthodox Muslim sects, such as Sufis, Shi’a and Ahmadis, also remains a problem.[75] When the government moved to computerise identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bah’s, could not obtain identification documents.[145] An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths may obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognised.[146]

Clashes continue between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, at least 595 civilians were killed in Cairo on 14 August 2013,[147] the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history.[148]

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Islamic State claims attack on Egypt police checkpoint – The Times of Israel

CAIRO (AP) The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint near the famed Saint Catherines Monastery in Sinai late Tuesday which authorities said killed one policeman and wounded four.

The militants opened fire from an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint just outside the monastery, which is located in a remote desert and mountainous area in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, according to a statement by the Interior Ministry.

After an exchange of gunfire, the attackers fled the scene, the ministry said, adding that some of the gunmen were wounded in the shootout.

No further details were immediately available.

According to SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of militants, the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency announced that the groups militants carried out the attack near Saint Catherine. This is the first time the IS has attacked a monastery.

It comes shortly before a planned visit by the Vatican Pope Francis to Egypt next week.

The attack on the monastery, built in the 6th century and a popular site for tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts along Sinais southern coast, comes just over a week after suicide bombers attacked two churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 45 people on Palm Sunday. Egypts Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for those attacks.

IS has vowed more attacks against Christians in Egypt, who make up 10 percent of the countrys population of over 90 million people.

Egyptians wheel away a body near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

The Palm Sunday attack prompted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to declare a three-month state of emergency and deploy armed forces to help police in guarding vital installations, including churches across the country.

A state of emergency already in place in northern Sinai has failed to halt near-daily attacks against police and security forces by IS in the volatile area. The extremist group has lately stepped up its attacks, moving its activities from Sinai to other parts of Egypt and is increasingly using sophisticated tactics that are likely to fuel sectarian tensions and embarrass el-Sissi.

Egypts Copts, the Middle Easts largest Christian community, have also long complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the countrys majority Muslim population.

Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists as Egypts Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak until his ouster in 2011.

The attack and the church bombings threaten to deal a blow to Egypts struggling tourism industry, which has suffered from political instability and a fragile security situation since the 2011 uprising.

The US issued a travel warning on Wednesday, advising its nationals in Egypt to stay away from places of worship for the next two weeks and to avoid crowds as long as they remain in the country.

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Egypt: ISIS Gunmen Attack St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai – Haaretz

ISIS claims responsibility for attack that left one policeman dead and wounded four others

Gunmen opened fire on an Egyptian police checkpoint near the famed Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai late on Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding four, security and medical officials said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency Amaq.

According to the officials, the gunmen were shooting from an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint just outside the monastery, which is located in a remote desert and mountainous area in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula.

After an exchange of gunfire, the attackers fled the scene, the officials said, adding that some of the gunmen were wounded in the shootout. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations.

Earlier on Tuesday, Israel decided to keep the Sinai border crossing with Egypt closed for Israeli travelers, citing a “situation report” by its National Security Council’s counterterrorism unit.The decision to close the border was made last week, on the eve of Passover, in light of a security assessment of the situation in the Sinai region and the risk posed to Israelis due to increased ISIS-affiliated activity in the area. Moments after the border closure last weekmilitants from Sinai fired a rocket into Israel.

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The attack on the monastery, built in the 6th century and a popular site for tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts along Sinai’s southern coast, comes just over a week after suicide bombers attacked two churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 45 people on Palm Sunday. Egypt’s Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for those attacks.

ISIS has vowed more attacks against Christians in Egypt, who make up 10 percent of the country’s population of over 90 million people.

Security sources said that security had been put on high alert at tourist facilities across southern Sinai after the attack.

The attack in southern Sinai comes as Russia is expected to make a long-awaited decision on whether to restore flights to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort after a Russian airliner was downed in 2015, dealing a serious blow to the area’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on Russian visitors.

Egypt’s tourism industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has suffered in the years of turmoil that followed the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as well as from the suspected bombing of the Russian plane, which killed all 224 on board.

Israel took the unusual step earlier this month of barring its citizens from crossing into the Sinai peninsula, saying the threat of attacks in the area inspired by Islamic State and other jihadi groups was high.

The Palm Sunday attack prompted President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to declare a three-month state of emergency and deploy armed forces to help police in guarding vital installations, including churches across the country.

A state of emergency already in place in northern Sinai has failed to halt near-daily attacks against police and security forces by ISIS in the volatile area. The extremist group has lately stepped up its attacks, moving its activities from Sinai to other parts of Egypt and is increasingly using sophisticated tactics that are likely to fuel sectarian tensions and embarrass Sissi.

Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, have also long complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the country’s majority Muslim population.

Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists as Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported longtime autocratic Mubarak until his ouster in 2011.

Tuesday’s attack comes shortly before a planned visit by the Vatican Pope Francis to Egypt next week.

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Egypt: ISIS Gunmen Attack St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai – Haaretz

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Egypt says second church bomber identified – The Times of Israel

CAIRO The authorities in Egypt said late Thursday they had identified the second of two jihadist bombers who targeted Coptic Christian Palm Sunday services last week.

The interior ministry made the announcement after President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi pledged as he visited Coptic Pope Tawadros II to hunt down the perpetrators of the bombings.

The Islamic State group claimed the Sunday attacks, which killed 45 people and followed a December 11 suicide bombing that killed 29 in a Cairo church.

Sissis visit to the papal seat in the capital came a day after the interior ministry identified the bomber who struck outside Saint Marks church in Alexandria, killing 17 people.

Sundays first bombing at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, killed 28 people.

Sissi said state agencies were exerting their utmost effort to chase down the perpetrators of those vile acts, the presidency said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the interior ministry identified the perpetrator of the Alexandria attack as Mahmud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah, born in the southern province of Qena in 1986.

On Thursday, it said it had now also identified the bomber who blew himself up in the Tanta church.

DNA tests carried out on the family of a fugitive member and the remains of the suicide bomber made it possible to identify him as Mamduh Amin Mohammed Baghdadi, born in 1977 in Qena province, where he lived, it said.

The ministry said he was a member of a terrorist cell, and also announced the arrest of three other members of the group.

On Wednesday, it also offered a 100,000 pound (about $5,500) reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects it said belonged to jihadist cells linked to the church attacks.

On Thursday, the reward was increased to 500,000 pounds.

Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency after the bombings and called in the army to protect vital installations around the country.

The Coptic Church said on Wednesday it would cut back Easter celebrations to a single mass after the bombings.

The violence came ahead of Catholic Pope Franciss first visit to Egypt, which a Vatican official said will go ahead as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks.

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Egypt says Alexandria church suicide bomber identified – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts interior ministry said on Wednesday it had identified the suicide bomber behind a deadly attack at the weekend outside a church in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The ministry said Mahmud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah had carried out the attack outside Saint Marks church in Alexandria on Palm Sunday that killed 17 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group.

It said he was born in 1986 in the southern province of Qena and had lived in the province of Suez on the Red Sea.

The ministry said it had determined his identity by comparing the DNA of remains found at the site of the bombing with the DNA of runaway suspects.

Abdullah, who had worked for an oil company, was linked to a terrorist network, a cell which carried out a previous bombing of a Cairo church in December that killed 29 people, the ministry said in a statement.

Egyptians carry the coffin of policewoman Brigadier Nagwa el-Haggar during her funeral on April 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

It said security forces were pursuing efforts to identify a second attacker who targeted another church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta hours earlier on Palm Sunday, killing 28 worshipers.

IS also claimed that attack.

Egypts Coptic Church announced on Wednesday that it would cut back Easter celebrations to a simple mass after the bombings.

Parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the aftermath of the attacks.

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Egypt president approves contentious NGO law – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts president has signed into law a contentious new bill to regulate non-governmental organizations, the official gazette said on Monday, triggering fears of an intensified crackdown on civil society. Authorities have led a brutal crackdown on all forms of opposition, at times targeting human rights organizations directly, since then-army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Sissi approved the law on May 24 after parliament approved it in November last year, the gazette said. Rights lawyer Gamal Eid slammed the text of the new bill, which the United Nations and New York-based Human Rights Watch have also criticized. An Egyptian girl is seen outside the Banati Foundation shelter, a civil society organization that works with street children, in the capital Cairo on February 16, 2017. (AFP/MOHAMED EL-SHAHED) The law eliminates civil society in Egypt, whether human rights or development organizations, Eid said. Under the law, foreign non-governmental groups will have to pay up to 300,000 pounds ($16,500, 14,800 euros) to start working in Egypt and renew their permit on a regular basis, the lawyer said. No organization can carry out or publish the results of a study or survey without prior permission from the state. Those who violate the law could receive up to five years in jail and fines of up to one million Egyptian pounds (more than $55,000). It requires for a national authority including army and intelligence representatives to oversee the foreign funding of Egyptian non-governmental organizations and the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations. Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, government and security officials have accused civil society of wanting to destabilize the country. Several human rights defenders have been forbidden to travel outside Egypt and have seen their assets frozen as part of an inquiry into foreign funding to civil society groups started in 2011. In March last year, the authorities said around 47,000 Egyptian non-governmental groups and more than 100 foreign ones were working freely in the country.

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May 30, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt court acquits Mubarak-era tycoon over gas sales to Israel – Middle East Monitor

A Cairo criminal court acquitted the Egyptian business tycoon Hussein Salem yesterday of squandering public funds in a case related to exporting Egyptian natural gas to Israel at less than the global market price. Salem is known for being a close associate of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in 2011 following a popular uprising. Mubaraks 30-year era was marred by corruption and a strong influence of businessmen on the countrys political dynamics. After the 2011 uprising, Salem was convicted in a number of cases that included corruption, money laundering and seizing state property. However, he recently entered into a reconciliation agreements with the present Sisi regime stipulating that charges against him will be dropped in exchange for Salem offering an undisclosed amount of his fortune to the Egyptian authorities. Salems lawyer Mahmoud Kebeish was quoted in the Egyptian media as saying that in the next court session he will present to the court a reconciliation deal struck between Salem and the current Egyptian government, entailing the dropping of all lawsuits in which he was accused of money laundering, exporting gas to Israel at a low price and seizing state land.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

17 mummies found in ancient Egyptian burial site – The Times of Israel

TOUNA EL-GABAL, Egypt (AFP) Egyptian archaeologists have discovered 17 mummies in desert catacombs in Minya province, an unprecedented find for the area south of Cairo, the antiquities ministry announced Saturday. Archaeologists found the non-royal mummies in a series of corridors after following the trail of burial shafts in the Touna-Gabal district of the central Egyptian province, the ministry said in a statement. Along with the mummies, they found a golden sheet and two papyri in Demotic an ancient Egyptian script as well as a number of sarcophogi made of limestone and clay. There were also animal and bird coffins, the ministry said. But the mummies have not yet been dated. A picture taken on May 13, 2017, shows mummies lying in catacombs following their discovery in the Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki) The ministry said they belonged to the Late Period, which spanned almost 300 years up to Alexander the Greats conquest of Egypt in 332 BC. But a spokeswoman told AFP they could also date from the Ptolemaic Dynasty, founded by Alexander the Greats general Ptolemy. The discovery of the non-royal mummies is considered unprecedented because it is the first such find in the area, officials said at the site. Egyptologist Salah al-Kholi told a news conference held near the desert site that the discovery was the first human necropolis found in central Egypt with so many mummies. It could herald even more discoveries in the area, he said. The discovery was important, unprecedented, Mohamed Hamza, director of excavations for Cairo University said. A picture taken on May 13, 2017, shows mummies lying in catacombs following their discovery in the Touna el-Gabal district of the Minya province, in central Egypt. (AFP/Khaled Desouki) The site is close to an ancient animal cemetery. The discovery is still at its beginning, Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters. It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month. In April, the ministry invited reporters to the southern city of Luxor to unveil eight mummies discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to a nobleman. For the cash-strapped Egyptian government, the discoveries are a boon from the countrys glorious past as it struggles to attract tourists scared off by a series of Islamist militant attacks. Egyptian archaeologists work on a wooden coffin discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb in the Draa Abul Nagaa necropolis, near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, April 18, 2017. (AFP/Stringer) Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt, Enany said. News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt. Millions of tourists visited Egypt every year to see its Giza Pyramids the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and its ancient pharaonic temples and relics. But a popular uprising in 2011 that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak ushered in years of unrest that battered the economy and drove away tourists.

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May 13, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Why is Egypt ‘indifferent’ to the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike? – Jerusalem Post Israel News

Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.. (photo credit:REUTERS) The hunger strike being waged since April 16 by some 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is being met with indifference in Egypt, an Egyptian activist lamented on Wednesday. Ahmed Maher, one of the leaders of the demonstrations that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011, wrote on the London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed website that lack of interest in the strike is a symptom that the Palestinian cause has stopped being a central cause for the Arabs as it was in the past. The prisoners demands include an end to administrative detentions, an end to what they allege is negligence in health care, more family visits and use of public telephones. Israeli authorities deny there is maltreatment of prisoners. Maher is no stranger to prison. In 2014, he was sentenced to jail for three years by the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for defying a law banning unauthorized public gatherings. He wrote that Egyptians are inured to news about Palestinians. The news such as martyrdom of Palestinians, arrests of large numbers of Palestinian youths or raids against al-Aksa [Mosque] have become routine like events anywhere. Internal affairs are seen as most important. The local affairs news coverage is the biggest. The Palestinian cause has become marginalized for the Arab youth, Maher wrote. Even the news about prisoners and their struggle and their empty stomachs campaign only attracts the attention of a few individuals here and there. It is a catastrophe that millions of Arab youth see any attention to Palestinian news as abnormal and have been influenced by Egyptian official media which justifies the warm relations with Israel by saying that Palestinians are the ones who sold their land voluntarily to the Jews and that the goal of Hamas is to destroy Egypt. Maher wrote that Israeli and Egyptian prison authorities are alike in that they harass prisoners and dont care about prisoner rights and international law. But, he added, What makes us more sorry is to know that whats happening to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons is more merciful than the Egyptian treatment of prisoners. In Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, speaking in a televised speech on Tuesday, criticized Arab leaders for ignoring the strike. Palestinian hunger strikers are only demanding their basic rights as prisoners in Israeli jails. Where are the Arab leaders and Muslim organizations to see the situation of Palestinian hunger strikers? he said, according to Irans Press TV. Meanwhile, the Arab48 website, citing the National Committee for Jordanian Detainees Affairs, reported that three Jordanian prisoners have joined the hunger strike. The three were identified as Riyad Saleh, Abdullah Abu Jaber and Rafat al-Sous. It could not immediately be determined what crimes they were imprisoned for, but each is serving a 20-year sentence, according to the committee. There has been active support of the strike by Jordanian Facebook users with many people videotaping themselves drinking salted water, the only thing the prisoners ingest, The Jordan Times reported. Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin

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May 4, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt – Wikipedia

This article is about the modern country. For the ancient realm, see Ancient Egypt. Coordinates: 26N 30E / 26N 30E / 26; 30 Total Water(%) 2017estimate Density Total Per capita Total Per capita Egypt (i EE-jipt; Arabic: Mir, Egyptian Arabic: Mar,[15]Coptic: Kimi), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, and across from the Sinai Peninsula lies Saudi Arabia, although Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not share a land border with Egypt. It is the world’s only contiguous Afrasian nation. Egypt has among the longest histories of any modern country, emerging as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC.[16] Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. One of the earliest centres of Christianity, Egypt was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. With over 92 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000sqmi), where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta. Modern Egypt is considered to be a regional and middle power, with significant cultural, political, and military influence in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world.[17] Egypt’s economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, and is projected to become one of the largest in the 21st century. Egypt is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Mir (IPA:[misr] or Egyptian Arabic pronunciation:[mes]; Arabic: ) is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while Mar or Masar (IPA:[ms]; Egyptian Arabic: ) is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic.[19] The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew (Mitzryim). The oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian KURmi-i-ru miru,[20][21] related to miru/miirru/miaru, meaning “border” or “frontier”.[22] There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society.[28] By about 6000 BC, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley.[29] During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.[30] A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 27002200 BC., which constructed many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza pyramids. The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years.[31] Stronger Nile floods and stabilisation of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes. The New Kingdom c. 15501070 BC began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Tombos in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first historically attested expression of monotheism came during this period as Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded and conquered by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.[32] In 525BC, the powerful Achaemenid Persians, led by Cambyses II, began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh Psamtik III at the battle of Pelusium. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from his home of Susa in Persia (modern Iran), leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. The entire Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt, from 525 BC to 402 BC, save for Petubastis III, was an entirely Persian ruled period, with the Achaemenid kings all being granted the title of pharaoh. A few temporarily successful revolts against the Persians marked the fifth century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians.[33] The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians again in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle. This Thirty-first Dynasty of Egypt, however, did not last long, for the Persians were toppled several decades later by Alexander the Great. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to Cyrene to the west, and south to the frontier with Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a centre of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.[34][35] The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide following the burial of her lover Mark Antony who had died in her arms (from a self-inflicted stab wound), after Octavian had captured Alexandria and her mercenary forces had fled. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless, Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest. Christianity was brought to Egypt by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century.[36]Diocletian’s reign (from 284 to 305 AD) marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.[37] The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Sasanian Persian invasion early in the 7th century amidst the ByzantineSasanian War of 602628 during which they established a new short-lived province for ten years known as Sasanian Egypt, until 63942, when Egypt was invaded and conquered by the Islamic Empire by the Muslim Arabs. When they defeated the Byzantine Armies in Egypt, the Arabs brought Sunni Islam to the country. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices, leading to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day.[36] These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.[38] Muslim rulers nominated by the Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, with Cairo as the seat of the Fatimid Caliphate. With the end of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about 1250. By the late 13th century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies.[39] The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 40% of the country’s population.[40] Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The defensive militarisation damaged its civil society and economic institutions.[39] The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade.[39] Between 1687 and 1731, Egypt experienced six famines.[41] The 1784 famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.[42] Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control, due in part to the continuing power and influence of the Mamluks, the Egyptian military caste who had ruled the country for centuries. Egypt remained semi-autonomous under the Mamluks until it was invaded by the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte 1798 (see French campaign in Egypt and Syria). After the French were defeated by the British, a power vacuum was created in Egypt, and a three-way power struggle ensued between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans. After the French were expelled, power was seized in 1805 by Muhammad Ali Pasha, an Albanian military commander of the Ottoman army in Egypt. While he carried the title of viceroy of Egypt, his subordination to the Ottoman porte was merely nominal.[citation needed] Muhammad Ali established a dynasty that was to rule Egypt until the revolution of 1952. The introduction in 1820 of long-staple cotton transformed its agriculture into a cash-crop monoculture before the end of the century, concentrating land ownership and shifting production towards international markets.[43] Muhammad Ali annexed Northern Sudan (18201824), Syria (1833), and parts of Arabia and Anatolia; but in 1841 the European powers, fearful lest he topple the Ottoman Empire itself, forced him to return most of his conquests to the Ottomans. His military ambition required him to modernise the country: he built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.[43] He constructed a military state with around four percent of the populace serving the army to raise Egypt to a powerful positioning in the Ottoman Empire in a way showing various similarities to the Soviet strategies (without communism) conducted in the 20th century.[44] Muhammad Ali Pasha evolved the military from one that convened under the tradition of the corve to a great modernised army. He introduced conscription of the male peasantry in 19th century Egypt, and took a novel approach to create his great army, strengthening it with numbers and in skill. Education and training of the new soldiers was not an option; the new concepts were furthermore enforced by isolation. The men were held in barracks to avoid distraction of their growth as a military unit to be reckoned with. The resentment for the military way of life eventually faded from the men and a new ideology took hold, one of nationalism and pride. It was with the help of this newly reborn martial unit that Muhammad Ali imposed his rule over Egypt.[45] The policy that Mohammad Ali Pasha followed during his reign explains partly why the numeracy in Egypt compared to other North-African and Middle-Eastern countries increased only at a remarkably small rate, as investment in further education only took place in the military and industrial sector.[46] Muhammad Ali was succeeded briefly by his son Ibrahim (in September 1848), then by a grandson Abbas I (in November 1848), then by Said (in 1854), and Isma’il (in 1863) who encouraged science and agriculture and banned slavery in Egypt.[44] Egypt under the Muhammad Ali dynasty remained nominally an Ottoman province. It was granted the status of an autonomous vassal state or Khedivate in 1867, a status which was to remain in place until 1914. The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. Its construction led to enormous debt to European banks, and caused popular discontent because of the onerous taxation it required. In 1875 Ismail was forced to sell Egypt’s share in the canal to the British government. Within three years this led to the imposition of British and French controllers who sat in the Egyptian cabinet, and, “with the financial power of the bondholders behind them, were the real power in the Government.”[47] Other circumstances like epidemic diseases (cattle disease in the 1880s), floods and wars drove the economic downturn and increased Egypt’s dependency on foreign debt even further.[48] In later years, the dynasty became a British puppet.[43]Isma’il and Tewfik Pasha governed Egypt as a quasi-independent state under Ottoman suzerainty until the British occupation of 1882. Local dissatisfaction with Ismail and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmad Urabi a prominent figure. Fearing a reduction of their control, the UK and France intervened militarily, bombarding Alexandria and crushing the Egyptian army at the battle of Tel El Kebir.[49] They reinstalled Ismail’s son Tewfik as figurehead of a de facto British protectorate.[50] In 1906, the Dinshaway Incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement. The Khedivate of Egypt remained a de jure Ottoman province until 5 November 1914,[51] when it was declared a British protectorate in reaction to the decision of the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire to join World War I on the side of the Central Powers. In 1914, the Protectorate was made official, and the title of the head of state was changed to sultan, to repudiate the vestigial suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, who was backing the Central powers in World War I. Abbas II was deposed as khedive and replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as sultan.[52] After World War I, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates[dubious discuss] to Malta on 8 March 1919, the country arose in its first modern revolution. The revolt led the UK government to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt’s independence on 22 February 1922.[53] The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary system. Saad Zaghlul was popularly elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability due to remaining British influence and increasing political involvement by the king led to the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d’tat known as the 1952 Revolution. The Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad. British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.[54] Following the 1952 Revolution by the Free Officers Movement, the rule of Egypt passed to military hands. On 18 June 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic. Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser a Pan-Arabist and the real architect of the 1952 movement and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President in June 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on 13 June 1956. He nationalised the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956, prompting the 1956 Suez Crisis. In 1958, Egypt and Syria formed a sovereign union known as the United Arab Republic. The union was short-lived, ending in 1961 when Syria seceded, thus ending the union. During most of its existence, the United Arab Republic was also in a loose confederation with North Yemen (or the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen), known as the United Arab States. In 1959, the All-Palestine Government of the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian client state, was absorbed into the United Arab Republic under the pretext of Arab union, and was never restored. In the early 1960s, Egypt became fully involved in the North Yemen Civil War. The Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, supported the Yemeni republicans with as many as 70,000 Egyptian troops and chemical weapons. Despite several military moves and peace conferences, the war sank into a stalemate. Egyptian commitment in Yemen was greatly undermined later. In mid May 1967, the Soviet Union issued warnings to Nasser of an impending Israeli attack on Syria. Although the chief of staff Mohamed Fawzi verified them as “baseless”,[55][56] Nasser took three successive steps that made the war virtually inevitable: On 14 May he deployed his troops in Sinai near the border with Israel, on 19 May he expelled the UN peacekeepers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula border with Israel, and on 23 May he closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.[57] On 26 May Nasser declared, “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel”.[58] Israel re-iterated that the Straits of Tiran closure was a Casus belli. In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel attacked Egypt, and occupied Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip, which Egypt had occupied since the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. During the 1967 war, an Emergency Law was enacted, and remained in effect until 2012, with the exception of an 18-month break in 1980/81.[59] Under this law, police powers were extended, constitutional rights suspended and censorship legalised.[citation needed] At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor.[60] Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, most of them being boys. Nasser’s policies changed this. Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From academic year 195354 through 196566, overall public school enrolments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class. Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser.[60] During the 1960s, the Egyptian economy went from sluggish to the verge of collapse, the society became less free, and Nasser’s appeal waned considerably.[61] In 1970, President Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat switched Egypt’s Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while clamping down on religious and secular opposition. In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack to regain part of the Sinai territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. It presented Sadat with a victory that allowed him to regain the Sinai later in return for peace with Israel.[62] In 1975, Sadat shifted Nasser’s economic policies and sought to use his popularity to reduce government regulations and encourage foreign investment through his program of Infitah. Through this policy, incentives such as reduced taxes and import tariffs attracted some investors, but investments were mainly directed at low risk and profitable ventures like tourism and construction, abandoning Egypt’s infant industries.[63] Even though Sadat’s policy was intended to modernise Egypt and assist the middle class, it mainly benefited the higher class, and, because of the elimination of subsidies on basic foodstuffs, led to the 1977 Egyptian Bread Riots. Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat’s initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt’s expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by most Egyptians.[64]Sadat was assassinated by an Islamic extremist in October 1981. Hosni Mubarak came to power after the assassination of Sadat in a referendum in which he was the only candidate.[65] Hosni Mubarak reaffirmed Egypt’s relationship with Israel yet eased the tensions with Egypt’s Arab neighbours. Domestically, Mubarak faced serious problems. Even though farm and industry output expanded, the economy could not keep pace with the population boom. Mass poverty and unemployment led rural families to stream into cities like Cairo where they ended up in crowded slums, barely managing to survive. In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, terrorist attacks in Egypt became numerous and severe, and began to target Christian Copts, foreign tourists and government officials.[66] In the 1990s an Islamist group, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, engaged in an extended campaign of violence, from the murders and attempted murders of prominent writers and intellectuals, to the repeated targeting of tourists and foreigners. Serious damage was done to the largest sector of Egypt’s economytourism[67]and in turn to the government, but it also devastated the livelihoods of many of the people on whom the group depended for support.[68] During Mubarak’s reign, the political scene was dominated by the National Democratic Party, which was created by Sadat in 1978. It passed the 1993 Syndicates Law, 1995 Press Law, and 1999 Nongovernmental Associations Law which hampered freedoms of association and expression by imposing new regulations and draconian penalties on violations.[citation needed] As a result, by the late 1990s parliamentary politics had become virtually irrelevant and alternative avenues for political expression were curtailed as well.[69] On 17 November 1997, 62 people, mostly tourists, were massacred near Luxor. In late February 2005, Mubarak announced a reform of the presidential election law, paving the way for multi-candidate polls for the first time since the 1952 movement.[70] However, the new law placed restrictions on the candidates, and led to Mubarak’s easy re-election victory.[71] Voter turnout was less than 25%.[72] Election observers also alleged government interference in the election process.[73] After the election, Mubarak imprisoned Ayman Nour, the runner-up.[74] Human Rights Watch’s 2006 report on Egypt detailed serious human rights violations, including routine torture, arbitrary detentions and trials before military and state security courts.[75] In 2007, Amnesty International released a report alleging that Egypt had become an international centre for torture, where other nations send suspects for interrogation, often as part of the War on Terror.[76] Egypt’s foreign ministry quickly issued a rebuttal to this report.[77] Constitutional changes voted on 19 March 2007 prohibited parties from using religion as a basis for political activity, allowed the drafting of a new anti-terrorism law, authorised broad police powers of arrest and surveillance, and gave the president power to dissolve parliament and end judicial election monitoring.[78] In 2009, Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal Dessouki, Media Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), described Egypt as a “pharaonic” political system, and democracy as a “long-term goal”. Dessouki also stated that “the real center of power in Egypt is the military”.[79] On 25 January 2011, widespread protests began against Mubarak’s government. On 11 February 2011, Mubarak resigned and fled Cairo. Jubilant celebrations broke out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the news.[80] The Egyptian military then assumed the power to govern.[81][82]Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, became the de facto interim head of state.[83][84] On 13 February 2011, the military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.[85] A constitutional referendum was held on 19 March 2011. On 28 November 2011, Egypt held its first parliamentary election since the previous regime had been in power. Turnout was high and there were no reports of major irregularities or violence.[86]Mohamed Morsi was elected president on 24 June 2012.[87] On 2 August 2012, Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil announced his 35-member cabinet comprising 28 newcomers including four from the Muslim Brotherhood.[88] Liberal and secular groups walked out of the constituent assembly because they believed that it would impose strict Islamic practices, while Muslim Brotherhood backers threw their support behind Morsi.[89] On 22 November 2012, President Morsi issued a temporary declaration immunising his decrees from challenge and seeking to protect the work of the constituent assembly.[90] The move led to massive protests and violent action throughout Egypt.[91] On 5 December 2012, tens of thousands of supporters and opponents of president Morsi clashed, in what was described as the largest violent battle between Islamists and their foes since the country’s revolution.[92] Mohamed Morsi offered a “national dialogue” with opposition leaders but refused to cancel the December 2012 constitutional referendum.[93] On 3 July 2013, after a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government,[94] the military removed President Morsi from power in a coup d’tat and installed an interim government.[95] On 4 July 2013, 68-year-old Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt Adly Mansour was sworn in as acting president over the new government following the removal of Morsi. The military-backed Egyptian authorities cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, jailing thousands and killing hundreds of street protesters.[96][97] Many of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists have either been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in a series of mass trials.[98][99][100] On 18 January 2014, the interim government instituted a new constitution following a referendum in which 98.1% of voters were supportive. 38.6% of registered voters participated in the referendum[101] a higher number than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure.[102] On 26 March 2014 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, who at this time was in control of the country, resigned from the military, announcing he would stand as a candidate in the 2014 presidential election.[103] The poll, held between 26 and 28 May 2014, resulted in a landslide victory for el-Sisi.[104] Sisi was sworn into office as President of Egypt on 8 June 2014. The Muslim Brotherhood and some liberal and secular activist groups boycotted the vote.[105] Even though the military-backed authorities extended voting to a third day, the 46% turnout was lower than the 52% turnout in the 2012 election.[106] Egypt lies primarily between latitudes 22 and 32N, and longitudes 25 and 35E. At 1,001,450 square kilometres (386,660sqmi),[107] it is the world’s 30th-largest country. Due to the extreme aridity of Egypt’s climate, population centres are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that about 99% of the population uses about 5.5% of the total land area.[108] 98% of Egyptians live on 3% of the territory.[109] Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, the Sudan to the south, and the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt’s important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean by way of the Red Sea. Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt’s landscape is desert, with a few oases scattered about. Winds create prolific sand dunes that peak at more than 100 feet (30m) high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats and were referred to as the “red land” in ancient Egypt. Towns and cities include Alexandria, the second largest city; Aswan; Asyut; Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital and largest city; El Mahalla El Kubra; Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu; Hurghada; Luxor; Kom Ombo; Port Safaga; Port Said; Sharm El Sheikh; Suez, where the south end of the Suez Canal is located; Zagazig; and Minya. Oases include Bahariya, Dakhla, Farafra, Kharga and Siwa. Protectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa. On 13 March 2015, plans for a proposed new capital of Egypt were announced.[110] Most of Egypt’s rain falls in the winter months.[111] South of Cairo, rainfall averages only around 2 to 5mm (0.1 to 0.2in) per year and at intervals of many years. On a very thin strip of the northern coast the rainfall can be as high as 410mm (16.1in),[112] mostly between October and March. Snow falls on Sinai’s mountains and some of the north coastal cities such as Damietta, Baltim and Sidi Barrani, and rarely in Alexandria. A very small amount of snow fell on Cairo on 13 December 2013, the first time in many decades.[113]Frost is also known in mid-Sinai and mid-Egypt. Egypt is the driest and the sunniest country in the world, and most of its land surface is desert. Egypt has an unusually hot, sunny and dry climate. Average high temperatures are high in the north but very to extremely high in the rest of the country during summer. The cooler Mediterranean winds consistently blow over the northern sea coast, which helps to get more moderated temperatures, especially at the height of the summertime. The Khamaseen is a hot, dry wind that originates from the vast deserts in the south and blows in the spring or in the early summer. It bringing scorching sand and dust particles, and usually brings daytime temperatures over 40C (104F) and sometimes over 50C (122F) more in the interior, while the relative humidity can drop to 5% or even less. The absolute highest temperatures in Egypt occur when the Khamaseen blows. The weather is always sunny and clear in Egypt, especially in cities such as Aswan, Luxor and Asyut. It is one of the least cloudy and least rainy regions on Earth. Prior to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Nile flooded annually (colloquially The Gift of the Nile) replenishing Egypt’s soil. This gave Egypt a consistent harvest throughout the years. The potential rise in sea levels due to global warming could threaten Egypt’s densely populated coastal strip and have grave consequences for the country’s economy, agriculture and industry. Combined with growing demographic pressures, a significant rise in sea levels could turn millions of Egyptians into environmental refugees by the end of the 21st century, according to some climate experts.[114][115] Egypt signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 9 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 2 June 1994.[116] It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which was received by the convention on 31 July 1998.[117] Where many CBD National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans neglect biological kingdoms apart from animals and plants,[118] Egypt’s plan was unusual in providing balanced information about all forms of life. The plan stated that the following numbers of species of different groups had been recorded from Egypt: algae (1483 species), animals (about 15,000 species of which more than 10,000 were insects), fungi (more than 627 species), monera (319 species), plants (2426 species), protozoans (371 species). For some major groups, for example lichen-forming fungi and nematode worms, the number was not known. Apart from small and well-studied groups like amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles, the many of those numbers are likely to increase as further species are recorded from Egypt. For the fungi, including lichen-forming species, for example, subsequent work has shown that over 2200 species have been recorded from Egypt, and the final figure of all fungi actually occurring in the country is expected to be much higher.[119] For the grasses, 284 native and naturalised species have been identified and recorded in Egypt.[120] The House of Representatives, whose members are elected to serve five-year terms, specialises in legislation. Elections were last held between November 2011 and January 2012 which was later dissolved. The next parliamentary election was announced to be held within 6 months of the constitution’s ratification on 18 January 2014, and were held in two phases, from 17 October to 2 December 2015.[121] Originally, the parliament was to be formed before the president was elected, but interim president Adly Mansour pushed the date.[122] The Egyptian presidential election, 2014, took place on 2628 May 2014. Official figures showed a turnout of 25,578,233 or 47.5%, with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi winning with 23.78 million votes, or 96.91% compared to 757,511 (3.09%) for Hamdeen Sabahi.[123] After a wave of public discontent with autocratic excesses of the Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi,[94] on 3 July 2013 General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the removal of Morsi from office and the suspension of the constitution. A 50-member constitution committee was formed for modifying the constitution which was later published for public voting and was adopted on 18 January 2014.[124] In 2013, Freedom House rated political rights in Egypt at “5” (with 1 representing the most free and 7 the least), and civil liberties at “5”, which gave it the freedom rating of “Partly Free”.[125] Egyptian nationalism predates its Arab counterpart by many decades, having roots in the 19th century and becoming the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists and intellectuals until the early 20th century.[126] The ideology espoused by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood is mostly supported by the lower-middle strata of Egyptian society.[127] Egypt has the oldest continuous parliamentary tradition in the Arab world.[128] The first popular assembly was established in 1866. It was disbanded as a result of the British occupation of 1882, and the British allowed only a consultative body to sit. In 1923, however, after the country’s independence was declared, a new constitution provided for a parliamentary monarchy.[128] The legal system is based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes); and judicial review by a Supreme Court, which accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction only with reservations.[54] Islamic jurisprudence is the principal source of legislation. Sharia courts and qadis are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice.[129] The personal status law that regulates matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody is governed by Sharia. In a family court, a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s testimony.[130] On 26 December 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to institutionalise a controversial new constitution. It was approved by the public in a referendum held 1522 December 2012 with 64% support, but with only 33% electorate participation.[131] It replaced the 2011 Provisional Constitution of Egypt, adopted following the revolution. The Penal code was unique as it contains a “Blasphemy Law.”[132] The present court system allows a death penalty including against an absent individual tried in absentia. Several Americans and Canadians were sentenced to death in 2012.[133] On 18 January 2014, the interim government successfully institutionalised a more secular constitution.[134] The president is elected to a four-year term and may serve 2 terms.[134] The parliament may impeach the president.[134] Under the constitution, there is a guarantee of gender equality and absolute freedom of thought.[134] The military retains the ability to appoint the national Minister of Defence for the next 8 years.[134] Under the constitution, political parties may not be based on “religion, race, gender or geography”.[134] The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is one of the longest-standing bodies for the defence of human rights in Egypt.[135] In 2003, the government established the National Council for Human Rights.[136] The council came under heavy criticism by local activists, who contend it was a propaganda tool for the government to excuse its own violations[137] and to give legitimacy to repressive laws such as the Emergency Law.[138] The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life ranks Egypt as the fifth worst country in the world for religious freedom.[139][140] The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent agency of the US government, has placed Egypt on its watch list of countries that require close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government.[141] According to a 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 84% of Egyptians polled supported the death penalty for those who leave Islam; 77% supported whippings and cutting off of hands for theft and robbery; and 82% support stoning a person who commits adultery.[142] In April 2016, such violations have also affected international students and tourists, when an Italian PhD student from the University of Cambridge was found brutally murdered in Cairo after he went missing in January of the same year. Subsequently, Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt for consultations in Rome regarding the criminal death of Giulio Regeni, who, at the time, conducted critical academic research on Egyptian labour rights and trade unions. Egyptian law enforcement produced conflicting information on the fate of the Italian citizen, which was unacceptable to Italian investigators. As a result, the Italian press and foreign ministry pointed at the systematic human right violations in Egypt, and threatened with political sanctions unless police leadership and practices undergo significant revisions.[143] Coptic Christians face discrimination at multiple levels of the government, ranging from disproportionate representation in government ministries to laws that limit their ability to build or repair churches.[144] Intolerance of Bah’s and non-orthodox Muslim sects, such as Sufis, Shi’a and Ahmadis, also remains a problem.[75] When the government moved to computerise identification cards, members of religious minorities, such as Bah’s, could not obtain identification documents.[145] An Egyptian court ruled in early 2008 that members of other faiths may obtain identity cards without listing their faiths, and without becoming officially recognised.[146] Clashes continue between police and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi, at least 595 civilians were killed in Cairo on 14 August 2013,[147] the worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history.[148]

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April 24, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Islamic State claims attack on Egypt police checkpoint – The Times of Israel

CAIRO (AP) The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint near the famed Saint Catherines Monastery in Sinai late Tuesday which authorities said killed one policeman and wounded four. The militants opened fire from an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint just outside the monastery, which is located in a remote desert and mountainous area in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, according to a statement by the Interior Ministry. After an exchange of gunfire, the attackers fled the scene, the ministry said, adding that some of the gunmen were wounded in the shootout. No further details were immediately available. According to SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of militants, the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency announced that the groups militants carried out the attack near Saint Catherine. This is the first time the IS has attacked a monastery. It comes shortly before a planned visit by the Vatican Pope Francis to Egypt next week. The attack on the monastery, built in the 6th century and a popular site for tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts along Sinais southern coast, comes just over a week after suicide bombers attacked two churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 45 people on Palm Sunday. Egypts Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for those attacks. IS has vowed more attacks against Christians in Egypt, who make up 10 percent of the countrys population of over 90 million people. Egyptians wheel away a body near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer) The Palm Sunday attack prompted President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to declare a three-month state of emergency and deploy armed forces to help police in guarding vital installations, including churches across the country. A state of emergency already in place in northern Sinai has failed to halt near-daily attacks against police and security forces by IS in the volatile area. The extremist group has lately stepped up its attacks, moving its activities from Sinai to other parts of Egypt and is increasingly using sophisticated tactics that are likely to fuel sectarian tensions and embarrass el-Sissi. Egypts Copts, the Middle Easts largest Christian community, have also long complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the countrys majority Muslim population. Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists as Egypts Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak until his ouster in 2011. The attack and the church bombings threaten to deal a blow to Egypts struggling tourism industry, which has suffered from political instability and a fragile security situation since the 2011 uprising. The US issued a travel warning on Wednesday, advising its nationals in Egypt to stay away from places of worship for the next two weeks and to avoid crowds as long as they remain in the country.

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April 18, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt: ISIS Gunmen Attack St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai – Haaretz

ISIS claims responsibility for attack that left one policeman dead and wounded four others Gunmen opened fire on an Egyptian police checkpoint near the famed Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai late on Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding four, security and medical officials said. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency Amaq. According to the officials, the gunmen were shooting from an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint just outside the monastery, which is located in a remote desert and mountainous area in the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. After an exchange of gunfire, the attackers fled the scene, the officials said, adding that some of the gunmen were wounded in the shootout. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under regulations. Earlier on Tuesday, Israel decided to keep the Sinai border crossing with Egypt closed for Israeli travelers, citing a “situation report” by its National Security Council’s counterterrorism unit.The decision to close the border was made last week, on the eve of Passover, in light of a security assessment of the situation in the Sinai region and the risk posed to Israelis due to increased ISIS-affiliated activity in the area. Moments after the border closure last weekmilitants from Sinai fired a rocket into Israel. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. The attack on the monastery, built in the 6th century and a popular site for tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts along Sinai’s southern coast, comes just over a week after suicide bombers attacked two churches in the Nile Delta city of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 45 people on Palm Sunday. Egypt’s Sinai-based Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for those attacks. ISIS has vowed more attacks against Christians in Egypt, who make up 10 percent of the country’s population of over 90 million people. Security sources said that security had been put on high alert at tourist facilities across southern Sinai after the attack. The attack in southern Sinai comes as Russia is expected to make a long-awaited decision on whether to restore flights to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort after a Russian airliner was downed in 2015, dealing a serious blow to the area’s tourism industry, which relies heavily on Russian visitors. Egypt’s tourism industry, a crucial source of hard currency, has suffered in the years of turmoil that followed the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, as well as from the suspected bombing of the Russian plane, which killed all 224 on board. Israel took the unusual step earlier this month of barring its citizens from crossing into the Sinai peninsula, saying the threat of attacks in the area inspired by Islamic State and other jihadi groups was high. The Palm Sunday attack prompted President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi to declare a three-month state of emergency and deploy armed forces to help police in guarding vital installations, including churches across the country. A state of emergency already in place in northern Sinai has failed to halt near-daily attacks against police and security forces by ISIS in the volatile area. The extremist group has lately stepped up its attacks, moving its activities from Sinai to other parts of Egypt and is increasingly using sophisticated tactics that are likely to fuel sectarian tensions and embarrass Sissi. Egypt’s Copts, the Middle East’s largest Christian community, have also long complained of suffering discrimination, as well as outright attacks, at the hands of the country’s majority Muslim population. Over the past decades, they have been the immediate targets of Islamic extremists as Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported longtime autocratic Mubarak until his ouster in 2011. Tuesday’s attack comes shortly before a planned visit by the Vatican Pope Francis to Egypt next week. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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April 18, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt says second church bomber identified – The Times of Israel

CAIRO The authorities in Egypt said late Thursday they had identified the second of two jihadist bombers who targeted Coptic Christian Palm Sunday services last week. The interior ministry made the announcement after President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi pledged as he visited Coptic Pope Tawadros II to hunt down the perpetrators of the bombings. The Islamic State group claimed the Sunday attacks, which killed 45 people and followed a December 11 suicide bombing that killed 29 in a Cairo church. Sissis visit to the papal seat in the capital came a day after the interior ministry identified the bomber who struck outside Saint Marks church in Alexandria, killing 17 people. Sundays first bombing at the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, killed 28 people. Sissi said state agencies were exerting their utmost effort to chase down the perpetrators of those vile acts, the presidency said in a statement. On Wednesday, the interior ministry identified the perpetrator of the Alexandria attack as Mahmud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah, born in the southern province of Qena in 1986. On Thursday, it said it had now also identified the bomber who blew himself up in the Tanta church. DNA tests carried out on the family of a fugitive member and the remains of the suicide bomber made it possible to identify him as Mamduh Amin Mohammed Baghdadi, born in 1977 in Qena province, where he lived, it said. The ministry said he was a member of a terrorist cell, and also announced the arrest of three other members of the group. On Wednesday, it also offered a 100,000 pound (about $5,500) reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects it said belonged to jihadist cells linked to the church attacks. On Thursday, the reward was increased to 500,000 pounds. Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency after the bombings and called in the army to protect vital installations around the country. The Coptic Church said on Wednesday it would cut back Easter celebrations to a single mass after the bombings. The violence came ahead of Catholic Pope Franciss first visit to Egypt, which a Vatican official said will go ahead as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks.

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April 14, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt says Alexandria church suicide bomber identified – The Times of Israel

CAIRO, Egypt Egypts interior ministry said on Wednesday it had identified the suicide bomber behind a deadly attack at the weekend outside a church in the coastal city of Alexandria. The ministry said Mahmud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah had carried out the attack outside Saint Marks church in Alexandria on Palm Sunday that killed 17 people and was claimed by the Islamic State group. It said he was born in 1986 in the southern province of Qena and had lived in the province of Suez on the Red Sea. The ministry said it had determined his identity by comparing the DNA of remains found at the site of the bombing with the DNA of runaway suspects. Abdullah, who had worked for an oil company, was linked to a terrorist network, a cell which carried out a previous bombing of a Cairo church in December that killed 29 people, the ministry said in a statement. Egyptians carry the coffin of policewoman Brigadier Nagwa el-Haggar during her funeral on April 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer) It said security forces were pursuing efforts to identify a second attacker who targeted another church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta hours earlier on Palm Sunday, killing 28 worshipers. IS also claimed that attack. Egypts Coptic Church announced on Wednesday that it would cut back Easter celebrations to a simple mass after the bombings. Parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the aftermath of the attacks.

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April 12, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed


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