Society in depth – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Fri, 10 Jul 2020 22:06:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tougher penalties needed to put brakes on youngsters behind the wheel Tue, 30 Jun 2020 07:30:48 +0000 Culpable drivers only face an EGP 500 fine and no harsh penalties, such as licence suspension or revocation, says Al-Shahid

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The sight of juvenile drivers zipping along at high speeds on Egypt’s roads has become a very ordinary, run-of-the-mill sight across the country. It all starts with the youngsters taking their parent’s car out for a joyride, but eventually ends in tragedy shattering the lives of many.

Egypt’s traffic laws, however, are seen as part of the problem, with few drivers facing any real punishments as a result of their actions or the damage they cause.

Two victims and two offenders

A father and his 15-year-old son were held in pre-trial custody earlier this month, after the latter snuck out with his father’s car to go for a joyride with friends. It ended in a fatal crash that left a 39-year-old woman, identified as Shaima, dead. Photos of the crash scene were circulated on social media, arousing an outcry.

The accident took place on 2 June in a private residential compound located in northeast Cairo where the victim lived, the victim’s brother, Ahmed, told Daily News Egypt.

“My sister and her friend were walking on their way to the supermarket when a vehicle came straight towards them at high speed, inflicting upon them serious injuries,” Ahmed said.

“Shaima died at the scene, and her friend was hospitalised with severe injuries to the leg,” he adds.   

Ahmed noted that the vehicle was commandeered by an underage driver, and packed with as many as eight children.

Reacting quickly to the accident, the Attorney General released a statement on 4 June, charging the minor with vehicular manslaughter. The minor’s father was charged with allowing his teenage son to drive the car, and now stands trial on a misdemeanour charge.

The 15-year-old’s first hearing before the juvenile court was on 15 June, with a further session in which the court ruling will be announced, slated for the end of the month, Ahmed clarified.

This was not the first accident to occur on account of rash driving by juveniles, as a spate of familiar accidents has also ended tragically.

Four victims in one family

On 16 May, two siblings and two of their cousins in Assiut, all aged 7-12, were killed instantly after being fxatally struck by a car driven by a 15-year-old driver. 

CCTV footage captured the moment a black hatchback vehicle accelerated hard along the suburban street. It inched out of a driveway before ploughing into the four children who were standing by the roadside fixing a bike.

The underage driver fled the scene of the accident, but was soon arrested along with his father.

On 22 May, the Attorney General referred the father and son to the criminal court for their indictment. Whilst the father was accused of child endangerment for letting his 15-year-old son drive his car and putting the lives of his son and others at risk, the son was accused of negligent homicide.

The prosecution interrogated four of the youngster’s friends, who were in the vehicle at the same time. The four youths acknowledged that their friend was driving at high speed, but that he had lost control whilst at the wheel, causing it to veer and slam into a motorcycle, lamppost, and the four children.

What the law says

The phenomenon of underage drivers has long been a cause for concern, but has only recently been a notable problem, traffic expert Major-General Magdy Al-Shahid told Daily News Egypt.

Al-Shahid puts the blame firmly on the traffic law, adding that it is in fact what exacerbates the problem.

“As in the situation of driving without a licence, the culpable driver could merit a fine of EGP 500, without harsh penalties as well, such as suspending or revoking the licence,” he added.

“We need to look at the situation in which a child has not caused harm to someone.”

Al-Shahid noted that, even if the child caused fatalities, it will be considered as a non-wilful murder.

According to Article 238 in Egypt’s Penal Code, any individual accused of ‘wrongful death’ could be sentenced to a six-month jail term or a fine of just EGP 200, or both.

If the accused is a minor, they will receive a reduced sentence and will be held in a juvenile correctional facility, Al-Shahid explained.

He clarified that, based on Article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution, minors, who are typically classed as anyone under the age of 18, cannot be held criminally responsible in the same way as adults.

However, the parent will bear the punishment for their child’s crime, by serving the same sentence in prison, he added.

Who is at fault?

The degeneration of values in some families means that children can face a moral struggle, according to Professor Mostafa Ragab, an educational expert and former Dean of Sohag University’s Faculty of Education.

Ragab puts the blame squarely on shoulders of the juvenile drivers’ parents, saying “they must be held accountable as they are the real culprits, not the children”.

Meanwhile, Ragab casts doubt on the performance of juvenile centres, which, he notes, do not provide exemplary treatment for children.

As a result, he called for introducing harsher penalties for traffic offences so that parents would be encouraged to be more cautious in monitoring their children and what they are getting up to.

Meanwhile, he urged for traffic awareness to be taught and more effective behavioural education programmes to be put in place at schools to ensure there is less of a problem with joyriding.

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COVID-19 in Egypt: people feel economic bite and government responds Tue, 30 Jun 2020 07:00:38 +0000 Overall, 73.5% of Egyptians say that they have experienced an evident reduction in household income caused by the pandemic.

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As the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) engulfs the global economy, many families are suffering great income losses. 

A new survey by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), released on 20 June, shows that many Egyptian families have suffered a crippling financial hangover since the February onset of the pandemic. 

Overall, 73.5% of Egyptians say that they have experienced an evident reduction in household income caused by the pandemic.

The health crisis has also put families under increased strain, with 50% reporting they have had to borrow money to stay financially afloat.

A total of 17% reported that they are relying on financial help from charities, whilst 5.4% have turned to the EGP 500 financial aid disbursed by the government for irregular workers.

It also showed that 60.3% of respondents saw their incomes suffer on the back of precautionary measures, with 35.5% were laid off or furloughed. Income-generating activities saw a slump of 31.5% because of drop in demand.

In order to bring spending in line with reduced income, 92.5% of families have turned to scrimping on food, instead resorting to surviving off cheap food. The study also shows that a total of 89.8% have cut down their weekly meat consumption.

What do experts say?

Some experts have questioned the accuracy of the CAPMAS figures. Economic expert Rashad Abdo told Daily News Egypt that the figures bore little relation to reality and exaggerate the size of the pandemic’s effects.

Although there is suffering, Abdo says it does not loom as large as reported, adding that this “is why the government took certain actions to absorb any negative unintended consequences.”

However, economic expert Medhat Nafie said the figures line up with the current situation, although he doubted the data’s accuracy. He believes that the real figures could, in fact, be greater than those reported.

Nafie pointed to the difficulty of collecting and processing data given the current circumstances, emphasising that a large part of the Egyptian economy is informal, which limits the accuracy of figures.

Hoda El-Mallah, Director of the International Center for Economic Consulting and Feasibility Studies, said the figures reflect how the pandemic has paralysed many economic activities, notably tourism and industry. Therefore, many workers were vulnerable to layoffs and others have taken a pay cut, she added.

Egypt’s response to COVID-19 fallout

In March, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi allocated EGP 100bn emergency package, or about $6bn, to mitigate the adverse effects of the coronavirus.

The government also lowered natural gas prices to $4.5 per million British thermal units (MBtu) for the country’s industry sector. The electricity tariff was also cut by 10 piasters for ultra-high, high, and medium voltages, in addition to holding down prices for other industrial applications over the next three to five years. Meanwhile, the government suspended taxation on agricultural land for two years.

The relief decisions also included providing EGP 1bn (about $61,886m) to exporters in March and April, as part of their subsidy arrears, with an additional 10% cash payment in June.

Furthermore, the real property tax payment on factories and tourist facilities has been deferred for three months.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced that it would be increasing the amount allocated for its initiative renovating hotels and tourism transport fleets. The initiative will see EGP 50bn (about $3bn), instead of EGP 5bn (about $309m), with declining interest of 8% for a maximum of 15 years.

The CBE has also directed EGP 20bn investment to the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), in addition to delaying instalment payments due to banks for six months. The decisions include  reducing stamp duty surcharge for trading stocks and taxing capital gains realised from stocks at a lower rate of 5%.

All spot transactions have been exempted from stamp duty, and a permanent tax exemption on capital gains has been granted for all non-residents until 1 January 2022.

President Al-Sisi has ordered for the fixed medical allowance to be increased by 75%, alongside the setting up of a risk fund for all healthcare workers. This comes in addition to paying five overdue bonuses to 2.4 million pensioners, at a total of EGP 28bn (about $1,732bn) starting from July 2020.

In April, Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait revealed another slew of effective measures to crowd out government investments. This saw an additional $10bn (about $618,756m) allocated to generating new job opportunities, with over EGP 2bn (or about $123,751m) allocated to exporters to pay their late dues.

Maait announced that work is underway to procure strategic commodities by importing 1.6m tonnes of wheat. About EGP 15bn would also be allocated for the immediate purchase of domestically grown wheat, with an additional EGP 1bn  allocated per week to prop up the country’s ration cards and subsidised bread system.

Ministry of Finance decisions also included allocating EGP 40m to the Public Transport Authority (PTA), EGP 115m to textile companies, and EGP 50m to the Egyptian Iron and Steel Company to cover late wages.

Minister of Manpower Mohamed Safaan announced the allocation of EGP 500 per individual for over 1.5 million irregular workers as financial aid. The aid, which will be given out on a monthly basis over three months, will act as emergency aid to cover those left unemployed by precautionary measures.

Safaan added that the Contingency Fund for Emergencies would pay the salaries of 900,000 regular workers in the tourism sector. The sector is one of the worst hit by the ongoing global health crisis, with revenues suffering a steep drop since March.

In May, the Ministry of Finance announced that Egypt clinched $5bn in bonds over three tranches in its biggest-ever international bond offering since November 2019. It also said that it had undertaken an EGP 2bn loan to support Egypt’s civil aviation industry.

However, Maait said during a press conference in early June that state revenues faced a dramatic decline of EGP 123bn in three months. He vowed to enact austerity measures, should the crisis go on further.

The minister anticipates that the budget deficit will rise by 7.8% compared to 6.3% in the basic budget scenario for fiscal year (FY) 2020/21. The debt-to-GDP ratio is set to reach 88%, compared to 83% in the actual scenario.

On 18 June, Maait revealed Egypt’s largest budget for FY 2020/21, at a value of EGP 2.2trn.

At the same time, the CBE announced that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves fell by $9.4bn in three months to stand at $36bn at the end of May.

It seems, however, that a provisional solution was on hand, as on 27 June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Egypt’s request tendered in April for emergency financial assistance worth $5.2bn.

Despite the state-imposed precautionary measures to curb the further spread of the coronavirus, Egypt has been in grave need of opening up the economy. As a result, the government decided to lift restrictions and resume economic activities on 28 June.

Will the economy recover?

The economy will not fully recover unless a vaccine is found, Abdo said. “The world is now heading to reopen economies and coexist with the virus, as it will last a long time,” he added.

While Nafie notes the country’s pre-pandemic macroeconomic indicators were positive, the virus has caused upheaval and disrupted international trade, revenues, import, and foreign-exchange reserves.

He called for encouraging domestic production, branding it as “the only safe source.” Nafie also urged the government to fix energy used in industry at low prices, in addition to facilitating licence issuance, offering customs duty concessions and providing protection against dumping.

Meanwhile, El-Mallah advised that the country has to make use of trained Egyptian expatriate workers who have returned home, and their capabilities. This would ensure that production at factories will closed as part of government measures, are able to restart.

She also called for support for local production, as many factories rely on intermediate production inputs, and because of the temporary suspension of imports, they have shut down.

El-Mallah emphasised the importance of financing for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to speed up the development process.

“Egypt has an opportunity for a V-shaped recovery,” Nafie said, adding that the virus has driven the global economy into a meltdown.

He noted, however, that it means the Egyptian economy could bounce back quickly as economies have now become equalised in the face of the virus.

Egypt’s domestic debt reached EGP 4.186trn, or about $259bn at the end of September 2019 according to the CBE. The country’s volume of external debt due increased to $112.67bn at the end of 2019, according to the World Bank.

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Glances of Egyptian children’s lives under COVID-19 lockdown Sat, 13 Jun 2020 20:00:54 +0000 Despite rise in sleeping disorders, online gaming addiction, some parents say curfew helped bring families closer

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The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the associated precautionary measures and lockdown have had a significantly negative effect on mental health and well-being of people around the world. None more so than children, one of the most vulnerable segments of society, who are suffering deep-seated mental impacts. They are spending more time at home with fewer opportunities to mingle with friends or in school, there is also less opportunity for youngsters to get out and exercise or play again.

“My daughter would have grown up in a healthier and more proper way if there were no curfew,” Amira Adellatif, a mother to a 1.5-year-old child, told Daily News Egypt.

She said that her baby daughter is at a growth and development phase where being stuck at home all the time is extremely unhelpful in terms of developing new skills. It is particularly hard as her little one is still too young to take part in certain home activities such as colouring or playing puzzles.

Before the curfew was put in place, Abdellatif used to take her baby outside to play in a park or club with other kids.

“Now, I cannot take her to any open area or kids’ area where she can expend her energy and socialise with other kids. My baby needs to see people, learn about the world around her,” she said.

Abdellatif added that her baby is not leaning any new skills, as she is not playing with anything beneficial at home. She is also getting bored of playing with her toys all the time, even if she got new ones.

The mother noted that her daughter is now wasting time on “useless stuff” at home, and that she has started watching cartoons on YouTube and TV. Abdellatif is afraid that her child will get use to such electronics as long as they are stuck at home.

“My baby started to seem bored. Sometimes I observe her roaming around at home without entering a specific room, or she keeps crying,” the mother said. “Also, she is suffering from poor sleep, because she has energy that she wants to expend but she cannot.”

“When we open the house door to go out, she dances with happiness. I try to take her for walks as much as I can, so she can feel a little bit better,” the mother added.

My child always asks “why are we at home?”

Nehal Monier, mother to a six-year-old boy, faces the same problem. She said, “My child is always bored, his psychological state is bad. Since he was six months, he used to go to a nursery, he was mostly spending his time outside the home, but now he cannot go anywhere.”

Monier said that her son used to spend a large part of his day outside the home, whether in school, going to the mall, visiting family, playing with friends, or having lunch at a restaurant with his parents.

She added, “Our house is overlooking the front of his favourite mall, and whenever we pass by the mall, he keeps asking why we don’t go, why we are unable to have lunch in our favourite restaurant. He never stops asking about what happened and why he is at home all the time.”

Monier said that she tried to talk to her son about the current situation, but he is still too young to be able to comprehend the full extent of the situation.

“We started recently to go out and roam around in the car wearing our masks and having sanitizers with us. We have only met people a few times. I took him to visit my sister, when my son was really down. She has two children, and they are totally isolated like my kid,” Monier said.

She has created a daily schedule for her son, which includes sleeping and waking up times to avoid sleeping disorder.

“He studies in the early morning. Using a board, I explain his lessons to him as if he is at school, and watch videos by his teacher, who he misses so much,” she said.

She added that, in the middle of the day, she leaves him to study on his own whilst she does her job from home, before returning to play with him.

“We can do colouring, baking, and play puzzles,” she said, adding, “I got him Printable play money to teach him how to count money. I am trying to discover all the hidden skills in my child.”

“I cannot take his mobile!”

Another mother, who requested anonymity, said before the curfew, her 13-year-old son used to return from school at 16:00, and he used to go to the club for basketball practice five days a week. As he is in the second grade at preparatory school, he would then spend the rest of his day finishing his homework or other activities.

She added that, during the weekend, they used to have time with the extended family, go to lunch or to the club, or finish some errands.

“We used to do a lot of activities outside the home,” the mother said. “It meant that my child’s energy was distributed among school, sports, and other social activities.”

The mother added that her son have online school sessions from 9:30 to 14:00, spending less time with his teachers. This compares to when he was present in school, where he was busy from 7:00 to 16:00. He has now completed the educational year, and has submitted group projects in coordination with the school.

She added that, despite having previously regulated his access to and use of electronics, this has now gone out the window with the lockdown and curfew. After her son had finished his online school lessons, he would spend the rest of the day playing with electronics, as he cannot meet up with friends or go to a club.

“He plays games on laptop, mobile, or playstation. At this age, the child is no longer interested in colouring or puzzles,” she said. “Unfortunately, all his time is wasted in using electronics. This is not a good thing and not beneficial, especially as now he stays up late every day, and his sleeping time has been affected. But using electronics is the only thing that gives him fun as he can go online with his friends. I cannot stop him, as it is the only thing that entertains him at the moment.”

“I used to put limits for online games and socialising during the school days, as it was not allowed all the time,” the mother said. “My child is too bored, despite using electronics. Spending all the time at home is difficult, and he misses his friends, break times, and playing football with his mates. He now almost never goes out.”

“Sometimes, I take him for a car ride, but he never liked the idea and keeps on playing on his mobile. I ask him to leave the mobile and enjoy the time with me, talking and listening to music but he disagrees, seeing that there is no fun doing this,” she added.

She noted that she is trying to improve his skills at home. “Sometimes, I pressure him to read a book with me or exercise at home.”

The child has become afraid of the coronavirus, and rejects his father’s idea when he suggests visiting anyone of the extended family, the mother said.

The mother noted, however, that when the country opens up and life returns to a semblance of normality, she is unsure how far she can let down her guard. At the same time, however, she recognises the negative aspects of the curfew, especially staying at home and the lower exposure to fresh air and sun.

Mothers should take the initiative

The curfew has impacted children in different ways according to their age. There were those children who already had a well-established pre-lockdown social life, going to nursery or school, going to different activities outside the home, meeting family and friends.

However, according to Child Psychiatrist Marwa Helmy, with this suddenly stopping, youngsters have been particularly affected, with the situation worse for children who have developmental issues.

Helmy said that the normal daily routine for children which only focused on wasting time outside, showed that most of them have no special skills or talents. This is the main reason for their boredom and psychological problems during the curfew. She urged that the issue is due to a parental dependency on schools and nurseries without helping their kids to discover their special talents.

“The children were really busy at nursery, school, private lessons, and meeting friends and family, and once they got stuck at home, they found themselves not knowing what to do,” the psychiatrist said.

The absence of teachers is another issue, with mothers now having to take the initiative and find alternatives.

“This is the perfect opportunity to teach them new skills, just like what they used to do in school or nurseries,” Helmy suggested.

She noted that many mothers depend on online games and YouTube cartoons to keep their children entertained. This does mean, however, that they suffer environmental deprivation and ongoing loneliness.

“Mothers should prepare for them several distinguished activities at home, IQ games, get some sports tools so they can practice at home, and work on their skills as much as they can to avoid harms of electronics,” she also suggested.

My child needs to interact with people

Sarah Tarek, mother of a 4-year-old boy, said, “My biggest problem is that I am unable to tell my child why we are at home, why we do not go out like we used to.”

She cannot explain to her son what is the coronavirus, and why he cannot go out, as her little one is still too young to really understand.

“So far, no serious mental issues have happened to my kid. He just needs to interact with others his age,” Tarek said. “Recently, my son started to seem bored, but not depressed. He doesn’t understand what is happening and no matter how much you try to tell him, he can never get the idea of the virus.”

The best she can do, given the circumstances, is to reassure him that everything will work out and that the coronavirus will come to an end and they will go out again and meet up with friends.

Tarek added, “He is an only child, so he misses having kids around. Since March, we have not gone out. I will not put him or myself at risk until a vaccine comes out. It is hard to control the child form touching his mouth or eyes.”

She added that, since the curfew, her son has stopped going to nursery, which has instead run online classes for half an hour a day, three times a week. And just as his daily routine has changed, Tarek noted, his sleep times have also changed.

About her child’s daily routine, she said, “We can do some activities, play in the garden at my house, go for a walk, or try to do anything new together that distracts him from the reality. I only take him for a car ride, walk in the park, but I will not take him to any kids’ area in malls anytime soon.”

In Tarek’s view, the only privilege in the current situation is that her child is getting to spend more time with the family.

Teenagers are more sensitive

The impacts of the curfew and lockdown aren’t just less time spent outside or increased boredom. As Ivon Magdy, an Arabic language teacher who has two teenage girls, told Daily News Egypt, the curfew has made her daughters more sensitive and nervous. The daughters are 15 and 17 years old.

In pre-coronavirus days, her daughters would go to school, to church for activities, or go for outings with friends. Such were their busy schedules, Magdy said, noting that she barely got to spend any time with them.

She explained that at the beginning of the curfew, her daughters were not satisfied. Instead, they rejected the idea of a curfew, as they believed that it is still normal to go out in open areas or visit friends.

“We took them out one day to show them that everything is closed, which allowed them to begin admitting to themselves that it is risky,” Magdy said. “They also became worried about their father who has chronic diseases.”

The online learning put into place by schools across Egypt also was not the best thing, Magdy said. After the school year finished, her daughters started to feel depressed and bored, to the extent that it started to affect her as well.

”We used to talk to each other about how we feel, but the girls’ behaviours changed, even ours [the parents] did. They now get nervous easily and have become more sensitive, aside from also suffering sleeping disorder.”

Despite the circumstances, Magdy and her husband feel they can handle the situation. As she is a teacher and her husband is a sociologist, she feels they can make the right compromises where necessary to maintain as much balance as necessary.

“My younger child hasn’t gone out, but the elder daughter went out with her friends three times,” Magdy said. “In her age, you are not the decision maker alone, they will insist also on doing what they want.”

Madgy added, “We heard that sports will be back, and I know my daughter will fight to return to practice again. I don’t know what I will do at that time, and I understand that she can practice while wearing a face mask.”

“The only privilege [under the curfew] is that we have become closer to each other, and started talking to each other more often. My daughters started to love their home and are spending more time with us [the parents].”

She added that, since they stopped going out so much, they have started spending less money.

“I wish they are going to continue with this after the virus ends, and have only a few outings contrary to before,” Magdy said.

She noted that she also hopes they stop ordering fast food as they used to, instead enjoying home-cooked food together.

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Orange Egypt, Misr El Kheir partner provide food, sanitizers to irregular workers’ families Sat, 16 May 2020 00:22:25 +0000 Initiative is part of company’s continuous efforts supporting Egyptians face COVID-19 crisis

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Orange Egypt has partnered with the Misr El Kheir Foundation to provide food supplies and sanitizers to the families of thousands of irregular workers during Ramadan.

The new initiative is part of Orange’s continuous efforts to support Egyptian families face the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its critical repercussions on irregular daily workers. The company also joins state efforts to assist Egypt’s neediest in the current difficult circumstances.

Orange is supplying thousands of families with disinfectants and sanitizers along with food supplies to help them take all the needed preventive measures to curb further infections. It also helps the families continue to earn their living in as safe a method as possible.

The food distribution process is scheduled to cover 17 governorates in Egypt, with the first phase to include the cities of Aswan, Luxor, Halayeb, Qena and Beni Suef.

Orange Egypt launches diversified initiatives and campaigns as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities aimed at the neediest groups. The campaigns are designed to provide them with financial, moral, economic, social and health support.

The initiatives come in cooperation with the largest charitable foundations that can boast a long history in this regard.  In addition, the company also collaborates with government bodies working in this field, most importantly the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the Ministry of Health, to support in several activities that better serve the community.

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Unique graduation project looks to reduce Egypt’s plastic consumption Wed, 13 May 2020 12:46:17 +0000 The impacts of plastic pollution on the world’s water and marine life, as well as the food chain and public health, are becoming ever more apparent. On the back of this, global initiatives reducing or eliminating consumption of single-use plastic have gained momentum.

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Students at the British University in Egypt’s (BUE) Faculty of Communication and Mass Media have created a unique graduation project aimed at creating awareness on Egypt’s plastic consumption.

The impacts of plastic pollution on the world’s water and marine life, as well as the food chain and public health, are becoming ever more apparent. On the back of this, global initiatives reducing or eliminating consumption of single-use plastic have gained momentum.

The BUE student campaign entitled El-Khatar Fi Aeedak, or “The danger is in your hands”, is looking to raise local awareness about the negative health impacts of using plastics, whilst introducing alternatives. Such is its relevance and success, it has come under the auspices and sponsorship of the Ministry of Environment.

With Egypt producing about 5.4 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, the country is the Arab world’s biggest producer of plastic pollution. Egypt, however, comes a close second to Turkey, which is the highest producer of plastic pollution in the Middle East, producing 5.6 million tonnes of waste every year.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) also revealed that Egypt is the biggest source of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, pouring in 250,000 tonnes every year. The Egyptian Chemical Industries and Fertilizers Export Council indicated that Egypt consumes $9.35bn in plastic products annually.

Raising Egyptian’s awareness, the students targeted the B and C classes as they form the majority of the population. The students created awareness on the negative health impacts of plastic, and the alternatives that can be used, such as paper bags, stainless steel or wooden straws, BPA free bottles, and BPA free lunch boxes.

The students carried out their awareness campaign via social media, in addition to producing television and radio ads.

The Ministry of Environment were highly supportive of the initiative, praising the students involved for their interest in the environment and health. The ministry will facilitate the students through the process of shooting and through PR booths, whilst also giving them licence to post the ministry’s logo on all posters.

Earlier, the Ministry of Environment had launched an EU-funded initiative called “Enough Plastic Bags” in 2017, to eliminate the country’s dependence on plastic bags, due to their negative economic and environmental effects.

In 2019, the Red Sea Governorate became Egypt’s first to ban single-use or disposable plastics. According to the Ministry of Environment, Egypt consumes 12 billion plastic bags annually.

The country’s waste output is 16.2 million tonnes annually, with 40% of the waste coming from Cairo alone with plastic making up 6% of that, according to the Egyptian Plastic Technology Centre.

Rapid growth in global plastic production began in the 1950s. Over the next 65 years, annual production of plastics increased nearly 200-fold to 381 million tonnes in 2015, however, many public- public-private initiatives to reduce single-use plastic bags.

In Africa, some countries have launched similar initiatives to end plastic bag usage, such as Rwanda which imposed a complete ban on plastic bags in 2008. The country also introduced stiff fines and even jail sentences for those caught violating the law.

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BUE students launch handicrafts campaign supporting Upper Egyptian women Wed, 13 May 2020 12:43:20 +0000 Wicker handicrafts make use of one of Egypt’s heritage handicrafts whilst using environmentally friendly and locally available resources

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Students at the British University in Egypt’s (BUE) Faculty of Communication and Mass Media have launched a marketing campaign to support women making handicrafts in Upper Egypt.

The campaign, entitled “Baddara” and which aims at helping women work and earn money from home, forms the students’ graduation project, and promotes a handcraft brand made from recycling agriculture waste.

Egypt can boast many locally produced handicrafts, many of which are part of the country’s cultural identity and heritage. However, the technological developments and changing trends witnessed internationally has led many of these crafts to disappear from the Egyptian market.

The students, however, have joined forces to revive one of these crafts by effectively marketing their products in the hopes it will slow down the sharp decline in demand for these products. The students cooperated with “Baddara” in making give-away bags for the Women Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 that was held under the auspices of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as well as giveaway bags for the Turathna exhibition.

In their graduation project, the students also launched campaigns in cooperation with Alex Bank and the National Council for Women (NCW), to promote Egypt’s heritage products manufactured with natural materials.

Waste recycling is one of the basic industries that underpin small- and medium-sized projects, which help the economy grow in any country. Among these industries is the plant waste recycling industry (palm waste), that produces environmentally friendly products such as bags and wicker baskets.

The students focused on the wicker industry as it has not received the same levels of interest as other handicrafts industries, despite the increasing interests and demands in this area.

The material is also abundant in the New Valley Governorate, which provides the basic material at the lowest cost. Wicker handicrafts, which are made from palm-tree waste suitable for daily use, rely on traditional palm varieties which do not have a modern alternative.

“Baddara” aims to develop traditional products to meet the requirements of the modern era, while preserving the ecological heritage of the products. It also tries to preserve the ancient artistic manual heritage besides learning to create environmentally friendly designs and products that can be marketed locally and internationally.

On the social side, the project has supported and re-motivated women who are working in the handicrafts, to encourage them to continue manual work and reduce unemployment.

“Baddara” products are handmade and environmentally friendly, using plant varieties, locally manufactured natural leather, fabrics and Egyptian-made threads, spun into unique modern designs.

The wicker industry is also facing another challenge, as the handicraft manufacturing relies on skilled labour, most of whom are now senior in age and reluctant to pass these crafts on due to low incomes.

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BUE students launch Domestic Child Abuse awareness Campaign Wed, 13 May 2020 12:40:55 +0000 The project also emphasises all aspects of the long-term consequences for everyone involved, including the victim, the wider family, as well as to the abuser.

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In a unique campaign, students at the British University in Egypt’s (BUE) Faculty of Communication and Mass Media have created a campaign raising awareness of child abuse in Egypt.

Entitled Bel Hob Yetrabbo, or ‘With love they are brought up’, the students’ graduation project addresses increasingly widespread domestic violence against children.

The project also emphasises all aspects of the long-term consequences for everyone involved, including the victim, the wider family, as well as to the abuser.

Child abuse has become a national epidemic, with over one million children confirmed as victims of child abuse and neglect each year by departments of child protective services. In 2018, it was reported that at least three children die every day as a result of domestic abuse.

Child abuse and neglect have mainly been attributed to violence in homes, which is illustrated in a pattern of coercive, controlling behaviour. These are a persistent life-threatening crime affecting children in communities regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion and/or social standing,

Abuse means that, in a certain relationship, one party wields power and control over another. There are various forms of abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, with the abuser sometimes also taking part in child neglect or exploitation.

Bel Hob Yetrabbo looks to raise local awareness that children should not be responsible for the way their parents were raised or developed. Instead, they must feel protected, safe, taken care of and loved to have a healthy upbringing.

Bel Hob Yetrabbo also aims to raise awareness on the causes and negative side effects of domestic child abuse. It looks to replace old destructive parenting techniques that are still in use, and to add constructive techniques that help children develop in the healthiest, and most productive and stable way.

The campaign was presented by students, Ghazal Mohamed, Rana Salem, Rana Khaled, Engy El Remaly, Sara Sabra and Marwan Hussam.

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“Orange Egypt” Collaborates With the “Egyptian Food Bank” to Provide 50,000 Food Boxes to Families affected by Coronavirus Pandemic Fri, 08 May 2020 22:40:34 +0000 Within the framework of its extensive efforts during the holy month of Ramadan, Orange Egypt announced its collaboration with the “Egyptian Food Bank”

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Within the framework of its extensive efforts during the holy month of Ramadan, Orange Egypt announced its collaboration with the “Egyptian Food Bank” to provide and distribute 50,000 food boxes to the irregular daily workers across 6 governorates – that include Cairo, Giza, Qalyubia, Fayoum, Beheira, and Alexandria – with the aim of supporting the community as well as the state’s efforts amid the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and hence contribute to alleviating the burden of citizens and their families.

In this initiative “Orange Egypt” in cooperation with “Food Bank” will deliver the 50,000 food boxes to the allocated governorates through the support of 562 charitable associations in 6 governorates.

The initiative is an affirmation of Orange’s role to support the community in general and during such exceptional circumstances that the country is going through in specific; where it exerts all the needed efforts to support those in need through different ways and initiatives that better help the community where which it operates.


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‘Make the best of crisis’:Al Ahly raises social responsibility amid quarantine life Thu, 09 Apr 2020 07:20:09 +0000 Sporting clubs are not exempted from these measures, and as part of its social responsibility, Al Ahly, headed by Mahmoud El Khatib, has also taken precautions and preventive measures. These measures have been taken to ensure the safety of Al Ahly family, and include a lockdown of the club’s three branches.

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The world is undergoing dramatic changes in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, and Egypt is no exception to this. The country is also suffering the repercussions of the pandemic, either on the economic, political level, or even in its social activities.

Mahmoud El Khatib

Millions of Egyptians are anxious now with the spread of the virus, especially as they have to stay at home as part of the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus. These measures include the suspension of schools and universities, lockdown for all entertainment facilities, as well as places of worship. On 24 March, Egypt announced a night-time curfew from 19:00 to 06:00.

Sporting clubs are not exempted from these measures, and as part of its social responsibility, Al Ahly, headed by Mahmoud El Khatib, has also taken precautions and preventive measures. These measures have been taken to ensure the safety of Al Ahly family, and include a lockdown of the club’s three branches.

Opportunities within challenges

Seeing opportunity in every challenge, Al Ahly’s Women’s Committee has initiated a campaign that aims to make  the club’s members shed the negative vibes the coronavirus has spread. Instead, the committee is encouraging members to invest in positive and meaningful activities, under the slogan “Let`s try to make the best of this crisis”.  This slogan extended under the umbrella of all the club’s committees.

Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Soha Ibrahim, a member of the Supreme Committee and spokesperson of Al Ahly’s club committees, outlined this initiative and how it will be implemented in every committee.

Waleed Mabrouk, Head of Al Ahly Supreme Committee

Since day one of the coronavirus outbreak and its emergence in Egypt, the club`s supreme committee held meetings to discuss the expected scenario if the situation got worse, Ibrahim said. She added that, on the day the club announced its lock down decision, all committee members were in a meeting to brainstorm innovative ideas to communicate with the members during that difficult period. The Al Ahly family has over 167,000 member families across its different branches, according to Ibrahim.

“The Child’s Committee chaired by Nidaa Daoud, also launched a nice competition for Al Ahly`s children, encouraging them to discover their different talents in drawing and send them to the committee online, with the aim of exploiting the children`s time at home,” Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim noted that the club’s cultural committee, headed by Khaled Jalal, is organising a competition for the club’s members to make use of their spare time through writing short stories, classical poetry or colloquial poetry. Participants in this competition would send their writing to the committee via social media platforms.

“I have to praise also the efforts taken by the Youth Committee, chaired by Ahmed Hossam, who interacted perfectly with the youth online, sharing with them the different activities that they can do while sitting at home, including training courses, [learning] skills and [taking] language courses,” she said.

Soha Ibrahim explained that the supreme committee will continue to interact with members via the club’s various platforms, hoping to see an end to this crisis soon.

“After this crisis ends, the club will prepare for a huge ceremony under the auspices of Al-Khatib, to celebrate Egypt surviving this difficult period, and to announce the winners of every competition,” she said. “I would like to mention that all the different committees in the club have a desire to give to the name and entity of the Al Ahly club, and because certainly the Al Ahly club is a great honour but also a greater responsibility.”

Al Ahly dominates the sports competitions in Egypt, Africa, and the Arab world, achieving great records in many games, she added.

Soha Ibrahim, Spokesperson of Al Ahly’s club committees

Challenging negative vibes

The women`s committee, headed by Anhar Kandil, launched an initiative calling upon the club’s members to select clothing they no longer need. These items are to be kept aside until the donations can be taken and delivered to the executive management for donation to the needy.

As the initiative`s spark came out from the club`s Women Committee, thus Daily News Egypt talked to  Kandil to know more about the initiative and how the community can benefit of such initiatives.

“The idea of “Let`s try to make the best of this crisis” originated out of our desire to invest time and to take advantage of the availability of all family members at home, in making useful activities not only for them but also for the entire society. Also it is originated due to our desire to challenge the negative vibes that spread due to COVID-19,” Kandil told Daily News Egypt.

She explained that the initiative was launched in conjunction with the changing of seasons with most of families rearranging their wardrobes to suit the change in weather.

“During the process of rearranging their wardrobes, women may find that she or her family members have clothes in good, usable condition, but they are in excess of their needs and they did not find an opportunity to use them so they can donate them to others,” Kandil said.

Kandil added that the Al Ahly is an integrated administrative system, and her role as chairperson of the Women’s Committee is to implement the initiative and reach out to the largest number of people. They aim to collect the largest possible quantity of clothes, which is translated into helping and making the largest number of people happy. After that comes the executive management`s role, which is to decide who deserves to take these donations either from inside or outside the club.

Anhar Kandil, Chairperson of Al Ahly Women’s Committee

According to Kandil, there has been an extremely positive response, with many club members already having collected a substantial amount of clothing. Kandil clarified that this initiative “originates from the Al Ahly’s club committees and in implementation of the policy of the Supreme Committee headed by Waleed Mabrouk, and has no links with NGOs or charity groups.”

Although, the initiative was launched for club members, but, Kandil noted that is also open to non-members as well but through members of the club in a condition to have clothes that are in a good, and appropriate manner.

“Having said that I want to thank all my team, and should say that they put a lot of effort until we reached the final stage of the initiative,” Kandil noted. She explained that her committee is formed of 10 female members, with a chairperson and a rapporteur for the committee, in addition to eight members in the committee.

Waleed Mabrouk, Head of the Supreme Committee, obtained Board of Directors approval to increase the committee members to 15, instead of 10. The increase is in line with the club’s policy of broadening the base of member participation, but this will happen after the club is reopened following the end of the coronavirus crisis.

Al Ahly tightens precautionary measures to contain COVID-19

Plans and hopes

Concerning the committee’s plans in the coming period, Kandil said that the short term plan is to deal with the crisis. She encouraged members to maintain their high spirits, and make best use of their time in useful activities within the limits of the current crisis.

Furthermore, Kandil also has a long-term ambitious plan to activate and stimulate her committee’s positive role in women-related activities.

“The ultimate objective of the Supreme Committee`s policy, is to increase the extent of the communication with the members, and evaluate the extent of success in achieving this goal,” Kandil said, adding. “I want to conclude that my ultimate objective is to preserve the name of the great Al Ahly by intensifying the women`s activities, as women represent half of society and is the main component for development. Being a chairperson for the women`s committee is a great honour of course, but also a great responsibility, so I hope to act on the level of the greatness of the Al Ahly club.” 

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India launches ‘United against Corona – Express through Arts’ competition Tue, 07 Apr 2020 10:00:57 +0000 Emotions have long driven creativity across the world, with people coming up with innovative ideas and ways of dealing with turbulent times. People use a myriad of methods, including spiritual practices, self-introspection, exercise, and especially art to express these emotions.   

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The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disaster has changed everyone’s life. The situation has forced people all over the world to experience the best and worst of human emotions; empathy, kindness, concern, anger, frustration, social cohesiveness, and bravery, among others.

Emotions have long driven creativity across the world, with people coming up with innovative ideas and ways of dealing with turbulent times. People use a myriad of methods, including spiritual practices, self-introspection, exercise, and especially art to express these emotions.   

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is organising a global art competition to capture these emotions. It is calling on professional and amateur artists from India and around the world to express themselves and their feelings.

The “United against Corona – Express through Art” competition aims to present these human feelings, emotions and innovative thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic. It is asking people to put into art their expressions and feelings on social distancing and quarantine.

The competition opened to entries on 2 April, with the deadline on 1 May. Submissions should be made online by uploading the artwork in PNG or JPG file form on the ICCR’s official site. The best works will receive prizes and will be showcased online and in physical exhibitions at international galleries.

The participants can present their arts within four categories, contemporary art, folk and tribal art, cartoons or illustrations, and digital and new age art. The competition is open for all people undergoing self-isolation, including professional artists, amateurs, students, and children.

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Egyptian expats, youth, and civil society mobilise against Covid-19 Tue, 07 Apr 2020 09:00:58 +0000 The civil society, along with Egyptian expatriates, have volunteered to join nationwide efforts to fight the pandemic.

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Egypt has consolidated its capabilities against the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, ordering local manufacturers of protective medical equipment to channel their production to public hospitals, while the government has announced EGP 1bn emergency funding for health services.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases across Egypt has now reached 1,173. State officials confirmed, however, that they are able to contain the virus through testing, tracing, isolation, and treatment. This comes alongside restrictive measures that include a night-time curfew and the closure of many workplaces, as well as all mosques, schools, and tourist sites, among other moves.

The civil society, along with Egyptian expatriates, have volunteered to join nationwide efforts to fight the pandemic.

In Alexandria alone, there are four initiatives, with one aimed at supporting irregular workers by raising donations to help them.

Other initiatives aim at distributing face masks, sterile materials, and sterilising streets, while Alexandria’s doctors have launched a Facebook group for medical consultations. The group is open to the public to ask health-related questions while staying at home.

It aims to reduce the burden on medical facilities and encourage Egyptians to stay home by offering only urgent consultations, according to the Facebook group’s banner. Doctors will not offer a final diagnosis or prescription without taking into consideration the patient’s medical history.

An Egyptian dentist has also launched an online initiative, providing a range of services to patients without their need to leave their homes.

The initiative was started by Dr Nour El-Din Mostafa, member of the International Congress of Oral Implantology at New York University, aiming at providing free online consultations via social media.

The patient can send through a picture of his teeth and an X-ray image where applicable, with regular cases able to receive treatment from home. Urgent cases would, however, be able to receive an appointment to complete all the procedures in one session if necessary.

In both the above cases, citizens have taken to using social media to offer services whilst practising social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Other citizens have been serving as doctors and nurses, delivery men, photographers, truck drivers, and other logistical services providers, in Beheira governorate.

In Giza and Qaliubiya, youngsters have started a movement against price gouging by providing food commodities at low prices.

Civil society organisations have historically played significant roles, albeit with restrictions. To support the state’s efforts, the Misr El Kheir Foundation has provided the Abbassia Fever Hospital with two ventilators as part of a plan to supply 10 devices to quarantine hospitals. The Misr El Kheir Foundation has also distributed food cartons and 10,000 protection bags to 10,000 families across Egypt.

Supporting the state’s efforts, the Resala Charity Organization launched a charity challenge, raising more than EGP 3m to assist families impacted by the current crisis.

Many Egyptian celebrities have participated in the charity challenge (Kheir challenge), raising over EGP 1m, to help the most affected families by virus outbreak.

Egyptian expats have also been involved in efforts to ease the situation back home. Those involved include Egyptian scholars abroad who have launched an initiative entitled “Egypt Can”. The initiative aims at supporting students in schools and universities nationwide as they undertake their distance learning experience.

The scholars are providing support to the Ministries of Education and Higher Education since schools and universities were suspended to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The scientists participating in the initiative have also created online discussion groups that serve as platforms on which to place ideas for them to then be discussed and applied. This takes place during online workshops, with specialists from the Ministries of Education and Higher Education, to develop distance learning technologies.

These ideas include developing educational materials directed at students, particularly with maximum benefit for distance learning, and ways to conduct scientific research using modern methods.

Expatriate Egyptians have also participated in the “Let us support each other” initiative, set up by the Ministry of Immigration to support Egyptians stranded abroad.

Many expatriates abroad have already extended support to Egyptians stranded in Italy, France, Austria and Spain. This has included providing masks and sterilisation tools, as well as assisting the elderly and those unable to leave the house and buy all their requirements. Others have helped Egyptians in the US by booking airline tickets for them, before travel suspensions took place.

Religious institutions have also donated to confront the coronavirus outbreak. Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb has donated EGP 5m for Tahya Misr Fund (Long Live Egypt), in support of Egypt’s Covid-19 efforts. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria has also donated EGP 3m to the fund, contributing to the purchase of ventilators. It also urged churches to provide antiseptic and sterilisation tools.

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Coronavirus: How have companies supported society? Sun, 29 Mar 2020 07:00:02 +0000 Companies took responsibility to support society segments affected by state’s precautions to fight pandemic

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has completely changed life of many people in the Egyptian society, thus big companies see that it is time they all probably have a huge role in solving the crisis. Companies announced that funds spent on measures to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak will be counted towards the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Staying at home may be just boring to many people; however, it affects others negatively, especially families whose breadwinners depend entirely on daily wages such as construction workers and street vendors who were affected by the recently announced curfew.

The Egyptian government has imposed a two-week nationwide curfew from 19:00 to 6:00 beginning 25 March and extended school closure for additional two weeks to fight the spread of coronavirus.

A social media initiative called Tahady El Kheir (Charity Challenge) has gained momentum amongst sports and art stars, in addition to companies in Egypt.

Accordingly, companies took the responsibility to support Covid19-affected people and specific segments of society whose life may have been affected by the country’s precautionary measures to fight the coronavirus.

PepsiCo supports 15,000 families with Egyptian Food Bank

PepsiCo Egypt was challenged by mobile operator Etisalat Misr to join Tahady El Kheir initiative in cooperation with the Egyptian Food Bank to help day labourers who were badly affected by COVID-19 spread. Mohamed Shelbaya, CEO of PepsiCo Egypt, accepted the challenge and has pledged to support 15,000 families in cooperation with the Egyptian Food Bank. He then challenged Nestle and Mars Wrigley to keep the wheel rolling.

Shelbaya said, “Egypt and the whole world nowadays are facing a global challenge and this challenge will definitely affect people economically. Now is the time for every entity to give back to its community.”

He added, “PepsiCo Egypt decided to act fast and support day labourers in cooperation with the Egyptian Food Bank. This campaign came in solidarity with Egyptian government’s efforts and as part of PepsiCo’s Winning with Purpose strategy.”

Nestlé Egypt collaborates with Ahl Masr Foundation to support mothers of burn victims

As part of Nestlé Egypt’s extensive efforts to support and empower women, the company decided to celebrate Mother’s Day by funding small projects for breadwinner mothers of burn children. 

Nahla Kamal, head of corporate communications and board member of Nestlé Egypt, stated, “Women empowerment is deeply rooted in our core values. We strongly believe in the importance of supporting women as they are the main pillars of our community. Our efforts are not only limited to external initiatives, rather, internal initiatives as well.”

The company has portrayed several attempts throughout the past years to empower women in the workplace. This year, in celebration of international Women’s Day, Nestlé Egypt announced the extension of its paid maternity leave to 24 weeks for mothers and 18 weeks for fathers even though Nestlé globally grants only 18-week paid leave and an unpaid extension.

Moreover, the company has paid very close attention to increasing the number of women in administrative positions which are currently occupied by 36% women. In reference to managerial positions, 33% of Nestlé Egypt’s board are women.

El Mostakbal for Urban Development donates autoclaves for Baheya Foundation

Chairperson of El Mostakbal for Urban Development Essam Nasif announced donating Delta autoclave sterilisers for surgical instruments, medical supplies, and ultrasonic devices to Baheya Foundation for early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

A delegation from the El Mostakbal visited Baheya Foundation, where they meet a number of cases that receive treatment in the Foundation as well as several breast cancer survivors.

Nasif said, “We believe that this donation is very essential due to great success rate achieved by Baheya Foundation in breast cancer treatment in Egypt as well as the large-scale awareness campaigns implemented by the Foundation for the necessity of periodic and early detection.”

He invited the private sector to participate in such social initiatives as part of the important responsibility of these institutions towards society.

It is worth noting that, since its inauguration in March 2015, Baheya Foundation accepted more than 39,000 women for early examination, radiology, tumour detection, as well as, conducting more than 2,500 surgeries, 2,000 women were cured with chemotherapy and 1,500 patients were healed with radiotherapy.

Baheya Foundation also intends to launch its new branch in Sheikh Zayed to raise breast cancer recovery rates in Egypt.

Lafarge Egypt supports Suez governorate against coronavirus

In line with the measures and efforts taken by the state and its institutions to combat the spread of coronavirus, Lafarge Egypt, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim Foundation, announced the launch of its initiative in the Suez governorate in cooperation with Governor Abdel Meguid Saqr.

The Initiative provides thousands of protective masks, sanitisers, and gloves to support the needs of the governorate.

The motive behind the initiative is the belief that the private sector is a key partner in all aspects of development and that it must fulfill its corporate social responsibility towards its surrounding community, said CEO of Lafarge Egypt Solomon Baumgartner Aviles.

Aviles said Lafarge Egypt’s goal is supporting precaution measures in Suez.

He stressed Lafarge Egypt’s commitment to the instructions of the Egyptian Ministry of Health to protect Lafarge Egypt’s employees, contractors, customers, and suppliers, as well as to continue the operation.

Aviles illustrated that the company has activated Business Resilience Teams (BRT) at country level in early January to ensure readiness to respond to this challenge and to maintain the safety of employees

Governor of Suez Abdel Meguid Saqr praised Lafarge Egypt’s support towards the governorate, mentioning that this is the expected role from all institutions within the society.

He further requested the citizens to abide by all decisions declared by the government, so that the concerned agencies can carry out its role and reduce the spread of the virus, shedding light on the fact that Egypt was one of the countries that undertook strong precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

Glamera sterilises salons and clinics to tackle coronavirus

Glamera, beauty salons booking app, launched an initiative with various beauty salons, and dental, skin care, and diet clinics, to sterilise salons and clinics nationwide so as to ensure safety and hygiene procedures in these places to combat the coronavirus.

Glamera offers a variety of the latest beauty services at more than 2,000 places in Riyadh, Cairo, and Alexandria.

The initiative included training workers on prevention protocols in-place, making hand antiseptics available to employees and customers, the necessity of workers using medical pads and gloves that should be changed periodically with each new customer, in addition to emphasising hand-washing and sterilisation measures.

Glamera sends daily alerts to service providers with instructions issued by the World Health Organization and the measures advised by the Egyptian government in direct dealing with clients, as well as the latest developments of the pandemic in Egypt and the world.

CEO of Glamera Mohamed Hassan said, “From the first day of the crisis, we have been communicating with our service providers to follow up on the implementation progress and that all WHO instructions are followed. This is the time when everyone should do their part to support the country in its recent decisions.”

Hassan added, “We are trying to anticipate the crisis to ensure business continuity while preserving the health of everyone, workers and customers.”

Distributing 125 foodstuff bags in Monshaet El Qanater, Giza

Within the framework of consolidating the principle of social solidarity and supporting the underprivileged in light of the current circumstances that the entire world is going through, Rotary Club of Cairo New Town distributed 125 food bags to 125 families in Monshaet El Qanater, Giza goverorate.

Through this initiative, the club encourages all civil society organisations to unite in such difficult times and support the country.

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Scholars divisions arouse disappointments over renewal of religious discourse Tue, 04 Feb 2020 17:41:45 +0000 As for the renewal process, he suggested that this matter is an issue that deserves much reflection and analysis, believing that it is all about diligence, and the protection of people from extremism.

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The recent divisions between Egypt’s Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb and President of Cairo University Mohamed Al-Khosht last week in verbal debates over Islamic heritage brought the divisions between religious and secular parties to the front pages of Egyptian media.

The debate alerted the public that the two sides have failed to reach a consensus regarding the renewal process in Egypt.

Prominent journalist Emad Al-Din Adeeb commented in an op-ed from the privately-owned Al-Watan newspaper on the debate between Al-Tayeb and Al-Khost, saying that “instead of seeing what happened as an intellectual struggle or division within society, we should be happy with such controversy and encourage and develop it, because it is a dialogue between distinguished scholars that combine jealousy with religion and mastery of human knowledge.”

As for the renewal process, he suggested that this matter is an issue that deserves much reflection and analysis, believing that it is all about diligence, and the protection of people from extremism.

Mohga Ghalib, member of the Social Solidarity Committee in Parliament denied the need for legislation regarding the renewal of religious discourse.

Ghalib, who is also former dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar University, said renewal of religious discourse needs to focus on important issues that occupy public opinion and are closely related to citizens. She also stressed the need to work for more coordination on efforts between the concerned authorities to renew the religious discourse.

Commenting on the recent conference, Ghalib emphasised that these conferences are of great importance in renewing religious discourse, especially in what is presented by important research and working papers that have a great impact in resolving crises.


Political Islam researcher Tawfek Hamid said, “Al-Azhar failed, over the years, in the renewal of religious thought and discourse, because it seems that the entity is still studying the jurisprudence of the four schools, the same jurisprudence that was taught hundreds of years ago already.”

Hamid, who is also a writer, said, “It is difficult to imagine how an institution that was based on indoctrination, memorisation, and reflection, only within the limits of certain doctrines – could carry out the task of renewing Islamic thought that had not been renewed for hundreds of years since the door to ’diligence’ on the origins of religion was locked.”

Osama Al-Abd, head of the Religious Affairs and Endowments Committee of Parliament, said that Al-Azhar expresses the moderation and tolerance of Islam, the highest institution can carry out the mission of renewing religious discourse and confronting extremist ideology, because the institution has the backing of hundreds of thousands supporters and alumnae supporting its mission.

He said that Al-Azhar can do this task with the participation of all institutions in the state of education, youth, and other entities, pointing out that the Religious Affairs Committee is a partner of Al-Azhar in combating extremism.  


Al-Abd also added that the Al-Azhar International Conference for the Renewal of Islamic thought came just in time since Muslim nations needs to fight extremism and terrorism of all kinds.

The Monday and Tuesday conference focuses on how to renew religious discourse, refuting misconceptions about Islam, discussing women and family issues, as well as the roles of religious, academic, and international institutions in this regard.

During the conference, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called on religious institutions, especially Al-Azhar, to pay special attention to renewing religious discourse, stressing that failing to do so would leave the door open for youth to be influenced by wrong interpretations of the Quran and Sunnah. He also said that he wishes to see Al-Azhar’s international conference as the start of an annual chain conference aimed at developing Islamic thought.

Over the years, several religious clerics stressed the necessity of finding solutions to get rid of all extremist ideas and misconceptions surrounding religion, demanding a specific map for major issues to be discussed, and representing all different sectors of society.

Division continues between intellectuals and religious scholars over finding a certain process regarding the application of the renewal of religious discourse.

It seems that Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, intellectuals, and other religious institutions, have failed to reach a consensus regarding the renewal after long debates that continued six years until now, which draws an unclear path for this matter’s future.

Since 2014, several conferences, seminars, and meetings in Egypt and abroad, and media interviews have been held about the necessity of this renewal, but every time it either ends with official recommendation or more debates rising controversy in the public.

On the sidelines of these activities, the state has ordered building new mosques, restoration of dilapidated ones, and unifying Friday sermons to control any extreme messages.

In one of the recent verbal debates on the issues, Al-Tayeb and Al-Khosht asked whether the renewal should be built on principles inherited from predecessors or start from the ground up to face modern challenges, during an international conference on religious renewal.

Last week, Al-Azhar organised a conference in Cairo to discuss urgent issues on the religious stage and religious renewal. Delegates and scholars from 46 countries were invited to the Al-Azhar International Conference on Renovation of Islamic Thought.

Al-Khosht called for not considering Islamic heritage while drafting the new discourse, and forming a new kind of religious thought, explaining that it is impossible to renew current religious discourse since antiquated concepts of Islam only suits traditional lifestyles.

Religious heritage should be renewed in consideration for the modern world, Al-Khost said, adding that this does not mean “restoration of an old building with new concepts,” but the establishment of a new building with modern concepts to reach a new religious era. 

His viewpoint was not welcomed by Al-Tayeb, who immediately denounced it.


Tayeb said the new discourse should align with Islamic heritage, saying that, “The heritage, which some people take lightly today, built a nation, taught people co-existence, allowed Muslims to reach Andalusia and China,” adding that “the current sedition is political, not heritage.” He also criticised those who blame Islamic heritage for making Muslims weak.

Public opinion varied regarding both stances, as some people praised Al-Tayeb for his view, which they believe reflects the stance of all inside Al-Azhar and in other religious institutions.

This is not the first time for a public debate of top institutions to be unable to agree on a unified vision for reform. In 2018, Minister of Religious Endowment Mokhtar Gomaa, and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb, previously had their own division on the renewal, as Al-Tayeb demanded consideration of all the sayings of the prophet in the renewal, while Gomaa said that some of the eras cannot be followed in the current stage due to world developments and changes and urged that renewal of religious discourse should consider the requirements of modern times. 

Former Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour criticised Al-Tayeb, saying “it is clear that Al-Tayeb does not want to renew religious discourse, and does not hesitate in fooling everyone who calls for it. We can understand from his statements and actions that Al-Azhar revises old religious discourses and only amends it by adding some parts and removing others. This confirms that there is no overall direction to renew religious discourse and there is only a partial view.”

Al-Tayeb has not yet reached the stage of taking bold decisions, due to its affiliation with the “Ash’ari school of thought. He did not take any radical position like his predecessor Imam Muhammad Abdo. The task of renewing religious discourse is the task of Al-Azhar, but that, in itself, is a fatal mistake,” Asfour said in press statements. 

Asfor also said that the “renewel of Islamic thought is the issue of the future of a nation, and we have to follow the path of Imam Muhammad Abdo. This renewal is important for all Muslims.”

He denounced making Al-Azhar the only entity tasked with renewing religious discourse. Al-Azhar, he said, “is no religious priesthood in Islam, Al-Tayeb is not a mediator between people and God

The intellectual relies on his mind and makes it a priority for understanding religion. This is not a deviation from religion and there are some Islamic schools that do this, such as Mu’tazila and Rashdaya,” Asfour concluded. 

Meanwhile, Islamic Research Academy Secretary General Ayyad said that Al-Azhar provides a speech that matches the requirements of the times and adheres to the principles of Sharia.

Ayyad commented on calls that rejected the renewal in general, mentioning that there are some who say that renewal is departure from the principles of religion and heritage, and there are others who see that renewal as a means to return to the age of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and followers. Both are wrong, he said, explaining that scholars have already exerted effort in this matter, and this is what happened by Imam Al-Shafi’i. When he moved from Iraq to Egypt, he renewed his doctrine, and set a new one that fit Egypt. 

Commenting on Al-Khosht, he said that the term renewal of religious discourse spreads among people, and every person goes to the intellectual version they adopted. Al-Azhar adopts the renewal of religious discourse from the texts of religion and the nature of Sharia alongside the state’s orientation to this matter.

The renewal of religious discourse means offering the discourse according to the requirements of the era and its conditions, provided that it combines the requirements of Sharia with its constants and fits with reality, he said, stressing that Al-Azhar does not involves itself in polemics.

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NCW calls to suspend Tamim Younis`s clip, which causes division among activists Sat, 11 Jan 2020 08:18:55 +0000 During the clip, Younis narrates the story of his admiration for a girl, then proposes to her, before being turned down.

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Throughout history, art has always been the centre of debate between advocates of Mimesis and Anti-mimesis, where pro-mimesis believe that arts are an imitation of life, as Plato and Aristotle spoke of mimesis as the re-presentation of nature. While, anti-mimesis such as Oscar Wilde, believe that”Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” We see this again days after the recent release of a song called Salmonella on Youtube, which has been causing great controversy on social media. Some say that the video presents a problem in a lite and funny way, while others think that this song spreads and encourages sexual harassment.
Salmonella is written and performed by Tamim Younis, an Egyptian Comedian and artist, who is best known for his work as an advertising director, before entering the field of comedy, the most remarkable of his comedy programmes is “Abla Fahita.” Younis’ controversial song also features Mahmoud EL Asiily, the Egyptian singer.
During the clip, Younis tells the story of his admiration of the girl. So much so that he decides to propose. However, when he proposes, she turns him down. After the rejection, the hero’s behaviour changes from intense romance to intense violence, making fun of the girl, saying a series of sarcastic insults, as well as disrespecting her to other people, in addition to repeating the phrase of “This will happen when you say No,” adding that if she were to say yes, her life would be better.
On Monday, the National Council for Women (NCW) announced that it presented a complaint to Google’s management team, calling for suspending the broadcast of the clip. The NCW stated on a press statement that the song carries a message that insults women and diminishes their rights, in addition to that the song encourages bullying.
“The song is also a blatant incitement to women’s abuse. It also contains expressions that don’t keep pace with public morals, in addition to that, it encourages the crime of insulting and slandering through electronic communication sites per the Penal Code,” the NCW explained.
The NCW said that the policies for publishing on websites have some rules, the most important of which is “prohibiting the publication of content that promotes hatred, supports, and justifies the hateful practices against other members of society.
In response, Younis appeared in a Facebook video denying all the accusations of encouraging violence against women. He defended the clip by saying that the song is making fun and criticising the type of men who, after rejection, turn from romantic to violent towards the girl, assuring that he was just joking and that he loves joking.
After calls from the NCW for suspending the clip, and the response of Tamim, the feminist community and its critics divided into two groups, in which some agree with the call of the NCW to suspend this clip while others see that Tamim highlighted a problem but in a funny, sarcastic way.
Commenting on the clip, Founder of Scream, an anti-Harassment initiative, and Chair of the Conservative Party’s Women’s Committee, Dalia Fakry told DNE that the song lyrics are crude and disgusting, and that is also fed into the idea that due to a woman’s refusal, a man is allowed to respond by insulting the woman, and encourages violence.
She continued that despite the song’s lyrics, Tamim’s insistence on gaining the girl’s love and then his immediate tarnishing of her reputation after she refuses is making fun of the overall situation nor does it give any clear commentary on the issue. It just mimics what men do in reality without giving any repercussions on the matter.
“Even if he was just making fun of this type of man, unfortunately, our society does not understand this kind of hidden meaning, as our youth do not have enough awareness. So instead, what they’ll take from this song is a man’s inability to accept rejection and to handle that. Everyone will now change the way they will deal with rejection depending on their understanding,” she said.
Unlikely, she mentioned that sometimes women in Egypt encounter violent incidents, such as threats and intimidation due to refusing a marriage proposal, but society would usually classify this as a rude incident. However, now she is worried that this art encourages this violent behaviour and that Egypt will witness more of these sorts of incidences.
Agreeing with Fekry, Nihad Abu Al-Qumsan, lawyer and head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, criticised Tamim’s song on her Facebook account, explaining that it was racist against women and a derogation from women`s rights and a way to bully them.
On the other hand, Gawaher Eltaher, Lawyer and Director of the Access to Justice Programme at the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance, told DNE that the song carries no message of sexual harassment. On the contrary, it discusses and highlights the problem that a lot of girls face when rejecting marriage proposals.
“I think the song’s release came at a bad time since, on the same day, a video was released showing a girl being subjected to terrible sexual harassment in El-Mansoura. So many people liked the accident to the song,” according to ElTaher

Commenting on the NCW`s calls for suspending broadcasting the song, Eltaher thought that the action is considered a violation of our freedom to opinion, believing that stopping the broadcast is not the solution and that the NCW should call for an open discussion with the writer.
“I think there are more important issues than the song, that the NCW should take action over,” she commented.
Agreeing with ElTaher, a Doctor in Faculty of Mass Communication who prefer to remain anonymous, told DNE that whoever studied directing knows well that the director convey a clear message through shooting and directing techniques, explaining that the clip`s team want to discuss the problem of how some men deal with the rejection but in a funny way.

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Egypt prepares draft law to oblige men to insure their ex-wives Fri, 27 Sep 2019 10:00:32 +0000 “Divorced woman to be paid insurance benefits immediately after divorce,” says deputy chairperson of FRA

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While divorce rates in Egypt are on rise, more women are struggling for their rights after separation from their husbands. It has been a matter of dispute between divorced couples in family courts for long years in Egypt. Despite the existence of clear laws on this issue, some men refuse to pay alimony to their ex-wives. Therefore, the government has introduced a special insurance for divorced women and their children. 

Last week, the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) finalised the general insurance draft law. The new law proposes to make it compulsory for Egyptians to insure against the risk of divorce.

Deputy chairperson of the FRA, Khaled Al-Nashar, said the draft law suggests a new article obligating husbands to pay insurance premium defined by the insurance company – the cost of insurance policy a husband is purchasing – based on the married couple’s information and income. The insurance premium shall be paid on an annual basis, semi-annual, or monthly.

Al-Nashar explained that this insurance policy will preserve the rights of divorced women, referring to some cases where women get divorce after 30 years or more of marriage, and then they find no place to live in or stable income for themselves or their children.

In addition to the insurance premium, a fixed fee shall be paid by men for the insurance policy before signing the marriage contract, he continued.

Al-Nashar said in a press statement last week that the FRA is preparing an actuarial study to determine the fees of the insurance policy against divorce. The authority has addressed the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the Ministry of Social Solidarity, and other concerned bodies to provide marriage and divorce annual statistics to define the insurance policy fees.

Reda Abdel Moaty, vice chairperson of the FRA, said the insurance policy against divorce will be in favour of divorced women as it will ensure their rights and save them the hustle of going to courts to get alimony.

Ex-wives shall receive insurance benefits immediately after getting divorce, all at once or in instalments, without waiting for court verdicts. This not bias to women, but for the sake of society,” Abdel Moaty added.

However, he explained, the insurance benefits will not replace alimony or other obligations.

The suggested insurance policy against divorce comes within other 21 types of compulsory insurance in the general insurance draft law, which is set to be sent to the cabinet for reviewal, and if approved it will be sent to parliament for discussion.

Some parliament members welcomed the draft law, while others rejected it. The opponents believe it is difficult to apply such insurance policy due to the big differences between social classes, religious rules, and income levels.

Meanwhile, the draft law sparked controversy on social media. Manu wonder if it can guarantee divorced women’s rights, and others expressed their concern that it may increase the expenses of marriage, which will affect marriage rates in Egypt.

Parliament member Fay’aa Fahim said that creating an insurance policy against divorce will protect women and their children after separation, but the matter still need further study before application to avoid adding to the burden on young people already bearing high expenses of marriage.

On the other hand, sociologists attributed high divorce rates in Egypt to the lack of awareness among young people about marriage. This issue prompted President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to assign the Ministry of Social Solidarity last year to create programmes and studies on the phenomenon, and provide awareness sessions for young people willing to marry.

Nermin Abu Salem, founder of “Breadwinning Mothers” Facebook group including nearly 70,000 divorced and widowed women, welcomed the suggested insurance policy. She said, “the Islamic Sharia law oblige men to spend on their families, but this policy will protect the rights of women who are often responsible for raising their children after divorce without a stable source of income or housing. Women are usually the most affected after divorce.”

Another parliament member Amna Nosseir also supported the suggested insurance policy against divorce, considering it as a positive step to put an end to the “social tragedy” women experience after divorce.

Sociologist Asmaa Mourad told Al-Arabiya TV channel that there is a need to study this draft law carefully before issuing it, because it addresses various social segments and impacts young people who are already struggling to cover high marriage expenses.

She added that the draft law has possible positive and negative sides; it will add to the burden on husbands, increase marital age, and raise expenses of marriage, while the positive side is ensuring suitable source of income for divorced women and their children.

Moreover, Ibrahim Ali Salim, chief of Marriage Officiants Syndicate, said the marriage contract between husband and wife entails rights and duties of both, stressing that the financial rights are the most important aspect of the contract.

Salim added there are approximately 1.2m marriages and divorces annually in Egypt, and these contracts’ fees go to a family insurance fund, to be paid for divorced women.

Earlier in September, the CAPMAS announced that marriage and divorce statistics declined by 25.4% and 27%, respectively in June 2019, compared to June 2018.

The number of marriage contracts in June 2019 reached 63,200, compared to 84,700 contracts in June 2018, a decrease of 25.4% according to the CAPMAS. Meanwhile the number of divorces in June 2019 reached 10,000 cases, compared to 13,700 cases for the same month of the previous year, a decrease of 27%.

The number of marriage contracts in 2018 amounted to 887,315 contracts, compared to 912,606 contracts in 2017, a decline of 2.8%. The number of divorce certificates reached 211,554 certificates in 2018, compared to 198,269 certificates in 2017, an increase of 6.7%, according to the CAPMAS.

Moreover, Reda El-Danbouki, the Executive Director of Women’s Center for Legal Guidance and Awareness, said in a press statement, “The idea of ​​a compulsory insurance policy against divorce is good in principle, given the large number of divorced women who are unable to afford their living expenses and their children’s expenses simultaneously.”

However, he added, the idea needs some amendments. He wondered who will get the insurance benefits in case the couple stayed married forever, noting that public employees are already paying insurance during their work time, so the compulsory insurance against divorce will just add to their burdens.

Other experts believe that make this insurance policy optional is the best solution to avoid legal obstacles and reduce the financial burdens on young people who are going to marry, he added.

El-Danbouki said a marriage contract can have a new clause, to be called special conditions, where it is possible to put some guarantees for the rights of wife after divorce. For example, they may divide their wealth between them in case of divorce. He pointed out that some women get all the furniture of the marriage apartment which in some cases cost up to EGP 500,000.

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Can homeschooling replace formal education in Egypt? Sun, 30 Jun 2019 11:44:21 +0000 Collection of testimonies and experiences of parents as well as educators on homeschooling

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Alternatives to formal education are on the rise, homeschooling became one of the alternatives available to parents, allowing them a chance to offer a richer, more personalised educational experience than any of traditional school curriculum can.

Nouha Hafez, one of the parents –currently working in an academy offering homeschooling option– who decided tread on that path. She believes that homeschooling her son Ali, allowed him to be less stressed, and unleash his talents.

Another parent, Nesma share a similar view, Nesma felt the long hours her children spent at school with a poor curriculum and a lack of activities were of no benefit to them, and that now her daughter became more eager to study.

However, Egypt doesn’t recognise homeschooling, and the children has to be enrolled in a school, the only option available for them to be homeschooled, is to be enrolled in a school that allow them to enroll without attendance, they only need to go take the exams in such school.
According to Kamel Mogheith, an educational expert, modern technology made homeschooling more efficient, as social media allowed better communication between homeschooled students and their tutors.

Furthermore, Moustafa Farouk who currently is the head of an academy that offer homeschooling option to the parent, said that the idea started when he faced problems with the schools where her kids are enrolled at. So he decided to look for alternative options, and review the experience from different countries.

Another parent, says that his daughter personalty has changed, as she became more interested in learning, not out of fear of punishment, but instead she became eager to learn.

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Sudanese protesters continue to press for “revolutionary” demands Tue, 16 Apr 2019 10:00:27 +0000 Protest leaders called their supporters on Monday to mobilise outside army headquarters, claiming attempt to disperse their sit-in, however military council denies

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The pace of events and developments is accelerating in Sudan after the ouster of president Omar Al-Bashir, as the Transitional Military Council is racing through several decisions to establish what it calls a “state of freedom and justice” in the country. Meanwhile, protesters are pressing military rulers to hand over power to a civilian government soon.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which headed the four-month protest, called on people to respond by joining the sit-in to “protect revolution,” and urged the council “to immediately transfer power to a civilian government,” according to a statement published on its social media pages. The mass protest outside the defence ministry entered its 10th consecutive day on Monday.

Sudanese protest leaders called on their supporters to mobilise outside the army headquarters, saying there was an attempt to “disperse the sit-in,” where thousands have camped.

The SPA did not say who was attempting to disperse the crowd, but witnesses said several army vehicles had surrounded the area.

“There is an attempt to disperse the sit-in in front of the army headquarters, they are trying to remove the barricades,” the SPA said in a statement to AFP.

“We call on our people to come immediately to the sit-in area to protect our revolution.” Witnesses said troops were seen removing the barricades that demonstrators had put up as a security measure.

Thousands remained camped outside the complex overnight after protest leaders issued demands to the Transitional Military Council established after the veteran president was overthrown. The United States, Britain, and Norway urged the Transitional Military Council and other parties to hold talks over the country’s transition toward civilian rule.

The African Peace and Security Council granted on Monday the transitional council in Sudan 15 days to hand over power to a civilian government.

This came during a press conference of the African council, following a meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, to discuss developments in the situation in Sudan.

The council said it rejected what it called the “takeover by the Transitional Military Council of power in Sudan.”

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Transitional Military Council on Monday said it was restructuring the council and appointed Colonel General Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed Babakr as army chief of staff.

During a press conference on Sunday, spokesperson Major General Shams El Din Kabbashi Shinto said the Transitional Military Council was “ready to implement” whatever civilian government the opposition parties agreed upon.

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council has removed defence minister Awad ibn Auf from his role and appointed a new intelligence chief, an army spokesperson said on Sunday.

Lieutenant General Abu Bakr Mustafa will replace Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah Gosh, as head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Shinto said.

Colonel General Mohamed Othman Al-Hussein was appointed as deputy chief of staff, the Transitional Military Council said in a statement.

On Sunday, the council met with political parties and urged them to agree on an “independent figure” to be prime minister, an AFP news agency correspondent at the meeting said.

“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice, and democracy,” a council member, Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Ata, told members of several political parties.

“We won’t appoint a prime minister. They will choose one,” he said, referring to opposition and protest groups.

Shinto also said the army would not disperse the protesters, but called on the protesters “to let normal life resume,” and remove unauthorised roadblocks.

A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered a list of demands during talks with the council late on Saturday, according to a statement by the coalition of Freedom and Change.

At first they were pushing the army to back their calls to oust Bashir. Since his departure, they have called on the country’s new ruling military council to meet the demands of their ‘revolution.’

The delegation said the demands will “enhance confidence between the parties” during the transition period.  Proposed demands include “the immediate handover of power to a civilian transitional government, addressing past grievances and abuses through transitional justice mechanisms, and dissolving the National Conference Party and handing over its property to the state.”

They also included “eliminating the control of the National Congress over the security services, dismantling the security apparatus and the parallel forces of the army and the militias of the National Congress, reforming the economic institutions of the state and liberating them from the state’s deep control, and abolishing all laws restricting freedoms.”

They also demanded the re-instatement of the country’s 2005 Constitution, which the military council suspended shortly after ousting Bashir, and the liberation of all civilians detained in relation to the protest movement, as well as army and police personnel in detention for refusing to shoot at protesters.

On the other hand, the Sudanese foreign ministry called upon the international community to support the new Transitional Military Council to contribute toward a “democratic transformation, building a state of institutions, and achieving a balanced and fair development.”

The departure of Ibn Auf, a close aide of Al-Bashir, set off a wave of celebrations in the capital, Khartoum, including among the thousands who had defied a military-imposed curfew to keep converging outside a huge complex housing the army headquarters and the president’s residence.

What happened since the overthrow of Al-Bashir

The military council has issued several decisions including cancelling the Emergency Law and the curfew, laws restricting freedoms, including a review of controversial Public Order Law, restructuring the anti-corruption commission according to new standards, the dissolution of a number of institutions, including the presidency of the republic, parliament and the council of states, and the freezing of bank accounts.

The discharge of the minister of defence and the first president of the Transitional Military Council Ibn Auf, from his post and referring him to retirement, the discharge of the Chief of Staff Kamal Abdel-Marouf from military service and referring him to retirement, and accepting the resignation of the Director of the NISS, Salah Gosh, and referring him to retirement, as well as the discharge of Sudanese ambassadors in Washington and Geneva from their posts, and restructuring the security and intelligence apparatus.

Al-Bashir and his supporters

Sudan’s Transitional Military Council has arrested members of the former government and promised not to disperse protesters.

The whereabouts of Sudan’s former leader are currently unknown, but the coup leaders said he was in a secure place. However, the military council said it will not extradite him, although he could well be put on trial in Sudan, as Bashir has been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

Bashir’s National Congress Party called his overthrow unconstitutional on Saturday, and demanded that the military council release the party’s imprisoned members.

President Bashir has long been a member of Sudan’s military establishment, which has dominated the country in the last six decades since its independence in 1956.

He came to power after he joined forces with Islamists in a 1989 military coup which toppled a freely-elected but largely ineffective government.

Economic conditions in Sudan have been deteriorating in recent months, particularly after the currency devaluation which took place earlier, causing prices to surge.

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Anticipated NGOs law likely to introduce more freedoms to civil society workers Tue, 09 Apr 2019 10:00:15 +0000 New draft law was prepared after dropping amendment to current law, says Ghada Wally

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After two years of endless controversy and long debates between the government and civil society over the current Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) Law, Egypt has officially decided to replace it with a new law upon the calls and demands of NGOs stakeholders.

During the World Youth Forum six months ago, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has approved amendments to the existing law under the supervision of the Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wally.

Two days ago, Wally said a new draft law was prepared after the ministry had decided to replace the current law rather than amend it.

The decision came to strengthen the civil work in respect for its positive role in social development, which raises the question of whether the new law would end the state of controversy that has continued for 17 years since the issuance of the first NGOs Law for 2002 and until the current one was issued in 2017.

The cancelled controversial law was drafted by the head of the parliament’s social solidarity committee, Abdel Hady Al-Kasby, and was ratified by President Al-Sisi in May 2017, to replace Law no 84 for 2002, six months after the parliament’s approval.

The law, consisting of 89 articles, was approved, while another draft was sent from the cabinet to the parliament in September, but was not discussed.

The law was criticised for imposing restrictions on the work of NGOs, whether human rights organisations or those working in the development field. Civil activists said the law imposed harsh punishments on violators, up to five years in jail and EGP 1m in fines.

The new draft law has not yet been released, but some of its features have been reported to the media. The parliament will hold discussion sessions over the law and then it will be referred to the president for ratification.

Wally said in a press statement that the new law will take all international standards into consideration, confirming that the final draft came to answer most of the concerns and objections of the workers of civil society. It would be consistent with the Constitution and international conventions signed by Egypt, she added.

The law aims to encourage civil work and encourage Egyptians to volunteer and contribute to the civil developmental efforts, Wally said.

Several community dialogue sessions headed by the assigned parliamentary committee were held during the past few weeks with NGOs representatives, public and legal figures, and youth over the amendment of the existing law, which focused on reconsidering the disputed articles to come up with a set of recommendations satisfactory to all concerned bodies.

The sessions urged benefiting from international experiences in such laws governing the civil work. The cabinet initially approved the new draft law during its 3 April meeting, Wally said.

Expected provisions in the new law

The new law seeks to unify the bodies entrusted with overseeing civil society institutions in one administrative entity, and to establish a database in which all civil society institutions, activities, programmes, and sources of funding shall be registered.

The planned administrative authority would allow normal citizens or public figures in Egypt to launch or implement an initiative or a campaign from the ones authorised for NGOs.

The new law would also permit foreigners who have permanent or temporary residence in Egypt to join NGOs boards, on the condition that they do not exceed 25% of the board members.

The law also would allow local NGOs to open branches outside Egypt and to receive funds from individuals, institutions, or foreign NGOs authorised to work in Egypt.

The competent minister may authorise any of the foreign communities in Egypt to establish an association concerned with the affairs of its members.

Moreover, the new law would also organise the licensing of NGOs in order to allocate places to accommodate children, the elderly, ill people, others in need of social care, and persons with disabilities.

The new law will grant the right to NGOs to receive cash from inside Egypt from normal or public figures of Egypt or from foreign NGOs authorised to operate inside Egypt.

It would allow anyone to collect cash or in-kind donations other than civil society organisations after obtaining permission from the planned administrative authority.

All NGOs must disclose its funding sources and their purposes.

Disputed articles in current law

Article 8: It is related to the establishment of NGOs and stipulates that an official document on the NGO’s work be submitted, specifying its location. A fee of EGP 10,000 should be paid to launch the NGO, and be presented along with its founders’ criminal records and financial disclosures. Executive regulations may require that more documents are to be submitted.

Article 9: It states that NGOs will only be established after its founder has received approval, and it should not be approved in the event of submitting any inaccurate papers or failing to submit any of the required documents.

Article 19: If any NGO wants to partner with another organisation, whether local or international, in any civil work that aligns with its purpose, it should first receive a licence from the authorities permitting such work. The administrative authority will be responsible for settling the conditions for both NGOs to cooperate.

Article 21: It stipulates that any NGO can relocate its headquarters and open a new office in any governorate, but only following ministerial approval. The NGO must submit documentation which discloses the new headquarters, including any new activities that will be carried out by the NGO in this place.

Article 24: NGOs should notify the state of any financial grant, and if no response was received within 60 days, it means that the grant has been rejected.

The law includes harsh penalties for NGOs that violate the law, ranging from 1-5 years in prison and EGP 50,000-1m in fines.

NGOs and MPs reflect over new draft law

Deputy of the social solidarity committee in parliament, Mohamed Abu Hamed, said that abolishing the existing law came with a presidential mandate, adding that the president has set a course for reaching the proposed amendments by entrusting the government with dialogue with NGOs.

“The House of Representatives will respond positively to the amendments of the NGO Law approved by the government, because the previous witnessed huge rejections,” he said.

He pointed out that the parliament wants to reach a law that satisfies all civil society organisations, and is expected to be presented to the House of Representatives during the coming period for discussion.

He continued: “The procedures of funding NGOs were seen during the drafting of the previous law as a national security concern. The parliament will study the new draft law also in consideration of national security.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the elimination of the 2017 law was a good first step.

“Repealing Egypt’s draconian 2017 NGO law, which could have ended any meaningful existence for nongovernmental groups in the country, and replacing it with a law that eliminates all prison penalties for nongovernmental groups and their staff would be a positive move,” said Sarah Lee Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director.

“The government should quickly publicise this draft so that civil society, which will be most affected by the law, has an opportunity to review and comment on its contents,” she added.

Around 47,000 local associations and 100 foreign employees in Egypt are required to work under the new law, which is dedicated to regulating the work of civil society organisations. In August 2017, the US decided to reduce $290m of its military aid to Egypt, saying that its decision was due to Egypt’s low human rights record, highlighting flaws of the current NGOs Law. Last July, the aid was reinstituted.

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Journalists express trepidation over press’ future following penalties list Tue, 26 Mar 2019 08:00:56 +0000 SMC blocks privately-owned Al-Mashhad newspaper for 6 months, fines it EGP 50,000 in first enforced penalty code

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While journalists and media personnel are wishing to amend the recently-approved media and press laws, as they believe their implementation hinders their work, a new penalty list came onto the scene to make matters worse for the profession.

The Supreme Media Council (SMC), headed by Makram Ahmed

The Supreme Media Council (SMC), headed by Makram Ahmed, issued last week a nine-page penalty list including 29 articles, approved by parliament, specifying a penalty for every violation to regulate all forms of media as well as social media accounts for people with more than 5,000 followers. It also applies to press institutions, national newspapers, private media institutions, public media institutions, private media outlets, public media outlets, websites, and newspapers.

The list stirred great controversy among press and media communities, with several parties expressing rejection toward some of its articles and called for a unified position by the press community to appeal it.

The list covers all media violations starting from rumours, disrespecting other’s opinions, defamations, disgracing someone’s honour, libel and slander, inciting violence or hatred, invasion of privacy, or violating the code of children, women and people with special needs, and was recently approved by the council.

Penalties range from warnings to media publications and fines and penalties of EGP 250,000 without a court order. Other sanctions include banning and blocking websites and social media accounts with over 5,000 followers if they are deemed a threat to national security. Media outlets that continue to publish “offensive material” will be fined up to EGP 5m.

First, commenting on whether the council has a right to release a penalty list or not, media professor Yasser Abdel Aziz agreed that the council has to issue a penalty list to control inappropriate media practices, as it is an independent national authority responsible and its main task is to control the performance of the Egyptian media, protect the public interest from harmful practices, maintain the right of the public to receive quality information, and meet established standards.

Yaser Abdel Aziz

However, the list also included some vague phrases which are open to several interpretations and open up a territory for divisions, Abdel Aziz said, citing examples of such phrases including “harming the feelings of the public,” or “undermining the cohesion of the Egyptian people.” He also added that these phrases violate a journalist’s right of freedom of expression and to criticise, suggesting that the council should remove them from the new list, reviews and re-issues it again but without the disputed articles, which may undermine freedom of expression and the viability of the profession.

Abdel Aziz further explained that the list was met with substantial rejection due to the inclusion of clauses contrary to constitutional articles, professional rules, and threats of further restrictions on media practices and right to freedom of opinion and expression.

The media expert said that council can punish any journalist for ‘unaccepted’ content on social media, in accordance to the list, and this was contrary to constitutional Article 211 which determines the responsibilities of the SMC as to “organise the audio, visual, print, and digital media,” and did not mention that the council could have the right to control personal accounts on social media platforms.

“The SMC grants itself the right to impose sanctions on the media in violation of the code of professional honour, which is not part of its duties,” he said.

Moreover, the list also violates Article 77 of the Constitution by giving itself the right to punish journalists and media personnel, while the article stipulates that syndicates are the only entities with the right to punish them if they commit any professional violation, he said, adding that the council also gives itself the right to impose the penalty of ‘blocking’ any media or press outlet’s website, which is an act prohibited by Article 71 of the Constitution.

For the past two years, around 450 websites have been blocked in Egypt, where journalists aspire the Media Council would find a possible solution for this issue.

Abdel Aziz concluded that the list in general “includes a number of violations of a legal and professional nature, which violate the scope of freedom of opinion and expression, and make the practice of media work risky, and warns of serious consequences”.

Only few days after its release, the Media Council took several actions toward several newspapers, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as the BBC.

In its first implementation of the penalty code, the Media Council ordered the blocking of the privately-owned newspaper, Al-Mashhad, for six months and fined it EGP 50,000 to be paid within two weeks for publishing inappropriate content.

Moreover, the complaints committee of the SMC, headed by Gamal Shawky, recommended taking legal action against the BBC and fining it EGP 250,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency, for reportedly insulting Egyptian people.

Emad El-Din Hussien

One day following the recommendation, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) sent a letter to the BBC accusing it of “promoting the lies of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group” in an “inflammatory article” published on the BBC’s Arabic-language website. The SIS also has summoned the head of the BBC’s Cairo office over the article, which is titled ‘#Rest_assured_you_are_not_alone campaign renews calls for protests against Sisi’.

The Editor-in-Chief of the privately-owned Shorouk newspaper, Emad El-Din Hussien, commented on the list saying that, “I fully understand that the state aims to fight the rumours and lies that permeate the media, especially on social media websites, but the problem is simply that the state, while implementing this, would seriously kill the profession.”

Hussien said that the penalties decided by the council are very huge, as the ranges would fine journalists in different cases from EGP 50,000, to 500,000 and in other cases could reach EGP 5,000,000, and it also granted itself the right to prevent broadcasting, publication or confiscating any material, as well as giving the head of the council the right to sign or cancel the penalty alone.

“Entire Egyptian newspapers, satellite channels and websites suffer from severe economic crises, and so in case any one of them is fined with EGP 250,000 or 500,000, this would lead to their closure,” he said.

In the same context, the National Council for Human Rights stressed that the list was drafted contrary to the provisions of the constitution and the law, and that the judiciary is the only entity permitted to issue sentences of conviction and punishment, noting that the provisions of this list included restrictions on the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression and professional work.

A member of the Press Syndicate board, Mohamed Saeed Abdel Hafez, previously said that some of syndicate’s board members agreed to submit a request to the syndicate’s council to refer the head of SMC for investigation due to violating the law and the constitution through blocking Al-Mashhad newspaper.

Members of the Press Syndicate board have been discussing the matter with lawyers, according to Abdel-Hafiz, and have filed an appeal with the State Council against the new list.

Diaa Rashwan

Plus, the newly-elected Head of the Press Syndicate, Diaa Rashwan, said that the syndicate is yet to provide its final opinion regarding the new sanctions list issued by the council, as the syndicate has the right to comment according to the constitution.

He also said in an official statement that the syndicate is scheduled to discuss all the articles in the list, and will review previous reports prepared in January by the syndicate’s council regarding the list, which was referred to the SMC, noting that the syndicate has the right to provide its opinion in accordance to Constitutional articles 70, 71, 72, 77, and article 76 of the Syndicates Law.

Moreover, the Media Syndicate submitted a number of comments to the council, but the council did not consider most of them, Seham Salah, deputy of the syndicate, said. 

Noteworthy, the syndicate submitted comments on five articles to the council, which are related to the accountability of media professionals, but they were deleted and replaced with Article 27, which infringes upon the right of the Media Syndicate to hold accountable excesses issued by media personnel.

“Article 27 violates the law of the Media Syndicate, which recognises the right to hold any media accountable in case of infringement,” Salah said, adding, “There are a number of articles that stipulate the suspension or cancellation of a licence for certain media personnel, as well as the suspension of programmes, which is totally unacceptable under any circumstances because it is contrary to the freedom of opinion and expression.”

Meanwhile, as criticism was ongoing, the Head of the SMC, Makram Ahmed, rejected the reactions of journalists and media personnel over the list, depicting them as “distortion attempts.”

The list was approved by the State Council and was discussed while taking the journalists’ comments and media personnel into consideration, he said, adding that the list did not add anything new as it came to complete the recently approved Media and Press Laws.

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Repercussions of Bouteflika’s decision to abstain from running for elections remain vague Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:00:27 +0000 New Algerian Prime Minister Bedoui reportedly began talks to form new government

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While the Algerian newly-appointed Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui has started talks to form a new government, which appears to be the latest move to appease protesters, experts cannot still expect certain repercussions for the decision of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s withdrawal to run for a fifth term.

Last week, the 82-year-old wheelchair-bound leader announced he will not run for a fifth term and will postpone the presidential elections, which were due to be held in April.

Noureddine Bedoui was appointed as prime minister last week after his predecessor Ahmed Ouyahia resigned in the wake of the mass protests. As Bedoui reportedly began working on the new government, prominent opposition leader Abderrazak Makri called on Bouteflika and the ruling elite to step down.

“The gang [the ruling authority] has refused to respond to the Algerian people until today and this moment. It has to listen to the voice of the street and implement what it wants,” said Makri, the head of the Islamist Movement for the Society of Peace, in an online statement last week.

Bedoui is a close ally of Bouteflika’s and has been tasked with bringing about political reforms until new presidential elections are held.  His government is also expected to organise a national conference, but no dates have been given for either the elections or the conference.

Views of foreign writers varied, as some of them believed that the decisions of Bouteflika turned a page from the history of modern Algeria, where the country will choose its successor, while some considered the step as ‘half a victory’ due to the street mobilisation.

Moreover, others questioned the move, saying it was to “gain time, and to give an opportunity in order to ensure the continuity of the ruling regime, but differently, through a respected figure who should know how to deal with the new balances.”

Writer Abdullah Raqdi at the London-based newspaper Raialyoum said that the engagement of the Algerian people was “a declaration of a new dawn for a society that decided to put an end to the path of decline and failure made by the current regime.”

Journalist Gihad El-Khazen said that, “Perhaps the demonstrations of hundreds of Algerians, and the scenes of millions of Algerians who filled the capital, among others, convinced the Algerian President not to continue in his position, or maybe the Algerian army realised that it should not stand against its citizens. It is important now that a page of Algeria’s modern history will unfold within weeks, and the country will choose a successor to Bouteflika.”

Prominent Yemeni journalist Sadek Nasher said Bouteflika’s decisions “have defused a deep crisis in the country, although they were unable to end it completely because many political parties continue to question its goal, but ultimately putting Algeria before political and social entitlements, and even a new constitution would completely change the face of the country in the coming decades.”

The writer warns that the widespread rejections of the step presented by the president “lends the next phase many concerns and fears, especially since Bouteflika’s supporters see the rejections as constitutional violations, and deliberate the extension of the current presidential mandate of Bouteflika,” which means that the crisis is still in place.

Earlier in February, President Bouteflika announced his intention to run for a fifth term in the upcoming elections scheduled in April.  His supporters believe that the leader is ‘mentally and intellectually’ capable of running the country.  However, since suffering from a stroke in 2013, he has rarely been seen in public and does not travel around the country or abroad–except for medical treatment.

Thousands of Algerians demonstrated in several cities across the country against the Algerian President Bouteflika’s declaration that he will run in the coming presidential election seeking a fifth presidential term.

The protesters were chanting against Bouteflika with slogans such as “No for fifth term,” and “No for Bouteflika,” as they waved the Algerian flag. They also clashed with the security forces who were intensively deployed in the capital’s main squares as well as major cities.

The protesters also chanted against Saeed Bouteflika, the younger brother of the Algerian President, who currently acts as his adviser, as well as Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, and they called for his dismissal.

Security forces responded with tear gas and cordoned off the May 1 Square in the capital Algiers, and prevented protesters from entering it. Algeria’s authorities have banned demonstrations in the capital city since 2001.

These protests were the largest in Algeria since 2001. Despite intensive security measures in Algiers, calls to protest against Bouteflika’s presidential candidacy succeeded to attract thousands of citizens after opposition political parties called for marches outside the capital. Security forces have been actively restricting the protesters’ movements, blocking their roads, and dispersing gatherings.

Kada Ben Amar, Algerian writer for the daily newspaper Echourouk, said that what was achieved after Bouteflika’s letter was “half a victory, which dropped the fifth oath which was not logical at all.” The president himself admitted that he did not want to run from the beginning, but at the same time, this came to contain the anger of the street and invest in Algeria’s peace in order to direct the country and the people toward a genuine change, as the archaic faces no longer have a place nor role in it.

Ben Amar stated, “The time has come for everyone to raise their voices of reason, including the street which began to resort to the elites, perhaps to find someone who deserves to speak and negotiate in their names in the next stage.”

“The language of reason in this matter is to accept the principle of dialogue on the foundations of the new Algerian political system, and decide on who will be in charge of steering the ship, as well as how to set a realistic calendar which will determine the way to prepare a constitution based on the new republic and then to adopt it,” he said, adding, “This is the plan of action for the next phase.”

This comes as some writers doubt Bouteflika’s recent decisions. Khairallah Khairallah from the London-based Al Arab newspaper says that it is clear that “the goal of the narrow circle surrounding Bouteflika is to gain time to plan.”

“It simply means that members of this narrow circle want Bouteflika to remain president, even if they are right, until the end of the year,” he said, adding, “In any case, the unknown title of Algeria’s current phase after the Bouteflika page, will remain.”

The writer refers to the need for “a new system in which the beginning is to recognise that Algeria is a third world country, and it needs a different system which rearranges priorities, including attention to what the average citizen wants and needs.”

In the same context, writer Al-Habib Al-Aswad says that President Bouteflika, in his decisions, “wanted a deadline to rearrange the papers again, giving them and those around them an opportunity to ensure continuity, but differently, through a respected figure who knows how to deal with balances.”

Writer Tawfiq Rabahi said the ruling regime in Algeria “cannot leave the political and electoral game open to the unknown.” He added that the participation of what he described as “false witnesses” in the upcoming presidential elections, “gives the regime a new legitimacy of another four years.”

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Egypt introduces ‘Mawadda’ initiative to fight high divorce rates Wed, 20 Feb 2019 07:00:32 +0000 Initiative expected to start with trial phase in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said until July

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As Egypt is ranked among the countries with the highest rates of divorce, the Egyptian government has introduced a family protection initiative entitled ‘Mawadda’ in order to raise awareness on tolerance among partners, and how partners can prepare for the marriage life.

The initiative draws questions on the possibility of its success, especially as the rates of divorce are reaching unprecedented records. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi have been long criticising the high rates of divorce in Egypt, and addressed the concerned entities to enact plans in order to counter this issue.

During the sixth round of the National Youth Conference, the president addressed the minister of social solidarity, Ghada Wali, to prepare a national project with the purpose of reducing the steady rise in divorce cases within the society.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly reviewed a report prepared by Wali on the initiative which aims to reduce the high rates of divorce. The initiative is expected to start as a trial in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said until July, where the highest rates of divorce are recorded, according to the report.

The trial phase will determine the future of the initiative, highlighting its challenges and strengths and other points to be considered in any other upcoming phases. After the success of the initiative, it will expand to additional governorates across the nation by next October, the report further noted.

In press statements, Wali said that the new initiative contributes toward reducing the divorce rates through discussing topics related to choosing one’s own life partner, the spouses’ rights and duties, in addition to the different marital issues and how to deal with them especially economic pressures, family management, and women’s health.

Furthermore, the initiative will support young people in entering the marital life, while equipping them with all the necessary expertise to form the family, and will also provide guidance in order to resolve any disputes, the minster noted. Wali added that it will also activate family dispute resolution bodies to reduce divorce cases, and will also review the legislation which supports the family entity and preserves the rights of both partners and children.

Noteworthy, Mawadda targets around 800,000 youth from the age of 18 to 35, who are university and higher institutes students. Conscripts of the ministries of defence and interior, and those who work in the public service can attend the initiative’s courses as well. The initiaThe activities will also include reviewing all the legal legislation related to marriage with the participation of Al-Azhar, Dar Al-Ifta, and the ministry of justice, without violating Islamic law.tive targets married couples who have cases that are registered at the settlement disputes offices, affiliated to the ministry of justice.

The trainers will include 700 universities and academies, and 500 trainers from the recruitment camps of the armed forces and the interior ministry, in addition to 5,000 maazouns (marriage officiant).

Mawadda will work as an obligatory training programme for couples who are to be married, requiring them to complete an average of 30 hours of attendance, with a final exam.

The activities will also include reviewing all the legal legislation related to marriage with the participation of Al-Azhar, Dar Al-Ifta, and the ministry of justice, without violating Islamic law.

Through the initiative, the state will be able to prepare a database of beneficiaries for this project linked through the number of national identities in order to determine the number of marriages and divorces, measure the rates annually, count the number of family cases disputes, and measure the interaction with the initiative itself.

The initiative will also work on social platforms through having accounts on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, in addition to airing a radio programme dubbed ‘We will complete our lives’, which will be broadcasted on all local radio stations, as well as prepare short awareness brochures, in addition to telecasting a programme every week starting from October on Al-Nas channel.

Wael Wafaa, a social consultant, stated that the initiative is important and must be adequately supported to ensure its success and sustainability on the long-term as the rise in the divorce rate comes due to several reasons, ranging from social, psychological, and economic ones, but the absence of the family role had a significant impact on the high divorce rates.

Speaking on the reasons behind divorce, he explained, “In the past, the father or the mother of each partner used to have a role in raising awareness on managing the family entity, through providing advice and guidance on how they can have a good and safe marriage life”. He denounced the personality of the majority of married couples, stating that marital relationship at the present is no longer based on integration, as each of them is only expecting more from the other, and they become very harsh if any situation needs their compromise.”

“In many cases, partners even reject to communicate with each other, increasing the severity of the problems between them, and this state of conflict is common among the majority of Egyptian families,” he said.

The consultant also believes that some couples who are to be married are not eligible to form a family, while depicting marriage as “a company with integrated and strong pillars,” urging that there must be a common dialogue between the spouses and thought between them in order to overcome any problems.

Meanwhile, Amira Hassanin, a behavioural psychologist, said that the initiatives which were launched in the field of reforming marital relations with the purpose of reducing divorce rates proved their failure, and they were just created for a media show, saying that there must be a national project in order to reduce the divorce rates which have significantly risen.

Hassanin said that the success of the initiative and its continuation will require it to become a national project to be managed by specialists in psychology, sociology, and clerics, as well as to introduce real stories.

Moreover, she also said there is a deficiency in education from both the family and school, as well as factors affecting economic conditions because of the high prices, pointing to the negative role of some media outlets and a large number of TV programmes. The reasons are also due to the rise of cultural differences and conflict between spouses. She also stated that some of the advice givers are not eligible for such advice, and sometimes portray divorce as a “progressive step” which women should take, portraying her as a heroine who should be freed from the husband’s control.

“There is a huge inadequacy in the education which is provided by the family and the school, as well as other factors affecting marriage such as economic conditions, and the negative role of some media outlet that spike disagreement between spouses, and some of the providers of advice to couples are not even eligible for such advice,” she commented on the reasons of divorce.

Meanwhile, the Islamic preacher, Khaled El-Gendi, commented in press statement that the success of the Mawadda initiative requires the expertise of Al-Azhar scholars, the leading experts, legal advisers, professors of psychology and sociology, and all those who are experienced in solving marital problems, as well as the elderly mothers and men to sum up their previous experiences.

He also said that that the economic conditions are not the reason for the high rate of divorce, these arguments are flimsy, as couples do not have to overstress themselves and can live with their current incomes, and help each other in bearing the costs of marriage.

Divorce rates in Egypt have been on the rise during the past years. In 2017, the Egyptian census, according to the deputy minister of health and population, confirmed that the total number of divorced people reached 710,850. Divorce cases occur mostly in the age group between 25 and 30 years old.

The causes of divorce are varied, including financial troubles, social incompatibility between spouses, lack of responsibility, drug addiction, and the interference of family and friends in married couples’ lives, all of which can lead to child exposure to violence, neglect, and school dropouts.

A total number of 240 cases of divorce occur daily in Egypt, making the country one of the highest in the world in terms of divorce rates, which rose to 40% over the past half century, at a rate of approximately one divorce every six minutes. The country, according to cabinet reports, has 2.5 million divorcees.

Divorces have become a disturbing phenomenon because they threaten social cohesion, especially in the presence of children, and the issue requires a community response to solve its causes.

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Fate of Personal Status Law remains pending until controversy between Parliament, NCW ends Tue, 12 Feb 2019 09:30:27 +0000 Al-Azhar, NCW drafted other bills, did not respond to Parliament’s draft law

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As controversy continues, the fate of the Personal Status Law remains yet undetermined, despite the presence of several suggestions and proposals for the law, which all were submitted to the Egyptian Parliament.

Egypt’s Parliament is currently working on a bill, submitted by MP Mohamed Fouad. Starting from January, the Parliament has been providing the concerned authorities including Al-Azhar, the Coptic Church, the National Council for Women (NCW), and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) a fixed period in order to provide their opinions and views, but none of the mentioned entities has sent any response yet, and rather submitted other bills.

On 10 January, Ahmed Helmy al-Sherif, the deputy of the constitutional and legislative affairs committee, issued the law to the concerned parties and fixed January as a deadline, yet the concerned entities submitted other bills, and did not respond to the Parliament’s sent one, according to Fouad.

He denounced the stance of the NCW and its absence from attending the community dialogue session, which was held to discuss the draft Personal Status Law. Fouad said that the NCW has announced, more than once,  their preparation of a draft law on personal status, and about holding frequent meetings and community dialogues on it. Moreover, he stated that the NCW declared that it was submitted to the cabinet, in addition to publishing prominent features of the draft law, but so far did not announce its articles.

He further commented that the NCW’s stance proves that there is not any draft law, and what they announced during the last period does not exist in reality, and only aims to hinder the discussions.

The member refereed that are already five bills submitted to the NCW until now, stating that all of these laws are being reviewed by the parliament. A bill was submitted by MP Abla Al-Hawari, while another one was submitted by MP Hala Abu Saad, and a third one by Gamal Shuwaikh, as well as three other amendments submitted by MP Samir Rashad Abo Taleb.

Hassan Sanad, a member of the legislative committee of the NCW, said that the bill which was submitted by the Parliament’s members was sent in February for an opinion, and the response is being prepared.

On the other hand,  Fouad said during a press statement that he rejects the NCW’s approaches in dealing with the MPs, and stressed that the NCW did not respond to the Parliament when it resorted to it as a consultant, and asserted that the Parliament will discuss the laws by the middle of this month, and will not include the NCW as they chose this path.

Meanwhile, the NCW prepared their own draft law for the Personal Status Law, which culminates to the other proposed bills. Several MPs are demanding information on the NCW’s drafted law, which was sent to the cabinet last June in order to take the appropriate legal action and send it to the concerned authorities.

As for the NCW, they stated that the preparation of this draft law comes in an attempt by the NCW to deal with the various problems which are present in the Personal Status Law.

On the other hand, the NCCM supported the proposal of the NCW’s new bill, which aims at addressing the several issues in the Personal Status Law, and it takes the best interests of the children into account.

Azza Ashmawy, the secretary general of the NCCM, said that we they cannot waive any of the gains which are granted to the Egyptian child, as stipulated by the Constitution and the law, or even the international conventions. She commented that Fouad’s proposed bill does not guarantee a fair protection for children.

Furthermore, she added that there are three million children in parental custody— either by father or mother— after their separation, which is a ratio of about 3%, in comparison to the number of children in Egypt, stressing that the NCCM will not allow the exposure of any child to violence, or ill-treatment as a result of family disagreements.

Al-Ashmawi commended the efforts of the Head of the NCW, Maya Morsi, on the issues of childhood and motherhood, stressing that the constant communication and cooperation between the two councils serves the interest of the Egyptian society.

Regarding his proposed bill, Fouad said that his draft law is attempting to eliminate the suffering of some mothers when fathers abduct the children and escape, through establishing a specialised family police which will be responsible for implementing courts’ rulings.

Moreover, the bill further stipulates harsh penalties for parents who kidnap their children, or who delay or extend the period of returning the child back to the other parent, after completing the agreed upon timeframe for hosting the child.

Noteworthy, the previous acts are not criminalised by the current Penal Code, since they were always viewed as individual cases.

He also added that his draft law guarantees the custodial mother the right to receive expenses for her children by determining a clear percentage of the father’s income, and by making sure that the father does not manipulate his income by submitting inaccurate documents to the court.

Fouad also pointed out that he aims, through his draft, to end the dispute between the father and mother on the expenses after divorce.

It is worth mentioning that in Egypt, several couples sometimes disagree and take their disputes to courts after divorce, when fathers reject paying for their children’s expenses, which result in enormous quantities of those types of cases in courts.

Accordingly, the law will guarantee the non-custodial mother the right to host the child one day a week, and grants her a week in the summer holidays, as well as to divide the holidays between both parents. The law will also allow the family members of the non-custodial side, whether grandmothers or aunts, to see the child during the hosting periods, which is not stipulated in the current law, which limits it to the non-custodian parent only.

Similarly, while the dispute between the NCW and the MPs is ongoing, Al-Azhar also worked on drafting a new law on personal status, and is currently preparing to send it to the House of Representatives. A number of MPs considered that Al-Azhar is exceeding its competence, and considered the move as a form of disregard to the MPs’ demand to provide the institution’s opinion on the proposed draft law.

Regarding the draft of Al-Azhar, the committee responsible for the preparation of the draft said that it completed the law, to include 110 articles.

The committee held around 30 meetings in order to reach a legal solution in accordance with the Sharia for the many arising marriage problems, as well as that of divorce and custody, which gives men and women the rights affirmed by Islam. The Parliament has the right to either reject it or agree to it, as stated by the members of the committee.

Noteworthy, Al-Azhar formed a committee in October 2017 in order to prepare an integrated draft law on personal status issues, including the Grand Mufti; the former Al-Azhar deputy, Abbas Shoman; the former Grand Mufti, Nasr Farid Wasil, and several members from the Senior Scholars’ Council, and the Islamic Research Academy.

MP Mohamed Abu Hamed objected the preparation of the Al-Azhar a draft law on personal status, stressing that Al-Azhar is body which gives opinion on religious matters, and that the Personal Status Law is mainly a civil one, and has few articles which are related to religion. Accordingly, the Constitution of Al-Azhar stipulates that it should only be limited to giving opinion.

Moreover, Abu Hamed pointed out that since April 2017, the Parliament has received six bills with bills relating to the Personal Status Law, which include a full bill submitted by Fouad and 59 other deputies, another full draft submitted by Abla Al-Hawari and 60 other deputies, and another one by Samir Rashad and 80 other deputies, as well as three bills submitted by some deputies’ amendments on a number of articles of the current Personal Status Law.

The member concluded that the Parliament’s legislative committee is not the one responsible for hindering the law, as it granted a long time for Al-Azhar and the NCW, nearly a year, stressing that the poll is not a mechanism of deterrence, especially if the concerned parties of the law are to express their opinion. The opinion, after all, is advisory and non-binding to the parliament.

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Egypt fights homelessness as part of community development initiatives Tue, 29 Jan 2019 08:00:31 +0000 Over last 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages rescued, says social solidarity minister

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Continuing its progress in the community development field since last year, the Egyptian government has launched a new social initiative as part of a series of social projects introduced to improve conditions of the most vulnerable individuals.

Following the cold wave that hit the country over the past two weeks, the ministry of social solidarity created an initiative to rescue homeless people. The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, initiated the “We are With You” campaign on 15 January, in coordination with the ministries of interior and health, to solve the problem of homelessness in Egypt.

The initiative assigned special convoys nationwide to return lost children to their families or offer them shelters. For those who do not want to be relocated, the convoys provide them food, medicine, and blankets instead. It further provides rehabilitation to help people resume their normal lives.

There are 17 convoys working in different areas and governorates across Egypt, each includes sociologists, psychologists, doctors, and specialists to handle homeless children. They return lost children to their families if they were reachable, otherwise they send them to child care centres. The same options are offered for the homeless seniors.

The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly

These convoys also include rapid intervention teams affiliated to the ministry of social solidarity and members of the Tahya Misr Fund’s Children Without Shelter initiative.

There are least 12 million homeless people in Egypt, including 3 million children, mainly in Cairo, Giza, Qaliubiya, Alexandria, Menoufiya, Sharqeya, Suez, Beni Suef, Minya, and Assiut, according to the ministry of social solidarity.

The ministry offered several contact channels though hotlines and social media so people can report any homeless person. The initiative marks a good start for this year, said Waly, noting that following the recent cold wave, intensive efforts have been exerted by the Children Without Shelter initiative and the ministry to rescue homeless persons.

Over the past 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages were rescued, however, the initiative was initially targeting only children.

The ministry said that 95 adults and 80 children were rescued on Saturday. Cairo had the lion’s share of these cases with a total of 68 homeless people, followed by Giza with 20 individuals, and Assiut with 19 individuals.

This campaign received a fund of EGP 50m from the ministry of social solidarity and extra EGP 114m from the Tahya Misr Fund. The Egyptian Food Bank also financed the initiative through providing free meals.

The CEO and Managing Director of the Egyptian Food Bank, Moez Al-Shahdi, said that this initiative to rescue homeless people is very positive.

“It is clear to everyone that there are people [in Egypt] who are struggling to find shelters or obtain life’s basic needs,” said Al-Shahdi.

The Deputy Head of the campaign, Ayman Abdel Aziz, said the campaign aims to provide the social and psychological rehabilitation of children and to reunite them with their families, if it is possible. He added that the campaign also focuses on helping the elderly through providing hot meals and blankets if they refuse to return to their families or move to the ministry’s care centres.

The government is currently building more shelters for street children and now plans to coordinate with different NGOs to build more shelters for the homeless.

Abdel Aziz noted that the initiative’s teams were carefully selected from 3,000 applicants, and received training, in collaboration with international organisations with long experience in this field, such as FACE for Children in Need, Save the Children fund, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Sayed Hamed, a coordinator in one of the rapid intervention teams, said that his team was not working randomly, but actually they were monitoring several areas to reach those in need, noting that they have a strategy for providing support and meals for homeless people.

He added that his team has started since 2016 to offer support for the homeless upon the directives of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Hamed pointed out that rapid intervention teams are spread all over the country.

Moreover, the campaign’s spokesperson, Hazem Al-Mallah, described the initiative as a “multipronged” mission that includes fixed and mobile units so that they can reach out to the homeless everywhere. It also develops shelters for the homeless, offers case management services-including a follow-up of homeless people after returning them to their families to ensure they do not return to street-and raises social awareness about the issue.

The Egyptian population living below the poverty line exceeded 30%, while the state is working on providing different social development projects. On Saturday, President Al-Sisi witnessed the launch of the ‘Nour Al-Hayah’ (Life’s Light) initiative, which aims to treat diseases that cause blindness or blurry vision. The initiative will be funded by the Tahya Misr Fund.

Earlier in January, Al-Sisi also started the Decent Life initiative to serve as an umbrella for civil society initiatives aimed at providing healthcare, social services, job opportunities, and developing infrastructure.

On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, announced that a new family-planning initiative will be launched as a part of the “100 Million Health” campaign to control overpopulation.

The new initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of having only two children, Zayed explained, adding that it will be divided into multiple stages covering all governorates according to the size of population issue in each area, considering the studies conducted in this regard.

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Public figures call to amend presidential term; Al-Sisi asserts respecting constitution Tue, 25 Dec 2018 12:00:38 +0000 Referendum must be carried out to amend constitutional article, says Fathy

The post Public figures call to amend presidential term; Al-Sisi asserts respecting constitution appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

“The president will not stay two days later after his term ends,” President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared. This has been stated directly to the public during different occasions to express that the president is committed to the duration of his presidential term, stipulated by the Egyptian constitution of 2014.

However, throughout 2017 and 2018, several people called for the amendment of the constitutional article related to determining the duration of the presidential term, in order to extend the president’s duration in office.

Egypt abides by the constitution, which was passed after a referendum in 2014, with 98% voting in its favour.

In one of the recent movements, Lawyer Ayman Abdel Hakim, along with five other lawyers, filed a lawsuit to the Cairo Court of Urgent Matters, in order to amend the existing constitutional article No140 which limits the presidents’ duration in office to two terms.

According to article No140 of the 2014 constitution, “The president of the republic is elected for a period of four calendar years, commencing on the day the term of his predecessor ends. The president may only be re-elected once.”

The lawsuit sought to allow Al-Sisi to run for a third term in office. If approved, the president can benefit from this move during the upcoming presidential elections expected in 2020.

About the lawsuit

The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters postponed on Sunday, the viewing of the lawsuit to 20 January. Following the session, dozens of citizens gathered while holding photos of Al-Sisi and chanted in favour of him.

The lawyer said in press statements that he filed the lawsuit so that the president can run for a third term as he believes that Al-Sisi made a lot of achievements, and he is the only one who should remain in office.

According to Abdel Hakim, about 310 citizens attended the court session to express their approval of the lawsuit.

Regarding the lawsuit, he explained that he prepared three memoranda which included the president’s achievements during his term.

“Egypt needs to give the president a chance to run for new terms to complete the path of achievements and the relations with other countries. We cannot start from scratch, in view of the relations that Al-Sisi built with all the presidents and kings of the world,” the lawyer said.

He also reviewed the achievements and projects which took place in Egypt during Al-Sisi’s ruling, starting from the new Suez Canal, the Suez Canal Development Project, the 1.5m feddan project, The projects of the General Authority for Roads, Bridges, and Land Transport, the national project for the development of Upper Egypt’s governorates, as well as the establishment of a new generation of urban cities, in addition to the national project for social housing.

He concluded that there are other additional national projects, including the national electricity project, the Jalala Plateau project, the Golden Triangle project, as well as others.

Can we amend the constitutional article?

Fathy Fekry, law professor at Cairo University and former member of the committee which worked on drafting the constitution of 2014, said that a referendum should be first conducted to be able to delete the note which bans this article’s amendment, and in order to add or delete any articles, which he believes would be “difficult to implement to a great extent.”

The professor highlighted that the constitution prohibits the amendment of the article related to the duration of the presidential term, among other articles.

Yet, Fekry also said that regardless of the entity seeking to amend the constitution, the people’s approval is the foundation and the only guarantee of validity.

Meanwhile, MP Ismail Nasr El-Din said that he has previously called to amend the duration of the presidential ruling to be from four to six years, while restricting the nomination to two terms, as stated in the constitution of 2014.

Accordingly, the article would change to become, “The term of the presidency is six years, beginning from the date of announcement of the election’s result.”

Article number 226 in the transitional provisions of the current 2014 constitution stipulates that the amendment of one or more articles could only be requested by the president of the republic or by one-fifth of the members of the House of Representatives. The request shall specify the articles requested to be amended and the reasons behind such amendments.

In all cases, the House of Representatives shall discuss the request within 30 days from the date of its receipt. The house shall issue its decision to accept the amendment in whole or in part, by a majority of its members.

If the request is rejected, the same articles may not be requested to be amended again before the next legislative term.

If the amendment appeal is approved by the house, it shall discuss the text of the articles to be amended, within 60 days from the date of approval. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the members, the amendment shall be subjected to a public referendum within 30 days from the date of approval. 

The amendment shall be effective starting the day the referendum’s result is announced, with the approval of a valid majority of the participants. 

Nevertheless, texts pertaining to the re-election of the president of Egypt or the principles of freedom or equality stipulated in this constitution may not be amended, unless the amendment brings more guarantees.

Moreover, Amr Hashim Rabie, deputy director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, and parliamentary expert, said that it is impossible to amend the constitution in terms of extending the president’s duration in office, adding, “Any violation of the constitution will open the doors of hell and will lose constitutional legitimacy.”

On the other hand, political analyst Amr Al-Shobaki said back in 2017, “There are no permanent constitutional texts. All constitutions can be amended. After these four years of implementation, it is possible to find materials that need to be amended.”

Not the first call to amend the presidential term

Several public figures pointed out during several occasions that the constitution requires some amendments in order to align itself with the country’s requirements during the current stage. 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel Aal previously reiterated during the parliament’s sessions and in other meetings, “The constitution does not satisfy the aspirations of the Egyptians,”

During the most recent talk of the speaker of the parliament, he stated that the constitution was a consensual one, and might not be useful as it was drafted under exceptional circumstances, and therefore could not be sustained on the long term.

The Head of the Parliament’s Media and Culture Committee, Osama Heikal, previously stated, “There are some articles which need to be reconsidered in the constitution,” calling for the amendment. His statements were supported by other deputies.

This is not the first time, as the topic was discussed more than once, most notably before the recent presidential elections, when proposals were made to increase the term of the president in office.

What does the president say?

In an interview in 2017 with CNBC, Al-Sisi publicly said he will not seek a third term in office, asserting that he respects the country’s constitution and will not interfere with it. “I support preserving two four-year terms.”

Earlier in March this year, Al-Sisi swept the presidential elections with 97% valid votes, securing a second term, while his not very-known rival, Head of the pro-government El-Ghad Party, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, secured just 2.92% of the votes.

Before the elections, every time the president was asked about the possibility of his candidacy in the upcoming elections, he never responded neither with confirmation nor with rejection, but instead declared that his candidacy will be based on the peoples’ decision.

In his interview with the editors-in-chief of several national newspapers in August 2017, Al-Sisi said that he would run for the elections, if the Egyptians called him to do so.

Speaking about the presidential elections during the third National Youth Conference, Al-Sisi said that “he will not stay in the office if people reject his presence.” He also reiterated the same answers in his interview with CNN in September 2016.

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Egypt to fight obesity after long years of consuming starchy food Tue, 18 Dec 2018 14:00:37 +0000 State shed light for the first time on obesity rates, necessity of fighting nation’s high rates of related-diseases

The post Egypt to fight obesity after long years of consuming starchy food appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

While President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi was demanding the citizens to be healthier and improve their eating habits, Egyptians were already complaining about food prices hike.

In two different occasions in November, Al-Sisi called for increasing awareness of the public about the danger of obesity, especially among school students and youth.

Egypt launched the largest-ever nationwide health screening campaign, ‘100 million lives’, in September 2018, for hepatitis C and other non-communicable diseases.

The screening of 17 million Egyptians as part of the campaign’s first phase showed that 75% of Egyptians have an above normal weight.

Al-Sisi noted that about 11 million of the targeted Egyptian citizens in the screening suffer from different diseases, most commonly diabetes, blood pressure problems, hepatitis C, and obesity, asking “why do we do this to ourselves?”

He added that the citizens should be educated about the effect of their weight on their health, as it paves the way to several diseases.

The president’s remarks came during the inauguration of a number of national projects, in the presence of Prime Minister Moustfa Madboly and a number of state officials.

“We have 700,000 people detected positive with hepatitis C and 11 million with no-communicable diseases, out of a total of 17 million. About 25% of those have normal weight while the rest have above normal weight or suffer from obesity, which will turn into life-threatening diseases.”

The president continued “every citizen needs to ask himself and look at his stomach, and then he will know how the problem is big.”

Earlier in November, Al-Sisi expressed concerns about the overweight of young Egyptians during a session at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh, urging his government and society to establish “a culture of self-care”, while asserting that sports should be the main subject in school and university curriculums.

It may be the first time that the Egyptian state sheds the light on obesity rates and the necessity of fighting the nation’s high rates of related-diseases.

Reactions to the president’s statements varied. Some supported him and called on the people to respond positively to this call to decrease rates of obesity in Egypt, while others criticised the issue, saying that they cannot even afford normal amounts of food.

The flotation of Egyptian pound in November 2016 increased the prices of all products, including food, medicine, electronics, and fuel, as well as services, making life harder for the citizens.

Since the flotation, the majority of Egyptians has been complaining about how the monthly budget for commodities became insufficient to secure all their needs.

Starchy food is common among Egyptians, as they mainly rely on traditional high-calorie meals. Beans, falafel, and koushary are among the most common dishes for Egyptians. Rice and pasta are always served in everyday meals.

The traditional food in Egypt relies on products that include high calories, which made healthy food more expensive for being less demanded.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 80% of Egyptians dies due to non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. About 15% of pre-school age Egyptian children are overweight, while 37% of women infertility (aged from 15 to 49) are overweight, and 48% of females are suffering obesity.

“My mother uses butter in cooking, so how can I lose weight?”

Rodiana Ahmed, a business administration student, said that her mother uses butter in cooking as her family could not accept the idea of cooking with olive oil because this was never part of their culture.

Ahmed’s family always cook its food with homemade butter which includes high calories.

Ahmed said that her weight is over 90kg and that she has been trying to lose weight for the past three years, so she decided to adopt her own lifestyle away from her family’s eating habits.

“I am spending EGP 2,500 monthly in the sake of losing weight and being a healthy person, and this adds a burden on my shoulder,” said Ahmed, who also works as a makeup assistant artist.

Ahmed’s parents are paying for her education, but giving her little money for her daily expenses, which covers only transportation and tutoring expenses, so she decided to work a nightshift job to cover her personal needs.

“I visit the gourmet market every month to buy healthy products which usually cost around EGP 800 to 1,000. I cook them myself to follow a diet prescribed by my doctor,” she said, adding that she pays a total EGP 500 per month as doctor’s fees.

Ahmed added “I really believe that to maintain a routine of healthy food is very difficult and requires a lot of money. Sometimes when I am not able to cook, I buy healthy food from a specialised restaurant. Salads only can cost around EGP 60 or 70, and sometimes EGP100. When I do not have enough money for such expensive food, I tend to grilled-food, which usually costs around EGP 50 per meal.”

Ahmed’s story showed that the problem does not lie in the high prices of healthy food only, but that eating starchy food is part of the Egyptian culture.

Nutritionists are really important

Farah Sherif, 26, food blogger, urged that she really believes that the problem is not about healthy food or traditional food, but the high prices of different products. People tend to fast food which is cheap and available everywhere compared to healthy food.

“I cannot deny that anything healthy and clean is expensive in Egypt. As healthy food is better than fast food, it is really very expensive. We have some markets specialised for selling healthy food in Egypt, such as Gourmet and Fresh Food Market, whose prices are not affordable for many of citizens. Such markets are all well known for high-class people as they are the only citizens who can afford their food,” Sherif said.

However, people can still cook healthy food with low calories and low budgets at home, she added, saying that people are fully aware of risks of the fast food, but there are no other options for them as they do not know how to eat healthy food with low budgets.

Egyptians need a full re-arrangement for their lifestyles, I think we need to launch a nationwide awareness campaign on how they can choose healthy food with low budgets and provide them with plans to be healthier and play sports.

She further recommended that the state should realise the importance of nutritionists as they are really doing great jobs and can be the ones who tell people how to be healthy with low budgets.

Parliament will take a stance

Mohamed Al-Amari, head of the health committee in parliament, said in a press statement that combating obesity is on its agenda in the coming period. The committee will examine the possible mechanisms to address this phenomenon and its impact on human health.

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Parliament calls for local entities to take part in confronting overpopulation Tue, 27 Nov 2018 11:30:03 +0000 Defence committee organises 6 meetings to support state strategy of birth control, family planning: MP Amer

The post Parliament calls for local entities to take part in confronting overpopulation appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt has for long been addressing overpopulation, being one of the top challenges facing the country, however, no clear vision has so far been introduced on how the state will confront the phenomenon.

Egypt has already created several birth control programmes, but many questions were raised recently over their effectiveness. Observers are questioning the progress of family planning programmes, believing they almost failed in facing the birth control issue, with limited achievements, as the Egyptian population witnessed unprecedented increases during past years.

Many campaigns were organised to increase peoples’ awareness about the potential problems when having more than two children. Clearly, the state needs to find more unconventional ways to convince Egyptians about the importance of family planning in light of difficult economic and living conditions.

Ayman Zahry, an expert in population studies, said that Egypt’s family planning programmes did not fail in confronting overpopulation, however they could not persuade citizens of the advantages of small families, citing several reasons, mainly religion and traditions.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi repeatedly addressed the phenomenon and warned against its negative consequences. The government also called on Egyptians to follow family planning methods to decrease the country’s population growth.

The Egyptian population reached 104.2 million people, 9.4 million of which live abroad, said Abu Bakr El-Gendy, head of Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) in October 2017.

Overpopulation became one of the major challenges threatening the country’s economy and capability of offering all citizens equal services, prompting the government to renew its previous calls for birth control. The issue of overpopulation has a big role in reducing the ability of the Egyptian state to deliver the most basic public services, including education, healthcare, and housing.

The national defence and security parliamentary committee, headed by Kamal Amer, held a meeting on Sunday to follow up on the efforts of the National Population Council to address the overpopulation issue. The council issued a number of recommendations that included strict measures to be taken on all state levels to stem overpopulation in Egypt.

The committee has been working to support the state’s strategy of birth control and family planning and Sunday’s meeting was its members’ seventh to tackle the issue.

Amer said that the Egyptian population is growing rapidly and all possible measures should be taken to contain this phenomenon and help the country face economic challenges in the coming period.

As for the committee’s recommendations, it began by suggesting the provision of special privileges for families with one child. Amer said that the state shall issue honorary certificates to parents who have one child, adding that this child shall be exempt from tuition payments at all education stages. He shall also be granted priority in the job market when he reaches employment age. For the parents, the state shall grant them life insurance after retirement and comprehensive health insurance.

In January 2018, parliamentary member Mohamed Masoud drafted a law of 13 articles which called on the state to develop and implement a family planning programme aiming to balance population rates by preventing privileges for a third child. But controversy stirred among parliament members over the bill, as some described it as unconstitutional, while others welcomed it.

Early marriage

On top of the measures, the committee suggested intensifying punishments on child marriages, which spread in Egypt particularly in rural areas, including those who contract this marriage. In addition, the committee addressed the government to increase the marriage age for girls and ensure that girls below 18 will not be allowed to marry. It is also recommended to prohibit early withdrawal from education.


For health, the committee recommended providing free contraceptives to women who only have two children through health units and hospitals nationwide, and to prevent the leakage of these substances so they are not used for any illegal purposes, Masoud added.

Media and Religion 

The committee said that media campaigns aimed to raise citizens’ awareness about the dangers of overpopulation are no longer sufficient, and now it is the time for strict measures to be taken to contain this phenomenon, taking into account the linking population growth to economic growth.

As for religious entities’ efforts, the committee said that government should seek help of religious institutions, both Islamic and Christian, to promote birth control initiatives in all governorates and stand up to the overpopulation problem.

In this context, Amer pointed out that clerics should inform people that the government does not aim to prevent birth, but family planning in order to increase economic growth.


He added that the committee recommended that the ministries of education and higher education play a greater role in implementing the new birth control strategy through changing education curriculums to include lessons on birth control, the advantages of small families, and the dangers of early marriage.

Moreover, Amer praised the Takaful and Karama (Solidarity and Dignity) programme, which has been launched by the ministry of social solidarity three years ago to protect poor people through income support, saying that it has been doing a good job in spreading the culture of birth control.

“This programme is based on the slogan ‘Two Children is Enough’ and offers many incentives for women and families in the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt governorates to feel the benefits of birth control.”

The Takaful and Karama projects are divided into two parts: the first aims to provide cash support to poor families who have children in different education levels to ensure that they will continue their education.

The other part is providing medical support to families with pre-school children, who are less than 6-years-old, and to pregnant women. The medical support requires that families implement all of the steps stipulated in healthcare programmes by the ministry of health. The maximum number of beneficiaries of this programme is three children per household.

On Sunday, the parliament’s health affairs committee voted during a meeting in favour of a grant agreement between Egypt and the US on birth control programmes, in which the US will grant financial aid to the government valued at $11m. The grant will also support the current birth control programme in general.

“To help achieve this objective, the agreement will help offer all the tools necessary to make birth control measures more appealing to families, provide training needed to improve family planning services in health units, and conduct a demographic survey of Egypt in 2018 to collect reliable and high-quality data on population and health in Egypt,” said the agreement.

Several of the programmes that were created on birth control became ineffective after the end of Mubarak’s 30-year era. Many of the countries that used to donate contraceptives stopped granting them to the state. Years ago, these contraceptives used to be financed by the state, but their prices are currently expensive and not affordable to all segments.

Late 2017, the state started a new family planning campaign titled “Lifesaver” to assist people to become committed to birth control. The campaign, sponsored by the ministry of health, aims to reduce the country’s expected population from 128 million people in 2030 to 112 million, thus helping the state achieve development which will contribute to improving the citizens’ living standard.

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Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival to Liv Ullmann Lifetime Achievement Award Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:31:09 +0000 Festival has also released its line-up of films

The post Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival to Liv Ullmann Lifetime Achievement Award appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has announced on Sunday that it will be awarding Norwegian actress and Director Liv Ullmann with the festival’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.

Director Ingmar Bergman, an associate of the actress, will have a mini-focus programme.

Ullmann, a renowned and awarded actress and film director, and goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund, is celebrating her 80th birthday this year. Having starred in and directed several films which have been screened at Black Nights and its sub-festival Sleepwalkers over the years, she will receive the honorary Lifetime Achievement Award – the first of three to be handed out by the festival this year.

Ullmann rose to international stardom in the 1960’s, having appeared in a series of films directed by Bergman, with whom she developed a long-lasting and productive collaboration, having performed in 10 of his films and some of his most celebrated works, such as Persona (1966), The Passion of Anna (1969), Cries and Whispers (1972) and Autumn Sonata (1978).  Both Autumn Sonata and Cries and Whispers were also screened at Black Nights in 2008 as part of the Ingmar Bergman retrospective.

It was for the role of Kristina Nilsson in The Emigrants, directed by Jan Troell, that she was nominated for the first time, in 1972, for Academy Award for Best Female Actress. The film was screened at Black Nights in 1999, as part of the Jan Troell retrospective. She also received two BAFTA nominations for Scenes From a Marriage (1973) and Face to Face (1976), for which she also received her second Academy Award nomination. Both films were directed by Bergman. She has been nominated for the Golden Globes six times, winning once in 1972 with The Emigrants.

Ullmann began her directing career in 1992 with Sophie, which was selected by Denmark as their candidate for the Best Foreign Language Academy Award. Her film Faithless premiered in the Official Selection of Cannes in 2000 and was also shown at the fourth edition of Black Nights. She has directed three more films, the latest of which, Miss Julie, features Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell in leading roles.

Tiina Lokk, the head of Black Nights commented: “The whole body of work of Liv Ullmann can be regarded as a representation of Nordic film culture, and she has done marvellous work, both as an actress and a director as well as a woman. She is a strong personality who can set a fine example to many these days, as she succeeded at a time when the film industry hadn’t heard about gender quotas – it was all down to professionality and the extent of the qualities of the person.”

The festival will also hold a celebration of Ingmar Bergman’s 100th birthday, which includes an exhibition by the Bergman foundation and a small focus programme screening a rare film of his that is rarely shown – a Cold War-era spy thriller These Things Can’t Happen Here (1950), also internationally known as High Tension. Far from the director’s favourites in his oeuvre, the film holds significant historical value to Estonia since Bergman used Estonian theatre actors who had fled the Soviet occupation during WW2 in it.

Bergman addressed this matter even in his diary where he wrote during the shooting of the film: “A creative paralysis hit me after only four days of shooting. That was exactly when I met the exiled Baltic actors who were going to participate. The encounter was a shock. Suddenly I realised which film we ought to be making. Among these exiled actors I discovered such a richness of lives and experiences that the unevenly developed intrigue in ‘This can’t happen here’ seemed almost obscene.”

The festival has secured exclusive screening rights from the Swedish Film Institute and the screenings of both films will be accompanied by a lecture from the Bergman-expert Christo Burman, who is a senior lecturer in media arts, aesthetics and narration at the University of Skövde, Sweden.

The focus will also include a screening of Bergman’s classic Autumn Sonata and an exhibition of Ingmar Bergman and his Legacy in Fashion and Art, with an emphasis on the influence that Bergman – as an iconic filmmaker and reluctant trendsetter – has on today’s fashion and art.

The festival has also announced the line-up of the Baltic Competition programme, brought back to life after a seven-year hiatus. Three out of the 11 films announced are having their international premieres in Tallinn.

Estonia will be represented by three films. The feature-length animation Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, an Estonian-Belgian-Irish-UK co-production by director Kaspar Jancis, which premiered at Animafest Zagreb this summer. The film, dubbed by renowned actors such as Brendan Gleeson and Ciarán Hinds, presents a tale of a young boy who learns to take control over his life when he is shrunk to the size of an insect, and has to sail his own toy boat through a flooded café.

The feature-length debut by Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo, Take it or Leave it, is Estonia’s candidate for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. The story, striking acutely at several social cords of Estonian society, follows a struggling construction worker who unexpectedly has to take on the role of a single father. The film is produced by Ivo Felt who received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Tangerines in 2014.

Director Moonika Siimets offers a moving perspective on Stalinist terror through a child’s perspective in The Little Comrade, which was warmly received by local audiences and those at Busan IFF, winning the Public Choice Award.

Latvia’s documentary To be Continued, chronicles three children with different social backgrounds during their first year in school—it is the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Another documentary Bridges of Time, co-produced with Lithuania and Estonia, studies the poetical world created by the new wave of documentary filmmakers in the Baltic countries during the 1960’s.

The feature films from Latvia include Bille, set at the end of 1930’s, the childhood years of the writer Vizma Belševica, that will have its international premiere at Black Nights, and Foam at the Mouth, a tale about an ex-police officer whose new project involving three service dogs goes awfully wrong.

Lithuania is represented by four films. Making its international premiere, Ashes in the Snow presents a tale of a group of people deported to the Siberian taiga during the Stalinist repressions of 1941. The other titles are Summer Survivors, a tale of an ambitious young psychologist who accepts to transport two patients to a seaside psychiatric unit which premiered at Toronto IFF, Breathing into Marble which arrives from a busy festival run that included Karlovy Vary and Busan IFF, and the documentary 100 Years Together, following several Lithuanians celebrating the country’s centenary. The film won the Public Choice Award at Vilnius IFF.

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Discourse on banning Niqab reappeared on scene over counter-terrorism rhetoric Tue, 06 Nov 2018 07:00:25 +0000 MP Ghada Al-Agamy prepared bill to ban wearing of face-cover in public places

The post Discourse on banning Niqab reappeared on scene over counter-terrorism rhetoric  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Talks over one of the most controversial topics in Egypt—the banning of the face cover—known as the ‘Niqab,’ returned back to the scene after some MPs declared drafting a bill to ban females from wearing it and entering public places.

Calls for banning the ‘Niqab’ are not new in Egypt society, as they began with debates over its validity in Islam, and for the necessity of others to know the identity of those who are wearing the face cover. Currently, the ‘Niqab’ became a threat to peoples’ security, especially since many crimes were carried out by face-covered criminals. In addition, security forces arrested terrorists hiding under face covers during the past years.

Presently, large groups in the country believe that banning the ‘Niqab’ is a must to maintain the country’s security and fight terrorism.

MP Ghada Al-Agamy said that the bill came to ban the wearing of the face cover in public places and government institution, and whoever will oppose the ban will pay a fine not less than EGP 1,000 which could be increased if repeated.

“The security conditions experienced by Egypt made the ‘Niqab’ ban an urgent demand, especially after it became clear that terrorists use it to hide from security forces,” Al- Agamy justified, noting that that the negative aspects of the face cover have become countless.

“Egyptian national security is in danger, and the ‘Niqab’ is being used in operations that affect Egypt’s security. Therefore, the prohibition of wearing it in public places has become a worthy demand in accordance with the constitution and the law which consider the security of the homeland and the citizen an important goal that must be met,” the member added.

The bill determined that the public places where the ‘Niqab’ will be banned will include hospitals, health centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, public libraries, museums, places affiliated with the state and those not, as well as in public transportation, airports, playgrounds, lecture halls, nurseries, public and private, and any other place categorised by government as a public area.

Al-Agmy said that the bill is supported by other 60 members, and will be presented to the committee of constitutional and legislative affairs for discussion, adding that the law was delayed for a long time and it has to be enforced.

The move came as state judiciary authority issued a recommendation to approve the banning of staff members in all faculties of Cairo University from wearing the ‘Niqab’. In 2016, Cairo University had already banned staff members from wearing it, which stirred a huge controversy at the time, while the university justified the decision by saying that the ‘Niqab’ hinders direct communication with students.

In mid-December, the American University in Cairo declared a decision to ban female students, faculty members, and workers from wearing the ‘Niqab’ inside the university, justifying that the move was for security reasons. Later it was overturned after the university administration met with some of those who are affected by the decision and discussed the issue with them.

Females wearing face cover believe that it is demanded by the Islamic religion, however, disputes over its validity continue among religious scholars.  Article 64 of the Egyptian constitution states that freedom of belief is absolute. The freedom of practising religious rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of the Abrahamic religions is a right regulated by law.

The wearing of the veil has recently increased in Egypt, especially with the rise of political Islam and Salafist waves. The concepts of the ‘Niqab’ will remain debatable, as there is division over the ‘Niqab’, where some believe it is a form of social freedom, as everyone has the right to wear anything if they are not harming other people, but at the same time, there should be more security procedures to recognise the identity of the face-covered females to ensure security. Meanwhile, other people feel afraid or are uncomfortable in the presence of face-covered individuals, whose faces they cannot see.

Due to security threats, face-covered females were already banned from entering hotels and resultants, among other places, resulting in exposing them to several discriminatory practices.

MP Heba Hagras said that she supports the ‘Niqab’ ban given the exceptional circumstances experienced by the country, as banning the ‘Niqab’ will allow security forces to arrest terrorists and will prevent fraudulent criminals.

She also said that the ‘Niqab’ should not be allowed in schools as the student has the right to recognise their teachers and view their facial expressions during lessons.

“Whoever wants to wear a face cover, can do at home, and never come out with it to the streets,” said journalist Nashwa El-Houfy who expressed her support of the bill.

“The ‘Niqab’ is not part of religion, but rather an old Jewish custom”, El-Houfy said, adding that “the banning of face-cover is not a matter of personal freedom, but a violation of society’s freedom”.

Daily News Egypt conducted several interviews to understand various point of views, which varied between supporting the bill and completely rejecting it. Support for ‘Niqab’ ban came under two justifications including impacting the safety of a place, or personal freedom, while often the debate argued that the ‘Niqab’ was not demanded in Islam. Others say that this bill will add restrictions to the life of fully face-covered females and could be categorised as discrimination, which, in a way, is banning them from practising their social life freely like any other person.

I don’t agree

“Niqab is a personal freedom. It is a personal right, however, I am not a big fan for Niqab but I believe the fact that everyone is free to live the way they want as long as I want people to accept me I should accept them likewise, ”Aya Hilal, 25, dentist.


“No, I don’t support the bill, as I disagree with any governmental intervention in individuals’ lifestyle choices. It will open the door for more bans and interventions in everyone’s life,” Mohamed Ahmed, 28, journalist.

“No, I don’t agree with it. Because freedom of dress is part of freedom of expression and freedom of belief, and they are both guaranteed by the terms of law and the constitution. Also because banning Niqab is sort of policing what women should and should not wear and it controls them in ways that are unfathomable,” Toqaa Nabil, 25, journalist.

“It is a clear violation to personal freedom, Niqab is Sunnah and we are living in a Muslim country which follows Islamic Shariaa, so we should at least show respect to it, not ban,” Hend El-Behairy, 28, journalist.

I agree:

“I support it. I can’t deal with anyone who I am not allowed to see his or her face. Also for me, Niqab is a hide for negative practices,” Fatma El-Dairy, 38, governmental employee.

“After all this number of kidnap, killing fraud cases made by those face covered, I totally support it, My right is to see the face of the one standing in front of me as he can see me,” Nouran Attalah, 27, pianist.

“Speaking of term of freedoms, everyone is free to wear what he wants, and no is allowed to tell me what to wear, especially that it will be illogical to accept bikinis and revealing and reject covered clothes, but we cannot deny the fact that Niqab is a result of many crimes and is not demanded in Islam, so if the law is passed I will accept it,” Aya Zain El-Din, 27, accountant.

“I want Niqab to be banned and I accept also if Niqabis will be forced to take it off because we are in a time that identity of everyone should be clear to all. Also how I can deal with someone I can not see his face,” Nada Magdy, 30, housewife.

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Egypt handles potato shortage, absorbs public anger Tue, 30 Oct 2018 13:00:25 +0000 Minister of Agriculture granted to potato traders respite of 45 days to release their products in the market

The post Egypt handles potato shortage, absorbs public anger appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A scene repeated recently in Egypt, as dozens of people crowd around vegetable stands provided by the ministry of interior in several areas across the country to sell potatoes at reasonable prices after a severe shortage of the strategic crop that hit the local market.

Last week, the Egyptians were shocked with extraordinary hike in potato prices, jumping from EGP 5 to EGP 15 per kilo, to become one of the most expensive vegetable in the country. The interior ministry’s vegetables outlets sell potatoes for EGP 8 per kilo.

The price hike of potatoes followed a shocking shortage across the country. Potato traders were blamed for the crisis, after the government revealed that tonnes of potatoes were stored by the traders to sell them later at higher prices.

Meanwhile, the ministry of agriculture adopted strict measures to find reasons behind this shortage. The ministry carried out inspection campaigns nationwide, which resulted into discovering large amounts of potatoes stored in special refrigerators at several wholesale warehouses, head of the agriculture ministry’s central department of pest control Mamdouh El-Sebay said in a televised interview.

He revealed that traders buy potatoes from farmers for EGP 2 per kilo and sell them for more than EGP 10. “The ministry’s campaign found around 300 tonnes of potatoes at one of traders’ stores which he bought from a framer at EGP 2.5 per kilo,” El-Sebay said.

Deputy Head of the El-Obour Market Union Hatem Naguib said that wholesale prices declined by 30-40%, thanks to the supply and interior ministries, as well as civil society groups’ efforts. He added that traders should decrease their products’ profit margins to between 10 and 20%, to maintain affordable potatoes prices.

Potatoes, one of Egypt’s favoured vegetables

Seventeen governorates have planted potatoes in Egypt this season, therefore the coming potatoes supply in November will contribute to decreasing the prices, Naguib added.

Egypt normally plants potatoes in abundance and is known for its low prices compared to other vegetables. Egypt produces nearly 5m tonnes of potatoes annually, mostly for local consumption while only 850,000 tonnes are exported.

Potato is a highly consumed in the Egyptian household, due to its affordability.  Around 27.8% of Egypt’s population, which exceeds 100 million people, lives at or below the national poverty line, according to official figures.

Ezz El-Din Abo Stait, minister of agriculture, granted respite of a month and a half to potato traders to release their products in the market.

He said that it comes amid the ministry’s efforts to achieve food security for Egyptians, pointing out that this will lead to a breakthrough in the current crisis and reduce the potato prices in the local markets.

He also decided to form a committee in cooperation with the concerned authorities from the ministries of interior, supply, internal trade and local development to facilitate releasing potatoes that were stored in refrigerators, at the rate of 5% per day. The priority is given to official vegetable outlets that sell products at the common market price.

On social media networks, many complained of high prices, while others believed that the potatoes shortage resulted from the gap between the summer and winter agriculture seasons, hence it will not last for a long time.

Osama Khair El-Din, former president of the Union of Producers of Agricultural Crops, explained that potatoes are planted twice a year. The first crop is planted in winter and harvested in November, while the other is planted in May or June and stored in refrigerators for consumption in the summer until the end of October.

Traders offer different perspective to the crisis

Mohamed Hesham Kheidr, deputy head of the Farmers Syndicate and owner of a refrigerator, said that he is not selling potatoes but just storing them for EGP 330 per tonne during the summer, therefore the increase in electricity prices affected the prices of potatoes.

He pointed out that the electricity prices reached EGP 2 up from EGP 1.45 per kw, not to mention the sales and value-added taxes. He noted that refrigerators are mostly used now to store potatoes for food industry companies.

However, wholesalers have had another explanation for the causes of the problem. Naguib said that the apparent potatoes shortage caused by retailers’ tendency to purchase potatoes from refrigerators and farmers at higher prices than those supplied to the wholesale markets, such as the Obour and 6th of October.

Potato prices at retailers reached EGP 10 per kilo, while in the Obour and 6th of October markets, the potatoes price reached EGP 8-9 per kilo, therefore the traders supply lower quantities to wholesale markets.

The prices in the wholesale market are also affected by the high costs of transportation and food losses, bringing its price to EGP 10 per kilo, and sold for EGP 12 per kilo to final consumers.

During the last year, prices hike of potatoes took its toll on the farmers’ livelihood, as the price did not exceed EGP 900 per tonne, which affected the selling rate of their crops, Emad Abu Hussein, head of the Farmers Syndicate, said.

Egypt’s inflation jumped to 15.4% in September, an increase of more than 2% over the previous month, the highest level in the last eight months.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said there has been an increase in food and beverages prices in September, which is the largest component of the goods and services used to monitor inflation.

The food prices, which rose 4.8% month over month, were the main driver for the witnessed hike. In September report, vegetable prices increased by 17.2% on monthly bases, while fruit prices rose by 7.4%. 

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Stories denote impact of bullying experiences on self-confidence Tue, 02 Oct 2018 11:00:51 +0000 They made me feel incomplete because I was not married like them , says source

The post Stories denote impact of bullying experiences on self-confidence appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

“My voice is not soft and calm like all other girls, but rather rough and strong. I was always judged for this characteristic by all my colleagues at school. Every time I would open my mouth and talk, I would see surprised expressions on their faces,” Mona Emad, 29, said while sharing her school bullying experience and how it affected her.

Emad narrated several situations of bullying for having a low-pitched ‘manly’ voice at different stages in her life, which led her to feel insecure about her voice for a number of years and think of undergoing surgery to improve it. She pointed out that the issue started at school, when her classmates used to single her out for having a different voice than other girls every time she talked.

“I used to hear phrases like, ‘why does your voice sound like this?’ and ‘you have a stronger voice than mine’ or ‘your voice is ugly,’ ‘you scared me’ ‘your voice is disturbing my ears’ or, ‘how you are going to flirt with your future husband with a voice like that?” Emad recalled.

The twenty-nine-year-old housewife is among hundreds of people who were exposed to bullying during childhood.

Bullying is experienced by young students on a daily basis, at both private and government schools. Dozens of people grew up believing that they suffer from major flaws because of the comments they heard at school from their teachers and classmates.

Children can be exposed to bullying for wearing glasses, having acne, or for skin colour, body weight or height, clothing, performance level at school, and manner of speech, or pronunciation. They could also be bullied for anything that seems ‘odd’ to others in their appearance or lifestyle.

Emad explained that there was a group of classmates who constantly made fun of her when she spoke. “Sometimes they used to ask me utter certain words so they can laugh. I cried constantly. I reported it to my teacher and she summoned their parents to discuss the issue.”

“I really would have accepted my voice when I was child if other people had done so. I complained many times to my parents to take me to a doctor to ‘fix’ my voice, but they always rejected the idea until I grew up and understood that I am normal, and people are different. Now as an adult, I still hear comments about my voice, but I no longer care,” Emad concluded. 

In September, Egypt launched the first national anti-bullying campaign under the supervision of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), and in partnership with the Ministry of Education, and with the cooperation of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), funded by the European Union (EU).

The month-long campaign is expected to end the first week of October, after raising awareness about the harmful impact of bullying, and providing solutions to counter the phenomenon.  The message is being distributed through posts on social media platforms, billboards, and televised advertisements.

The Head of NCCM Azza Al-Ashmawy said in previous comments to Daily News Egypt that the campaign seeks to help children, parents, and teachers to stand against all forms of bullying and violence faced by children in schools.

She added that during her discussions with children regarding the issue, they came up with several ideas, such as having a punishment room for bullies to remain in for a whole week, “in order to be labelled just as they label other children.”

A study by the EU disclosed that the highest level of violence facing children occurs at home, followed by school, with 29-47% of children aged between 13-17-years-old reporting that physical violence among peers was commonplace. The study came according to the latest global data published in 2011, indicating that slightly over 1 in 3 students aged between13-15 around the world experience bullying.

Mohamed Amr, deputy of minster of education told DNE in media statements during a conference, that the ministry has currently started a huge reform plan, and the campaign is a part of it, noting that teachers are a priority of the reform plan.

“We will provide teachers training sessions by foreign experts on advanced education systems, and correct ways of dealing with students. It will take time to see results, but we will continue. Before, people didn’t take it this seriously, but now we will work harder,” Amr said.

“Bullying is not the only issue facing the ministry’s agenda,” he concluded.

Teachers also practice violence against students in many cases of bullying. Mohamed Magdy, 32, an entrepreneur, said that his math teacher use to call him “stupid’.

“My teacher used to tell me that I will fail and will never succeed. He was actually the reason why I hated math throughout my primary stage, and was not confident enough to solve any equation,” Magdy also said.

“My father believed the teacher, and he never thought for a minute why I was underperforming in the subject as he always believed that the problem was that I am not studying enough,” added Magdy.

“Ironically, I graduated from the faculty of management, and I have my own business now,” he concluded.

Speaking to Abdel Hafez Tayel, the head of the Egyptian Centre for the Right to Education, on the reasons behind teachers bullying students, he told to DNE that teachers are not well appreciated in Egypt.

“First of all, bullying is a cultural issue. The teacher bullies as result of being pressured by the ministry, as they are working extra hours, while being less paid, and they are not granted fair rights,” Tayel explained.

“Teachers bullying students is a result of what they face from the ministry in the first place,” he urged, saying that when one is comfortable at his workplace, and is being well appreciated, he perform better.

When asked why teachers in private schools also bullying students, Tayel said that it is a transference phenomenon.

Bullying is not only at school

“People are always the ones who make you feel good or bad about your appearance or character. That is why I really believe that there is nothing called a flaw, we are the ones who make them by judging others,” said Sherine Tarek, who was always criticised for her curly hair during her schooldays.

“People around me made me feel bad about my hair. I used to hate my hair although it is a perfect specimen of curly hair. For my entire life I bought products to straighten my hair so I would satisfy people, without ever believing that I have really good hair,” she said

Tarek suffered from insecurity and a bad relationship with her hair due to peoples’ negative comments as it was common among Egyptians that any female who does not having straight hair is not pretty.

“There are several groups on social media giving hints and information for girls on how they could have curly hair, and I found out that there people spending hundreds of pounds just to have their hair like mine. This made me realise that I really have great hair, and looking beautiful has nothing to do with straight hair,” Tarek said.

Moreover, a thirty-year-old female accountant who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, said that she is unmarried and satisfied, but people’s comments are really disturbing her.

She narrated that few years after graduation her friends all got married. Mostly they all had children. “Whenever we would meet, they would speak about topics that I could not relate to. I would feel I was excluded, and bored. When I would tell them to change the topic so I could join them, they would reply that my topics are trivial for them now, and that their topics are interesting now because they have more responsibilities than me,” she continued.

Also, her friends were always arranging dates for her despite her repeated rejections. “They made me feel incomplete because I was not married like them. I sincerely wished that they would believe that I am really happy and not pretending to be,” she concluded.

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