The blocking of websites still continues with banning 261 VPN and proxy websites on 29 August raising the total number of blocked sites to 405, according to the latest report by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE.)
On 24 May, the Egyptian authorities started blocking news websites on alleged claims of “supporting terrorism.” In a span of 3 months, the blockade expanded from news websites to banning VPN sites, websites of non-profit organizations and personal blogs of journalists.
Among the blocked websites are the independent news website Mada Masr and the privately-owned Daily News Egypt.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Reporters Without Borders (RWB) websites have also been blocked.
Also, the blog of Ahmed Gamal Ziada, a writer for Masr Alarabia, researcher, and photojournalist, has been blocked preventing readers in Egypt from accessing his blog.
The blocked VPN websites are Tunnelbear, Cyberghost, Hotspot Shield Elite VPN (Hsselite), Tigervpn and Zenvpn among many others.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aloáin, today raised grave concerns with the Government of Egypt over its ongoing assault on freedom of expression.
“Limiting information as the Egyptian Government has done, without any transparency or identification of the asserted ‘lies’ or ‘terrorism’, looks more like repression than counter-terrorism,” they said in the report.
At its height, the strike involved 16,000 workers at the state-owned
Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla in northern Egypt.
It was suspended on Tuesday of last week after management agreed to consider the workers’ demands.
When workers launched their strike on 7 August, bosses had insisted that their demands would not be met.
The Misr Spinning and Weaving Company chair threatened to lock out workers.
But this threat was met by a demonstration of thousands of workers and their families through Mahalla.
There were also signs that their action could spread. Some 3,000
workers at the nearby Al-Nasr Processing and Dyeing factory joined the
strike, and other factories reported slowdowns.
This clearly made bosses nervous, with Al-Nasr management quickly making promises to resolve the dispute.
The Misr Spinning and Weaving Company chairman instructed factory management to open dialogue with the workers.
Before the strike was suspended bosses had ramped up their rhetoric,
branding it as “led by terrorists”. This is a reference to the banned
Muslim Brotherhood organisation. Promised
But last Sunday a leaflet signed by the company’s
commissioner-general and a group of local MPs promised to consider
workers’ demands within the week.
Workers responded by suspending their strike. But they made clear
that it will restart after the Eid Al-Adha festival, ending on 4
September, if the promises prove hollow.
While the outcome of the dispute is yet to be seen, it is hugely important.
The Mahalla workers refused to be intimidated by the security forces,
and have successfully forced Egypt’s largest state-owned company to
consider their demands.
This may seem a small step, but is significant in a country where
strikes are illegal and strike leaders and thousands of activists have
Workers’ demands included payment of a delayed 10 percent bonus and
increasing the monthly food allowance. These issues point to bigger
problems the regime is facing.
It has recently pushed through series of “economic reforms” in
exchange for a $12 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
The IMF declared the Egyptian Central Bank’s governor its “Central
Bank Governor of the Year” for the role he played in pushing through the
free market reforms.
But these measures have seen inflation jump as high as 30 percent, plunging millions deeper into poverty.
Further laws favourable to foreign investors are expected soon. But
alongside more attacks, there is a potential for a fightback.
Recent weeks have seen wildcat strikes by Egyptian train drivers over
safety and large protests by residents of Warraq Island in Cairo. The
regime is trying to demolish their homes and sell land to investors.
Resistance at Mahalla has often played an important role in Egypt, including during the 2011 revolution.
Mass strikes and uprisings in the city can give confidence to workers and poor people across Egypt to fight.
Four years since security forces violently dispersed two
sit-ins at Rabaa al Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in Greater Cairo,
leaving at least 900 people dead and thousands more injured, Egypt is
experiencing an unprecedented human rights crisis, said Amnesty
Not a single person has been held to account for the events on 14
August 2013, widely known as the Rabaa massacre. Instead, hundreds who
attended the protests, including journalists and photographers who were
covering the events, have been arrested and are facing an unfair mass
trial. This vacuum of justice has allowed security forces to commit
serious human rights violations, including using excessive lethal force
and carrying out enforced disappearances, entirely unchecked.
“President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s regime has been determined to wipe
out all memory of the massacre of the summer of 2013. The dark legacy
of this failure to bring anyone to justice is that Egypt’s security
forces today feel that they will not be held accountable for committing
human rights violations,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns
Director at Amnesty International.
“The Rabaa dispersal marks a defining turning point for human rights
in Egypt. In the years since then, security forces have stepped up
violations and varied their methods, carrying out enforced
disappearances and extrajudicial executions on a scale never seen
Since 2015, at least 1,700 people are estimated to have been
“disappeared” by state agents for periods ranging from a few days to up
to seven months. Most victims are abducted from the streets or their
homes and held incommunicado for months, cut off from their families and
lawyers. Egyptian security forces have also carried out dozens of
The Egyptian government’s efforts to erase all memory of the 2013
massacres appear to have had some impact. In August 2013, following the
excessive use of lethal force by security forces at Rabaa, the EU
Foreign Affairs Council agreed to suspend export licenses to Egypt of
any equipment which could be used for internal repression. Despite
this, many EU member states have continued to supply the country with
arms and policing equipment. The latest EU country report published last month also makes no mention of the Rabaa massacre or the impunity security services still enjoy.
Grossly unfair trials
Since the Rabaa massacre, the Egyptian authorities have led a bitter
crackdown against political dissidents, rounding up thousands and
sentencing hundreds to life in prison
or death, after grossly unfair trials. In many cases defendants were
convicted in mass trials based on scant or dubious evidence. Most faced
charges including participating in unauthorised protests, belonging to
the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, damaging state and private
property, possessing firearms and attacking security forces.
The prosecution authorities, who have an obligation to bring those
responsible for the 2013 tragedy to justice, have proven unwilling to
investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes. Instead of
offering justice and remedy for victims, they have helped shield
perpetrators from prosecution.
“The level of disparity between the rampant impunity enjoyed by
security forces who took part in the Rabaa dispersal on one hand, and
the mass persecution of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who participated
in protest as well as journalists reporting that day, is shocking,” said
According to official statistics, six security officers were killed
during the Rabaa dispersal and three during the al-Fateh protest two
days later, also in Cairo. At least 1,231 people are being prosecuted in
two mass trials collectively charged with their killing.
Many of those detained are held in appalling conditions including
prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture. They have
frequently been beaten and denied access to lawyers, medical care or
In another emblematic case, known as the “Fateh mosque case”, at
least 494 people are on mass trial for participating in a protest on 16
August 2013, while no investigation was conducted into the use of
excessive lethal force by security forces that day that killed 120 protesters.
Those on trial include the Irish Egyptian national Ibrahim Halawa.
The group are facing charges including participating in an unauthorised
protest, belonging to a banned group, as well as murder and attacking
the security forces. The prosecution failed to investigate claims by
defendants that they were tortured by police to “confess” to crimes they
did not commit.
The “Rabaa operations room case” involving four journalists from the
RASSD news network - Youssef Talaat, Abdallah Al-Fakharany, Samhi
Mostafa and Mohamed El-Adly – is another case that exemplifies the
blatant injustice characterizing such trials.
The journalists were sentenced to five years in prison on 8 May 2017
after being convicted of charges including creating and overseeing media
committees at the Rabaa sit-in to spread “false information and news”.
During the trial, their lawyers were unable to attend several crucial
court sessions leaving them unable to prepare a proper defence. The
court’s judgement also relied primarily on investigations by Egypt’s
National Security Agency that were not substantiated by material
Held 21 Months Without Trial Despite Serious Illness
August 14, 2017
authorities should immediately provide appropriate health care to the
imprisoned journalist Hisham Gaafar, whose health, including his
eyesight, is deteriorating in detention, Human Rights Watch said today.
If prison authorities are unable to provide him necessary health care,
they should allow him to seek care in private health facilities.
The Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency arrested Gaafar,
director of the Mada Foundation for Media Development, a private media
company, at his office in October 2015. Prosecutors have ordered Gaafar
detained pending investigation on charges that include membership in the
Muslim Brotherhood and illegally receiving foreign funds for his
foundation, his lawyers told Human Rights Watch.
“Egypt’s Interior Ministry has shown contempt for Hisham Gaafar’s health and well-being,” said Sarah Leah Whitson,
Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The fact that the Interior
Ministry refuses to provide him his rightful care is a sad testament to
Egyptian authorities’ disregard for detainees’ most basic rights.”
Gaafar, 53, has an eye condition – optic nerve atrophy – that
requires ongoing specialist care or he may risk losing his sight
altogether. He also suffers from a years-long prostate enlargement
condition and risks complications if he does not receive the proper
treatment. His eyesight is deteriorating and his health has worsened
during his time in detention, in poor conditions, his family said.
Immediately following his arrest, police took Gaafar to his home,
where officers seized his personal publications, work papers, computers,
and phones, including those belonging to his wife and children. They
detained his family inside the home for 17 hours. Security officers
confiscated all his medical documents and reports and have not returned
them to his family, despite their requests.
National Security officers then took Gaafar to an undisclosed
location and held him for two days without access to his family or
lawyers. His family heard of his whereabouts when a lawyer saw him by
coincidence in the Supreme State Security Prosecution office in Cairo.
Prosecutors have kept him in pretrial detention since then.
Under Egyptian law, prosecutors have broad power to hold those
suspected of committing major offenses, including political and national
security crimes, in pretrial detention for up to five months without
regular judicial review, and judges can extend the detention for up to
two years without requiring any substantive justification from
A judge should immediately review the necessity and legality of
Gaafar’s detention and either send him to trial without further delays
or release him, Human Rights Watch said.
During Gaafar’s time in detention, most of it spent in the maximum security Scorpion Prison in Cairo,
the Interior Ministry’s Prisons Authority has not provided needed
medicine but has intermittently allowed Gaafar to receive the eye
vitamins and prostate medicine he required, after completely banning
such supplies for the first two months of his detention. During those
two months, his wife, Manar, told Human Right Watch, prison authorities
kept Gaafar alone in a cell that, in his words, resembled a “tomb”
Later, they allowed his family very short and irregular visits, with
no chance to verify whether he had received the medicine they had given
to prison guards for him. Since March 2017, prison authorities have
again denied him visits from relatives and his lawyer.
Before he was detained, Gaafar used special optic tools to read and
glasses for everyday life. He also needed some assistance in his daily
routine, his wife said. Prison authorities allowed his wife to deliver
the glasses several months after his detention, but when they reached
him, they were broken.
The way the glasses were broken suggested it had
been deliberate, his wife said. She delivered new ones, but he has not
had a new eye examination. His wife said that he recently told her he
was not seeing as well as before, even with the glasses, suggesting his
eyesight may have deteriorated.
Gaafar has had optic nerve atrophy in both eyes since he was a
teenager, according to his wife.
Medical documents and reports from
2012, which she provided to Human Rights Watch after she retrieved them
from a hospital, stated that at the time he had only 10 percent of his
vision remaining in his left eye. Optic nerve atrophy has no cure, but
it can be slowed by exposure to sunlight, medicine, and a healthy diet,
his wife said doctors had told them. These are not available in adequate
amounts to inmates at Scorpion Prison and many other Egyptian detention
A Human Rights Watch report on Scorpion Prison,
published in 2016, documented cruel and inhuman treatment by officers
of the Interior Ministry’s Prisons Authority that probably amounted to
torture, including preventing food and medicine deliveries and other
interference in medical care that may have contributed to prisoners’
Gaafar’s wife said he appeared weak and to have lost significant
weight during her March 2017 visit. She said she saw bite marks all over
his body, which he said were from insects that had infested his cell
due to a sewage leak. He told her he had suffered pain for weeks because
he was sleeping on the concrete floor without a mattress. Human Rights
Watch previously documented that Scorpion Prison authorities deny
inmates a wide variety of basic necessities for hygiene and comfort,
including beds, pillows, and mattresses.
In late February 2016, after a public outcry and growing criticism
from the Journalists’ Syndicate, human rights organizations, and public
figures, the authorities transferred Gaafar to the Tora Prison Hospital
after he began suffering from urinary retention – the inability to
fully empty his bladder.
Prison authorities then transferred him to
al-Manial University Hospital, which is affiliated with Cairo
University. Doctors who examined him there on March 4, and again on
March 10, 2016, asked prison officials to allow him to be kept at Cairo
University hospitals to prepare for more tests, including diagnostic
surgery on his enlarged prostate, the apparent cause of the urinary
Gaafar spent five months at the prisoners’ ward at Qasr al-Aini
Hospital, where ill inmates who are hospitalized are usually held, but
the authorities repeatedly failed to give Gaafar timely permission to go
for needed tests. Human Rights Watch has previously documented that prison authorities pressure hospitals not to admit inmates or to return them without necessary treatment.
Gaafar told his wife that he received very little medical care
there. In August 2016, the authorities sent Gaafar back to Scorpion
Prison before he had undergone the examinations that he was told he
needed. Prison authorities and Cairo University hospitals have not
allowed Gaafar’s family to read or obtain a copy of the medical reports
issued during his detention, his wife said.
The family managed to obtain the hospital discharge report through
unofficial means, however, and provided a copy to Human Rights Watch.
The report contained no detailed information on any tests Gaafar may
have undergone or treatment received but stated that he suffers from
“mild prostate enlargement" and that "the patient needed no surgical
intervention.” The report did not state what caused the enlargement or
whether it was benign or cancerous – a primary concern for the family.
A couple of days after returning to prison, Gaafar found blood in
his urine, and officers transferred him again to Tora Prison Hospital.
But the facilities there lack a urology specialist, his wife said, and
the prison authorities have refused to arrange for Gaafar to be seen by
one. He appeared before a court in August 2016 carrying a urinary
catheter, his lawyers said.
His wife said that after filing several complaints, a National
Security officer visited Gaafar in detention in November 2016, and told
him, “don’t worry, we will treat you.” But Gaafar’s request to seek
treatment in a private health facility was ignored.
One of his lawyers and his wife both told Human Rights Watch that
prosecutors never allowed them to obtain a copy of the official charges
against him or the rest of his case file. However, Hossam al-Sayed,
another Mada Foundation journalist who was arrested with Gaafar on the
same day, was released without bail in March 2016, said the lawyer Karim
Abd al-Rady of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (an
independent rights group).
Under an amendment to the penal code decreed by President Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi in September 2014, Gaafar could face a 25-year sentence
if convicted of receiving foreign funds illegally.
Prisoners have the right to the highest attainable standard of
physical and mental health guaranteed in the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Egypt ratified in 1982.
The Committee Against Torture, the monitoring body of the Convention
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment – ratified by Egypt in 1986 – has found that failure to
provide adequate medical care can violate the treaty’s prohibition of
cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
“It is deeply concerning that Egypt’s judiciary has become complicit
in human rights violations by cruelly detaining people like Gaafar for
years without justification, exposing them to serious abuse and harm,”
Cholera is believed to have affected more than 500,000 people and
killed nearly 2,000 since late April, the World Health Organization said
A full 503,484 suspected cases and 1,975 deaths are attributable to
the outbreak that erupted last than four months ago in the war-ravaged
country, a WHO overview showed.
The UN health agency said the speed at which the deadly waterborne
disease was spreading had slowed significantly since early July, but
warned that it was still affecting an estimated 5,000 people each day.
The collapse of Yemen's infrastructure after more than two years of
war between the Saudi-backed government and Shiite rebels who control
the capital Sanaa has allowed the country's cholera epidemic to swell to
the largest in the world.
WHO warned that the disease had spread rapidly due to deteriorating
hygiene and sanitation conditions, with millions of people cut off from
clean water across the country.
"Yemen's health workers are operating in impossible conditions," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
"Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals,
not enough medicines, not enough clean water," he said, also lamenting
that many of the doctors and nurses needed to rein in the outbreak had
not been paid for nearly a year.
"They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives," he said.
WHO said that it and its partners were "working around the clock" to
support the national efforts to halt the outbreak, adding that more than
99 percent of people who contract cholera in Yemen can survive if they
can access health services.
More than 15 million people in the country have no access to basic healthcare.
Tedros called on all sides in Yemen's conflict, which has killed more
than 8,300 people since March 2015, to urgently seek a political
"The people of Yemen cannot bear it much longer - they need peace to rebuild their lives and their country," he said.
Tunisian fishermen have prevented a
ship carrying European far-right activists from docking, dealing a blow
to their mission to disrupt the flow of migrant boats from Africa to
The C-Star, chartered by French-based group Génération identitaire (GI), was unable to berth in Zarzis.
GI says non-governmental organisations active in the Mediterranean collude with people traffickers.
But the Zarzis fishermen said the anti-migrant activists were racists.
They vowed not to let the C-Star refuel if it landed and the vessel is now expected to try another Tunisian port on Monday.
"It is the least we can do given what is happening out in the
Mediterranean," Chamseddine Bourassine, head of the local fishermen's
organisation, told AFP news agency. "Muslims and Africans are dying."
A port official who asked to remain anonymous said: "Us let in racists here? Never."
Meanwhile humanitarian groups say any attempt to turn migrant boats
back to Libya could be very dangerous and illegal under international
About 600,000 migrants have been rescued from traffickers' boats and taken to Italy since the beginning of 2014.
More than 10,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean over the same period.
Earlier this month rights group Amnesty International accused the EU of mostly leaving it up to sea rescue charities to save migrants.
the same time, NGOs have come under criticism from the Italian
authorities, who have threatened to stop vessels of other countries
from bringing migrants to Italian ports.
authorities say police have fired tear gas to disperse a rock-pelting
crowd of residents on a River Nile island in Cairo, clashes that left
one person killed and 50 others injured.
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police on Sunday fired tear gas to
disperse a rock-pelting crowd of residents defending their homes on a
Nile River island against bulldozers sent by the government to demolish
their illegally-built dwellings. The clashes left one person dead and 50
The violence on the island of el-Waraq on the southern
fringes of Cairo is likely to stain a nationwide campaign launched this
summer by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt's general-turned-president, to
restore government control over state-owned land.
El-Sissi has vowed in televised comments to show no
lenience to anyone taking illegal advantage of state-owned property,
saying the law would prevail regardless of how powerful or wealthy the
offenders were. Anyone using land that does not rightfully belong to
them, he angrily said, is a "common thief."
Illegal use of state land is widespread in Egypt, as well
as building on agrarian land in violation of the law. Since el-Sissi
launched his campaign earlier in the summer, local media has been
showing images of police and army troops demolishing buildings illegally
built or operating without a license, attempting to project an image of
a government keen on protecting what is being billed as "people's
To el-Waraq's middle class and poor residents, however,
the sight of bulldozers coming to demolish their homes may have been
more than they could bear at a time when they, like most Egyptians, are
struggling to cope with soaring prices for food and services, a result
of ambitious reforms introduced by el-Sissi's government to revive the
country's battered economy.
"Get lost! Get lost!" the protesters shouted at the
scores of policemen who descended on the island early Sunday, backed by
bulldozers, scores of riot policemen and led by senior police generals.
The protesters, mostly young males, succeeded in forcing the bulldozers
to turn away, but clashes soon began.
The Health Ministry said a resident died and another 19
were wounded in the clashes. It did not say how the man, Sayed
el-Tafshan, died, but a photo of his body posted on social media
networks showed chest wounds compatible with birdshot.
The Interior Ministry, which controls the police, said its forces only used tear gas.
A ministry statement said a total of 31 people —
policemen as well as contractors who arrived with them on the island —
were injured in the clashes. The injured policemen included two
Ten residents were arrested for their part in the violence, it added.
Video clips posted on social media networks showed
hundreds of angry islanders, mostly young men, at the man's funeral,
marching through farm fields while chanting "We will sacrifice the
martyr with our soul and blood."
The statement said the residents attacked police with
firearms, birdshot guns and rocks, and that police responded with tear
gas. It said up to 700 building and land violations were recorded on the
island. It acknowledged the death of one islander and that 19 others
In el-Waraq, a mostly agricultural island with shoddily
built apartment blocks, residents maintain that their homes are legal,
citing the government's supply of drinking water and electricity.
One of the Nile's largest islands in Egypt, it is home to nearly 200,000 people and is linked to the mainland by six ferries.
"How is my home illegal when you have for years provided
me with water and electricity," said resident and civil servant Mahmoud
Essawi. "It's our land and we are not leaving."
In a separate development, Egypt's military said its jet
fighters destroyed 15 all-terrain vehicles carrying weapons and
explosives along with "criminal elements" after they were detected
getting ready to cross the Libyan border into Egypt.
A military statement Sunday said the warplanes monitored
and "dealt" with the vehicles over the past 24 hours, but it did not say
whether the airstrikes targeted them while on Egyptian soil. It also
did not mention Libya by name, making only a thinly veiled reference to
the North African nation.
Officials in Egypt continue to detain and send ethnic Uyghur students to China.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports the students were studying at Al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo.
RFA and VOA are each part of the United States government-supported Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Uyghurs are a mostly Muslim ethnic group in China and Central Asia.
Most live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of western China.
RFA reported in May that Chinese officials had begun ordering Uyghurs studying outside of China to return to their hometowns.
A Uyghur student at Al-Azhar told RFA at the time that classmates who had returned to China seem to have disappeared.
“We haven’t been able to contact any of them,” the student said.
More than 200 Uyghurs, many of them religious students, have been
detained in Egypt since July 4. Some were seized in restaurants or at
their homes. Others were stopped at airports while trying to flee to
safer countries, sources told RFA.
The Middle East Monitor reported that as many as 80 Uyghur students may have been seized on Wednesday. They were arrested for alleged problems with their Egyptian residency papers, the Monitor said in its report.
Criticism of China's treatment of Uyghurs
Human rights and Uyghur exile groups have condemned China for
violating the rights of the Uyghurs and for breaking a United Nations
The agreement bars forced repatriations.
Sandra Jolley is with the United States Commission on International
Religious Freedoms. She told RFA that the Egyptian government’s actions
violate international rules against torture.
Such rules protect people who may face “imprisonment, torture and death should they be deported to their homes,” Jolley said.
She and others are urging the Grand Imam at Cairo’s Al-Azhar Islamic
University to help stop the forced repatriations of Uyghurs.
Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb currently serves as the school’s Grand Imam.
“He has a powerful voice. He leads Al-Azhar, and he should accept some role in protecting the students who attend this very prestigious university,” Jolley said.
Call for protection
A group of Uyghur students living in Cairo have also appealed to
El-Tayeb. In a letter, they asked him to prevent future deportations.
“Our only sin is that we want to learn and study religion,” the students said.
The Arabic-language news service HuffPost Arabi received a copy of the letter.
Last week, Al-Azhar said in a statement that no Uyghur students had been
arrested on the university’s grounds or while in any buildings
connected with the school.
The list of blocked websites in Egypt keeps growing, as the
government widens what some say is an unprecedented crackdown on both
local and international digital outlets. So far, 114 websites have been blocked
in the north African nation since May 24, according to the latest
figures from the non-governmental organization Association for Freedom
of Thought and Expression.
A majority of these are news websites, but also included are
platforms that can be used to access blocked sites or that allow for
anonymous browsing and communication.
The affected websites include sites like Mada Masr, the financial newspaper Al Borsa,
and Huffington Post Arabic. Twelve websites linked to Al Jazeera were
also been blocked. Medium, the online publishing platform, was also
The outage also affected
Tor, the free software that provides users with online anonymity, and
Tor bridges, which helps users circumvent the blocking of Tor itself.
The website of the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), an
international network that monitors internship censorship and
surveillance, was also blocked.
The growing censorship comes as the government says it’s cracking down on websites that are “publishing false information” and “supporting terrorism.”
(Link in Arabic) Egypt is currently in the midst of a three-month state
emergency, following twin attacks on churches that killed almost 50
people in April.
The country is also part of a Saudi-led coalition that has put a blockade on Qatar, demanding, among other things,
the closure of the Doha-based Al Jazeera media network which it
considers to a be a propaganda tool for Islamists. The government of
president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is also embroiled in a maritime
demarcation agreement over its decision to vote on the transfer of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia—a move that has angered many Egyptians.
However, journalists and activists say the campaign is suppressing
free expression and voices critical of the government. Some are accusing
the regime of failing to disclose any judicial or administrative decision to block the sites—or whether emergency law provisions were applied.
“Even in the darkest days of the repressive Mubarak era, the
authorities didn’t cut off access to all independent news sites,” Najia
Bounaim, Amnesty International’s north Africa campaigns director, said.
In a June 19 report, OONI stated that deep packet inspection technology was being used to monitor and block these websites. Mada Masr, one of the blocked sites, also reported
that the decision to block the sites was carried through a “centralized
decision” by the government rather than by the country’s telecoms or
internet service providers.
Since going offline, sites like Mada have been publishing articles on
Facebook. Lina Attallah, the editor of the site, said the strategy of
blocking the sites works to the government’s advantage for now.
did something more grave like arresting team members or me it would
make big noise, whereas blocking the website is the best way to paralyze
us without paying a high price for it,” Attallah told Reuters.
*Photo by Mohamed Abd El Ghany, courtesy of Reuters
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified the maritime border demarcation agreement
that cedes sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia
on Saturday, according to a Cabinet statement.
The Tiran and Sanafir agreement was passed with a majority in Parliament on June 14, with only 119 MPs voting against it.
Sisi was able to seal the deal with Saudi Arabia after the Supreme
Constitutional Court temporarily froze two contradictory rulings, one
issued by the State Council in January and the other by the Court of
Urgent Matters in April, on Wednesday.
In June 2016 the State
Council’s Court of Administrative Justice (CAJ) annulled the agreement
signed by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail in April of the same year. This
was followed by two Court of Urgent Matters rulings on September 29 and
December 31 to overturn the CAJ’s decision.
However, on January 16, the
State Council’s Supreme Administrative Court upheld the initial June
ruling, stating that the deal was a concession of territory, an act that
is prohibited per Article 151 of the Constitution. On April 2, the
Court of Urgent Matters overturned the CAJ’s decision.
political parties and prominent politicians held a press conference on
June 12, ahead of Parliament’s discussion of the deal, to announce a
series of sit-ins protesting the agreement which many members of Egypt’s
opposition hailed as unconstitutional.
The presser was attended by
dozens of activists and members of several political parties, as well as
former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi and Khaled Ali. Also in
attendance were ousted chief of the Central Auditing Authority Hesham
Geneina, expelled member of Parliament Mohamed Anwar Sadat, critical
journalist Khaled al-Balshy, National Council for Human Rights member
George Ishaq and former Ambassador Masoum Marzouk.
Parliament’s approval, hundreds of members of professional syndicates signed statements in opposition to the Tiran and Sanafir agreement,
including 850 journalists, 620 members of the Engineers Syndicate’s
general assembly and more than 600 members of the Cinema Syndicate,
Since the June press conference security forces
have carried out an extensive arrest campaign across several
governorates, apprehending more than 120 activists and protesters seen
to oppose the deal.
three-year prison sentences handed to 32 Tourah Cement Company security
workers earlier this month were reduced on Sunday to two months in a
ruling by the Maadi Appeals Court.
Maadi Criminal Court announced
the initial prison terms on June 4 on charges that asserted the workers
had assaulted a police captain, obstructed justice and used violence to
According to the findings of the Maadi
Appeals Court published by the Arabic Network for Human Rights
Information (ANRHI), the court dismissed all criminal charges leveled
against the 32 workers in its Sunday ruling, except the charge of
resisting authorities, as it found them guilty of obstructing police
efforts to apprehend a wanted worker by collectively assisting in his
Lawyer Gamal Eid, the director of the ANRHI, stated that
the appeals court’s Sunday ruling represented a move “from grave
injustice, to lesser injustice.”
The appeals court’s Sunday
ruling was based on Article 375 of Egypt’s Penal Code. “Anyone who uses
force, violence, terrorism, threats or illegal measures to attack or
attempt to attack authorities is liable to imprisonment for a period not
exceeding two years and a fine not exceeding LE 100,” the article
The workers are currently being held in the 15th of May prison, located on the outskirts of Cairo.
Those implicate in the case were among the 75 full-time security
personnel that initiated a sit-in in March, demanding full-time
contracts and retroactive payment of wages, as some had worked full time
at the company for up to 10 to 15 years on temporary or part-time
Police arrested 32 workers of the workers on the
Tourah Cement Company’s grounds on May 22. The prosecutor referred them
to trial the following day, and the court proceedings commenced on May
The Tourah Cement Company – which had requested the
deployment of police forces to disperse the workers’ sit-in protest –
has not stated whether it will meet workers’ demands for full-time
employment and benefits and reinstate those that have been arrested.
Lawyer Haiytham Mohamadein expressed skepticism that those who had been
involved in the sit-in would be allowed back into the company, let
alone be reinstated to their former jobs with full-time contracts and
benefits. Mohamadein said that the Tourah Cement Company is seeking to
employ new security workers through a private contracting company.
A host of organizations and individuals, both in Egypt and abroad, have
expressed solidarity with the imprisoned Tourah Cement Company workers
in a petition calling for the release of the 32 detainees.
Messages of international solidarity also have poured in from dozens of
trade unionists and labor activists from Australia, Austria, Canada,
Spain, UK, USA, among other countries.
The Tourah Cement Company
workers are the latest labor group to be arrested and referred to trial
for industrial action. In April, police arrested 16 protesting Telecom
Egypt Company workers in Cairo, while in January police forces
forcefully dispersed a sit-in at the IFFCO Oils Company in the Suez
Governorate, briefly arresting scores of workers.
2016, police were deployed to disperse two sit-ins at the privately
owned Egyptian Fertilizers Company (EFC) and the Egyptian Basic
Industries Corporation (EBIC), both of which are owned by the
billionaire Nassif Sawiris.
In September 2016, police conducted
dawn raids at the apartments of bus drivers from the Public Transport
Authority who had been planning a partial strike, detaining six drivers,
two of whom may still face trial. In May 2016, military police
surrounded a sit-in led by Alexandria Shipyard Company workers and
imposed a lockout on the company. Twenty-six civilian workers were
referred to military trial.
of members of professional syndicates have signed statements in
opposition to Parliament’s recent approval of the Tiran and Sanafir
agreement, brokered by Egypt and Saudi Arabia in April 2016.
Eight hundred and fifty journalists issued a statement on Sunday
announcing that they reject the agreement, which concedes sovereignty
over the two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, describing it as invalid
and “demanding that state institutions respect the Constitution and the
law, and the blood of martyrs who defended Egyptian land.”
Journalists Syndicate announced that it would launch an investigation
into the sit-in held in its headquarters on Wednesday, protesting the
Hatem Zakareya, a member of the syndicate’s board, told Mada
Masr that no request was submitted before the protest, in violation of
the syndicate’s bylaws. He added that investigations will also be
launched into footage aired on Al Jazeera and other pro-Muslim
Brotherhood channels from inside the building and its entrance showing
non-syndicate members attending the protest.
Gamal Abdel Rehim,
one of four syndicate board members who signed a statement rejecting the
agreement, told Mada Masr that allegations that Muslim
Brotherhood-affiliated channels entered the syndicate are untrue,
arguing that it is not necessary to submit a request before initiating
sit-ins at the syndicate.
“Never in the history of the syndicate
has any group submitted a request to start a sit-in,” he said, adding
that it is common for non-syndicate members to join political action
taking place within the syndicate.
A statement was also signed
by 620 members of the Engineers Syndicate’s general assembly denouncing
the deal, labeling it unconstitutional. The statement criticized
“attempts to pressure opposition and the blocking of websites that
attempt to reveal the truth of the matter.”
The statement mirrors
that issued by the Journalists Syndicate, calling on citizens to
exercise their constitutional right to express their opinions peacefully
“in defense of the blood of the martyrs who died to defend the unity of
Head of the Engineers Syndicate Tarek
al-Nabarawy said last Friday that in his personal opinion the islands
are Egyptian, adding that the syndicate should not be involved in
Akram Ismail, member of the Engineers Syndicate and the
Bread and Freedom Party told Mada Masr: “Major national causes cannot
be separated from syndicate work,” adding that syndicates, parties and
social media are the only remaining platforms for political action
following the crackdown on the street movement and blocking of websites.
Ismail said that the fact that three leading figures in the syndicate
expressed their opposition to the agreement on their personal Facebook
pages indicates the syndicate’s position, even if no official statement
Members of the Cinema Syndicate also released a
statement inviting people to protest the transfer of the islands “using
all peaceful and legal means.”
They called for a protest at their
headquarters on Saturday to oppose the agreement, however the protest
was canceled due to the heavy security presence in the area.
members of the Doctors Syndicate board also announced their opposition
to the agreement in a statement. However Mona Mina, the syndicate’s
secretary general, wrote on her Facebook page: “As a vocational
institution, the syndicate has nothing to do with this important
political and national cause.”
Members of the Lawyers Syndicate also held a protest inside syndicate headquarters on Tuesday to express their objection.
Since discussions of the maritime border agreement reached Parliament,
security forces have carried out an extensive arrest campaign across
several governorates, targeting activists and protesters opposing the
(ANSA) - Rome - Egyptian authorities have turned
down a request from Rome prosecutors probing the Cairo torture
and murder of Giulio Regeni to be present at the questioning of
Egyptian police officers who carried out investigations into the
Friuli-born Cambridge University researcher.
They said Egyptian law forbids the presence of foreign
magistrates during judicial activity.
Regeni's parents Claudio and Paola were informed of the
refusal during a meeting Friday with Rome chief prosecutor
Giuseppe Pignatone and his assistant Sergio Colaiocco.
Cairo prosecutors have, however, sent their Italian
counterparts a second report on testimony from the seven
policemen who probed Regeni, who disappeared on January 25 2016
and whose mutilated body was found on the road to Alexandria
eight days later.
The testimony is a summary of what the agents said and not
their testimony in full, judicial sources said.
Italian magistrates are hoping for a third tranche of
documents, starting with questioning of the national security
chief who investigated Regeni a few days before his
disappearance, as well as testimony given in March 2016 by the
agent who searched the home of the alleged head of a kidnapping
gang suspected of abducting and robbing foreigners.
Regeni, 28, went missing in the Egyptian capital on January
25, 2016, on the heavily policed fifth anniversary of the
uprising that ousted former strongman and president Hosni
His severely tortured, mutilated body was found on February
3 in a ditch on the city's outskirts.
Egypt has denied speculation its security forces, who are
frequently accused of brutally repressing opposition, were
involved in the death of the Cambridge doctoral student.
Regeni was researching street vendors' trade unions, a
Egyptian and Italian prosecutors have been working on the
case but Rome has yet to send a new ambassador to Cairo in
protest at the lack of progress.
"Italy has mourned the killing of one of its studious young
people, Giulio Regeni, without full light being shed on this
tragic case for a year and despite the intense efforts of our
judiciary and our diplomacy," President Sergio Mattarella said
on the first anniversary of Regeni's disappearance.
"We call for broader and more effective cooperation so that
the culprits are brought to justice".
Premier Paolo Gentiloni expressed his support for Regeni's
family and said his government was determined to get to the
Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano echoed his words and said
that the young man's death "deprives all of us of a generous
heart that could have done a great deal for others".
The message on the foreign ministry website said that "the
tragic death of Giulio Regeni is still an open wound not only
for his family, who remain in our thoughts, but for our entire
A video recently surfaced in which the head of the Cairo
street traders' union, Mohammed Abdallah, secretly filmed
Regeni asking him questions about the union using a police
Abdallah said he was doing his patriotic duty because Regeni,
he said, was a spy.
Egypt has furnished several explanations for Regeni's death
ranging from a car accident to a gay fight to a kidnapping, all
of which have been dismissed by Italy.
Suspicion has fallen on seven members of the Egyptian police
and intelligence services who used Abdallah as an informant and
who later were responsible for wiping out the alleged kidnapping gang.
Regeni's personal documents were allegedly found in the house
of the sister of one of the alleged gang's members.
There seem to have been signs of Egyptian cooperation on
Giulio Regeni's death thanks to the work of Rome prosecutors but
there is absolutely no evidence of true cooperation from
Egyptian authorities, Regeni's parents said recently.
Paola and Claudio Regeni urged that Italy's ambassador to
Cairo not return to Egypt, since this "would give a signal of
detente that must not be given", and stressed the importance of
not sending Egypt spare parts for F35 fighter jets until justice
has been served.
have arrested a total of 60 people connected to political action
against the agreement to concede sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir
islands to Saudi Arabia, according to the Freedom for the Brave
The nationwide arrests commenced after Parliament
approved the agreement on Wednesday night, with police moving to detain
political activists and party members in Cairo, Alexandria, Damietta,
Sharqiya, Beni Suef, Fayoum, Luxor, Port Said and Suez.
Mohamed Abdel Aziz told Mada Masr that those arrested come from several
political parties, including the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the
Constitution Party, the Bread and Freedom Party, the Popular Current
Party and the Karama Party, as well as from Egypt’s independent activist
community, all of whom voiced their opposition to the agreement.
According to Abdel Aziz, security forces arrested many of the activists
and party members from their homes, including Hassan Ahwany who is
being questioned by the Dokki prosecution in Cairo and is being
represented by Abdel Aziz.
Many of those arrested will be
questioned by prosecutors on Friday, including six people who were
arrested in Port Said and Tanta, according to the Front to Defend
The FDEP has added that activists Mahmoud
Nagib and Israa Fahid face charges of incitement to protest and
obstructing public transportation, and that three people arrested in
Luxor on Thursday are in the National Security Agency’s custody. In
Ismailia, Constitution Party member Ahmed Santos was questioned by the
prosecutor, who has issued Santos a 15-day detention order pending an
According to lawyer Abdel Aziz Yousef, the prosecutor
issued Egyptian Social Democratic Party member Islam Marei a 15-day
detention order pending investigation into charges of incitement against
the regime; insulting state institutions, including the Armed Forces,
police and the judiciary; distributing anti-government flyers; and using
social networks for incitement against state institutions.
Aziz described the arrests as “ferocious,” saying security forces are
attempting to prevent any mobilization against the Tiran and Sanafir
agreement. The scope of the arrests, he asserted, is disproportionate to
the protests that have taken place in reaction to the agreement.
Police arrested eight people in the proximity of the Journalists
Syndicate’s headquarters in downtown Cairo on Wednesday night, which was
the site of a protest against the Tiran and Sanafir agreement. All
eight were released yesterday on LE10,000 bail.
dispersed a demonstration on Wednesday in front of the Egyptian Social
Democratic Party’s headquarters in downtown Cairo, barricading the
protesters inside the building, according party member Ziad al-Eleimi.
CAIRO – The hashtag “Al-Sisi is a traitor,”
referring to the Egyptian president, topped on Wednesday the trending
hashtags on Twitter in Egypt.
This comes amid controversy over
the transfer of ownership of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia,
discussed by parliament since Sunday and approved on Wednesday.
to official rhetoric, dismissed by many Egyptians, the islands of Tiran
and Sanafir, located at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, have always
belonged to Saudi Arabia, and Egypt only administered them at the
request of the kingdom.
Based on this, both countries signed an
agreement in April 2016 for the “return” of both islands to Saudi
Arabia, sparking huge protests in the country.
which ended in court with a ruling against the treaty issued by the
Supreme Administrative Court, has resurfaced after parliament began on
Sunday discussions prior to the ratification of the agreement.
parliamentary committee gave validity on Tuesday to the pact and sent
it to the Legislative Assembly which, in turn, sent it to the national
defense and security commission, which should review it before it is
voted on in general session by all legislators, who have approved the
agreement with a two-thirds majority.
from political parties gathered on Tuesday at the Journalists Syndicate
to object the decision taken by the commission as part of a campaign of
protest called by activists and minority parties on social networks.
and activist Khaled Balshi denounced on Wednesday to EFE the arrest on
Tuesday night of eight people from the Syndicate building, although he
confirmed they were released hours later.
The hashtag “Al-Sisi is
a traitor” climbed to the top after two days when the hashtag “Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian” occupied the same place, and is now in second
is back on the blacklist of the UN-affiliated International Labor
Organization (ILO) over the nation’s failure to issue a new trade union
law in keeping with ILO Convention 87 concerning the right to organize.
The list includes 25 states, among which are Algeria, Libya, Sudan, and
Mauritania, and was determined at the 106th Session of the
International Labor Conference in the Swiss city of Geneva between June 5
Egyptian authorities were warned about the blacklist
when an ILO delegation visited Cairo in May and issued a statement
regarding a 2011 draft law on trade liberties that protects the rights
of independent unions away from the monopoly of the state-controlled
Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), and has not been passed into
The ETUF has maintained its hold over Egypt’s trade unions
since its establishment in 1957.
Egypt was previously on the ILO’s blacklist
between 2008 and 2010, but was removed from the list when the draft law
on Trade Union Liberties was finalized in 2011 under former Minister of
Manpower Ahmed Hassan al-Borai.
The subsequent shelving of this draft by
consecutive governments has left the outdated Trade Union Law 35/1976
in effect, which only recognizes the ETUF, and controls the Manpower
Committee in parliament, as well as all trade union legislation and the
Ministry of Manpower.
The ETUF board has remained un-elected
since 2011, with members appointed by the Manpower Ministry. President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and parliament have both extended the ETUF’s term a
number of times.
Wahballah released a statement on the ETUF’s official
website on Tuesday, criticizing the ILO’s blacklist and asserting that
Egypt believes in union freedoms. On Wednesday he published another
statement, asserting that Egypt has not violated international labor
standards, and accusing the ILO of having “other political objectives.”
“Egyptian national security is a red line that cannot be crossed for
the purpose of imaginary external agendas that are not in the interests
of the common good and stability of this precious country,” Wahballah
said on his return from Geneva.
ETUF has tarnished Egypt’s reputation both domestically and
internationally,” member of the Independent Union of Pensioners Talal
Shokr told Mada Masr, adding that several ministries, including the
Interior Ministry and Ministry of Manpower have refused paperwork for
the establishment of independent unions.
In April 2016, ILO
Director General Guy Rider called on Egyptian authorities to revoke a
ban that restricts independent unions from publishing official
documents, prohibits collective bargaining and exposes union leaders to
dismissal and arrest.
The ILO was formed in 1919, more than two decades before the
establishment of the UN. Egypt joined in 1936, ratifying a host of ILO laws - including Convention
87 and Convention 98 in the 1950s, but has largely failed to uphold its provisions.
Thirty two Tourah Cement Company workers were sentenced to three
years in prison by the Maadi Misdemeanors Court on Sunday. They were
arrested after security forces broke up a sit-in at the company in May.
The workers faced charges of assaulting a police captain, obstructing
justice and using violence to resist authorities. All defendants are
currently being held in at the 15th of May prison.
According to lawyer Haitham Mohamedein the defense team will appeal against Sunday’s verdict within 10 days of the verdict.
He told Mada Masr that although the trial was held before justices
from the Maadi Misdemeanors Court, they convened at the Tourah Police
Academy. The trial, which took place over two sessions was initially
scheduled for May 28, however it was adjourned until Saturday after police personnel failed to transport the defendants to the trial.
“The workers’ families and friends were not allowed to attend these
trial, and there were no journalists present during,” he added.
They were arrested after staging a sit-in in March that lasted several weeks before it was forcefully dispersed
by security forces on May 22. Seventy five security personnel initiated
the protest to demand full-time contracts and the retroactive payment
of wages as some have worked full-time at the company for up to 15 years
on temporary or part-time contracts.
Mohamedein criticized the court for issuing the harshest penalties against the protesting workers. He told Mada Masr last week
that the charges are trumped-up and baseless, adding that “the Interior
Ministry appears to have decided that it wants to extend the legal
The workers’ defense team and media reports
claim that the judge presiding over this trial condemned them for
initiating the sit-in, even before the conclusion of the court’s
hearings. “A judge should only express their decision while issuing a
verdict,” Mohamedein told Mada Masr.
The judge is also reported to have claimed that labor strikes are
criminal, despite the fact the none of the charges were related to
striking as there had been no work stoppages or slowdowns, and even
though Article 15 of the Constitution safeguards the right to strike.
A petition protesting
the workers arrests has been endorsed by 12 labor unions, political
parties and groups and over 250 individuals. It claims that the
detainees were physically abused, treated in a degrading manner and had
their personal belongings stolen while in custody.
A worker who had been protesting at the company told Mada Masr last
week, on condition of anonymity, that four of the detained workers had
been hospitalized. They could not confirm the exact reasons for this,
“as we have not been able to speak directly with our detained coworkers
since their arrests, and because they were not brought to their court
Mohamedein said that the workers had been “entirely peaceful and
nonviolent” and, responding to accusations that they assaulted an
officer, he explained that no medical report had been filed or evidence
The protest followed the company’s refusal to compensate the family
of a security guard who was killed during an altercation with people
thought to be stealing property from company grounds. The company board
claimed the deceased security guard was not entitled to any compensation
or insurance because he was a part-time employee.
The board’s claim flouted a previous court verdict. In May last year,
the workers filed a lawsuit against the company before the Appeals
Court, which ruled that they were entitled to the company’s
profit-sharing scheme, healthcare and other employment rights.
The recent crackdown on labor-related protests in Egypt has seen
security forces break up several sit-ins and protesting workers stand
trial. In April police arrested 16 protesting Telecom Egypt workers and
December 2016 saw security break up sit-ins at two of billionaire Nassif
In an ongoing case 26 Alexandria Shipyard Company
workers are currently standing military trial, accused of inciting
workers to strike. The military trial of these civilian workers has been adjourned 12 times, and is
currently scheduled to take place on June 20.
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi was quick to launch air strikes on militants in Libya in
response to a deadly attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt - but the
attacks do not seem to be targeting those responsible.
response was popular with many Egyptians. The country's state-owned and
private news media celebrated it as swift justice, but the president
has been vague about exactly who he is attacking.
strikes have been directed at Islamist groups other than Islamic State,
which claimed responsibility for Friday's massacre of dozens in the
southern province of Minya, and seem to be intended to shore up Sisi's
allies in eastern Libya.
"The attacks in Minya
were claimed by Islamic State, and there are Islamic State elements
active in Libya, but the reports coming indicate Cairo is targeting
other groups," said H.A. Hellyer, senior nonresident fellow at the
In any case, analysts say
the strikes will not do much against Islamists in Cairo, Sinai and Upper
Egypt, where they have had a stronghold since the 1990s and have been
attacking tourists, Copts and government officials.
Bombing the camps in Libya is seen as a diversion for a failure to defeat Islamists inside Egypt.
easier to strike a terrorist camp in Libya by air than it is to clean
up serious problems inside Egypt; sectarianism, radicalization, that led
to this and other attacks," said Michele Dunne, director of Carnegie's
Middle East program.
"All the horrific
terrorism that is happening inside Egypt has purely domestic drivers and
probably would be happening if Islamic State did not exist. It is not
all that different from the home-grown terrorism Egypt experienced in
the 1990s, before Al Qaeda or Islamic State even existed," she said.
and Libyan officials said strikes had been launched on camps and
ammunition stores belonging to the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council
(DMSC). Areas targeted include the western entrance to Derna, Dahr
al-Hamar in the south, and al-Fatayeh, a hilly area about 20 km (12
miles) from the city.
Yet the DMSC has never
been involved in attacks outside Libya and in fact mostly limits its
activities to Derna, rarely fighting in larger conflicts within Libya,
according to Mohamed Eljarh, an Atlantic Council political analyst in
The group has denied taking part in attacks inside Egypt.
fact, many suggest the air strikes had been planned in advance to shore
up support for Sisi's main Libyan ally, Khalifa Haftar and his
self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), and that the Minya massacre was
used as a pretext to launch them.
to Haftar, a military strongman like Sisi, have long been fighting the
DMSC, cutting off supply routes to the city and hitting it with
occasional air strikes. Despite the LNA's siege, the military situation
in Derna has been in stalemate for months.
has also carried out strikes in Jufra, where the LNA has been fighting
Islamists who fled Benghazi as well as forces linked to the U.N.-backed
government in Tripoli.
The LNA lost dozens of men there in a surprise attack on an air base earlier in May, but has since consolidated control.
Minya attack was a catalyst for those inside the Egyptian government
and military who are in favor of military intervention in Libya, said
Mokhtar Awad, who researches extremism at George Washington University.
is Egypt taking action not because of the Minya attack but ... to drive
out as many extremists as possible from the east," he said.
'They Are All Terrorists'
says it does not target specific groups but that it goes after all
militants who could be a threat to its security. A military spokesman
told state media on Monday that all the groups targeted have the same
ideology as those who carried out the Minya massacre, which is reason
enough to bomb them.
"Names are not important
for us, they are all terrorists. Those who carried out the Minya
operation do not necessarily have to be in these camps but their
followers are," an Egyptian intelligence source told Reuters.
also said it was likely the air strikes has been planned in advance and
that the Minya attack was an opportunity to carry them out, as part of a
larger policy towards supporting Haftar, with Egypt bombing groups that
constitute the strongest opposition to him.
sees any militant activity in eastern Libya, which is near its border,
as a threat to its national security. One of the reasons Sisi has
supported Haftar since 2014 is to ensure that all Islamists are driven
out of eastern Libya.
Sisi is getting more
involved now because of improved relations with Washington, Eljarh said.
He believes U.S President Donald Trump has given him the green light to
fight jihadists in Libya and elsewhere.
When Sisi announced the first round of air strikes on television on Friday, he implored Trump to support him.
Trump, who has made a point of improving relations with Cairo, said his country stood with Sisi and the Egyptian people.