According to the decree of President Armen Sarkissian, Karen Grigoryan has been appointed Armenia’s Ambassador to Egypt, the Presidential Office told Armenpress.
The President signed the respective decree based on the prime minister’s proposal.
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Amnesty International has reported that Egypt keeps political prisoners locked up in “prolonged” and “indefinite” solitary confinement and subjects them to “horrendous physical abuse,” saying such treatment amounts to torture under international law.
The London-based rights group released the results of a new research dubbed “Crushing humanity: the abuse of solitary confinement in Egypt’s prisons” on Monday, saying dozens of detained journalists, rights activists and members of the opposition are “unlawfully” being “held in prolonged solitary confinement under horrific conditions.”
In the 56-page report, Amnesty said those held in solitary confinement farce “horrendous physical abuse, including beatings by prison guards and having their heads repeatedly dunked into a container filled by human excrement,” which in many cases results in “panic attacks, paranoia, hypersensitivity to stimuli, and difficulties with concentration and memory.”
Upon returning to the prison population, the report added, those tortured in solitary cells “suffer depression, insomnia and an unwillingness to socialize or speak to other people.”
The research, based on dozens of interviews with former prisoners and with family members of the current prisoners, also found other forms of abuses such as food deprivation, humiliation and restricted movement for years on end.
“Under international law, solitary confinement may only be used as a disciplinary measure of last resort, but the Egyptian authorities are using it as a horrifying ‘extra’ punishment for political prisoners,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa campaigns director.
“Prison conditions in Egypt have always been bad, but the deliberate cruelty of this treatment shows the wider contempt for human rights and dignity by the Egyptian authorities,” Bounaim said.
The study also revealed in most cases, prisoners are being held behind bars solely because of their “past political activism.”
“Not only are Egyptian human rights defenders, journalists and members of the opposition being targeted for peacefully expressing their views in the outside world; their persecution also continues behind bars,” it added.
Amnesty had sent a memorandum containing a summary of its latest research to the Egyptian authorities last month, but it has received no response.
Authorities have not yet commented on the report, but the Interior Ministry has in the past denied allegations of systemic torture. It blamed abuse in prisons on individuals, saying they are held accountable. It claimed that several officers have been tried and convicted of torture, while others have been acquitted.
Masr al-Arabia journalists say raid on its offices prompted by decision to run New York Times piece on alleged election irregularities.
Egyptian police have raided the office of a news website and arrested its editor-in-chief as part of a wider crack down on media that reported allegations of vote buying during last month’s presidential election.
The raid late on Tuesday came two days after the supreme council for media regulation, an official oversight body, told the Masr al-Arabia website to pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,849) as a fine for republishing a New York Times article on alleged irregularities during the presidential election. The website is one of over 500to have been blocked within Egypt since May 2017.
Two journalists at the website quoted the site’s lawyers as saying that police said they had acted because the website did not have a permit to operate. The journalists said the raid was prompted by the republishing of the New York Times article.
A statement from the council, which was based on a complaint from the national election authority, on Sunday had accused the website of publishing false news.
“The website should have checked the authenticity of the news or commented on it with an opinion,” the council statement said, referring to the New York Times article, which said some voters were offered payments and other inducements to vote.
The New York Times defended its reporting. “We stand by the accuracy of our reporting and strongly condemn any arrests meant to intimidate journalists and stifle freedom of the press,” Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman said.
Adel Sabry, the website’s editor-in-chief, was arrested and was still being held at Dokki police station in greater Cairo on Wednesday.
A security source at the police station said Sabry was being held prior to appearing before a prosecutor. Sabry is accused of running a news website without a permit, the source added.
The office of the website was closed and sealed with red wax, the three journalists said.
Washington D.C, April 4, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the retaliatory measures taken by Egyptian authorities against the independent news website Masr al-Arabia for its coverage of last week’s presidential elections and calls on the authorities to release the website’s editor.
Since April 1, Egyptian authorities have shuttered Masr al-Arabia‘s office in Cairo, arrested its editor-in-chief, and levied a fine against the website after it allegedly violated election regulations, according to news reports.
“Having threatened the press ahead of the vote, various Egyptian authorities now appear to be competing to see who can most stringently enforce censorship in the wake of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s reelection,” CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Coordinator said. “We call on the Egyptian government to ease this relentless crackdown and let the news media do its job of holding power to account.”
CPJ’s requests for comment sent via email to Egyptian media regulators and the prosecutor general’s office were not immediately answered.
At least 10 plainclothes police who said they belonged to local municipality authorities yesterday raided Masr al-Arabia‘s office and held its journalists for five hours. The group of men then ordered staff out of the building and sealed the doors with red wax, according to Masr al-Arabia, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information press freedom group, and news reports. The website’s staff is operating remotely, according to a statement from Masr al-Arabia issued late yesterday after the raid.
Police yesterday also arrested the website’s editor-in-chief, Adel Sabri, claiming that Masr al-Arabia lacks requisite licensing. Police took him to Dokki prison in Cairo. The editor today appeared in front of a district prosecutor whose name has not been released and who is still deciding if Sabri should be freed, the video department head Ahmed Gamal Ziada told CPJ.
In its statement, Masr al-Arabia wrote that police told Sabri he should pay a 50,000 Egyptian pound (US$2841) fine imposed on the paper on April 1 by Egypt’s media regulator, the High Council for Media.
The regulator issued the fine after Masr al-Arabia published its Arabic translation of a critical New York Times report alleging election violations, which the regulator labeled as “fake news.” The website has refused to pay the fine, according to the Masr al-Arabia statement.
With the start of the presidential elections yesterday, the official campaign of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi witnessed intensive activity. A central operations room was equipped at the headquarters of the campaign in Cairo to monitor the electoral process in all the committees in Cairo and the various governorates around the country.
The campaign is equipped with a large number of computers and laptops and television screens to follow the elections moment by moment and to identify any problems facing the voting process and work to resolve immediately.
Al-Ahram was located inside the Central Operations Room, which turned into a beehive to follow up the work on the ground. The operations room did not detect any problems in the various committees. The voting process was easy and easy for all voters.
The operation room of the official campaign of President Sisi monitored the regularity of the electoral process through the reports received by the Chamber from all delegates in different centers of the Republic, which confirmed the high turnout of voters to vote in the elections in different provinces.
By Shahira Amin
When TV presenter Doaa Salah broached the thorny issue of single motherhood on her weekly “Dodi Show” on Al Nahar last July, she probably had no idea that she would end up fired and sentenced to three years in prison.
Sporting a fake baby bump in the studio, she boldly asked female viewers if they had ever considered engaging in premarital sex. She also suggested that women marry for a short period to have a baby and lamented that sperm donation is prohibited in Egypt. She faced a fierce backlash for her “immoral remarks.”
She was permanently suspended from her job and charged with “inciting debauchery” after a lawyer filed a complaint accusing her of “violating public morality.” Last November, she was convicted of the same offense and sentenced to three years in prison. Salah has appealed the verdict and is now awaiting a decision by the court of appeals. Although she is currently out of jail, her high-profile case and the sentence sent a clear message that the state has zero tolerance for ideas deemed by the authorities to be “a threat to the fabric of Egyptian life.”
Topics like sex and sperm donation are taboo in conservative Egypt, where the family is sacrosanct. Ironically, there was no uproar when the Egyptian film “Bashtery Ragel” (“A Man Wanted”) took on the same delicate topic that landed Salah in hot water. The romantic comedy that premiered in January 2017 tells the story of a successful businesswoman in her mid-30s who decides to have a child and seeks a sperm donor on Facebook. While the film provoked no outcry from conservatives, it drew mixed reactions from audiences and critics. Some praised it as inspiring and empowering for women, while others condemned it as an attempt to propagate Western values that violate Egyptian cultural traditions and Islamic beliefs. Because the film is a comedy, it was largely taken lightly by the audience. But screenwriter Inas Lotfy had intended the film to be “a wake-up call” for society.
“The Egyptian public is not accustomed to hearing a woman express her needs and desires, let alone take control of her own life like the lead actress did,” Lotfy said in an interview broadcast on CBC.
The film was inspired by the real-life experience of one of Lotfy’s friends who, after several failed relationships, had decided she was no longer interested in finding a husband. She wanted a baby without the hassle of another breakup.
Her case is not uncommon in Egypt, where the number of unmarried women over 35 has spiked in recent years, exceeding 8 million in 2016 — an estimated 40% of women of marriageable age, according to the national statistics agency.
In Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country, perceptions of marriage, divorce and motherhood are changing. The change perhaps is best reflected in the much-publicized case of 27-year-old Hadir Makaqi, dubbed “Egypt’s first single mother” by the Egyptian media. She sparked controversy last year when she announced her pregnancy on social media after her husband abandoned her. “Urfi” marriages are unregistered with the state and often take place in private with the couple simply signing a piece of paper — often without witnesses — to declare they are married. Young couples have increasingly turned to such informal and often secret marriages as a way of quietly circumventing Sharia, which prohibits adultery and extramarital sex. Choosing to keep her baby and become a single mother rather than get an abortion is a huge gamble in a country like Egypt, where the stakes are incredibly high: a tarnished reputation, exposure to insults and even the risk of detention.
Makaqi decided to go public with her pregnancy, believing that she had more to gain from speaking out than remaining silent. She had hoped sharing her story online would help garner public support for her yet unborn child by piling pressure on the alleged father to recognize his child. Photographs of the pregnant Makaqi quickly went viral on social media, earning her both praise and criticism. Supporters lauded her courage and honesty, while critics attacked her for “inciting immorality” and “promoting adultery.”
The case served to bring public attention the serious problem of urfi marriages, under which millions of Egyptian women are deprived of their financial and legal rights and run the risk of their spouse denying the marriage or ending it by simply destroying the paper declaration. In many cases, children born in urfi marriages are not acknowledged by the father. When this happens, the woman might get an abortion to avoid a scandal. Few are as courageous as Makaqi.
Another reason for the increasing number of single mothers is the country’s high divorce rate, the highest in the Arab World. Nearly 40% of marriages in Egypt end in divorce within the first five years, a sign that the social stigma associated with divorce is weakening.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam has attributed the high divorce rates to “khul” — a procedure for a no-fault divorce introduced in Egypt in 2000 that allows a Muslim woman to divorce her husband on the grounds that she is suffering in the marriage. Rights advocates, however, deny the Mufti’s claim.
“Filing a court case to be granted a divorce is often a difficult process that may take up to 18 months,” rights lawyer Azza Soliman told Al-Monitor. “Under khul, a woman is required to give up her legal financial rights and return the dowry she received from her spouse. So while khul appears in theory to offer women a solution to their marital woes, in practice, the procedure is time-consuming and at times humiliating for the woman, who has to represent herself in court and is often prodded by the judge to reveal the reasons for seeking the divorce.”
While divorced women in Egypt still face multiple challenges, including the negative social perceptions of divorced women, more women are opting to break away from unhappy marriages and make a fresh start as single mothers.
“Society always puts the blame on the woman for the divorce. The hardest part for me was the fact that everyone I knew — even close friends — turned their back on me after my divorce,” said Marwa Kamel, who has two adolescent children in her custody. Her husband walked out on her seven years ago to be with another woman, ending their marriage of 13 years. After getting over the initial shock of the breakup, Kamel went about rebuilding her life, working two jobs to support herself and her children.
Still, she has no regrets. “I am happier and more fulfilled today than I ever was during my marriage,” she told Al-Monitor.
By law, Egyptian women are entitled to custody of their children until they turn 15. Under a proposed bill currently under review in parliament, a divorced mother would lose custody of her children to her ex-husband in the event of her remarrying if the ex-husband can provide a female caretaker. Under the current laws, custody of the children goes to the maternal grandmother if the woman remarries. Critics have slammed the proposed amendment as discriminatory.
Soliman said, “It forces divorced women to choose between remarrying and retaining custody of their children,” while divorced men do not face the same restrictions.
In Egypt, 25% of households are headed by single women, according to the Ministry of Social Solidarity. A report released by the national statistics agency on March 8 revealed that women are the breadwinners for more than 3.3 million families in Egypt, 14% of the total. Women also represent 23% of the workforce, with more than three quarters of them holding permanent jobs. The figures indicate a shift toward a growing decision-making role for women within the family and in the public sphere. As girls become more economically independent, they increasingly refuse to bow to social pressures, so fewer girls are getting married just to appease their parents. More women are taking charge of their destinies and making their own choices. Marriage is no longer the cultural gateway to societal recognition and sexual activity — and more women are speaking out against harmful cultural practices and demanding their rights.
CAIRO – 19 March 2018: Egypt on Monday condemned Turkey’s “occupation” of northern Syria’s city of Afrin and the human rights violations carried out by Turkish troops in the city.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Turkish military operation has violated civilians’ rights and forced them to flee the city.
On Sunday, Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies swept into Afrin, taking control of the town’s center after Kurdish YPG forces pulled out, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Continuous violations of Syria’s sovereignty is “unacceptable”, the statement read, adding that such violations complicate the political situation, foil current conflict settlement efforts, and worsen the humanitarian crisis in the country.
The statement also reaffirmed Egypt’s support of a political solution in Syria, which would preserve the unity of the Syrian state and institutions.
On January 24, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Sameh Shoukry and then-U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stressed on the importance of coordinating efforts to support a political solution agreed upon by all parties to the crisis, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.
Shoukry stressed the importance of supporting the aspirations of Syria’s people, protecting its national unity and preserving its institutions. He asserted Egypt’s efforts to defuse the crisis in Syria, especially the international resolutions in Geneva under U.N. auspices.
Turkey slammed a motion approved by the European Parliament on March 15 that calls for a halt to Ankara’s military offensive in the Afrin region, saying it demonstrated “clear support” for militants.
On January 20, Turkey launched the “Operation Olive Branch” military operation in Afrin to clear the city from the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia that Turkey considers terrorists.
Hundreds of residents were seen fleeing the city of Afrin, with the Observatory reporting that more than 2,000 arrived in an area controlled by pro-regime forces.
Hundreds more were on the road, it said, after Turkish forces and their allies arrived to within less than two kilometers (one mile) of the city on March 10, sparking fears it could be besieged.
Syria’s conflict broke out in March 2011 with peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but a regime crackdown paved the way for a full-fledged war.
At least 353,935 people have died since, including more than 106,000 civilians, the Observatory said in March, providing a new overall death toll for the conflict. More than 19,800 children are among the dead, it said.
Turkey will face a confrontation with Egypt if it does not respect Cairo’s rights for gas exploration won in a deal with Greek Cyprus, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid warned on Tuesday.
The maritime border demarcation deal in question was signed in 2013 between Egypt and Cyprus, and gives Cairo access to an area of the East Mediterranean that is of particular interest for hydrocarbon companies since the discovery of the huge Zohr gas fields in 2015.
However, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu appeared to contest the deal, when he declared that Turkish Cypriots had been unfairly prevented from claiming their “inalienable rights to the natural resources” around the island, and revealed Turkish plans to begin exploration in the area.
“Nobody can contest the validity of the agreement,” the Turkish daily newspaper Sabah quoted Abu Zeid as saying in response, adding that the deal has been delivered to the United Nations.
Reuters reported that the foreign ministry spokesperson warned that “any attempt to infringe or diminish Egypt’s rights in that area” would be confronted.
Turkey’s relations with Egypt have been unfriendly since the current president, Abdel Fettah al-Sisi, deposed his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, in a popularly-supported coup in 2013.
In 2015 a British Egyptologist said he found evidence of a hidden chamber behind King Tutankhamun’s lavish tomb. Archaeologists have now started what they hope are decisive scans.
Archaeologists have started “decisive” radar scans in King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber in the search for hidden chambers, Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry said Thursday.
Researchers are using ground-penetrating radar to hopefully verify the presence of empty spaces or corridors behind the walls of the pharaoh’s burial chamber. The young pharaoh was buried inside a tomb known as KV62 in the Valley of the Kings near the modern city of Luxor.
The tomb was discovered in 1922 and found to contain a wealth of treasures.
British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves in 2015 claimed that photographs and scans of the tomb’s northern wall seemed to suggest the presence of a concealed chamber.
Reeves theorized that the hidden chamber might contain the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, the wife of Tutankhamen’s father, the pharaoh Akhenaten.
Leader of the investigation Professor Franco Porcelli of the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, told La Repubblica newspaper that proving Reeves’ theory “would be like winning the lottery.”
He said his team had already identified “two empty spaces, one rather big, one not so much,” and that he hopes to give a “final answer” about Reeves’ hypothesis in the coming months.
Egypt has previously scanned the tomb, but the results were inconclusive.
In November, a project known as ScanPyramids announced the discovery of a large void in the Great Pyramid of Giza using muography (a technique similar to that of an x-ray, but using cosmic rays to map large volumes). The discovery was the first major inner structure found in the Great Pyramid since the nineteenth century, according to researchers.
aw/jm (dpa, AP)
At least 10 people have been killed in the attack, including two police officers who tried to stop the man. Islamist militants have increasingly targeted the Coptic Christian community and carrying attacks on churches.
Two gunmen on Friday opened fire outside a church on the outskirts of Cairo before attempting to storm the building, leaving five people dead including two police officers.
Egypt has witnessed a massive spike in attacks targeting the country’s Coptic Christian community and its places of worship over the past year.
The US embassy in Cairo condemned the attack, saying Washington “stands steadfastly with the people of Egypt in the face of such cowardly attacks.”
Warning of growing violence against Christians in Egypt, Coptic Bishop Anba Damian told DW: “We are convinced that the extremists’ aggression and the intensity of their terrorism have increased in such an enormous way that it’s now tantamount to a declaration of war against Copts.”
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch accused the Egyptian state of not doing enough to protect Coptic Christians, saying: “The deep-rooted sectarianism in many places in Egypt provides the climate where this hateful ideology can fester, but states of emergency have been the path to more abuses, not greater protection for Christian lives.”