Egypt’s International Conference for Fatwa Warns Against Circulating Misleading Fatwas

MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa attends the International Conference for Fatwa in Cairo

Cairo- The International Conference for Fatwa continued its second day of activities early on Wednesday.

Participants used the platform to send out an important message on prohibiting and stopping self-styled and unauthorized Fatwas from being circulated among the public, especially in light of surging Islamophobia.

The three-day conference, held by General Secretariat for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide, was attended by delegations from 80 countries to face misleading fatwas and their impacts on societies.

Attending Islamic scholars valued the speech given by MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa.

“Issa’s speech has a great impact and is very important in shedding light on the most important issues facing the Islamic world,” Secretary-General of the Islamic European Council Dr. Mohammed Al Bashari told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Issa’s demand to unify fatwas and establish regulations is a request made in the right place and time to eliminate fatwas issued occasionally by extremist organizations,” he added.

Fatwas in the Islamic faith are a nonbinding but authoritative legal opinion or learned interpretation that scholars, such as a qualified jurist or mufti, can give on issues pertaining to the Islamic law.

Grand Imam of Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Egypt’s Mufti Shawky Allam, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) Muhammad bin Abdul Karim, and the chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (GAIAE) in the UAE Mohammed Matar al-Kaabi Issa inaugurated the conference on Oct 17.

Addressing the conference, Egypt’s Mufti Shawky Allam said that the challenges Egypt and the world are facing are due to “misleading fatwas” that threaten security and peace.

“Since the world rises up against terrorism, religious intellectuals too should confront extremist thoughts and spread the teachings of our tolerant religion instead,” Allam added.

He further noted that the conference is considered an “opportunity to achieve this goal, as the conference’s importance is not limited to discussing the issues of terrorism and extremism, but it expands to include misleading fatwas that confuse our society.”

Egyptian Army Announces Death of 24 Terrorists in Sinai

An Egyptian military vehicle in northern Sinai. Reuters

Cairo- Egyptian armed forces said Sunday that at least 24 terrorists and six soldiers were killed as they foiled terror attacks aimed at targeting checkpoints in al-Qawades district, North Sinai.

Armed Forces Spokesman Colonel Tamer al-Rifai said in a statement that one terrorist was also injured during the clashes.

During the operation, 24 militants were killed and another one was injured when law enforcement forces thwarted a failed terrorist attempt

The armed forces also destroyed two vehicles, which were used by terrorists, and the forces are currently combing the area of the incident and chasing the attackers.

North Sinai has witnessed many terrorist attacks since the January 2011 revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt is fighting an insurgency by militants affiliated with ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed since 2013 when the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests.

Since then, hundreds of Egyptian security personnel have been killed in attacks across Sinai, especially in the peninsula’s volatile northeastern quadrant, which shares borders with both Israel and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The militants have also extended their campaign to other parts of Egypt, most recently attacking churches in Cairo and other cities with the loss of dozens of lives.

ISIS Releases Footage of Sinai Failed Attack

File photo of an Egyptian military vehicle on the highway in northern Sinai

Cairo- Hours after security authorities in Egypt announced the death of a security recruit who stopped a bomb-laden car driven by a suicide bomber on its way to the Central Sinai Cement Factory, terror group ISIS published footage related to the attack on Wednesday.

In its statement, ISIS said that the executor was called Abu al-Qaqaa al-Ansari.

According to security sources, Wednesday evening “a guard at the main gate of a cement factory in the center of the center of Sinai was killed after a vehicle driven by a suicide bomber tried to storm the factory.”

Ahmed Ban, a researcher on Islamic movements in Egypt, told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS doesn’t publish failed operations, except for some of its attacks.

In the case of the cement factory in Sinai, the circulated footage was meant to “challenge the official reporting relayed by Egyptian authorities and provoke doubts over authorities declaring the security guard to have died as a hero.

Since the toppling of former President Mohamed Morsi, terror groups have incessantly targeted the military, security men, security installations and checkpoints. They adopted the approach of carrying out many killings against soldiers, mostly in Sinai— and even targeted a Russian passenger plane flying over the peninsula.

An ISIS-linked website published on Wednesday 3 pictures showing at which the suicide terrorist attempted to drive the car into the factory’s premise, the moment of detonation.

Sources cite that it was the guard opening fire at the vehicle that prevented a true disaster in central Sinai.

Egypt’s Parliament Begins Int’l Moves against HRW

Cairo- The Egyptian parliament is launching measures against Human Rights Watch over its latest reports on the alleged abuse of inmates inside the country’s prisons.

A high-ranking parliamentary delegation is expected to file an official complaint during its participation in a conference for the Inter-Parliamentary Union mid-October.

Second deputy chairman of parliament’s human rights committee Margaret Azer, who is a member of the delegation, said that the complaint is about the New York-based rights group’s intentional and premeditated attack on Egypt, mainly in the human rights field.

“The complaint will be a response to HRW’s latest report and to its claims,” Azer told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“It will reveal the lies of the organization through documents.”

During the conference, the Egyptian delegation will provide an overview of Egypt’s experience with human rights, the lawmaker added.

The organization’s controversial report, which was released in September and which claims that prisoners have suffered abuses, has angered Egyptians.

The Egyptian foreign ministry has also accused the rights group of bias, saying it is promoting the interests of certain parties and countries that finance it.

Nineteen former detainees and the family of another detainee, who were allegedly tortured between 2014 and 2016, were interviewed for the report.

Last month, the parliamentary human rights committee formed a seven-member subcommittee to come up with a plan to visit prisons and police stations across Egypt for the purpose of snapping back at allegations and claims of torture.

The subcommittee is entitled to take all measures that facilitate its mission, including summoning prisoners and searching detention centers.

Azer said “the human rights committee regularly visits detention centers and makes sure that the violations, which the organization has mentioned, are not taking place.”

HRW “has gotten used to attacking Egypt in favor of some countries. This is what we will reveal during the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference,” the lawmaker added.

Akef, Former Supreme Guide of Muslim Brotherhood, Dies at 89

Akef

Cairo – The former supreme guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Mahdi Akef died in hospital on Friday after a recent deterioration in his health.

Akef had suffered from chronic problems linked to old age.

Aliya Mahdi Akef made the announcement on Facebook, saying “my father is in the care of Allah (God)”.

A report released by the Qasr El Eyni Hospital said that Akef was admitted in January and that he was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and an enlarged prostate among other conditions.

Born in 1928 — the year Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood — Akef became deeply involved in it at a young age.

After leading its student section, the former physical education instructor joined the group’s Guidance Bureau in the 1980s before being elected supreme guide in 2004, at the age of 76. He resigned six years later.

The Brotherhood, which Egypt labels as a terrorist organization, did not offer the real explanation for his resignation, saying that he stepped down due to health reasons.

Sources from inside the Brotherhood said at the time that disputes between the Guidance Bureau and Akef forced him to quit.

Akef was arrested and jailed in 2013 after the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. This was followed by a crackdown on other Brotherhood members.

After Morsi’s ouster he was sentenced to life in prison, meaning 25 years of detention, for his alleged role in the deaths of 12 anti-Brotherhood protesters who tried to attack the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters in June 2013.

He spent the last years of his life in and out of hospital while serving his sentence.

Egyptian, Saudi Air Forces Conduct Joint Drill to Support Arab Action

Arab

Cairo- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, speaking at an economic inclusion conference held in Sharm El Sheikh on Thursday, described what is happening in his country as “unprecedented.”

The world’s “most important” forum on financial inclusion kicked off in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh on Thursday, with a keynote address by Sisi.

“The Egyptian people are engaged in two battles of utmost importance—the four-years-on-end battle fought against terrorism humbly, not only for self-defense, but on behalf of the world and that fought for development,” said Sisi.

The Egyptian and Saudi air forces started on Thursday the joint military drill “Faisal 11,” which Egypt is hosting for several days, the Egyptian armed forces announced.

The air forces from the two countries are engaging in military exercises including joint air combat missions using the most up-to-date tactics.

The Faisal 11 drill is the latest in a series of military exercises between Egypt and Saudi Arabia that aim to boost Egyptian-Saudi military cooperation.

More so, the forum at which Sisi spoke is the two-day 9th Global Policy Forum, organized by the International Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), brings together some 95 states and 119 international financial institutions.

AFI has said the forum is the “largest and most comprehensive event” it has ever held.

The regional initiative uses financial inclusion as a driving force for sustainable economic and social development in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

During his address, Sisi stressed the importance of financial inclusion as one of Egypt’s main targets that will help include all citizens, especially women and youth. It should ensure their access to financial services and help in merging the informal economy into the formal one, Sisi added.

This should boost economic growth and improve the living standards of citizens. Sisi noted that Egypt’s budget deficit stood at 9.5 percent during the fourth quarter of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which ended in June, down from 11.5 percent during the same quarter last year.

During the conference, Egyptian representatives will discuss the country’s experience with financial inclusion, especially with regard to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, Egypt’s state news agency MENA reported.

During his speech in front of the summit, chairman of the board of the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) Abdel-Rahman Al-Hamidy highlighted the importance of the programs aimed at enhancing financial inclusion in the Arab world.

He also highlighted how momentum towards financial inclusion in the Arab region was reinforced by the regional Financial Inclusion Task Force (FITF) in 2012 and organizing an Arab Financial Inclusion Day to be held annually on April 27.

The official forum was preceded by three days of AFI meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh, including AFI policy working group meetings and the annual AFI general meeting.

The AFI general meeting endorsed the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Accord, which mandates the AFI network to pursue peer learning on practical policy solutions to the intersecting challenges of financial inclusion, climate change and green finance.

ISIS Urges Followers in Europe to Resort to Cyanide Poisoning

Cairo- ISIS terrorist organization has issued new threats to Europe by urging its supporters to resort to cyanide poisoning in grocery stores and supermarkets.

In a cryptic message posted by ISIS on a channel traditionally used by these terrorists, lone wolves are called forth by the organization to embark on this latest act by using the poison as a new hidden weapon against the West.

Observers said that the group is resorting to new techniques after the huge losses it suffered in Iraq and Syria after losing control on Mosul, Tal Afar and large areas of Raqqa despite ISIS’ claims that it is the most influential group in the world.

ISIS told its supporters that the cyanide poisoning method has been tested on prisoners and it works.

The observers said several casualties have been reported after ISIS used the food poison tests on the prisoners.

Cyanide is a highly toxic chemical compound. It is mostly known in spy movies whereby it is used to get rid of the enemy or resorted to as suicide pills by spies, just in case they were captured.

The organization has also given instructions to issue threats in forms of fliers distributed in public and through mail boxes to terrorize the greatest number of people.

Amr Abdulrahman, a researcher on Islamic movements in Egypt, said that ISIS’ new terrorist plot lies in causing thousands of casualties.

He warned that the group could resort to establishing small cells in Europe to carry out large scale terrorist attacks to spread panic in the West.

Egypt Prepares Draft Law to Dismiss Civil Servants Linked to Terrorism

Cairo- Egypt is about to pass into law a bill that dismisses civil servants whose names are placed on terrorism lists based on judicial rulings or were involved in violent crimes or murder.

Parliamentary sources said on Sunday that Egypt’s legislature has already drafted the new law, but is waiting to pass it during a new session.

“Parliament, in collaboration with the Central Authority for Organization and Administration (CAOA) and other security apparatuses, is currently preparing a database which includes the names of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other militant groups,” the sources said.

The sources said that any employee assuming public or parliamentary post is proved to be affiliated to terrorists groups, would be directly referred to court and would be taken to trial and punished accordingly.

Investigative officials said that around 5,000 employees from the “Muslim Brotherhood” currently hold civil servant posts, including some with leading positions.

However, the presence of other employees who are spreading ideologies of ISIS or are affiliated to terrorist groups such as Sinai Province are not yet controlled in the absence of official data to reveal their actual numbers.

In Sinai, the most dominating extremist organization is Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 and called itself Sinai Province. The terrorist group is also known as the “Sinai ISIS.”

Lately, 870 people were arrested for being affiliated with Sinai Province, including civil servants.

For his part, a source at the CAOA, tasked with setting databases of government employees in Egypt, said on Sunday that “preparing a database of employees whose names were placed on terrorism lists aims to achieve stability, to crush terrorist groups and their extremist ideologies, and to uproot the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Sisi Calls for Adopting Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Terrorism

Cairo- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called on the National Council to Confront Terrorism and Extremism to draft and adopt a comprehensive national strategy to fight terrorism and extremism, on the internal and foreign levels, to include various security, cultural, economic, social and media aspects.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s interior ministry announced the seizure of the largest explosives factory that belongs to a terrorist movement named “Hasm” and the liquidation of two of its members.

In July, Sisi issued a decree to establish a national council to counter terrorism and extremism, which has broad authority to develop policies aimed at “countering all forms of extremism.”

The Egyptian president chaired on Thursday the first meeting of the National Council, calling for the adoption of a comprehensive national strategy to combat terrorism and extremism on the internal and international levels, within a framework that covers the security, cultural, economic, social and media aspects.

In the last four years, Egypt has been fighting militants who perpetrated terror attacks against army and police officers, mostly in north of Sinai.

During Thursday’s meeting, Sisi stressed to council members the importance of spreading moderate religious discourse and virtuous concepts, as well as developing plans to protect young people from the dangers of extremism by providing job opportunities, presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef said in a statement.

He also urged a revision of counterterrorism legislation domestically and internationally, as well as enhancing coordination and cooperation between state apparatuses on fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian interior ministry said that police have uncovered and seized the biggest explosives factory in Wadi Al-Natroun southwest of Beheira governorate, in an operation during which two members of the Hasm terrorist group were killed.

“A large amount of chemicals used for making explosive devices was seized following the raid,” the ministry said in a statement.

Hasm group, the organization that the two gunmen were loyal to, claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks that killed several policemen in Egypt.

Egypt Foils Attempt to Smuggle 19th Century Artifacts

Cairo- Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry has said that it foiled along with the Hurghada Ports Authority an attempt to smuggle six 19th century artifacts through Hurghada.

The head of the Central Administration of Seized Antiquities Unit at the Antiquities Ministry, Ahmed al-Rawy, said the artifacts were in the possession of an Arab citizen.

They included a cane with a handle carved in stone bearing the shape of a man with a long beard wearing a yarmulke (Jewish cap), as well as five stone reliefs engraved with Hebrew text and other decorative elements.

A book of 29 papers written in Hebrew was also among the seized collection, with indications they could be the commandments of Judas, al-Rawy said.

He added that the artifacts were seized after confirming their authenticity in line with the law on artifacts protection.