Cambridge professor from Egypt to be questioned by authorities investigating the death of Phd student Giulio Regeni

Giulio Regeni seen here on a posted held by an Egyptian activist. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Cambridge professor from Egypt to be questioned by authorities investigating the death of Phd student Giulio Regeni

DUBAI: Italian authorities this month will begin questioning the Egyptian tutor of the Cambridge student Giulio Regeni, who was murdered in Cairo in 2016.

A British judge gave the green light to Italian interrogators to interview Professor Maha Mahfouz Abdelrahman, after she agreed to be questioned, according to British daily The Guardian.

The decision was announced last month after Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano met with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Regeni, 28, was carrying out research on Egypt’s independent trade unions as part of his PhD at Girton College when he disappeared on Jan. 25, 2016.

His tortured body was found on a main road outside Cairo two weeks later. Suspicions were raised that he had been kidnapped and killed by the Egyptian security forces.

Italian magistrates investigating the case previously complained of limited cooperation from Egyptian authorities and Abdelrahman, who previously lived in Egypt, before moving to the UK to lecture in Cambridge at the department of politics and international relations.

Computer records submitted to the courts and leaked by the Italian daily La Repubblica revealed that Regeni might have felt pressured by his research.

In a Skype chat Regeni told his mother in October 2015 he was “going deeper into the subject” because it was uncharted territory and “because Maha insisted.”

Investigators want to question Abdelrahman about who chose the research topic and who chose the questions Regeni put to traders shortly before he disappeared, 18 days after having been filmed and photographed by a trade union official who was also reportedly a security service informer.


Egypt arrests author, publisher over book on economy

Updated 23 October 2018
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Egypt arrests author, publisher over book on economy

  • The author and the publisher are accused of spreading “fake news”
  • Authorities seized 185 copies of an initial 200-copy run, which had not yet been distributed

CAIRO: Egypt has arrested an economist and his publisher over a book that challenged President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s economic policies, a lawyer said Tuesday, the latest in a wave of detentions in recent years targeting all forms of dissent.
Prize-winning economist Abdel-Khaleq Farouq and his publisher, Ibrahim el-Khateib, were detained Sunday. Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a lawyer for the author, said the two are accused of spreading “fake news,” which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
The book — entitled “Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?” — was posted online by activists. Authorities seized 185 copies of an initial 200-copy run, which had not yet been distributed.
The book contains scathing criticism of El-Sisi’s economic policies, accusing the general-turned-president of lacking the vision needed to remedy Egypt’s economic woes.
Farouq blames the country’s poor economy on what he calls the military’s monopoly of power since 1952, when officers toppled the monarchy.
The book’s thesis is primarily a repudiation of an assertion made by El-Sisi that Egypt was a poor country that could no longer afford costly state subsidies on key commodities and services, for decades a cornerstone of state policy to help the poor make ends meet.
In the book’s introduction, the author claims that El-Sisi’s assertion on Egypt’s poverty “exposed blatant ignorance of the realistic and untapped capabilities in Egypt’s economy and society and the lack of vision capable of exploiting these abilities and potential.”
Egypt has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since El-Sisi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Thousands of people have been jailed, mainly Islamists but also several prominent secular activists.
The government has banned all unauthorized street protests and has blocked hundreds of websites, including some run by independent media and human rights groups.
First elected to office in 2014 and now serving a second, four-year term, El-Sisi has made the economy the focus of his rule, with a hands-on drive for fiscal reform, improving infrastructure and the construction of new cities. In exchange for a $12 billion IMF loan secured in 2016, he ordered steep hikes in the price of fuel, government services and utilities. The measures fed popular discontent but did not spark significant unrest.
Egypt’s parliament is packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, and his Cabinet is entirely made up of loyalists, which means that the president’s policies are never effectively challenged. He has on occasion bristled at criticism of his policies, once angrily yelling at a lawmaker who suggested postponing the lifting of state subsidies and on another occasion telling Egyptians to only listen to him.
In a televised address earlier this month, the 63-year-old El-Sisi boasted that he has for 55 years been closely monitoring “every detail, every part and every circumstance” in Egypt. His accumulated knowledge of the country, he said, has given him the will to take difficult decisions.
In the same address, he said Egypt would never realize its aspirations if the state continues to subsidize goods and services. If the rapid growth of the population — which has doubled to 100 million over the last 30 years — is not checked, then there will be no “realistic hope” for economic improvement, El-Sisi warned. “Can a nation prosper while facing such a challenge? How?“
Farouq’s book, according to the text published online, offers suggestions for improving the economy based in large part on fighting graft and waste as well as tax and administrative reforms.