Egyptian court frees author of critical book on Egypt’s economy

The book includes criticisms of the government’s economic policies. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 October 2018
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Egyptian court frees author of critical book on Egypt’s economy

  • The book is entitled “Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?”
  • The Egyptian government accused the author of publishing fake news

CAIRO: An Egyptian court has released the author of a book about Egypt’s economy more than a week after he was arrested for questioning on charges of publishing false news, he said on Tuesday.
Abdul Khalik Farouk’s arrest on October 21 was the latest in a campaign against journalists, rights activists and government critics that have drawn wide condemnation from international rights groups.
Days before Farouk’s arrest, local media reported that draft copies of his book, “Is Egypt Really a Poor Country?,” which includes criticism of the government’s economic policies, were seized by authorities from a publisher.
Farouk said a court in southern Cairo on Monday ordered him and the owner of the print shop that published his book, released. They were released from a local police station after the hearing, he added.
Farouk described his arrest as part “of a campaign against freedom of expression” and said the confiscation of his book was an act of “security intimidation” which is illegal under Egyptian laws.
Two local newspapers had earlier reported Farouk’s release.
Since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi came to power in 2014, Egypt has seen a crackdown on dissent that activists say is unprecedented in its modern history.
El-Sisi’s supporters say he is working to keep Egypt stable after years of political and economic turmoil following a 2011 popular uprising.


UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

US Deputy United Nations Ambassador Jonathan Cohen, left, address the UN Security Council after a report from UN chief mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, shown center in a live video broadcast, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at UN headquarters. (AP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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UN hopes for meeting on Syria constitution by late December

  • Staffan de Mistura said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members

NEW YORK: The UN is still aiming to send invitations to 150 Syrians by mid-December to participate in a committee that would draft a new constitution for Syria, which is key to holding elections and ending the country’s civil war, a UN envoy said on Monday.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council that the UN also aims to hold the committee’s first meeting before Dec. 31.
But de Mistura said the Syrian regime is objecting to 50 members of the committee representing civil society, experts, independents, tribal leaders and women that he was authorized to put together at a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in Sochi on Jan. 30.
Under the Sochi agreement, the committee is to comprise 150 members. There is already agreement on the 50-member delegation from the regime and the 50-member delegation from the opposition.
But de Mistura warned that if there is no agreement on the remaining members, the UN may have to conclude that it is not possible to form a “credible and inclusive” constitutional committee at this stage.
He said the UN welcomes “constructive and moderate suggestions” to change the list of the disputed 50 members. But de Mistura said they must “maintain the same spirit of credibility, balance and international legitimacy,” and he stressed that the list cannot be filled with political leaders who are already represented.
The UN envoy said that at his last briefing to the Security Council in December “it will be my duty to explain where we are on the constitutional committee, and leave a clean and clear ground to my successor regarding it.”
De Mistura was supposed to step down at the end of December but UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday he will be staying on “for a bit longer” to make sure there is no gap “at an extremely critical time in the Syria talks.”