Egypt cancels large gatherings, religious events over coronavirus fears

Egypt cancels large gatherings, religious events over coronavirus fears
Tourists visit the Luxor Temple in Egypt's southern city of Luxor, on March 11, 2020. Egyptian authorities said that 46 French and US tourists who had been quarantined on a coronavirus-hit Nile cruise boat have flown home. (AFP)
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Updated 11 March 2020

Egypt cancels large gatherings, religious events over coronavirus fears

Egypt cancels large gatherings, religious events over coronavirus fears
  • The Egyptian government’s decision has sparked controversy
  • Concerts, parties, celebrations, birthdays, exhibitions and festivals will all be suspended

CAIRO: Egypt is to cancel all large events and gatherings in a bid to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The Egyptian government’s decision has sparked controversy in the country where 60 cases of the COVID-19 infection have been recorded, so far resulting in one death.

Concerts, parties, celebrations, birthdays, exhibitions and festivals will all be suspended until further notice, officials announced, but no moves have yet been made to close schools and universities

Scriptwriter Sayed Fouad, president of the Luxor African Film Festival, was among the first to implement the government’s decision.

The cinema event’s board agreed to call off mass performances while continuing professional activities including film screenings for arbitration committees, critics and journalists in halls away from large audiences.

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In a statement, Fouad said public screenings had been cancelled at the Culture Palace, Conference Hall and Egyptian Public Library in Karnak, near Luxor in Upper Egypt, adding that festival judges would watch movies in two hotels, with the results being announced later.

Elsewhere, the Cairo governorate, headed by Khaled Abdel-Aal, postponed an employment forum scheduled to take place from March 12-14, and head of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, Abdel-Hadi Al-Qasabi, announced the suspension of religious ceremonies in a bid to protect public health.

Celebrations to mark the birth of Sayeda Zainab, granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad, were supposed to take place this week but were called off by the council due to concerns over the virus outbreak.

Mohamed Fawzi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, said sporting events in Egypt, including football league matches, would go ahead without spectators.

MP Hassan El-Sayed praised the government’s decision which he said would help to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. He also advised the Egyptian Ministry of Education to take any necessary measures it sought fit to combat the spread of COVID-19 in schools and universities.

However, there have been increasing calls from Egyptians for the government to suspend studies at all levels of education.

“All questions about the suspension of studies due to the coronavirus are due to the misuse of social media and the spread of rumors,” Egyptian Minister of Education Tariq Shawky said.

“A decision such as suspending education cannot be issued without an announcement from officials, and a student will not pass to the next academic year without completing the academic content required this year.”

Shawky pointed out that any comparisons between Egypt and other countries that have suspended education due to the virus were unscientific and he pointed out that Egypt had not recorded a single case of the virus among 25 million students in schools or higher education institutions.

Of the 60 reported cases of coronavirus in Egypt, 45 were on a Nile cruise ship in Luxor. One German tourist died.


Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference
Updated 40 min 37 sec ago

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

CAIRO: Egypt believes that the Iranian nuclear issue is not the only problem with regard to Iran and its position in the region, according to Motaz Zahran, Cairo’s ambassador in Washington. Tehran’s interference and its efforts to destroy the assets of Arab countries throughout the region is another issue that must be confronted, he said.
Zahran said in a virtual interview with the National Council for US-Arab Relations that there is an opportunity for cooperation with the new US administration in light of the Iranian interference in various conflicts in the region, whether in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Yemen, which led to the deepening of their problems.
“The Iranian nuclear issue should not be dealt with separately from Iranian interference in all regional conflicts, and there are discussions between Egypt and the US regarding Iran, with the Republicans and the Democrats,” he added.
The ambassador said Egypt believes that there should not be any unilateral move on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. He saw a need for the new US administration to play a constructive role in resolving the dam dispute.
There are, he said, many opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields under the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The meeting was moderated by Ed Royce, former US representative, who chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Answering a question on the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Zahran said it was sad and shocking for Egypt and the whole world, and he linked what happened in America to what Egypt witnessed when some extremist groups — mainly the Muslim Brotherhood — took advantage of large-scale demonstrations and turned them into violent protests.
He pointed out that in both nations there was a widespread national desire for unity among the people which followed the state of chaos. There are some lessons to be learned, the most important of which is that rights and freedoms, in general, are not absolute, but are linked to guaranteeing others’ rights, as well as achieving order, security and public peace.