Egyptians deny reports of widespread Nile flooding of villages near capital

Media reports had claimed that Nile overflows in Egypt had swamped Al-Sawaf in the city of Kom Hamada following torrential downpours over several days. (AFP)
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Updated 08 September 2020

Egyptians deny reports of widespread Nile flooding of villages near capital

  • Authorities monitor water levels after devastating floods in Sudan

CAIRO: Officials in an Egyptian governorate northwest of the capital Cairo on Tuesday denied reports that villages had been swamped by Nile floodwaters.

Maj. Gen. Hisham Amna, the governor of El-Beheira, said that although there had been a slight rise in river levels as a result of heavy rain, only 17 acres of unoccupied farmland had been flooded.

Media reports had claimed that Nile overflows in Egypt had swamped Al-Sawaf in the city of Kom Hamada following torrential downpours over several days which caused deadly floods in neighboring Sudan.

The Sudanese Ministry of Interior said that 102 people had so far died and 46 had been injured as a result of flooding in the country since the start of autumn.

Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation spokesman, Muhammad Al-Sibai, said that any additional Sudanese Nile river water would be held in Lake Nasser behind the High Dam which protects Egypt from flooding.

“Rainfall rates will be monitored hour by hour, and by the end of September and early October, the size and type of flood will be fully clear. There are sectors in the ministry that are working on how to benefit from this year’s flood,” he added.

Egyptian missions in Sudan and Uganda continuously monitored Nile water levels and the Egyptian General Authority for the High Dam kept a check on levels in Lake Nasser, Al-Sibai said.

“The flood rates have been promising so far and we’re working to manage this flood well and rationally and invest it in the years when the floods will be scarce.”

He pointed out that 588 industrial facilities had been established to protect provinces from flooding.

The spokesman noted that when the High Dam reached its storage capacity, surplus water was discharged. He pointed out that while flooding this year had been above average, it had not presented a danger.

“What happens in Sudan does not happen in Egypt and the water is drained according to specific programs based on water needs, and larger quantities can be disbursed. We also preserve the waterway from bottlenecks and encroachments,” Al-Sibai added.

The Egyptian ministry responsible for water resources had already carried out work to deal with any potential flooding, he said, and protection installations and sewers had handled recent heavy rainfall in Qena, south Egypt.


Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

Updated 15 min 7 sec ago

Security forces keep radical protesters away from French Embassy in Beirut

  • Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms
  • Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut

BEIRUT: Lebanese security forces prevented the arrival of hundreds of protesters at the French ambassador’s residence and the French Embassy in Lebanon on Friday.

They feared the recurrence of riots similar to the ones that erupted in front of the Danish Embassy in Ashrafieh, Beirut, in 2006, and led to 28 people being injured, damage to storefronts, and the burning of the consulate building and terrorizing of people.

A few hundred worshippers left mosques after Friday prayers and marched to defend the Prophet Muhammad.

Calls for a demonstration by radical Islamic groups spread on social media platforms.

Khaldoun Qawwas, Dar Al-Fatwa’s media spokesperson, told Arab News: “These groups have nothing to do with Dar Al-Fatwa, which has already announced its position regarding what happened in France in two separate statements.”

Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, the grand mufti of Lebanon, in a statement issued a week earlier, said that “freedom of opinion and expression does not entail insulting the beliefs and symbols of others, and this requires a reconsideration of the concept of absolute freedom.”

He stressed the “renunciation of violence and confrontation of radicalism and terrorism that has no religion or race.”

Security forces had anticipated Friday’s protest and tightened security in the heart of Beirut, since the embassy and the French ambassador’s residence are located where roads leading to the city’s western and eastern neighborhoods intersect. This led to a huge traffic jam in the capital.

The protest’s starting point was the Gamal Abdel Nasser Mosque in Al-Mazraa, situated only a few kilometers from the Residence des Pins (Pine Residence).

Three major security checkpoints — one set up by the riot police — separated the Residence des Pins and protesters, some of whom were transported by buses from the north of Lebanon to Beirut.

Protesters held Islamic signs and chanted slogans denouncing France, its President Emmanuel Macron and its former colonization of the country. Some protesters tried to remove barbed wire and threw stones, water bottles and batons at the security forces. Another group burned the French flag. Security forces responded by throwing tear gas canisters, leading to the retreat of the protesters.

In a statement, Lebanon’s Supreme Council of the Roman Catholic condemned “the terrorist attack in the French city of Nice.”

The council considered that “this terrorist crime has nothing to do with Islam and Muslims. It is an individual act carried out by terrorists haunted by radicalism, obscurantism and the rejection of the French people’s historical civilizational values. Through their acts, they abuse the spirit of tolerance, coexistence, acceptance of the other and the freedom of thought and belief which all religions call for.”

The council called for “staying away from defaming religions and beliefs and inciting hate and resentment among people, raising the voice of moderation, wisdom and reason, working together in the spirit of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together announced by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb from the UAE last year.”

During the Friday sermon, Grand Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan condemned “any criminal act against any people, including the French people.” He added: “We categorically reject what happened in Nice yesterday, strongly condemn it and consider it a blatant and insolent attack on Muslims before others.”

He simultaneously condemned “the official French position that affronted the Prophet, took lightly and made light of the feelings of millions of Muslims.”