Egypt. According to
CountryAAH, the US suspended negotiations on trade agreements
with Egypt in January in protest of opposition politician Ayman Nur being sentenced in December 2005 to five years in
prison for falsifying documents when his party al-Ghad
(Morning Day) was registered. Nur challenged President Hosni
Mubarak in the September 2005 presidential election.
Thousands protested in May when an appeals court dismissed
Parliament decided on February 14 to postpone scheduled
local elections for two years. It was a setback to the
formally banned Muslim Brotherhood that had strengthened its
positions in the 2005 parliamentary elections, when a number
of independent candidates loyal to the party were elected.
In September, Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP)
held a party congress. The president's son Gamal Mubarak
gave a distinguished speech in which he questioned US policy
in the Middle East and talked about the need to invest in
nuclear energy. Some observers saw the speech as a sign of
Gamal Mubarak's attempt to strengthen his position as a
possible successor to his father. US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said during a visit in October that the US
supported peaceful nuclear energy programs but wanted to
await the Egyptian government's position.
A state legal committee decided on May 11 to consider
whether two judges were guilty of slander when they alleged
that electoral fraud occurred in the parliamentary
elections. One week later, one of the judges was released
while the other received a reprimand. Thousands of people
gathered in Cairo and the police seized hundreds. Several
hundred judges participated in a silent protest on May 25
against the government's involvement in the justice system.
Journalists protested in July against a bill that would
make it criminal to investigate alleged corruption, which
was seen as further restrictions on freedom of expression
On April 19, 22 militant Islamists were arrested who were
alleged to have planned attacks on tourist facilities as
well as against Muslim and Christian leaders. The message
coincided with a debate to extend the exceptions laws
introduced in 1981 following the assassination of then
President Anwar Sadat. Opposition Muslim Brotherhood claimed
that the strike was a pretext to extend the exception laws.
Parliament decided in May to extend the law for two years.
Nineteen people were killed and 85 injured when several
explosive attacks on April 24 shook the resort of Dahab on
the Red Sea. Most of the victims were Egyptians, but some
were foreigners. The deed was blamed on Islamist Tawhid wa
al-Jihad (Unity and Holy War) accused of similar deeds.
In early May, six suspects and one police officer were
killed in connection with strikes against groups suspected
of Dahab death. The Interior Ministry reported that the
group's leader, Nasser Khamis al-Mallahi, was killed in
gunfire with police while one of his closest men was
Three Egyptians, allegedly belonging to Tawhid wa
al-Jihad, were sentenced to death in November for
involvement in the 2004 bombing of the Sinai Peninsula when
34 people were killed. The three stated that their
confessions were forced under torture. Two co-defendants
were sentenced to life and eight others received five to
fifteen years in prison.
More than 1,000 people died on February 3 when a ferry
carrying about 1,400 people on board lost ground in the Red
Sea while traveling from Saudi Arabia to Safaga in southern
Egypt. A fire that broke out may have contributed to the
accident because the car tire was filled with water as the
crew tried to extinguish the fire. In April, a parliamentary
committee accused the shipping company, the government and
the Egyptian Maritime Administration of not correcting a
number of ferry deficiencies. Among other things, there were
missing lifeboats and suitable fire equipment. At least 58
people were killed and 144 injured on August 21 when two
trains collided in Qaluib, just north of Cairo. The head of
the state railway company was dismissed.
On March 20, the Ministry of Health reported that a woman
had died of bird flu. She became the first known death in
Egypt. Bird flu had been found on February 17 in a poultry
herd. Up to October, seven people were reported to have died
from the deadly H5N1 virus.