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Egypt mobilises institutions to respond to UN statement on rights record

Meanwhile, Algeria threatens to withdraw France 24 accreditation over alleged bias, and Saudi Arabia detains hundreds suspected of fraud
An Egyptian police officer stands at the entrance of the Tora prison, Cairo, 11 February 2020 (AFP)

Cairo directs response to damning UN report

Well-informed Egyptian sources have revealed that unified directives have been circulated by the authorities in Cairo to institutions, councils and professional unions in order to respond to a statement issued by the United Nations, criticising Egypt’s human rights record, the London-based newspaper The New Arab reported.

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The sources said that the authorities have distributed responses for state institutions to issue. However, the statements in question carried striking similarities and included matching passages in some cases.

Within just 24 hours, a number of official Egyptian institutions and professional unions issued statements of denunciation in a semi-unified form criticising the report released by 31 countries, which participated in a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the human rights situation in Egypt.

The Egyptian foreign ministry had responded to the UNHRC's statement by saying that "the talks about violations that took place during the mandate of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are mere allegations and rumours".

On Saturday, the Egyptian parliament issued a statement confirming that it followed with deep concern the content of the joint statement issued by the UNHRC, which, it alleged, included many inaccurate statements that are inconsistent with the reality in Egypt.

Algeria threatens to withdraw France 24 licence

Algeria has threatened to withdraw the accreditation of France 24 for its coverage of the popular anti-government Hirak protest movement, reported the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.

Communication minister and government spokesperson Ammar Belhimer accused the TV channel of showing "flagrant bias" in the way it covered Algeria’s anti-government Hirak protest movement, which erupted in 2019 against the now-ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and helped what he described as "remnants of anti-patriotism”.

The Algerian minister summoned the representative of France 24 in Algeria to deliver a final ultimatum before the "final withdrawal" of the channel’s accreditation.

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The communication ministry said that the TV channel’s representative was summoned to protest "what appears to be subversive activity manifested in unprofessional and hostile practices to our country".

Belhimer accused France 24 of working in bad faith with the aim of confusing public opinion and to hurt Algeria’s image for the benefit of “a neighbouring country [Morocco] where a popular movement has been ongoing for years without receiving attention” by the channel.

Saudi Arabia in corruption crackdown

Saudi Arabia’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) announced on Sunday that it has started investigating 757 suspects in criminal and administrative cases, after conducting 263 inspection visits during the past month, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

Nazaha announced the detention of 241 citizens and residents, including employees in the ministries of interior, health, municipal and rural affairs and housing, education, human resources and social development, the General Authority of Customs, and the Saudi Post Corporation.

It added that the defendants are involved in cases of "bribery, abuse of office privileges, abuse of power, and forgery”, while indicating that the legal procedures are being completed in preparation to refer the suspects to the judiciary.

Nazaha called for any suspicions of financial or administrative corruption to be reported through the available means, which have been announced in earlier times, in order to protect and preserve public funds.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye