Egypt approves stringent new counter-terrorism laws

Egypt has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws to fight the menace of growing jihadist insurgency in the country.

These laws were approved by Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The new laws propose

  • Establishment of special courts to fast-track trials for suspected militants.
  • Provides additional legal protection for Police and Military Officers involved in counter-terrorism operations.
  • Impose stringent punishment of death penalty on terrorists found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group.
  • Anyone found guilty of joining a terrorist group can face up to 10 years in prison. While those involved in financing terrorist groups get a penalty of life in prison for 25 years.
  • Guilty person in case of creating websites deemed to spread terrorist messages or inciting violence will face sentence of five to seven years.
  • If Journalists fail for contradicting official accounts of militant attacks they can be fined between 2 and 5 lakh Egyptian pounds.


Egypt launches Suez Canal expansion

Egypt has launched a major expansion of the Suez Canal. It was inaugurated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a lavish ceremony held at port city of Ismailiya ( located on west bank of canal).

Suez Canal expansion project

  • The project was started in August 2014 for the expansion of the Ballah Bypass from 61 metres to 312 metres. The project was dubbed as the New Suez Canal.
  • Expansion aims to increase the traffic handled by the canal in order to boost Egypt’s economy and global standing by turning the Suez Canal zone into a global logistics and trade center.
  • Completed in one year span with an estimated cost of US 8 billion dollars. It comprises 72km of new channel and bypasses which has deepened the main waterway.
  • It allows ships especially larger vessels to transit the canal in both directions simultaneously, thus increasing canal traffic and revenue.
  • The expansion is expected to double the ship capacity of the Suez Canal from 49 to 97 ships a day by 2023.

About Suez Canal

  • Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt. It links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea through Isthmus of Suez. It was first opened in 1869 after a decade of construction.
  • Strategically and economically it is one of the most important waterways in the world providing the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
  • Its opening had provided alternative route to sea voyage between Europe and India. It had reduced the sea voyage distance between these two regions by about 7,000 kilometres without navigating around Africa.
  • The canal was nationalised by Egypt in 1956 after brief war against the UK, France and Israel. The canal has been a significant income source for Egypt since then.


Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif passes away

Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif passed away due to a heart attack in Cairo. He was 83.

He was best known for his roles in classic films Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965). These movies had soared him international stardom.

About Omar Sharif

  • Omar Sharif was born as Michel Shalhoub on 10 April 1932 in Alexandria, Egypt to a to a Melkite Greek Catholic family.
  • He had studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
  • He made his screen debut in the 1954 for an Egyptian film named Siraa Fil-Wadi (The Blazing Sun). Since then he had appeared in more than 70 films and multiple television series.
  • In 1962, he appeared in Lawrence of Arabia as Sherif Ali which was directed by David Lean. It was his overtime famous role which gave him international stardom.
  • Personal Life: In 1955, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Omar al-Sharif. The same year he married acclaimed Egyptian actress Faten Hamama. The couple divorced in 1974.
  • In 2015, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Awards: He had won three Golden Globe Awards (1962, 1963, 1965), César Award (French equivalent of the Oscar) in 2004 and was nominated for an Academy Award.
  • UNESCO’s Sergei Eisenstein Medal (2005) for his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity.