Egypt. The year was marked by big and small victories for
President Hosni Mubarak and his fight against militant
Islamism. In March, a leader of the militant Islamist group
al-Jama'at al-Islamiyya announced that the group was giving
up its fight to forcefully dismiss the government. The group
would instead try to reach its goals through political
pressure, said the group's lawyer Muntasir az-Zayat. One
month after the group's announcement, about 1,000 imprisoned
members of al-Jama'at al-Islamiyya were released. At the
same time, nine members of the banned Islamic Jihad
organization were sentenced to death for Islamist-motivated
acts, and another 78 were sentenced to three years to life
imprisonment. The nine who were sentenced to death had all
been tried in their absence.
Countryaah official website, a large majority of Egyptians voted on September 26 to
allow President Hosni Mubarak to retain power for a fourth
six-year term. He had no challenger when the parliament
nominated him as presidential candidate in June, receiving
93.8% of the vote. The turnout was 79.2%. After the
election, he appointed Atif Ubayd, privatization manager in
the outgoing government, as new head of government.
A few weeks before the election, Mubarak had been
subjected to a knife attack by a man in Port Said. Police
shot to death the man, who was said to be a mentally
unstable street vendor. Mubarak was slightly injured.
In July, Egypt's highest administrative court, the
government, announced that girls may be prohibited by law
from wearing a full Muslim veil during school hours. A lower
court had previously ruled that such a ban was illegal. With
the ruling of the Cabinet, a five-year battle was settled on
Three journalists in the Islamist newspaper Ash-Shab were
sentenced in August to two years in prison for defamation by
Yusuf Amin Wali, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of
Agriculture and also Secretary-General of the ruling
National Democratic Party, al-Hizb al-watani ad-dimuqrati.
On October 31, a Boeing 767-300ER passenger plane of
EgyptAir crashed off the east coast of the United States.
The 217 people on board, including 62 Egyptians and at least
106 Americans, were killed. American experts, who
investigated the accident using, among other things, a tape
recording of the conversation in the cockpit, suggested in
November that the crash could have been due to the backup
pilot committing suicide. This angered Egyptian authorities,
who said it was not yet clear what caused the accident.