The top 10 most read Ahram Online stories on Egypt include the downing of the Russian plane over central Sinai, security forces mistakenly killing Mexican tourists, the beheading of Copts at the hands of ISIS, declaring Hamas a terrorist organisation, the assassination of the top prosecutor and the killing of football fans.
1- Egyptian passport found at Paris stadium belongs to critically injured victim, not suspect
Following the terror attack in Paris on 13 November, an Egyptian passport was found at the scene of the Stade De France explosion. Amid media chaos, a rumour spread that the passport belonged to the suicide bomber. A joke circulated on social media, saying that “the Egyptian passport is so strong, it survived a bomb while its owner didn’t.” Soon after the attack, Egypt’s ambassador in Paris said the passport belonged to an Egyptian who was going to attend the match, and who was transferred to hospital in critical condition. The story of the Egyptian man, Waleed Abdel-Razzak, was read over 80,000 times on Ahram online in a matter of hours.
There were no Egyptians among those who carried out the Paris attacks.
2- Egypt to require pre-obtained visas for foreigners of any nationality
In March, Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry said that on-arrival visas for foreigners visiting Egypt would be scrapped. The decision, originally meant to be applied in May, aimed to “protect the country’s borders,” but it raised criticism over its possible impact on the already ailing tourism sector.
The ministry said it would delay the enacting of the decision for “six to eight months,” but it was never applied.
3- Russian airliner crash kills 224 in Egypt’s Sinai, cause not yet determined
On 31 October, a Russian airliner carrying tourists from Sharm El-Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in Sinai, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. Shortly after the crash, Russia announced that a bomb planted by the ISIS militant group downed the plane. Egypt, on the other hand, said it had not ruled out any possibilities, but maintained that investigations were still ongoing and that it was too early to identify the cause.
The crash was a big blow to Egypt’s already suffering tourism industry. Russian and British airlines suspended their flights to Red Sea resorts, affecting the occupancy rates in Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada and Dahab in the peak seasons of Christmas and New Year.
4- Video shows beheading of Copts at IS hands; Egypt declares a week of mourning
On 15 February, the ISIS group posted a graphic video of the killing of 20 Coptic Egyptians and an African national allegedly on a beach on Libya’s Tripoli. The video carried a message by ISIS that there was no safety for “crusaders,” a word they use for Christians.
Less than 24 hours after the attack, Egypt’s army, in coordination with Libya’s military, carried out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya in retaliation.
5- Egyptian court rules Hamas a terrorist organisation
In February, a Cairo court for urgent matters designated the Hamas group, the de-facto rulers of the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a terrorist organisation in a lawsuit filed by two lawyers in their capacity as concerned citizens.
The verdict was overturned in June, after the Egyptian government appealed it, and one of the plaintiffs dropped the case, citing that the verdict was “historic” but “hinders Egypt’s efforts in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.”
6- Egyptian army counters major attack by IS militants in North Sinai; dozens killed
On 1 July, one of the largest confrontations took place between the Egyptian army and a decade-long militant Islamist insurgency in North Sinai that spiked in the last two years.
Ahram Online launched live updates on the back and forth confrontations between the two sides. At least 21 army and police personnel were killed while over 100 militants were killed.
7- VIDEO: Unwed woman breaks taboo, roams Cairo’s streets in wedding dress
Ahram Online interviewed a 27-year-old woman who made an award-winning video wearing a wedding gown and veil to shed light on how women are pressured to get married and start a family.
8- Seven Mexicans among 12 people killed mistakenly by Egyptian security forces
In mid-September, Egypt’s security forces killed eight Mexican tourists and four of their tour operators in the Western Desert after mistaking them for terrorists.
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism said the tourists did not have a permit and were in a restricted area.
The prosecutor-general launched an inquiry into the incident, and a media gag order was imposed on the investigations.
9- 19 Zamalek fans killed in clashes with Egyptian police – Ministry of Health
On 9 February, 21 Ultras White Knights, a hardcore fan group of the Zamalek Club, were killed when police attempted to disperse them as they were entering a football match.
The incident occurred when police used teargas to disperse the fans, who were standing in a narrow barbed-wire cage leading into the Cairo Air Defence Stadium.
In a statement issued following the incident, the prosecutor-general stated that both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ultras White Knights instigated the football disaster in order to blight the economic conference which was later held in March in the Sharm El-Sheikh resort.
At least 19 UWK and Muslim Brotherhood members are currently being tried for the incident.
10- Egypt’s top prosecutor dies from injuries sustained in bomb attack
On 29 June, an assassination attempt killed the country’s prosecutor-general, Hisham Barakat. A bomb was planted in a street that the prosecutor’s convey passed through on his way to his office.
A media gag was imposed on the investigations of Barakat’s death.
The name of the Rabaa El-Adawiya Square, where supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi had held a high-profile demonstration, was changed to Hisham Barakat Square.