Belongings of victims are seen amid rubble in front of the damaged facade of the National Cancer Institute after an overnight fire from a blast, in Cairo, Egypt August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
CAIRO – 9 August 2019: Many of the state institutions have recently denied a number of rumors on serious issues in the fields of health, agriculture and business, according to a report published by the Cabinet.
The Cabinet Media Center has contacted the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, which denied news about directing donations originally allocated to renovate the bombed National Cancer Institute to other state projects.
The donation funds will be directed entirely to the restoration work of the Institute and the development of services for patients, under the supervision and control of both the Ministry of Finance and the Accountability State Authority, the ministry said.
A blast took place in front of Cairo's Cancer Institute building on Sunday, killing 22 people and injuring 47 others, according to official figure. The Interior Ministry blamed the incident on Hasm movement figures believed to be affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, and arrested those involved in the incident, according to a statement it issued on Thursday.
Rumors earlier claimed that the state's General Authority for Health Insurance has introduced counterfeit drugs for cancerous tumors, prepared in homes. The Ministry of Health categorically denied the rumors.
All medicines available in all hospitals and health insurance bodies as well as pharmacies are completely safe and in conformity with the standards of the World Health Organization.
The ministry added that all drugs in the market must obtain the approval of the National Organization for Drug Control and Research, and the concerned government regulatory authorities, and be inspected and researched before registration.
Concerning imported medicines from abroad, they must be inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Ministry of Antiquities has denied news about halting the renovation work of the Heliopolis-based Baron Empain Palace, due to the weak financial allocations, according to the media center's report.
The renovation of the palace continues and is proceeding normally, the ministry said, noting that the completion rate reached 90% in preparation for the opening of the palace in October.
The Ministry affirmed its keen interest in renovating the Baron Palace which is considered one of the most important archaeological palaces in the Egyptian heritage, pointing out that the cost of development and restoration works amounted to LE 140 million.
The Media Center of the Council of Ministers revealed that in light of the reports that pesticides and harmful chemicals were used in storing potato seeds, the center contacted the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, which denied the reports.
In the agricultural sector, the Agricultural Ministry said rumors about using harmful chemicals in storing seed potatoes are totally untrue.
The process of storing seed potatoes is carried out in a safe manner in accordance with the international standards adopted, to ensure the production of high-quality agricultural crops. There is continuous and periodic monitoring on all storage places of seed potatoes, the ministry said.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July last year warned Egyptians against fake news, clarifying that more than 21,000 rumors have been propagated over a period of three month. The president also asked people to be cautious of calls that inherently aim at the collapse of the Egyptian state.
In June this year, Ali Hosni, undersecretary of the General Directorate of Information and Relations at the Interior Ministry, said that nearly 4-6 million fake accounts and pages on Facebook are aiming at spreading rumors among Egyptians.
Concluding 2018, the Cabinet's media center issued an information report on rumors attempting to fail the state's constructive efforts throughout the year, revealing that education was the most targeted by rumors, obviously due to the radical changes it is undergoing under the new system.
Soliman Wahdan, deputy Parliament speaker, said in March, 2019, that he is working to introduce a draft to put an end to rumors issued by some people and groups to destabilize the Egyptian state.
He said that these "terrorist" groups assign a number of research centers to study rumors and spread them across the country.
"We need to issue an urgent legislation to face the information warfare the outlawed groups and individuals play with," Wahdan said in a statement.
He added that social media platforms and some media channels are used by terrorist groups with the aim of spreading chaos and inciting strife between the Egyptian people and their government.
The planned draft law will impose heavy penalties on people spreading rumors about the country's economic situation and military institutions, with the aim of destabilizing the state, he said, adding that in case rumors resulted in the death or injury of citizens, the violators will, according to the law, receive tougher punishment.
The draft law also calls for establishing a governmental body that is linked to the Egyptian Cabinet to spot rumors and issue statements to respond to them once they emerge and spread, according to Wahdan.
The new watchdog will also monitor the media channels that spread inaccurate information and contribute to spreading rumors, Wahdan added.
According to article no. 188 of the penal code, those who spread fake news, statements, or rumors, would be sentenced to one year in prison at most, and would have to pay a minimum of LE 5,000 ($286) and a maximum of LE 20,000 ($1,145) as a fine. They can also be punished by only one of these two penalties.