Top News: Shura Council Protest Dispersed; Prosecutor Orders Arrest of Prominent Activists

A protest by the No Military Trials for Civilians group was forcibly dispersed by security forces thirty minutes after it began on Tuesday. Egypt’s prosecutors have, meanwhile, ordered the detention of twenty-four activists for four days. On Wednesday, Egypt’s prosecutor ordered the arrest of two prominent activists, Alaa Abdel Fattah and April 6 leader Ahmed Maher, who took part in the protest.


Political forces react to protest law; Egypt PM forms committee to discuss its ‘flaws’
Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy agreed to form a committee to discuss the controversial articles of the protest law, after meeting with members of the National Salvation Front. The meeting and the decision to form the committee to instigate changes to the law came after clashes between protesters and security forces, who assaulted and arrested tens of demonstrators on Tuesday. According to state television on Wednesday, Egypt’s Interior Ministry is committed to implementing the law. Reactions to Tuesday’s arrest of more than fifty protesters ranged from condemnation of the state’s heavy-handed dispersal of the demonstrations to lauding of the first use of the controversial protest law. Late Tuesday, three liberal parties issued a statement condemning the law and demanding the immediate release of all those detained in the protests. “Passing the law in this form and at this time is an attempt by some currents within the government to return to repressive state security measures,” the statement signed by the Popular Current, Egyptian Social Democratic Party and Free Egypt Party said. “The reality on the ground exceeded the illusions [of the state].” The Dostour Party warned the government that it needs “to expand its popular support, especially before a referendum on constitutional amendments,” Younis Makhioun, the Salafi Nour Party’s chairman, condemned the violent dispersal of the protest and called on the government to repeal the law. [SIS, Mada Masr, Ahram Gate, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 11/27/ 2013]

Controversial NGO law sent to Solidarity Social Solidarity Ministry this week
Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed al-Boraie said that controversial NGO law would be ready by the end of this week, after it has passed through several community dialogue sessions. As an administrative body established by law, the ministry has the authority to review and modify any of the articles in the draft in order to align them with the current circumstances in the country. It can then send the draft to the Legislative Committee in the Cabinet in preparation for it to be sent to the President for approval, Boraie said on Tuesday. Human rights groups and other civil society organizations have asked the Egyptian government to repeal the strict NGO law, but according to Boraie, the law needs to harsher to reflect Egypt’s current crisis. “The final decision belongs to the ministry, which believes that there should be tighter control on foreign funding of civil society, without hindering their activities in recognition of the current political conditions in the country,” Boraie said. [Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 11/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Cabinet spokesman clarifies Prime Minister’s statement about the Muslim Brotherhood | DNE


Egypt constituent assembly resumes sessions as ten members suspend membership
At least ten members of the fifty-member constitutional draft committee announced that they will not participate in committee sessions until the detained protesters arrested Tuesday afternoon during a protest against military trials for civilians are released. These members include Mohamed Abla, Ahmed Eid, Amr Salah, Hoda el-Sada, Mahmoud Badr, Khaled Youssef, Mosaad Aboul-Fagr, Hussein Abdel Razek, Sayed Hegab, and Diaa Rashwan. The committee resumed its sessions on Wednesday, with some of the members who said they suspended their membership attending. Committee’s Head Amr Moussa said he was not formally informed of the withdrawals and that he only heard about it through media outlets. Meanwhile, the referendum over the constitution will be held in late December, according to committee spokesperson Mohamed Salmawy. In a press conference held at the Shura Council building on Tuesday, Salmawy stressed the assembly will be done with the constitution on December 3. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya,DNE, 11/27/2013]

Female ‘7 a.m.’ protesters await verdict; Police disperse solidarity protest
Twenty-one girls and women from the 7 a.m. movement are awaiting a verdict from an Alexandria misdemeanors court today amid solidarity protests. They are part of a movement, which was formed in October to protest the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, and are charged with illegal assembly, blocking roads and destroying public property. They were arrested in early November as they attempted to form a human chain on the Alexandria corniche. The group is aged fifteen to thirty, with seven under the age of seventeen. Egyptian security forces fired teargas to disperse a protest staged in support of the women in Alexandria on Wednesday. [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 11/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Nour Party threaten withdrawal from constituent assembly over Sharia interpretation | Shorouk (Arabic)  
Church’ representatives backtrack on withdrawal from constituent assembly | Shorouk (Arabic)
Azhar campus manager sentenced to ten years for mass food poisoning | Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent
Sentence hearing of Nazif, Adly retrial to be held February 26 | Egypt Independent
Egyptian prosecution orders four day detention for former judge Khodairy | Ahram Online
Media reports: Egypt arrests foreign ‘spies’ | Mada Masr
Egyptian activist slammed with month in prison for handing out flyers | Ahram Online


Egyptian government tries to contain inflation
The Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, in coordination with the armed forces and Ministry of Agriculture, this week dispatched trucks to sell vegetables, fruits and legumes at discounted prices throughout Cairo, according to an official statement from the supply ministry. Minister of Supply Mohamed Abu Shady was quoted in the statement as saying that this procedure comes to alleviate burdens on low-income citizens. Price increases in food commodities combined with a number of non-food items has affected headline and core inflation, a statement from Central bank of Egypt (CBE) said earlier in November. [DNE, 11/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Poverty rate reaches 26.3 percent: CAPMAS | Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya  (Arabic)
Supply Ministry says butane gas cylinder shortage to be resolved soon | Egypt Independent
Government fails to convince private sector to apply minimum wage | Egypt Independent
Layoffs of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia will add to unemployment crisis | Egypt Independent
EGX losses EGP 4.8 billion, index down by 1.75 percent | SIS
EU and Ministry of International Cooperation sign agreement | DNE


Shura Council protest dispersed; prominent activists detained
A protest by the No Military Trials for Civilians group was forcibly dispersed by security forces thirty minutes after it began on Tuesday. Several political movements were present in front of the Shura Council, including the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6 Youth Movement, protesting Egypt’s new protest law and the inclusion of military trials for civilians in the draft constitution. Security forces used a water cannon before starting arrests. The interior ministry initially said police had arrested fifty-two people during the protest, but later said the number was twenty-eight. Activists Mona Seif and Salma Said were among at least twenty-six women who were arrested and later released on a desert road after being beaten and assaulted, activists said via Twitter. Prosecutors have, meanwhile, ordered the detention of twenty-four activists for four days. Egypt’s interim premier Hazem El-Beblawy promised to follow up on prosecution investigations in order to release those arrested in protests on Tuesday. On Wednesday, however, Egypt’s prosecutor ordered the arrest of two prominent activists, Alaa Abdel Fattah and April 6 leader Ahmed Maher, who took part in the protest. The pair are being charged with inciting protests. The protest, staged outside the Shura Council, was the second protest dispersed by security forces since the law came into effect. The Ministry of Interior justified the dispersal, saying that the 200 protesters did not notify authorities about the gathering, adding that protesters blocked the main road in front of the Shura Council. It said security forces warned protesters and called on them to disperse, but that the demonstrators did not comply. The April 6 Movement, along with other political forces announced another rally would be staged on Wednesday in response to the dispersal. Security forces in Alexandria also dispersed a protest on Wednesday, using tear gas and water cannons. A number of political movements, including April 6 and No to Military Trials, had gathered to protest both the law and the dispersal of the Shura Council protest. The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party issued statements condemning the violence. The NASL expressed solidarity with the detained protesters, saying that it was time to set aside differences and “confront the coup.” Meanwhile, the Free Egyptians Party accused protesters of staging non-peaceful protests. In response to the incident, Tamarod has called for the interior minister to be tried, and the prime minister to resign. Finally, the Interior Ministry said it approved a request to protest in Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square on Wednesday, but activists said it was not immediately clear who had applied for permission. The ministry acknowledged that protesters were “expressing their rejection of the protest law and demanding the release” of those detained the day before. The interior ministry later claimed the father of martyr Gika, who was killed by security forces at Mohamed Mahmoud street anniversary clashes in 2012, made the application. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, AP, Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 10/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s Tamarod campaign disavows leading members | Ahram Online, Ahram Gate
Tamarod members arrested at protest in Aswan | Ahram Online
German critic of Islam missing in Egypt found safe – state agency | Aswat Masriya, AP
Imam referred to interrogation for lauding Sisi | Egypt Independent
Fight for Mo’awad Adel’s health continues | DNE
Bassem Youssef gets Press Freedom Award | AP


Deposed president’s son says banned from visiting father in prison
Osama Morsi, son of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, said on Tuesday that armed forces troops prevented him from visiting his father at Borg al-Arab Prison without clarifying legal reasons. “We went as family on the legal time to visit the abducted president. However, the prison administration prevented us without legal reason,” Osama told the Freedom and Justice website. Osama said he headed to the prison accompanied by his younger brother Abdullah. [Egypt Independent, 11/26/2013]


UN urges Egypt to amend ‘seriously flawed’ protest law; Foreign Ministry says US criticism against law ‘unacceptable’
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticized the newly approved Egyptian protest law as “seriously flawed,” urging the government to amend it. Navi Pillay on Tuesday detailed the main flaws of the law, including unclear wording, excessive sanctions and mounting measures that security forces can use in dealing with protesters. “International law requires precision in detailing what specific conduct is prohibited by law,” she said. US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has also said that Egypt’s newly enacted protest law restricts freedoms. Meanwhile, the ministry of foreign Affairs has struck back at the United States over comments made about Egypt over the last few days. In response to critical comments made by Spokeswoman for the US Department of State Jen Psaki on the new Protest Law, the ministry said on Tuesday, “Egypt cannot accept interference in the internal affairs of the country by any party.” The ministry spokesman added that the ministry is “following the international community’s attention to internal developments in Egypt.” The spokesman highlighted that this is “normal in light of the significance of Egypt and its regional weight, but this does not permit the violation of certain lines or comment on decisions related to local issues.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS, DNE, 11/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Turkish PM stands by Egypt remarks despite diplomatic fallout | Ahram Online
Rafah border to be opened for two days | Egypt Independent, DNE
EU Embassy in Cairo corrects Statements | SIS

Image: Photo: AMAY