The Week in Egypt [October 14, 2014]

Catch up on the latest out of Egypt every week, with analysis, news updates, photos, videos, and more.

Quotes of the Week

“The purpose of NGOs is to help the government in whatever the government is incapable of doing.” – Former Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed al-Borai interprets NGO’s role as enhancing government’s policy. [AP]

“I’m very impressed by what the Egyptian authorities are implementing in terms of reform.” – Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde told Al Arabiya at the IMF annual meeting in Washington. [Al Arabiya]

Egypt in the News

Egypt arrests militants recruiting for ISIS
Egypt militant group releases video of beheadings
Damietta teen stabbed to death after intervening in sexual harassment incident

Two policemen detained after bomb explodes at Cairo court
Private firm hired to provide security for al-Azhar and fifteen state universities
Egypt army kills sixteen militants in North Sinai

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis leader possibly killed in Sinai operation
Egypt, Libya announce deeper security cooperation to ‘fight terrorism’
Group reports over 200 sexual harassment incidents during Eid holiday

Brotherhood students announce protests at Al-Azhar amid heightened security
Hunger striker Mohamed Soltan moved to Cairo hospital
Egypt’s prime minister rejects any foreign intervention in Libya

Egypt’s universities issue more security regulations ahead of new semester
Egypt discusses economic reform with IMF
Egypt can fight “terrorism” with moderate Islamic thought, says US envoy


“Egypt’s Resurgent Authoritarianism: It’s a Way of Life” |  Nathan J. Brown and Katie Bentivoglio, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“In its early steps, Sisi’s presidency seems to be constructing a reconfigured authoritarianism—one that operates more openly (at least in general outline) and through normal (if harsh) legal channels. Rather than consolidating power within the presidency, a recent string of initiatives has created a legal framework that grants the courts, security services, and the chief prosecutor immense discretion in interpreting the letter of the law—making a state of emergency, or other extraordinary measures, unnecessary.”

“At present, there is a very simple constitutional process for enacting a law in Egypt: the president issues it by decree. There has been no parliament for more than a year; the lower house was dissolved in June 2012 and the upper house disbanded in the aftermath of the July 2013 coup and then abolished in the 2014 constitution.”

“The new Sisi presidency is developing a legal framework that will only enhance the power of state institutions to act as they wish—and without public oversight. At the same time, Sisi himself is moving to capitalize on existing and vague legislation to further sideline or eliminate his opposition. The absence of a parliament, together with the presence of sufficiently cooperative courts, mean the practice is likely to give strong protection to a reconstituted Egyptian authoritarianism.”

“Three and a half years after they received a disorienting shock that paralyzed many of them, Egyptian state institutions are going back to doing what they do best—governing in a way that claims implausibly to serve the people without listening to their voices.”

“On Campus in Egypt, a Heavy Security Clampdown” | Maggie Michael, AP

“Last school year, universities became the focus of pro-Morsi protests and campuses turned to war zones as police tried to suppress them. But the clampdown now is going beyond supporters of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists and threatens to silence all political activism in the universities.”

“It reflects what rights activists have warned is happening nationwide under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi: Dissent in general is being snuffed out in the name of fighting Islamists.”

“University presidents have been given new, unquestioned powers to expel students or fire professors suspected of involvement in protests or any political activities, without independent review of the cases.”

“[Sisi] reinstated the Mubarak-era practice by which the head of state chooses the heads of universities, a sign of how the post is seen as crucial for keeping control.”

“Moreover, the government last year ended a traditional ban on security forces entering university campuses, allowing police to move in if the university president invites them, or simply if they feel it is necessary. Elections for student unions, a major venue for campus political activity, have been called off for the time being.”

On Twitter: #Maspero

Interview of the Week

Through the lens: a dreamlike-Egypt | Laura el-Tantawy, New Internationalist
Speaking to Cristiana Moisescu, Egyptian photojournalist Laura el-Tantawy explores what it means to be a female photojournalist in one of the world’s most populated cities.

Tantawy recalls the emotional and trying experience of telling the story of victims of conflict:

“It was never difficult to get access to people, which eventually became a problem for me. I know it usually works the other way around, but sometimes when people open their door too wide, you really understand the breadth of the responsibility you carry with you when you do this sort of work.”

Working as a female photojournalist in Egypt has come with its own set of challenges:

“The streets of Cairo are never a comfortable place. In fact, I am always terrified when I am on the street, but I realize that in order to photograph I have to put myself there.

It’s a very ‘dirty’ experience, not just because of the stares you constantly get for no reason but being a girl, but also the comments and the general vibe that there is nowhere for you to hide, no place to go.”