Top News: 13 dead, 134 injured in Car Bombing at Police Compound in Mansoura

In the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, a deadly attack hit the Daqahliya Security Directorate in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the city of Mansoura. The blast killed 13 and injured 134 in what appears to be the worst terrorist attack on a government site since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July. 


Source: Government has not yet declared the Brotherhood a ‘terrorist group’
A senior source within the cabinet said on Tuesday the government has not yet declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, but it is waiting a court ruling into this matter. A lawsuit is already being considered by an Egyptian court, demanded to officially declare the Brotherhood a terrorist group. The statements follow Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy describing the Muslim Brotherhood as a ‘terrorist group,’ saying it has reared its ugly face, shedding the blood of Egyptians, according to Sharif Shawky, Beblawy’s media advisor. Beblawy’s comments were made in the wake of a deadly bombing in Mansoura. Cabinet Spokesman Hani Salah, clarified that Beblawy statements were made in light of two points. Firstly, he said whoever was behind the bombing is a terrorist group, and secondly, that the government is studying legal means to list the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, in a way that does not conflict with state law. Condemning the bombing, Social Solidarity Minister Ahmed al-Boraie condemned the bombing, saying the Brotherhood has  no future in Egypt, adding that declaring it a terrorist group “has become a reality, for what they did with their own hands.” [Egypt Independent, SIS, 12/24/2013]

Brotherhood dissidents form new group
The Muslim Brotherhood Youth Alliance, which includes defectors from the group, has announced the establishment of “Egyptian Brotherhood” to serve as an alternative association to the Muslim Brotherhood. “This is a step to communicate with the people and preserve the Egyptian army as the protector of the homeland,” the group said in a statement released on Monday. The statement also said that the new association would face the “ignorant and bloodthirsty leaders of the group that must be brought to justice.” They called on young members of the Brotherhood to join the new association and appoint a supreme guide for it. Leaders of the group said the association would follow all state laws, and would not engage in politics. [Egypt Independent, 12/23/2013]

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Egyptians abroad to vote in constitution referendum from January 8 – 12 | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Egypt’s interim president emerges from shadows at national dialogue meetings | Ahram Online
Mansour meets NCHR chairman | DNE, SIS


Salmawy says fake copies of constitution without religious articles circulating
Spokesman for the 50-member committee, tasked with amending the Egyptian constitution, Mohamed Salmawy said fake copies of the constitution are being distributed among citizens. The articles relating to religious identity, Articles 2 and 3, have been omitted from the copies, Salmawy said.  In a statement on Tuesday, Salmawy explained that the articles omitted stipulate that Islam is the religion of the state and grant Christians and Jews the use of their own religious laws in personal status issues. [SIS, 12/23/2013]

Egypt freezes over 1,000 NGO bank accounts
The Central Bank of Egypt has frozen the bank accounts of 1,055 non-governmental organizations following a decision by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Monday. An anonymous senior official at the bank said some of the NGOs are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, but he did not reveal their names or number. The value of the frozen funds was not announced and it was not announced why the measures were taken. The governmental State Information Service said that the majority of the NGOs affected belonged to the “political Islam” current. Cabinet spokesman Hani Salah said in a statement that a full report would be published detailing the committee’s work [Ahram Online, SIS, 12/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Trial of policemen involved in killing 36 pro-Morsi prisoners adjourned to December | Egypt Independent


Arab Fund loans Egypt $362 million
Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa-Eldin revealed on Monday that the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development agreed to grant Egypt two loans worth $362 million to launch the electricity linkage project. The project will link Egypt and Saudi Arabia and build a new power plant in Assiut, which is set to produce 650 megawatts. Bahaa-Eldin also said that the Assiut Power Plant will help relieve the pressure on the growing electricity consumption. [Cairo Post, 12/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt hopes to increase volume of Egyptian-Indian trade to $8 billion | DNE
Economy in a week: Slow growth, no problem, says finance minister | Mada Masr


Brotherhood supporters clash with security forces in three cities; Violence continues at universities
Security forces and pro-Muslim Brotherhood students once again clashed at a number sites across Egypt on Monday. Students from Ain Shams University threw stones at the security forces outside the defense ministry in Cairo. They responded with teargas, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. There were similar clashes in Assiut where security forces used teargas to disperse a march by pro-Brotherhood students. Ten were injured and eight arrested in Assiut. Similar clashes took place at Zagazig University. Protests once again erupted at Al-Azhar University following news that university president Osama Ali has referred around 350 students to disciplinary boards since demonstrations began the first week of the semester. Clashes also broke out on Monday evening between dozens of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and central security forces in Tanta, an eyewitness in Gharbiya governorate said. Brotherhood supporters hurled fireworks at security forces, prompting the latter to fire teargas bombs at the protesters to disperse them, the eyewitness added. In Kafr al-Sheikh, clashes erupted between riot police and area residents on one side and a march for Brotherhood students on the other side. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, 12/24/2013]

Hundreds rally in solidarity with Douma, Adel and Maher
Hundreds of protesters rallied in Cairo’s downtown on Monday in solidarity with jailed activists Ahmed Douma, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Maher. They also voiced support for other political detainees such as Alaa Abdel-Fattah and demanded the repeal of the protest law, adding that they were protesting the killing of activist Bassem Mohsen. The rally was organized by the Way of the Revolution Front, which includes leading members of the April 6 Youth Movement, Strong Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Justice and Freedom Youth. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Mada Masr, 12/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Al-Azhar Grand Imam taking part in the referendum is a national duty | SIS


13 dead, 134 injured in car bombing at police compound in Mansoura
In the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, a deadly attack hit the Daqahliya Security Directorate in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the city of Mansoura. The blast killed 13 and injured 134 in what appears to be the worst terrorist attack on a government site since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July. Eight policemen, a civilian and three unidentified individuals were among the dead, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said in a statement. The head of Mansoura’s Security Directorate was among the injured. A high-profile Ministry of Interior security source told MENA that primary information indicates a truck containing explosive materials was used in the blast, while Egypt’s army said a car bomb was used in the attack. The interior ministry source said a massive amount of high explosives was used in the incident, pointing out that experts are still examining the site of the blast to determine whether the vehicle had been remotely detonated or exploded through a timer. Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said the attack aimed at obstructing a roadmap drawn up by the country’s interim rulers, describing it as an act of terrorism. Army spokesman Ahmed Ali vowed in a statement posted on Facebook that the army would press on with its crackdown on militant organizations that “toy with Egypt’s national security and incite terror among citizens at this critical juncture the country is going through.” Egypt’s Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, said the Mansoura attack came in retaliation to the violent dispersal by security forces of two Islamist protest camps in Raba’a al-Adaweya and al-Nahda squares in August. In a statement, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the bombing as a “direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people.” It accused the government of “exploiting” the violence to target the group and “create further violence, chaos and instability.” Among those condemning the blast were the pro-Morsi coalition, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, the Coptic Orthodox Church, Al-Azhar, Supreme Press Council. The US Embassy in Cairo also condemned the blast saying, ““We support the Egyptian government’s efforts to bring those responsible to justice.” Following the explosion, officials announced a high security alert in Sinai, as patrols roamed the streets of Arish. Security measures were tightened south of Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. Egypt’s prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat has ordered that a technical team be formed to investigate the bombing,  and appointed three teams from the criminal department to inspect the building, perform autopsies and document testimonies. [Ahram Online, AFP/DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, SIS, 10/24/2013]

Morsi, Brotherhood leaders start hunger strike
Around 450 political prisoners affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood have begun hunger strikes to protest inhuman treatment in prison, the Brotherhood stated on Monday. It said that among those on strike are deposed President Mohamed Morsi, businessman Khairat al-Shater, former politicians Essam al-Erian, Mohamed al-Beltagy, Essam al-Haddad and Ossama Yassin, and Brotherhood members Ahmed Aly, Ahmed Mashaly, Ahmed Abdel Atti and Ahmed Hodhod. The statement said the prisoners have been denied family visits, legal consultation, and medical care, while their prison cells are overcrowded and unhygienic. Mosa’ab al-Shamy tweeted Tuesday that his brother, Al Jazeera reporter Abdallah al-Shamy, and 17 fellow prisoners had started the hunger strike to “protest terrible conditions and ill-treatment.” Al-Shamy was among those arrested during the dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. General Mohamed al-Kheleissy,director of the criminal research division at the prison authority, denied on Monday that 450 imprisoned Brotherhood members were striking, in an interview with the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper. [Egypt Independent, DNE, Mada Masr, 12/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Spokesman says army killed 184 terrorists in Sinai since August | Aswat Masriya


US denounces Egypt’s ‘worsening’ climate for free assembly
The United States Monday denounced Egypt’s “worsening climate” for peaceful protests, the day after three activists were jailed for organizing an unauthorized march. “The United States is deeply concerned about the worsening climate for freedom of assembly and peaceful expression in Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The implementation of Egypt’s restrictive demonstrations law has led to an increase in arrests, detentions, and charges against opposition figures, human rights activists and peaceful demonstrators,” Psaki said. Commenting on the three year sentences handed down to activists Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel and Ahmed Douma, Psaki said they “should be reviewed,” because they “do not contribute to an open electoral environment or a transition process that protects the universal rights of all Egyptian citizens.” [AFP/Egypt Independent, 12/24/2013]

Under pressure, White House pulls Egypt ambassador pick
The Obama administration has decided to drop its initial pick for US ambassador to Egypt, leaving a vitally important diplomatic post vacant during a time of unusually strong tensions between Washington and one of its most important Middle Eastern allies. Sources familiar with the matter say that Robert Ford – the highly-respected, Arabic-speaking career diplomat and current ambassador to Syria – was withdrawn from consideration for the Cairo post after some representatives of Egypt’s military regime quietly indicated that they didn’t want him in the job because of his stated willingness to negotiate with some of Syria’s Islamist militants and political groups. Obama administration officials confirm that Ford faced some opposition in Cairo, but said the primary reason that he won’t be getting the position is the importance of his current job as the primary US liaison to Syria’s rebels. [Foreign Policy, 12/24/2013]

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Emirati Minister of State meets Beblawy | DNE