Top News: Activists Arrested Ahead of Mohamed Mahmoud Commemoration

Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Sunday it has taken all necessary measures to secure Tuesday’s commemoration of the 2011 deadly Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. Meanwhile, several activists were arrested for distributing flyers calling for protests on the anniversary. 


New memorial in Tahrir Square stirs controversy
Construction of a new memorial in the center of Tahrir Square dedicated to the martyrs of the January 25 and June 30 uprisings has stirred controversy among critics. Approved by the Cairo governor, work on the memorial began on Saturday. The memorial construction is part of a government plan to show that the country has regained stability. Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy inaugurated the base of the planned memorial, cementing the last stone onto the structure, amid tight security at Tahrir, with all entrances to the square sealed off by police. Authorities will hold a competition to design a statue to be placed on the pedestal, dedicated to the “martyrs of the two revolutions.” Political activist Ahmed Douma told Egypt Independent that plans to establish the memorial is merely a public relations attempt to win people over from outside the revolutionary camp.  [AP, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 11/18/2013]

Activists arrested ahead of Mohamed Mahmoud commemoration; Pro-Morsi alliance to avoid Mohamed Mahmoud Street
Egypt’s Interior Ministry said Sunday it has taken all necessary measures to secure Tuesday’s commemoration of the 2011 deadly Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. The ministry warned in an official statement to groups expected to demonstrate on the anniversary against “elements that might infiltrate the gatherings to threaten public security and peaceful protest.” In an attempt to preempt criticism, the ministry also offered its condolences to those who died. The interim cabinet also recognized Sunday those who died on the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street in 2012 as “revolution martyrs,” along with journalists who died in action, to be granted all compensations and benefits that status confers. While local authorities have been preparing Tahrir Square for the anniversary, with a stage set up to host an official commemoration, three members of the Revolutionary Front were arrested on Thursday as they distributed flyers on Mohamed Mahmoud Street calling for protests on the second anniversary of the clashes. Qasr al-Nil Prosecution also ordered Saturday an April 6 Youth Movement member detained for four days pending investigations for handing out flyers “inciting against the army and the police” when calling for demonstrations on November 19. While the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called on its followers to converge on the streets Monday to mark the second anniversary, they also called on supporters to avoid Mohamed Mahmoud Street or any venues of potential confrontation “to deny plotters the chance of stirring violence and holding the alliance responsible.” Al-Jama’a al-Islamiya, on the other hand, announced its plan to participate in demonstrations Tuesday, while the Salafist Nour Party has refused to join demonstrations. [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post, 11/18/2013]

Egypt’s Brotherhood alliance calls for national dialogue, for a limited time
Egypt’s pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has called for a national dialogue as a way out of the country’s political strife, without explicitly demanding the return of deposed president Mohamed Morsi. The alliance said in a statement on Saturday, which is titled “A Strategic Viewpoint”, that Egypt needs a “serious discussion.” This cannot happen, the alliance stated, however, until “the arrests, bloodshed, and hate speech” ends. The Brotherhood-backed alliance also called for respect for “political plurality,” as well as “an end to the military coup, the return to constitutional legitimacy and retribution for martyrs.” Mohamed Ali Bishr, a Brotherhood leader said the dialogue offer was “limited to two weeks.” The Egyptian government, meanwhile, could agree to reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood if it accepts the transition roadmap, Minister of Social Solidarity Ahmed al-Borei has said. However, in a statement published on the Freedom and Justice Party’s website on Saturday, Bishr stated that the call for dialogue was not addressed to the those who had “turned against constitutional legitimacy,” in reference to the interim cabinet. A Muslim Brotherhood source speaking on condition of anonymity told Ahram Online that the proposal for dialogue is a result of “external pressure exerted on the group and their allies” to push “for integrating in the current political scene.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AFP, Reuters, DNE, Cairo Post, 11/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Minister of Manpower criticized for media censorship recommendation | DNE
We will eliminate terrorism: PM | SIS, Cairo Post
Brotherhood wanted interim govt posts: presidential advisor | Ahram Online
Fishere sets initiative for national reconciliation | DNE


Egypt constitution body finalizes judicial articles; Amended draft to be ready by Tuesday
Mohamed Salmawy, spokesman for the fifty-member committee announced on Monday that the committee has finished voting on articles related to judicial authority. According to Salmawy, the only articles that remain for vote are those regarding the military, a transitional article on the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the constitution’s preamble. The final draft of the amended constitution will be finished on Tuesday, the fifty-member constituent assembly posted on its official twitter page on Sunday. The assembly is expected to vote on the draft constitution within a week at the most, before it presents it to interim President Adly Mansour. [SIS, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Aswat Masriya, 11/17/2013]

State commissioners recommend FJP dissolution; to consider Nour Party dissolution
An advisory report by commissioners at the Cairo Administrative Court, issued on Saturday, recommended the disbanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). In October, the court postponed its verdict on the case to November 16, pending the consultative report. The report, which is not binding for judges considering the case, directed for the dissolution of the party, the sequestration of its funds and adding them to state treasury. The document said the party no longer exists in light of the June 30 revolt against toppled president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt’s High Administrative Court postponed lawsuits calling for the disbanding of the FJP until February 15. The court was expected to issue a decision on the lawsuits after its board of commissioners recommended disbanding the party earlier on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Supreme Administrative Court referred Saturday the case concerning the dissolution of the Salafist Nour Party to the court’s commissioners. The lawsuit was presented to court on the basis that it is illegal to form political parties that are religion based. According to state-owned Al-Ahram, the “urgent” case hearing is scheduled for February 14. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt  Independent, 11/16/2013]

Also of Interest:
Three Islamist leaders referred to criminal court for insulting judiciary | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, Cairo Post
Cairo criminal court adjourns Mubarak retrial to December | Ahram Online, DNE
Tantawi, Anan to testify in Mubarak trial | Mada Masr
Corruption trial of ex-PM Shafiq adjourned | Ahram Online, Cairo Post
Abu Ismail trial continues Monday | Cairo Post
Morsi’s lawyer to take measures against prison officials for banning family visit | Egypt Independent
Constitution Committee Spokesperson denies governors to be elected Egypt Independent


Egypt jobless rate reaches 13.4 percent in Q3/2013
Egypt’s unemployment rate inched up 0.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013, amounting to 13.4 percent of the country’s total labor force, according to the state-run statistics body CAPMAS. CAPMAS’s quarterly report, released on Saturday, attributed the increase in unemployment to an overall slowdown in economic activities during the period between July and September. The report also mentioned that youth constitutes 70.8 percent of the total unemployed, with around 10.6 percent aged between fifteen and nineteen, and 20.9 percent ranging between 25 and 29 years old. The total workforce stood at 27.2 million during the second and third quarters of 2013. The number of unemployed increased by 30,000 in Q3 2013, resulting in some 3.6 million jobless Egyptians [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 11/17/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s wheat supply sufficient to last until March 5: Minister | Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters
Breakthrough in butane cylinder shortage on new shipments: Government official | DNE
New roadmap for Egyptian-Saudi economic relations under development: Abdel Nour | DNE
Budget deficit ratio stabilizes at 2.9 percent of GDP, domestic debt surges to 73.5 percent of GDP| DNE
Saleh to inaugurate 1st conference for financial institutions on Monday | Cairo Post
Italian investors interested in Egypt | Cairo Post


Egypt cargo train crashes into minibus, kills twenty-six
At least twenty-seven people were killed in Egypt when a cargo train ploughed into a truck and a minibus at a railway crossing near Dahshour in Giza governorate (35 km South of Cairo) early Monday. Twenty-eight people were also injured in the accident. State-owned Al-Ahram reported that the train driver and his assistant were arrested. The crossing guard and a crossing maintenance worker were also arrested. Railway workers have blamed faulty equipment and negligence for a train crash. Two watchmen at the crossing told Al-Ahram that the manual alarm bells and warning lights for approaching trains were out of service. Giza’s Governor Ali Abdel-Rahman announced the governorate would pay EGP  5,000 (US $725) in compensation to the family of each person killed in the Dahshour accident. [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, Aswat Masriya, Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, Cairo Post, 11/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Friday clashes lead to the death of two teens | DNE, Aswat Masriya
Producers of Egypt’s top satirist show al-Bernameg terminate contract | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, AP
Zohdy leading candidate for the group: al-Jama’a al-Islamiya Tamarod coordinator | Egypt Independent
Student strike continues at Zagazig University Faculty of Engineering | DNE
Police disperse student protesters at Zagazig University with teargas | Ahram Online
November saw the most dangerous week for universities since January 25, 2011: AFTE | DNE
NGOs and movements condemn violations faced by refugees from Syria | DNE
Egyptian journalists to be investigated for normalization allegations | DNE
Police forcefully disperse workers blocking tracks in Nile Delta | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent


Homeland security officer killed in Cairo, policeman killed in Sinai
Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Mabrouk Abu Khatab, a senior-ranking Homeland Security officer, was shot dead on Sunday evening in Nasr City near his home. The officer was shot by unknown gunmen near his house on Nagaty Serag Street while heading to his office around 10:30 p.m. according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior. The ministry is doubling its efforts to arrest the culprits, it said. Egyptian security officials have blamed Islamist militants for his death. “Our investigations point to Islamic jihadists carrying out this assassination with political motives,” a security official told Reuters. Meanwhile, a policeman was shot dead in the early hours of Saturday by unknown assailants in the city of al-Arish in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula. Mohamed Zayed, 40, was shot in the head and the foot on his way home from work. Security forces combed the area but were unable to find the assailants. Three army soldiers also were injured on Sunday when a bomb exploded near their armored vehicle in the city of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai, according to a security source. The bomb had been placed on the road by unknown elements. Security forces continued on Monday campaigns in different regions in Sinai in pursuit of suspects, as well as destroying smuggling tunnels and attacking criminal hotspots. Security forces intensified their presence in North Sinai and completed sealing vital regions in the governorate after numerous attacks on Sunday by unknown armed men. [DNE, Mada Masr, AP, Reuters, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent , Cairo Post, 11/18/2013]


US defense secretary praises end of Egypt’s state of emergency, curfew
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised the end of Egypt’s state of emergency and curfew in a telephone call with Egyptian army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Saturday. “Secretary Hagel welcomed the end of the emergency law and curfew in Egypt and reiterated that the United States values the rights of all people to express their views peacefully,” read a Saturday statement by the US Department of Defense. The Pentagon press secretary said that the talks emphasized the importance of Egypt’s move towards comprehensive democracy. He stressed the importance of bilateral relations and commitment to joint security interests. [Ahram Online, SIS, 11/18/2013]

Hamas accuses Egypt of being reluctant to end Palestinian suffering
Hamas government in Gaza said on Sunday that closing the Rafah border crossing for the tenth day in a row affirms what they described as a “policy of worsening the humanitarian situation” and reluctance to alleviate the suffering in Gaza. A statement issued by Ihab al-Ghosein, head of the government’s media relations bureau, in the Palestinian news agency Safa, Hamas expressed concern over Egypt’s insistence on keeping the crossing closed for the tenth consecutive day. It added that this “tightens the blockade on Gaza and makes the humanitarian situation worse.” Al-Ghosein added that the Egyptian side is dealing with the humanitarian suffering with “unjustified negativity” and called on the Egyptian side to open the Rafah Border Crossing, which has been shut since November 8 until further notice. Meanwhile, Egypt is to temporarily reopen Rafah Border Crossing on Tuesday, state news agency MENA reported. The crossing has been closed for ten days due to renewed unrest in the Sinai Peninsula which borders the Palestinian enclave. [Egypt Independent , Ahram Online, DNE, 11/18/2013]

Also of Interest:
Mansour invites Putin for Cairo visit | Egypt Independent
CIA documents reveal Gaddafi support of Egypt’s Brotherhood | Ahram Online
Egypt to emphasize development cooperation at Africa-Arab Summit | DNE, Cairo Post
Joint military exercises between Egypt, Russia | Cairo Post

Image: Photo: Maha Al Aswad