Top News: Clashes between Students and Police for the Third Day

Clashes erupted on Tuesday between students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the security located on Azhar University campus, reported the state-owned news agency MENA.


Islamists form new alliance to ‘overthrow regime’
Development and Change Party founder Bassem Khafagy has announced the formation of a new alliance aiming for the downfall of the current regime. The group, called The Egyptian Alliance, is meant to substitute the Muslim Brotherhood-led National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy (NASL). The Alliance’s first statement read, “[it] will be a political nucleus for a new national group to change the current situation considering that June 30 reversed people’s will. It will have a new discourse and vision for change and a practical project with stages to liberate Egypt.” Nasr Abdel Salam, head of the NASL member party Construction and Development Party said “The Egyptian Alliance does not offer something new; however, it doesn’t ban discussing the formation of a separate alliance so long as the targets are similar. which are overthrowing the regime. The alliance is not a political maneuver to beautify political Islam as it doesn’t seek this.” [Egypt Independent, 12/12/2013]

Cabinet forms committee to review Morsi’s pardons
Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy formed a committee to review pardons issued to prisoners by deposed President Mohamed Morsi from June 30 2012 to 3 July 2013. Beblawy’s decision issued in the official gazette on Sunday came 18 days after the cabinet meeting on November 21, when the committee formation decision was taken in response to the terrorist operations in Egypt. Beblawy will head the committee with Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Justice Minister Adel Abdel Meguid, Interim Justice and National Reconciliation Minister Mohamed Amin al-Mahdi, Public Prosecutor Hesham Barakat and Intelligence Chief Major General Mohamed Farid al-Tohamy. [Egypt Independent,12/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Nour Party’s Bakkar says statements against Brotherhood ‘misunderstood’ | Ahram Online
Popular Current to turn into political party | Egypt Independent


Referendum on constitution mid-January, over two days
Minister of Administrative Development Hani Mamdouh said the referendum on the draft constitution will be held in mid-January in every governorate over a period of two days. Local Development Minister Adel Labib also said on Tuesday that all governorates have begun preparing for a referendum on the new constitution amid heavy security measures. Labib added in a press conference on Tuesday that measures to ease the process for voters and avoid manipulation are under consideration. Meanwhile, political powers have continued to announce their positions on the constitution. The Constitution Party has called for Egyptians to participate in the upcoming constitutional referendum, but has refrained from backing either a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ vote. In the statement on Tuesday, the liberal party said voting in the referendum was part of the June 30 “revolutionary wave.” The party will hold a series of lectures and conferences across Egypt on the pros and cons of the new charter. The National Salvation Front (NSF) announced Monday a campaign calling on Egyptians to vote “yes” on constitutional amendments in the upcoming referendum. Fouad Badrawy, secretary general of the Wafd Party and coordinator of the Executive Office of the NSF, said the Front will announce their full plan after an agreement has been reached on all aspects of the campaign. The Tamarod campaign announced on Monday that it is supervising the referendum on the constitution in 13,000 polling stations all over the country, with 130,000 members, all wearing uniforms printed with the logo of the campaign. “There will be 10 members in each station,” said campaign spokesperson Hassan Shahin. “They will face any scheme by the Muslim Brotherhood to spoil this historic event.” Mufti of the Republic Shawqi Allam said the new constitution expresses all categories of the Egyptian people. He said Al-Azhar has managed to preserve the constants of the Islamic law which is the main source of legislation. “There is no one single article in the charter that could be interpreted against Sharia,” he added. Amr Moussa said in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday he hopes the charter will win at least 70 percent of the votes. The new constitution pushed the government to deal with all Egyptians’ problems and interests like education, health and environment as well as problems of farmers, civil servants, the disabled and youth, he added. [Reuters, SIS, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AP, 12/10/2013]

Court orders release of Akef, other charges keep him in prison
A Cairo criminal court ordered the release of former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahdi Akef on Tuesday in the case of insulting the judiciary and adjourned his hearing in other cases to February 11. Akef will remain detained pending investigations into violence that took place by the Brotherhood’s guidance office in Mokattam last March. A large number of judges had filed a legal complaint against Akef, accusing him of publicly denouncing the justice system. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Former Al-Ahram chairman released | DNE
Turkish journalist released after 115 days in jail | DNE
Strong Egypt party to initiate court case to suspend the constitutional referendum | Ahram Gate (Arabic)


Egypt’s annual urban inflation rate highest in four years
Egyptian urban consumer inflation soared in November to its highest annual rate in nearly four years, increasing the risk of social unrest and potentially serving up a policy dilemma for the central bank. The Central Bank of Egypt said on Tuesday that the annual inflation rate increased to 11.95 percent in November, up from 11.5 percent in October. Crippled by political turmoil since a popular uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt’s economy expanded just 2.1 percent in the year to June 30.  “Clearly in a period where there is a restive population people expect a better standard of living and it’s likely that there will be social repercussions if inflation continues to run at these levels,” Angus Blair, chairman of business and economic forecasting think-tank Signet, said. [Reuters, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 12/10/2013]

Also of Interest:
Non-petroleum exports jump 12 percent in 2013 | Egypt Independent, AMA (Arabic)
Saudi Arabia Egypt’s first export destination, Turkey second | Egypt Independent
Telecom companies need to pay consumers back for illegal price hikes, says authority | Mada Masr
Kuwait renews aid pledge to Egypt despite domestic protest | Ahram Online


Clashes between students and police for the third day
Clashes erupted on Tuesday between students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the security located on Azhar University campus, reported the state-owned news agency MENA. A number of students pelted the security forces with stones and empty bottles. The forces responded by firing teargas to disperse them, according to MENA. Students set fire to trees and tires outside some faculties to stop the security forces from entry. Similarly, clashes took place near Cairo University between pro-Brotherhood students and the security forces, with police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds. No causalities were reported. On Monday, five people were injured in clashes between pro-Muslim Brotherhood students and security forces at Al-Azhar University, and at least 58 were arrested after police stormed the university campus. Mansoura Prosecution also ordered on Tuesday remanding 13 students from the Students Against Coup Movement, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood, into custody for 15 days pending investigations on charges of violence, burning central security vehicles and injuring seven policemen. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, AP, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 12/10/2013]

Mosques now need ministry approval to collect donations
Donations may no longer be collected inside mosques without official permission from the Endowments Ministry, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar announced on Monday. He also banned any individuals, NGOs or any other entities from collecting donations on a mosque’s behalf without official receipts from the ministry, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. Mokhtar also announced that only Al-Azhar graduates who teach the Qu’ran in mosques, both large and small, will have their license renewed and continue to be paid by the ministry. The decisions come amid the ministry’s efforts to control the activities of the mosques and restrict any potential influence from the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group over religious discourse in Egypt. [Mada Masr, 12/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Iron and steel workers’ strike escalates | DNE
Amnesty slams use of arrests to quell protests against draft constitution | Mada Masr
Time ditches Sisi as person of the year | Mada Masr
627 killed during Raba’a and Nahda sit-in dispersal: forensic authorities | Shorouk (Arabic)  
Report issued on Cairo University student’s death | Mada Masr


Leading member of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis killed in Sinai: Military
The military announced that a leader of Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, was killed on Monday and another accompanying individual was arrested in the North Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweid. The military claimed that the leader, Ibrahim Mohammed Hamdan Abu Freij, also known as Abu Soheib, was “one of the most dangerous jihadists in North Sinai.” In a statement, the military said: “The arrested individual, Mossad Hamdan Salem, was accompanying Abu Soheib on a motorcycle and was firing a machine gun at members of the second field army.” In a second statement, the military claimed that Salem was arrested as part of another group of 22 individuals arrested in Arish and Rafah upon suspicion of belonging to the militant group. The spokesman also announced the killing of one of most dangerous Takfiri element in Sinai, Essam al-Sari’a. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Aswat Masriy (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 12/10/2013]  

Interior Ministry to secure constitutional referendum in cooperation with Armed Forces
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said on Monday that the ministry is working in cooperation with the Armed Forces to secure the referendum on the constitution. Security measures to be taken by the police and military including tightening security measures on roads and dealing decisively with any attempts to disrupt the democratic process. [SIS, 12/10/2013]


EU to monitor referendum on constitutional amendments
EU Ambassador in Cairo James Moran said the Egyptian authorities had invited the European Union to monitor the referendum on constitutional amendments, Egypt Independent reported. He does not know, however, the number of the EU delegation members, because the date of the referendum has not yet been not set. Moran added that It is important for Egyptians to cast their ballots, whether with “yes” or “no,” and the EU thinks that all parties shall take part in the referendum. He added that he is looking forward to the EU supervision on the next presidential and parliamentary elections. [Egypt Independent, 12/9/2013]

Also of Interest:
Second day of tripartite Renaissance Dam negotiations starts | Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, Egypt Independent
Popular delegation to visit Iran to boost relations | Ahram Gate (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic)  

Image: Photo: Azhar student protest in November (DNE)