Top News: Defiant Morsi Appears in Courtroom as Trial Adjourned to January 8

The trial of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and fourteen codefendants, on charges of inciting murder and violence, was adjourned on Monday, state media reported, just hours after it began. 


Deputy PM calls for protest law to be passed before state of emergency is lifted on November 14
Egypt’s cabinet has amended the controversial draft protest law and will send it to the president for approval soon, Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa has said In an interview on the privately-owned al-Hayat satellite channel, Eissa said he did not know exactly when the law would be passed, but “naturally” it should be before the state of emergency is lifted on November 14. He also did not elaborate on specific amendments made to the draft law. The curfew currently lasts from 1 p.m. to 5 a.m., except for Fridays, the traditional day of protest, when it starts at 7 p.m, but will be lifted as the state of emergency ends. [Ahram Online, DNE, 11/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt agriculture minister signs ‘Sisi for president’ petition Ahram Online
Egypt Electoral Commission receives civil society requests to monitor polls | Ahram Online
Pro-Morsi protests aim to shake Egypt: President Mansour Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Prime Minister reviews development projects in Sinai | SIS
No reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood until they apologize to society: Hegazy | DNE
Workers Union denounce Minister’s interference | Cairo Post
Local Development Ministry provides 55,000 seats for youth in new local councils | Cairo Post
NSF Youth advise cabinet against return of university guards | Cairo Post


Defiant Morsi appears in courtroom as trial adjourned to January 8
The trial of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and fourteen codefendants, on charges of inciting murder and violence, was adjourned on Monday, state media reported, just hours after it began. The trial was held at the Police Academy, where former president Hosni Mubarak was also tried, amid security concerns, with some 20,000 police officers and soldiers guarding the trial. During the session, a defiant Morsi chanted against military rule and asserted that he is the “legitimate president of the country.” He called on “Egypt’s judiciary not to provide cover for the criminal coup d’etat,” in reference to his ouster on July 3. According to an Ahram Online reporter, minor scuffles broke out inside the court between supporters and opponents of the deposed president, with some calling for Morsi’s execution. The judge also had to temporarily suspend the first session of the trial twice as caged defendants chanted asserting the trial is illegitimate, reported state TV. Morsi will be sent to Borg al-Arab prison on the outskirts of the city of Alexandria in the north of the country, according to Egypt state TV. The rest of Morsi’s co-defendant’s will return to Tora prison in south Cairo. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS, AP, DNE, Reuters, 11/4/2013]

Constitution committee approved fifty articles; Nour agrees to language on sharia
Egypt’s constitutional-amendment committee has approved fifty articles, committee spokesman Mohamed Salmawy said in a statement, as the fifty-member body nears completing the final draft of the national charter. Salmawy said the approved articles have been sent to the ten-member committee of judicial and constitutional experts for review before they are officially adopted by the fifty-member body. He added that the approved articles include legislation on rights and freedoms, most significantly the right to protest, which the constitution stipulates only needs prior notice. The Salafi-oriented Nour Party also announced the end of disputes within Egypt’s constitutional amendment committee relating to sharia articles. Yasser Borhamy, vice-chief of the Salafi Call, said it would agree to stick to a constitutional court explanation of the word “principles” as laid out in the court’s provisions issued in 1985, 1996 and 2002. Borhamy added that an agreement had been reached with Al-Azhar to make reference to Islamic sharia rather than “provisions.” Finally, The Supreme Council for Journalism announced on Sunday its approval of constitutional articles related to freedom of journalism, drafted by the fifty member committee. It added that the articles establish freedom of media, journalism and expression.  [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 11/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt military court gives journalist suspended jail term | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE
Alexandria’s activist Hassan Mostafa acquitted | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE
Thirty-five defendants referred to trial over Rafah massacre | Egypt Independent, Cairo Post
Shafiq headquarters verdict postponed | DNE
Abu Ismail’s trial adjourned to January 6 | DNE, Cairo Post
Brotherhood’s Amr Darrag banned from travel | Aswat Masriya


Government launches ‘Egypt 2022’ economic development plan
The current interim government is taking the first step of a long term developmental vision, referred to as “Egypt 2022,” aimed at achieving a “sustainable and containment growth,” according to a document from Ministry of Planning. This long term vision included technological development to aid in improving the quality of citizens’ and institutions’ services “which by result will attract local and foreign investments and create job opportunities.” The vision also focuses on developing basic infrastructure and stressed the importance of developing the administrative half of the state’s institutions. [DNE, 11/2/2013]

Central Bank of Egypt to return $500 million to Qatar this week
The $1 billion deposited by Qatar in late 2012 will be repaid by Egypt in two installments of $500 million each in November and December, according to a statement made by Central Bank of Egypt head Hisham Ramez, to Youm7. “Egypt returned $2 billion worth of aid to Qatar after their request to postpone the conversion of the funds to bonds as agreed earlier. Qatar also decided to amend the agreement signed with Egypt, an action which was inconvenient to Egypt and resulted in the repayment of the money,” Ramez told Youm7. [Cairo Post, 11/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt sees a drop in millionaires during Morsi | Egypt Independent, DNE  
Egypt stocks up on Monday, overlooking Morsi trial | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Interest rates remain fixed as inflation rises: analysts | DNE
Minister of Petroleum signs nine agreements for $470million in investments | DNE
Egypt central bank keeps rates on hold amid sluggish growth | Ahram Online
Egypt’s private sector remains exempt from minimum wage law | Al Bawaba
Egypt receives $280 million oil aid from UAE in October | World Bulletin
Property tax amendments in Egypt to lessen economic burden on investors | DNE
Ministry of Finance rates Egyptian banks | DNE
Blog: Egypt’s economy, propped up but struggling | FT


Bassem Youssef’s al-Bernameg suspended amid widespread criticism
Bassem Youssef’s satirical show al-Bernameg was suspended by its host channel CBC until “administrative and technical” problems are resolved, according to a statement issued by the channel on Friday. The statement said CBC’s board was surprised to find the content of Friday’s episode in “violation of what had been agreed upon.” Lamees al-Hadidy, a talk show host on CBC also said Saturday evening that channel owner Mohamed al-Ameen has not suspended al-Bernameg due to political pressure. The Bassem Youssef show team, however, released a statement on Saturday denying that it was in violation of the show’s contract. Presidential media adviser Ahmed al-Muslimany asserted in a statement that the presidency supports freedom of expression and that the CBC decision is strictly an internal matter. The army spokesman, however, has issued no statements regarding the show. The suspension has drawn criticism, with head of the constitution committee Amr Moussa urging CBC to reconsider a decision he said raised concerns over freedom of expression. Among those condemning the move were the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, as well as political parties, groups and figures including Strong Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei, the April 6 Movement, Tamarod, al-Jama’a al-Islamiya and Hamdeen Sabbahi. Dozens of fans staged a rally near the theatre where Youssef records the show, while some called for a boycott of the station. A poll by Baseera, a recently established Egyptian organization for researching public opinion, however showed that 44 percent of respondents agreed with the decision to suspend the show, while 48 percent did not. [Mada Masr, Reuters, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, 11/3/2013]

Rival protests on Morsi trial day witness clashes, arrests
There has been relative calm in Cairo since the fraught trial of former President Mohamed Morsi was postponed until January 8, while other Egyptian cities witnessed clashes and arrests. In Alexandria, eighteen Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested on Monday, after they clashed with residents and police forces outside Alexandria Criminal Court, according to security sources. The protest turned violent after protesters were attacked by army supporters. In Cairo, Central Security Forces (CSF) soldiers arrested a number of members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) on Cairo’s Ramses Street during clashes Monday, Youm7 reported. Pro-Morsi protesters also rallied at the Police Academy where the trial took place, with Egypt’s state TV and a number of privately-owned channels reporting that their crews were attacked by Morsi’s supporters. In Assiut and Sharqiya, security forces used tear gas to disperse pro-Morsi protesters amid clashes. Several thousand of Morsi’s supporters staged a protest at Cairo’s Supreme Constitutional Court, effectively blocking a major thoroughfare in southern Cairo. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 11/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Campaign collects 15 million pleas for Sisi to run for president: Coordinator | Egypt Independent
Protests continue in universities as police forces stand by campus’ gates | DNE
Over a thousand protests in Egypt during October: Democracy Index | DNE


Two policemen, one military officer killed in separate drive-by shootings
Two policemen were killed in the late hours of Sunday when unknown assailants attacked a security checkpoint on Egypt’s Cairo-Ismailia road. According to Al-Ahram, they were killed by gunmen in a drive-by shooting on the road linking the capital with the Suez Canal City of Ismailia. A military officer was also shot dead on Monday afternoon at a checkpoint in Egypt’s Ismailia. Ahmed Farouq, 35, was fired at by an unknown assailant on his way to afternoon prayers, reported Al-Ahram. Farouq was transferred to al-Galaa military hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries. [Cairo Post, Ahram Online, 11/4/2013]

Armed forces renew security operations in Sinai
Military forces continued their security campaign against militant groups in the volatile North Sinai governorate. The army removed sixty-four huts, seized sixteen unlicensed vehicles and seven motorbikes, which were being used by militant groups against security personnel, armed forces spokesperson Ahmed Ali announced Sunday. Ali added on his official Facebook page that the military continued its intensive strikes targeting “terroristic” and “murder” hotspots in the governorate. Three people were killed in North Sinai on Monday in the course of the security operations. The victims were allegedly riding a motorbike at the time of their death, the spokesperson wrote, claiming that they were attempting to plant an explosive device. Egypt’s military spokesperson also announced on Sunday that Border Guard forces destroyed eight illegal underwater diesel containers they say held 334,000 liters of fuel in the Sinai Peninsula. Meanwhile, the North Sinai Security Directorate arrested two suspects on charges of funding militant groups and inciting violence, according to a press statement issued by the directorate on Sunday. The first suspect, Ragab A.A., a local butcher, is accused of financing violent acts committed against the Egyptian military and police force. The second suspect, Mohamed G.M.H., 24, is accused of inciting violence and mobilizing protests that support the Muslim Brotherhood. Unknown gunmen also fired on a radio station in the al-Masa’eed area of Arish, North Sinai, on Friday. Security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm how gunmen fired on security forces stationed outside the radio building. Security forces exchanged fire while no casualties were reported. [Cairo Post, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 11/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
MBC Egypt correspondent assaulted and tortured by police: EOHR | DNE
Hamas officer apprehended in Sinai | SIS, Cairo Post
Alexandria detainees forced to take pregnancy test: Haitham Abu Khalil | DNE
Cairo airport detains Morsi’s son then releases him – FJP | Aswat Masriya


During first visit to Egypt since Morsi’s ouster, Kerry sees signs Egypt moving back towards democracy
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Sunday in Cairo to push Egypt’s military-installed rulers for democratic progress, on his first visit since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Kerry expressed guarded optimism about a return to democracy in the country and said that his country is committed to working with Egypt’s interim rulers. “We are committed to work and we will continue our cooperation with the interim government,” Kerry told reporters, urging “inclusive, free and fair elections.” Kerry also urged Egypt’s interim rulers not to extend the state of emergency when it ends later this month, a senior American official said. “He pressed hard on not extending the state of emergency when it expires on November 14,” a State Department official told reporters travelling with Kerry. Kerry also said the suspension of aid to Egypt is “not a punishment.” Kerry and Interim President Adly Mansour agreed in a meeting Tuesday that bilateral relations between the countries should not be reduced to aid. Mansour met Kerry at the Presidential Palace, along with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, US Ambassador David Satterfield and US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, Al-Ahram reported. Kerry added that “the relationship between the United States and Egypt should not be defined by aid but by a partnership”, and promised to launch talks on a US-Egypt strategic dialogue. Kerry also announced on Sunday that US President Barack Obama accepted an invitation to engage in a strategic dialogue with Egypt. Meanwhile Fahmy said on Saturday that Egypt would look beyond the United States to meet its security needs and warned Washington that it could no longer ignore popular demands in a changed Arab world. Speaking ahead of Kerry’s visit, Fahmy said the United States must take a long-term view of its relations with Egypt and understand that in the wake of the Arab Spring, “it would have to deal now with the Arab peoples, not only with Arab governments”. [DNE, Cairo Post, State Department, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr,AP, Reuters, 11/3/2013]

UK restores twenty-four arms export licenses to Egypt
The United Kingdom announced on Sunday that it restored twenty-four export arms licenses that were revoked following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July. The UK is also providing assistance to improve Egypt’s airport security. Despite twenty-four licences being reinstated, another seven were revoked, said a spokeswoman from the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills. She was unable to provide any further information regarding this issue. The decision to restore the arms export licenses came after the UK government “re-assessed all extant export licenses” having kept track of “recent developments” inside Egypt. The restored licenses have been judged “to pose no risk of misuse in public order operations and will be used to support the Egyptian security forces in combating terrorism in Egypt.” [DNE, 11/3/2013]

Egypt not probing killing of protesters: HRW
1,300 people have died in Egypt since the unseating of former President Mohamed Morsi by the Armed Forces on July 3, a Human Rights Watch report stated on Saturday. The report listed a number of incidents when it said security forces had used “disproportionate force” mainly with Morsi supporters, leading to civilian deaths. Such events included the Republican Guard Clashes on July 8, the Al-Nasr Road clashes on July 27, the dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in on August 14, and the clashes on October 6 in Dokki and near Ramses Street. “In dealing with protest after protest, Egyptian security forces escalate quickly and without warning to live ammunition, with deadly results,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. The New-York based group on Saturday charged that three weeks since police used lethal force to break up protests of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the authorities have not yet questioned or said they intend to question security forces about their use of firearms on that day. [AFP, DNE, 11/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Ethiopian dam project to include Egypt and Sudan | Egypt Independent
Egypt reopens Gaza border crossing | Egypt Independent
Egyptian crackdown on fuel smuggling to Gaza continues | DNE
Water Resources Ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will start meetings on Nile water | SIS
Libyan air force locates forty-eight migrants in desert | DNE