Top News: Egypt a World Leader in Detaining Journalists, Says Report

Egypt was the ninth worst offender this year for jailing journalists in a list topped by Turkey, Iran and China, according to a study released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday.


Egypt: Leaks help, not hurt, al-Sisi’s image
In an audiotape, Egypt’s military chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, talks about his dreams, saying that in one nighttime vision he was brandishing a sword and that in another he told the late Anwar Sadat that he himself would be president one day. The tape, apparently leaked by opponents to embarrass the general, kicked off an online storm of parodies and mockery. But to most Egyptians, among whom dream interpretation is commonplace, it only deepened an image of the country’s most powerful figure — and very possibly its next president — as a spiritual man, in touch with the nation’s traditions. “Apparently, those who leaked the last tape have not sufficiently studied the nature of Egyptians,” said Negad Borai, a prominent rights activist and a lawyer. [AP, 12/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Who will be Egypt’s next president? | Ahram Online


Detention renewed for Ain Shams students
The Abasseya Court renewed on Thursday the detention of nine Ain Shams University students arrested while protesting outside the university in commemoration of the 2011 Cabinet Clashes. The students’ detention was renewed for 15 days pending investigation, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). The students are accused of “protesting without a notice, assembly, vandalism public and private property, possession of melee weapons, ammunition and explosives, blocking the road, and attacking security personnel.” [DNE, 12/20/2013]

Salafi Watan Party calls for boycotting referendum
The Salafi Watan Party has called for boycotting the constitutional referendum set to take place on January 14-15.The party took an initial decision to boycott the referendum yet added that its final decision will be announced in line with parties that form the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, which backs ousted President Mohamed Morsi. “The Egyptian (political) environment is not in its normal state and is neither fit for the democratic process nor for constitution drafting,” the party said in a statement on its Facebook page. There are no clear criteria for the referendum, the statement added. Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, a prominent figure at the former Raba’a square sit-in, also announced that it is a duty to boycott the referendum on the new draft constitution. “People should not even go to vote against it,” he said in a post on his official Facebook page. Abdel Maqsoud called on all Islamist forces to collaborate with the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy and work as a single bloc. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 12/20/2013]

Abu Ismail case adjourned to January, more Brothers arrested across the nation
The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the trial of former Salafi presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail to January 20, the state-owned Egynews reported on Thursday. The ultraconservative Salafi preacher faces charges of forging official documents in an attempt to prove that his mother was not the holder of a foreign nationality during his presidential bid. Also on Thursday, security forces in the northern city of Mansoura arrested four Brotherhood suspects allegedly involved in the killing of a taxi driver during a protest. In addition, security forces in the southern governorate of Minya arrested 17 Brotherhood members on Thursday for allegedly storming police stations and government buildings following the bloody dispersal of two Brotherhood protest camps in August, Egynews reported. The prosecution in Alexandria also renewed the detention of five Brotherhood members for 15 days pending investigations into charges that they incited violence during protests, the state-owned Al-Ahram reported on Thursday [Mada Masr, EGYNews (Arabic), 12/19/2013]


Minister says no intention to shift to monetary subsidies
The government has no intention of shifting food subsidies to monetary plans, Minister of Supplies and Internal Trade Mohamed Abu Shadi told state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) Friday. Abu Shadi said some 18 million cards have been allocated for subsidized supplies, benefiting around 69 million citizens. Food and energy subsidies, including bread, amount to EGP 35 billion, the minister added. His comments were made in response to rumors he says have been circulating by mobile phone, claiming that the ministry has initiated an agreement with subsidized food distributors to gradually implement monetary subsidies. [Mada Masr, 12/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s govt expects around $3 billion in revenues after settling tax disputes | Ahram Online
Egypt index climbed, Gulf shares also rose | DNE
Saudi proposal to protect foreign investments Egypt Independent
Ten goals for Suez Canal axis development project: Mohab Mamish | SIS
Egypt, African Development Bank ink deal worth $2 million | SIS
Deputy PM reviews boosting mortgage financing | SIS
Egyptian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to boost economic cooperation | Egypt Independent
Blackouts hit Egypt once more | Ahram Online
No blackouts in Egypt: Electricity Minister | SIS


Security forces deployed across Cairo as pro-Morsi protesters stage rallies
Egyptian security forces have been deployed across the capital in anticipation of protests planned by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on Friday. Security presence has intensified in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Ramsis Square, sites of regular protests, as well as Raba’a al-Adaweya Square. Police and military forces also closed all entrances to al-Nahda Square. Police placed armored vehicles around the square outside Cairo University and on Mourad Street. The intensified security procedures come as Pro-Morsi supported held protest in Cairo, Alexandria,  and many other places across the country. Protesters torched a police vehicle in Cairo’s Mohandessin after clashing with security forces, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Police fired teargas bombs to disperse the protesters, the agency stated. Clashes erupted earlier today between a march for the Brotherhood supporters and security forces in Ahmed Orabi Street. Some area residents and shop owners hurled stones at the march to steer the protesters away from their homes and shops. Nasr City also witnessed violent clashes after security forces fired teargas at protesters to stop them from reaching Makram Ebeid Street, a main thoroughfare, according to Al-Ahram’s Arabic website. Injuries have been reported. [Egypt Independent , Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gate (Arabic),  Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/20/2013]

Egypt a world leader in detaining journalists, says report
Egypt was the ninth worst offender this year for jailing journalists in a list topped by Turkey, Iran and China, according to a study released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday. CPJ said 2013 was the second worst year on record in terms of the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide. Egyptian authorities detained five journalists in 2013, as compared to none in 2012, according to the study. But CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa consultant Shaimaa Aboul Khier told Mada Masr that one journalist, a Turkish national named Metin Turan who works for Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, was released after the study was completed on December 1, leaving four journalists detained at present. Journalist Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, from the Rassd News Network, Al-Jazeera correspondents Mohamed Bader and Abdallah al-Shami and freelance journalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid are currently in custody. On Thursday, the prosecution extended Shami’s detention for 45 days pending investigations. [Mada Masr, 12/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Six jailed for violating the protest law in Minya | EGYNews (Arabic)
Profile: Mona Mina, new secretary-general of the Doctors Syndicate | Ahram Online
Homeless Sudanese writer dies from cold on Cairo street | AFP
Al-Azhar takes centre stage in struggle for Egypt | Reuters
“Order of the Nile” awarded to two Nasser-time figures | Aswat Masriya
Crackdown on civil society groups now worse than under Mubarak, warn rights activists | Mada Masr
Human Rights Watch: Charges against Morsi ‘pretty fantastical’ | Egypt Independent


Two soldiers killed in gun battle with militants in Sinai
The Egyptian military fought wanted al-Qaeda-inspired militants Friday in the northern Sinai Peninsula, an operation that killed two soldiers as part the country’s push against Islamic militants in the region, a security official said. The Sinai clash flared after troops backed by armored vehicles swept through a village called el-Mahdiya along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. The operation targeted three of the most-wanted Ansar Jerusalem militants, including Shadi al-Manaei, a suspected mastermind of previous attacks, the official said. [Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 12/20/2013]


Swiss extend freezing of Mubarak assets
The Swiss Federal Council has extend the freezing of assets held by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his associates in Switzerland – worth around $782 million – by three years. The decision on Wednesday will provide more time for the authorities in Egypt to identify the assets’ origins, the council said. “The aim of the asset freeze is to facilitate mutual legal assistance on criminal matters with the affected states and thus to create the preconditions for judicial scrutiny into the origin of suspicious assets. The asset freezes ensure that potentially illicitly acquired assets are not hidden in other financial centers and thus evade judicial clarification,” the council said on its website. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 12/19/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt, Japan foreign ministers hold official talks | SIS
Egypt charter ‘an important step forward’: The Elders | Ahram Online
Egypt considering relief for Palestinians | DNE

Image: Photo: Cairo Journalists Syndicate (Bora S. Kamel)