Top News: Egypt Publicly Seeking to Monitor Social Media

Egypt’s interior ministry has asked foreign technology firms to help it monitor social media websites to prevent crime and track down terrorists, officials said on Monday. Seven foreign firms have offered proposals for monitoring social media websites, an interior ministry official said. 


Elections commission rejects Sabbahi’s appeal
Egypt’s elections committee said on Sunday it had rejected defeated presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi’s appeal against voting results that gave former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a landslide victory. Sabbahi’s legal team spoke on Saturday to the PEC regarding an appeal filed earlier over the presidential elections results. Sabbahi said in a press conference last Thursday that his campaign faced “wide-scale” violations during the forty-eight hours of voting on Monday and Tuesday. He also filed appeals against the count in a number of polling stations. Domestic elections watchdog Shayfeencom also condemned on Saturday the vote-counting mechanism used during last week’s presidential elections, summing the violations it observed in a report. The elections committee’s statement did not give details on its ruling on the appeal. It said the official results will be announced on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, PEC Secretary General Abdel Aziz Salman, denied news circulated over photos for ballots papers with marks for Sabbahi that were found inside a bathroom. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 6/1/2014]

Sisi’s first presidential statement to be aired on TV; Activists launch ‘Sisi Meter’
With the final and official results of the 2014 presidential elections to be declared on Tuesday by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), interim President Adly Mansour is determined to allow Sisi to start his presidential term as soon as the official results of this week’s elections are announced, Mansour’s legal advisor, Ali Awad, announced. Awad, in a statement to Al-Ahram, denied rumors of the possibility of delaying the presidential inauguration until the parliamentary elections law is drafted. In related news, activists have launched a website on the internet called the ‘Sisi Meter’ to monitor Sisi’s performance. Similar to a site launched in the wake of former president Mohamed Morsi’s election, Sisi Meter founders, have acknowledged that Sisi did not make any specific promises and that he also did not announce a timeline that he could be held accountable to. Instead, the website will accept proposals and demands expected from the new president, to be put to a vote. Meanwhile, Sisi is working on his first presidential statement, expected to be aired to Egyptians via TV, after security reasons prevented him from giving the statement at a major square in Cairo. Sources said that the speech will identify the form of his four-year term in office. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 6/1/2014]

New draft House of Representatives Law reserves seats for some
The new draft House of Representatives Law will include seats for women, Copts, and expats and special needs representatives, according to Judge Mohamed Gamil Ibrahim, a member of the legislation department in the State Council. Ibrahim also said that the draft law would include 450 individual seats and 150 party list seats. He said each list would include a quota for three women, three Christians, and two representatives from among workers and peasants. He also revealed that there would be seat per list for Egyptian expats and another for a special needs representative in the new House of Representatives. [Ahram Online, 6/1/2014]

Interim president issues law criminalizing insulting Egypt flag
President Adly Mansour issued a new decree on Saturday making it a crime to disrespect the national flag or fail to stand for the national anthem. The law stipulates a maximum punishment of one year in prison and EGP 30,000 ($4,200) for “desecrating the flag.” It also mandates that the flag be raised in all educational institutions that fall under the jurisdiction of the state and that the national anthem is performed every morning, during which those present have to stand. The use of the flag in trademark slogans is prohibited under the new law. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, Mada Masr, 5/31/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Parties join forces ahead of parliamentary elections | Aswat Masriya
  • Mahlab’s government to officially step down next week | Ahram Online
  • Mahlab says Egypt on its way to regaining regional role | DNE
  • Workers union pushes for political rights law reform | Egypt Independent
  • Sabbahi begins converting Popular Trend into political party | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi’s campaign accuses Kuwaiti newspaper of fabrication | Aswat Masriya


Copt in Luxor facing charges of blasphemy; Islamists torch Christian shops before trial
Prosecution authorities in Upper Egypt’s Luxor ordered Friday the detention of Kirollos Shawky for four days pending investigations over allegations that he insulted Islam. According to the state-owned news agency MENA, Shawky was arrested for allegedly posting pictures insulting Islam on his personal Facebook page. Another six, accused of attempting to use the incident to incite locals to attack Shawky’s house with stones, were also arrested. On Monday, a security official said a mob of angry Islamists burned shops owned by Coptic Christians near Luxor hours before Shawky’s trial. The official says authorities are investigating the attack. [Ahram Online, AP, 6/2/2014]

Jazeera trial adjourned to June 5
The trial of Al Jazeera International reporters accused of fabricating news reports and aiding the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has been adjourned by a Cairo criminal court to June 5.
The criminal court rejected the defendants’ request to be released on bail. In Sunday’s session, the journalists’ defense attorneys cross-examined the three independent audio-visual experts tasked by the prosecutor to examine footage allegedly obtained from the defendants’ laptops and hotel rooms. Defense attorney Khaled Abu Bakr questioned the authenticity of the experts’ testimony, citing that their written reports were all identical and accusing the experts of perjury. When asked about which videos provide evidence that the defendants are supportive of the Brotherhood, one of the technical committee members said that he could not remember. Another added that he could not determine if the content of the videos is pro-Brotherhood. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 6/1/2014]

Cairo court orders MB dominated syndicate placed under judicial supervision
The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ordered Saturday the Pharmacists’ Syndicate be placed under judicial supervision. A case had been filed by syndicate member Safaa Abdel-Azim Mohamed and the syndicate’s lawyer, Seoudi Ibrahim, demanding that the judiciary intervene on charges that the Muslim Brotherhood controls the syndicate. The case also demanded that a temporary committee be formed to manage the syndicate until new elections take place. Mohamed Hegazy, legal advisor at the Land Center for Human Rights, which focuses on labor, says that the verdict is unconstitutional and marks a return to the police state, in which the regime finds ways to control the syndicates. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 5/31/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Prosecution dismisses charges against 228 alleged Morsi supporters | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Court sentences thirty-four alleged Brotherhood supporters | Aswat Masriya
  • Morsi espionage trial postponed to June 16 | DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • Morsi jailbreak trial resumes | Egypt Independent
  • Mubarak retrial over killing of protesters postponed to June 3 | DNE, Egypt Independent
  • Badie protests prosecution’s court argument: Lawyer | DNE
  • Prosecutor allows rights council to visit hunger striking prisoners | Aswat Masriya


Egypt waters down stock market tax after bourse drops sharply
Egypt has watered down a tax on stock market gains it announced last week as part of efforts to trim a high budget deficit, after the country’s bourse recorded its biggest daily drop in almost a year on Sunday. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 6/2/2014]

Saudi and UAE ready $20 billion boost for Egypt’s Sisi
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are thought to be readying a financial aid package of $20 billion to boost Egypt’s economy and support the incoming government of president-elect Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The oil-rich Middle East powerhouse Arab nations have already held preliminary talks with authorities in Cairo to discuss how the line of funding will be structured. [The Telegraph, Al-Monitor, 6/1/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt to give state employees 10 percent raise starting July 1 | Ahram Online, Mada Masr


Fifty-nine arrested in Friday protests; Police Brotherhood students clash at Al-Azhar
Two police personnel and eight citizens were injured in clashes with pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters Friday, Egypt’s interior ministry announced in a statement. The injuries were sustained from birdshot in Cairo’s Marg and Giza governorates, the statement released on the ministry’s official Facebook page read. The statement also said limited clashes and protests took place nationwide, but the police managed to disperse them and arrest fifty-nine protesters in Giza, Cairo, Alexandria, Fayoum, Assiut and Damietta governorates. On Monday, fierce clashes erupted between police and students affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood around Al-Azhar University’s education and commerce departments in Nasr City, just after exams ended. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 6/2/2014]

Activist arrested for possession of anti-military trials sticker
Alexandria police on Sunday referred a well-known activist to prosecutors on charges of possession of material “insulting the armed forces.” Police arrested Safwan Mohamed, a leading member in the liberal Constitution Party, at a checkpoint in east Alexandria after they found a sticker on his bag saying “No to Military Trials.” Sara al-Sherif, a member of the No Military Trials for Civilians group, said that Mohamed was first charged with violating the Protest Law, but the charge was changed to “offending a military officer, and chanting against the military and the police.” The official charges are to be announced during prosecution on Monday. “Now, anyone who speaks up about the revolution or anything that has happened over the past three years or about the No Military Trials for Civilians group is subjected to arrest,” she said. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 6/2/2014]

NCW accuses EU observer mission of interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs
Two members of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM)  in Egypt left a conference held by the National Council for Women on Saturday following harsh criticism by the head of the council, Mervat al-Talawy, and Judge Tahani al-Gebali, who accused them of overstepping their boundaries. Talawy accused the European Union mission of interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs, saying that their report “runs contrary to the reality on the ground,” and denying information in the report related to the limiting the activities of civil society organizations in Egypt. Rasha Serry, Press and Information Officer of the EU delegation to Egypt, suggested in a press release on Monday that Talawy was “somewhat misinformed” about the EUEOM report, adding that the said report “should be read in its entirety.” [Mada Masr, DNE, 6/2/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Health minister say malaria outbreak contained | DNE
  • Company workers stage sit-in in Suez | DNE
  • Activists call for journalists’ release | DNE
  • Strong Egypt back activists’ hunger strikes | DNE
  • Cairo University contracts armed forces to provide food for dormitories | DNE
  • Amnesty campaigns for jailed Mansoura women | DNE
  • Letter by NGO urges UN to address human rights in Egypt | DNE


Prison riot at Wadi al-Natroun over alleged torture contained
A scene of chaos that erupted at Wadi al-Natroun Prison in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira has been contained by police, with “instigating elements” identified, the Reuters-affiliated Egyptian news website Aswat Masriya reported on Monday. The riots broke out following the death of a political prisoner, a security source told Aswat Masriya. The death of the prisoner has not been confirmed. Reports of protests at the prison came out on Sunday via social media, with claims of police beating prisoners who are on hunger strikes and firing tear gas inside prison wards. A lawyer representing the detainees and a human rights activist following the case has alleged that political prisoners are facing abuse and “torture” in the prison. Egypt’s interior ministry has denied reports of abuse against inmates. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 6/2/2014]

Egypt publicly seeking to monitor social media
Egypt’s interior ministry has asked foreign technology firms to help it monitor social media websites to prevent crime and track down terrorists, officials said on Monday. Seven foreign firms have offered proposals for monitoring social media websites, an interior ministry official said. Interior Ministry officials did not name the companies. Major General Abdel Fattah Othman, deputy interior minister for public relations, said monitoring the social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter is not a return to Mubarak’s era. Activist and blogger Wael Abbas, meanwhile, said, “Social media monitoring has been there since Mubarak, but to go public with it at this time is a scare tactic intended to threaten social media activists and journalists.” [Reuters, Mada Masr, 6/2/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Interior minister heads security raid in Qalyubiya | Mada Masr
  • Egypt arrests militant snipers targeting security forces in Sinai | Ahram Online
  • Sinai bomb injures police explosives expert | Ahram Online
  • Six Egyptian border guards killed: Army spokesman | Ahram Online, AP, Reuters
  • Army officer, two conscripts injured in IED attack in Sheikh Zuweid | Egypt Independent
  • Head of bomb squad injured in North Sinai while defusing device | Mada Masr


Qatar expresses support for Egyptian people; Russia, UAE and Palestine congratulate Egyptians on Sisi victory
Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Egypt’s president-elect, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday, on his “convincing” victory in this week’s presidential election. According to a statement published by the Russian presidency, the two state leaders “agreed to maintain active contacts and exchange visits at the top level.” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told reporters the UAE wanted international partners to join in their efforts to repair Egypt’s shattered economy, calling the election of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Egypt’s president represented “new hope” for the most populous Arab country. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah said on Sunday that his country is still and will remain supporting the choices of the Egyptian people, without further clarification. The Palestinian cabinet also congratulated the Egyptian people on Sisi’s victory. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 6/2/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Grenade detonation kills Egyptian in Libya Ahram Online, DNE
  • Egypt deports 77 Ethiopians trying to enter Israel | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s minister of electricity heads to Ethiopia for ministerial conference | Ahram Online
  • Armed forces, foreign ministry look to assist Africa in developmental efforts | DNE