The Egyptian cabinet passed on Wednesday a law, proposed by the presidency, which criminalizes disrespecting the national flag and not honoring the national anthem. The crime carries with it a punishment of no more than six months in prison and a fine that does not exceed EGP 5,000 ($725).


Cabinet forms committee to manage Brotherhood funds
The Cabinet decided on Wednesday to form a committee to manage the funds of the Muslim Brotherhood that were frozen by court order. The committee would be composed of the ministries of justice, interior, finance, social solidarity and local development, in addition to representatives of the Central Bank, the Homeland Security Agency, the Financial Supervisory Authority and the General Authority for Investment. [Egypt Independent, 10/2/2013]

Egypt’s Cabinet decides disrespecting national flag and anthem can lead to prison
The Egyptian cabinet passed on Wednesday a law, proposed by the presidency, which criminalizes disrespecting the national flag and not honoring the national anthem. The crime carries with it a punishment of no more than six months in prison and a fine that does not exceed EGP 5,000 ($725). The decree follows a media fracas sparked by reports that an ultraconservative Islamist sitting on a committee to amend the constitution refused to stand for a moment of silence honoring policemen killed on duty during a raid on a militant stronghold last month. Nour Party leader Dr. Shaaban Abdel Alim expressed the party’s reservations over the law, saying that it must be subject to dialogue, particularly in the absence of a parliament. [AP, Aswat Masriya, 10/3/2013]

NSF calls for presidential elections before parliament
On Tuesday, National Salvation Front assembly chief Sayed Abdel Aal said that Egyptian presidential elections should come before election of a parliament. In a speech discussing the political future of Egypt, Abdel Aal also said that it is necessary to build on a consensus of the people, and he also warned of the potential for instability from radicals and other political actors. Meanwhile, Defense minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, affirmed that the Armed Forces will not support any presidential candidate. Al-Sisi said: “You [the Egyptian people] are the ones who choose your leaders, and you are the ones who topple them.” [DNE, 10/2/2013]


Moussa says Constituent Assembly to write new constitution as discussions continue
The Constituent Assembly has opted to write a new constitution, announced assembly head Amr Moussa during the body’s Wednesday meeting. According to Moussa, the assembly’s legal committee discussed the validity of writing a new constitution, and found that it would not violate the constitutional decree that had formed the assembly. Moussa added that while the assembly is initially against retaining the Shura council, “every issue is still discussable for the moment.” However, statements by committee member Amr al-Shobaky published in the state run EGYNews, indicate that the assembly is leaning towards restoring the Shura Council. The assembly’s spokesman, Mohamed Salmawy, said on Wednesday that the political regime sub-committee discussed forming a supreme authority for media regulation. The authority, according to Salmawy, would be responsible for “protecting freedom of speech and protecting media outlets and press entities from monopolistic practices” Meanwhile, Yasser Borhamy, vice president of the Salafi Call, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the fifty member constitution committee is seeking to erase Egypt’s Islamic identity and replace it with a pharaonic one. An article they want to incorporate states that Egypt’s Islamic identity is that which has emerged from a 7000-year-old civilization. He also criticized them for discussing a proposal calling for removing religion from school curricula. [DNE, Ahram Gate (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 10/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Military court to issue verdict against Egyptian journalist October 5 | Ahram Online


Moody’s  sees no improvement in Egypt bond rating
Credit rating agency Moody’s does not expect Egypt’s rating to rise in the near future, affirming Egypt’s negative outlook and Caa1 credit rating in a Thursday statement. Moody’s attributes the negative outlook to the “economic dislocations” and “uncertainty” dominating the political sphere since the 2011 Revolution. The implementation of economic and fiscal reforms would be credit positive; however, political tensions undermine those reforms, the statement added. [Ahram Online, 10/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Government to implement privatization-canceling verdicts | DNE
Egypt foreign reserves fall by $207 million in September | AMAY (Arabic)
Kuwait, Egypt sign 300 million dinar loan agreement for upgrading railway signals | SIS


Labor groups denounce dispersal of Ministry of Manpower workers sit-in
A workers sit-in outside the Ministry of Manpower calling for unemployment benefits, was dispersed Wednesday after security forces raided the premises. Khamis Mohamed Sayed, a dismissed worker from PetroJet, explained at the sit-in that Minister of Manpower and Immigration Kamal Abu Eita had “promised unemployment benefits and the execution of court verdicts ordering the return of unfairly dismissed workers…Both of these promises did not transpire.” Several labor groups and parties denounced the violent dispersal of the sit-in. Sayed added, “A complaint has been filed to the prosecutor against the prime minister, the minister of manpower Kamal Abu Eita and the warden of the Nasr City police station for the use of violence by security forces at the dispersal,” he said. [DNE, 10/3/2013]

Opposing rallies called for in Tahrir on October 6 as clashes continue
Egypt’s Islamists have called for fresh demonstrations on Friday, as tensions escalate ahead of rival rallies planned for Sunday to commemorate Egypt’s 1973 war against Israel. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy – a coalition in support of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi – called on its followers to rally on Friday against what they call a ‘coup’ against Egypt’s first democratically elected president. The Alliance also urged demonstrators to congregate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on October 6, defying Egypt’s army and its proponents. Meanwhile, The Cabinet called on Egyptians to participate in celebrations in the country’s streets and squares, while the anti-Morsi Tamarod group has called on Egyptians to mark the national holiday on October 6 with public celebrations in locations including Tahrir Square, heightening fears of a violent showdown between rival factions. Clashes broke out in Suez between Pro-Morsi demonstrators and local residents, resulting in the death of a schoolboy, but calm has since prevailed in the canal city. According to Aswat Masriya, the head of the emergency unit in Suez hospital confirmed the young man died of a gunshot wound to the head. Clashes also broke out in Shubra al-Kheima and Helmeyet al-Zeitoun. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), 10/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Teacher arrested for “forcing” students to raise Raba’a slogan | EGYNews (Arabic)


Bomb explosion near gas agency outside Cairo
Two bombs exploded on Thursday at the Kerdasa gas unit outside Cairo, Al-Ahram reported. On Thursday, preliminary investigations revealed that three of the gas agency’s guards were tied up by six assailants, who then left three bombs in the agency that supplies a power station and an industrial zone. One bomb exploded in a control room, partially burning it. The two other bombs were left near a gas pipeline. The first one exploded, damaging part of the pipeline without causing a gas leak. The second one was later defused. Earlier Thursday, bomb disposal experts defused a hand-made grenade found near a hotel in the Cairo neighborhood of Mohandessin, Al-Ahram also reported. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 10/3/2013]

Also of Interest:
Policewomen patrol women’s carriages on Cairo’s packed metro | Ahram Online
Eleven terrorist hideouts destroyed in Sinai | SIS
Brotherhood leader arrested in Marsa Matrouh on charges of incitement | Shorouk (Arabic)


EU’s Ashton meets with Brotherhood leaders
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has met with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leaders in a closed-door meeting aimed at reconciliation between the army-backed interim government and opposition groups. A senior member of the Brotherhood, Amr Darrag, said on Wednesday that talks included discussion on the political deadlock in Egypt, but insisted Egyptians must sort out the issue themselves without foreign help. In a statement later, Darrag said they did not discuss their demands to return ousted President Mohamed Morsi back to power. Meanwhile, Amr Moussa said, after a meeting with Ashton, that a noticeable positive change in stance by the EU regarding Egypt’s transitional period is taking place, adding that this change is an “evolution in the European attitude.” Ahmed Said, head of the Free Egyptians Party and secretary-general of the National Salvation Front, also described his meeting with Ashton as “positive.” A statement from the cabinet indicated that Ashton had said that European aid to Egypt will continue. She also met with interim President Adly Mansour, Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa al-Din, among others. [Ahram Online, Al Jazeera, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram Gate (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 10/3/2013]

Foreign ministry responds to allegations regarding Canadian detainees
Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied on Tuesday that detained Canadian nationals Tarek Loubani and John Greyson were arrested under the emergency law, adding that they are being investigated in accordance with the Egyptian Penal Code. Loubani and Greyson have been in Tora prison since August 16, having been arrested following deadly clashes around Ramses Square when they asked police for directions. In a statement released on Tuesday night, the ministry said the detainees face the official charges of “participating in violent demonstrations and resisting security forces.” It added that the Prosecutor General’s office is conducting investigations into the detainees’ case, having ordered their detention until investigations are over, and the detention “will be renewed as deemed necessary for investigation purposes.” The ministry said the Prosecutor General’s office “strongly denies” the defendants’ allegations regarding their subjection to torture, beating or mistreatment. Prosecution extended Loubani and Greyson’s detentions for forty-five more days on Sunday. [DNE, 10/2/2013]

Also of Interest:
UNGA trip is the beginning of a new diplomatic phase: Foreign Ministry | DNE
PM Beblawy receives Bahraini King | Egypt Independent, Ahram Gate (Arabic)
Egypt’s Consul General in Jeddah: Saudi to firmly address any political activity during pilgrimage | Egypt Independent, Ahram Gate (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic)
China grants 400 scholarships for Egyptian students | Egypt Independent
Thirteen countries now eased travel bans to Egypt: minister | Egypt Independent