Top News: Egypt’s Interim President Issues Protest Law

Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour approved on Sunday a controversial law regulating protests, two weeks after the cabinet submitted it for his review, state TV reported.


Egypt interim president issues protest law
Egyptian Interim President Adly Mansour approved on Sunday a controversial law regulating protests, two weeks after the cabinet submitted it for his review, state TV reported.  In an effort to control dissent after protests following the ouster in of former President Mohamed Morsi, the new interim government has put the law in place to regulate public meetings, processions and peaceful demonstrations.  The controversial ‘protest law’ has drawn a chorus of condemnation from rights groups who slammed it as “repressive” and say it fails to protect freedom of assembly and promotes heavy-handed state intervention. The current draft law contains the same problems manifested in an earlier version of the draft, according to nineteen Egyptian human rights organisations. The Tamarod campaign rejected two articles in the law restricting demonstrations. The official spokesperson of the movement, Hassan Shahin, said articles relating to the police’s right to attend private meetings, and the right of the Interior Ministry to stop demonstrations before they occur, just because the ministry claims it is not going to be peaceful, should be amended. The Strong Egypt Party denounced on Monday the newly-issued law, saying it will “work, along with all political and social groups that believe in a democratic and modern country, on repealing the law through constitutional and legal methods as well as a peaceful struggle on streets to freely express our opinion.” In the first test of the new law, Mohamed Adel, a founding member of the April 6 Youth Movement, and Ali Essam of the liberal Constitution Party will request a protest permit at Qasr al-Nil police station on Monday, they said in a statement. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Ehab Badawi said the law gives organizers the right to seek quick decisions from the courts, so that protests are not delayed or cancelled.The regular judicial system will be responsible for prosecuting those who do not comply with the protest law, Badawy added. Prime minister Hazem El-Beblawy told AFP on Sunday that the new law protects the rights of protesters. “It is not a law that limits the right to demonstrate, but it aims at protecting the right of protesters,” he said. Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces fired tear-gas and dispersed university students who had defied the law, the state news agency reported. [DNE, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 11/25/2013]

Egypt to hold constitutional referendum in January says prime minister
Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said on Monday he expects a referendum on the constitution now being drafted to take place in January, not next month as previously expected. “I believe that it (the referendum) will take place in the second half of January,” Beblawy told reporters, giving no reason for the delay. Meanwhile, according to privately owned daily Al Masry Al-Youm, members of the constituent assembly are also debating four possible scenarios, one of which would see presidential elections held before the parliamentary. The second would call for both elections to be held at the same time; the third would extend interim President Adly Mansour’s appointment for another year; and the fourth would extend the transitional period, delay elections, and form a presidential council. [Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, 11/25/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt moderates under fire from Mubarak loyalists, Islamists | Reuters
President gives Prime Minister power to review Morsi pardons | Mada Masr
Egyptian Women aim for 100 parliamentary seats | DNE


Discussion of contentious articles halts Constituent Assembly voting
The Salafi Nour Party reiterated its insistence on providing a clear definition of the “principles of Islamic Sharia” within the new constitution amid disagreement over the constitution’s preamble. The fifty-member Constituent Assembly has been discussing the preamble since last week, in an attempt to reach consensus over several debatable topics. A private meeting was held in the assembly on Saturday after twenty articles faced dissent from different parties, with the constitution’s preamble foremost among the contentious topics. According to the preamble, “The constitution is for a civilian, democratic and modern state in Egypt.” These words triggered, however, furious reactions from Mohamed Ibrahim Mansour, representative of the Nour Party. Mansour, in a request submitted to chairman of the committee Amr Moussa, said, “The party strongly rejects the word ‘civilian’ because it reflects Western and secular values…We want the word ‘civilian’ to be omitted from the preamble and it is enough to state that the constitution is for a democratic and modern Egypt,” read Mansour’s request. Al-Azhar’s representative in the assembly, said Al-Azhar is against adding the phrase, according to state television’s news website. Grand Mufti Shawki Allam declared the civil state should not be mentioned in the preamble because all other articles of the constitution already confirm it. Bishop Paula, the committee’s Coptic Church representative, threatened to withdraw from the committee for a second time in protest of the Nour Party’s influence over the constitution’s preamble. The committee’s representatives from the Catholic and Anglican churches have also threatened to withdraw over the preamble. “We were surprised with the decision to drop the word ‘civil country’ without consulting us, which is unacceptable. We also found including explanation of the word ‘principles of Sharia’ according to Article 219 without getting back to us. This is enough to justify the withdrawal of the three churches’ representatives,” Paula said. Meanwhile, a group of political parties and movements released a joint statement last week stressing their disagreement with “including the content of Article 219 in the constitution or its preamble.” The groups included the Dostour Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Social Popular Alliance Party. [DNE, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 11/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Mubarak, sons to face new trial | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS
Egypt criminal court re-freezes assets of steel tycoon Ezz and family | Ahram Online
Egypt imposes gag order on Morsi’s espionage case, officer’s assassination | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Egypt detains US citizen, thirty-eight others for torching tram | Ahram Online
Egypt constitution article allowing military trials could be voted down, says panel member | Ahram Online
Court rejects lawsuit challenging Muslim Brotherhood ban | Egypt Independent
Security denies journalists access to Brotherhood supporters trial | Egypt Independent
Court adjourns Nazif, Adly trial to Tuesday | Egypt Independent
Three students arrested in Cairo for distributing anti-army pamphlets | Egypt Independent
No Military Trials for Civilians lists problems with draft article | DNE
Twenty-five Mohamed Mahmoud detainees released | DNE
Abu Eita demands a ‘transitional’ quota for labourers and farmers | DNE
Two journalists detained at Al-Azhar protests | Mada Masr


Egypt asks Arab allies to finance 2014 fuel imports
Egypt has asked the Arab Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to finance its coming-year fuel imports, reported the Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh on Sunday, citing Egypt’s petroleum minister. In a press conference held on Friday, on the sidelines of the visit to petrol production sites in Port Said, Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail said the government drew two scenarios to provide the petroleum products in 2014. “In case of no-response, we are ready to manage the financial allocations to import the petroleum products,” he added. Over the last month, Egypt has been hit with a fresh butane crisis, with long queues outside cooking gas depots due to a shortage in cylinders. According to petroleum minister Sherif Ismail, Egypt’s government has prepared for the possibility that the Gulf countries will not provide more funding, in which case the state will have to rely on its own coffers to pay for the year’s petroleum imports. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 11/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Reports that Egypt is to gradually lift energy subsidies denied by government | Mada Masr, SIS
Egypt bourse down Sunday amid pro-Morsi protests | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent  
Egypt suspends rice exports until further notice | Egypt Independent
Armed forces to develop railways at EGP 4.7 billion: Cabinet | Egypt Independent
Egypt-Saudi Arabia electricity interconnection project tendered in five international bids: Ministry of Electricity | DNE
Social solidarity minister exempts public banks and oil companies from maximum income law | DNE
Trade between Egypt and India reaches $5.5 billion | DNE


Pro-Morsi student protests continue; Two killed during weekend clashes
Hundreds of students demonstrated in front of Cairo University on Sunday to mark 100 days since hundreds of Mohamed Morsi’s supporters were killed by security forces in Cairo and Giza.  Police prevented protesting students and some professors from entering Nahda Square in front of the university campus, with security forces sealing off Cairo and Giza’s main squares that had been spots for protests including Tahrir Square, downtown, Giza’s Nahda Square, Nasr City’s Raba’a al-Adaweya and Mohandessin’s Mostafa Mahmoud Square. On Monday, Raba’a and Nahda squares were opened, while Tahrir remains closed. Islamist students at Al-Azhar University and Mansoura defied on Sunday the recently imposed ban targeting on-campus protests, while some at the turbulent institution called for a strike. Dozens of students across several faculties at Al-Azhar protested around the university’s main administrative building and at the headquarters of their respective faculties, calling for a halt to studies until “justice” for a fellow student killed last week is fulfilled, Al-Ahram reported. Other university students started on Saturday an open-ended strike, while others attended their classes.The strike came in response to the decision by the university student union on Friday to suspend classes until detained students are released. The university student union is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday to announce the reasons for the strike. However, the university issued a statement on Saturday saying that lectures are ongoing at all faculties and exams will take place on time. On Friday, security forces fired tear gas at supporters of Morsi after they attacked the United Arab Emirates embassy in Cairo’s Heliopolis. Protesters assaulted the embassy’s guards, according to Al-Ahram. In Suez, a ten-year-old boy was shot dead on Friday near the scene of clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents. In Cairo, a twenty-one year old man died after being shot in the chest during clashes, and across the country another fourteen people were injured in confrontations, the head of the ambulance authority told state newspaper Al-Ahram. Nasr City Prosecution has remanded into custody thirty-nine suspects involved in clashes that erupted in Nasr City between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security on Friday for fifteen days pending investigations. [Egypt Independent, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 11/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Muslim Brotherhood defends stance on Mohamed Mahmoud clashes Ahram Online
Germany’s DW hold talks with Bassem Youssef | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Consumers clash, protest over butane shortage | Egypt Independent
Technical problems halt trains to Upper Egypt again | Ahram Online
Al-Jama’a al-Islamiya describes movement by dismissed members as ‘comedy’ | Egypt Independent
Head of Egypt’s Student Union under fire | DNE


Bomb attack in Cairo injures three
A bomb exploded near a security checkpoint in northeast Cairo at dawn on Monday, injuring at least three, Al-Ahram reported. The bomb was planted by unidentified assailants in Cairo’s Hadayeq al-Qubah district. It blew up as a nightly patrol passed by, a security official told Al-Ahram. Three security personnel were injured in the attack, with one in a critical condition, the source added. A police team has started investigations into the incident, reported the state news agency MENA, while Ministry of Interior spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said that there is no information available so far about the perpetrators of the bomb attack. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 11/25/2013]

Brotherhood behind ‘terrorist’ attacks says Egypt’s interior minister
Egyptian Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim claimed Saturday that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was behind past major attacks targeting police personnel in the country. Ibrahim gave names of several alleged perpetrators identified and arrested by security forces following the attacks, amid increased pressure on speeding up investigations into ongoing security breaches. He revealed the identities of the perpetrators behind recent multiple attacks, including the assassination attempt that targeted him and the assassination of high-ranking homeland security officer Mohamed Mabrouk. In a press conference Ibrahim announced that a “jihadist cell” led by Mohamed Fathi Al-Shazli is responsible for Mabrouk’s assassination. The minister also announced information about the assassination attempt that targeted him. “We identified the perpetrators twenty-four hours after the attempt” Ibrahim remarked. [Ahram Online, AFP/Egypt Independent, DNE, 11/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Missile falls on Sinai, news agency reports Egypt Independent
Four Takfiri elements killed, twenty-nine others arrested in North Sinai | SIS


Egypt expels Turkish ambassador, Turkey retaliates
Egypt said on Saturday it was expelling Turkey’s ambassador and accused Ankara of backing organizations bent on undermining the country, an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdel Aaty said the decision to reduce diplomatic representation is a pure Egyptian one, however, ties with Turkey are not severed but ongoing diplomatically and economically. However, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan issued a blunt rebuff to Egypt’s army-backed rulers, declaring on live television, “I will never respect those who come to power through military coups.” He spoke shortly after Turkey had retaliated the Egyptian move by declaring the Egyptian ambassador, currently out of the country, persona non grata. Turkish President Abdullah Gul speaking on state-run TRT television before Erdogan, was more measured in his remarks, saying “I hope our relations will again get back on track.” Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said downgrading diplomatic representation with Turkey is a political stance against the Turkish government, and not the state of Turkey, which he said is an “important country in the region” and that “relations would be back to normal in the right time.” On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu stressed the necessity of boosting relations between the two countries and that “Turkey will continue to have close relations with Egyptians, “Egypt is Turkey’s historical friend and will continue to be so.”  While Egypt-Turkey business ties may be sluggish, they will not cease despite deteriorating political relations between the two countries, according to the Turkish chairperson of the Egyptian-Turkish Business Council. The Council called for separating political and economic issues between the two countries, while Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister abdel Aziz Fadel said reducing diplomatic representation between Turkey and Egypt will not affect air transport agreements between the two countries, being international ones. [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 11/25/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt, Saudi Arabia start joint naval training | Egypt Independent, DNE
EU’s Moran: ‘June 30 was a popular revolution’ | Mada Masr

Image: Photo: DNE