Top News: Egypt Summons Qatari Envoy after Criticisms of Crackdown

Egypt’s foreign ministry summoned Qatar’s ambassador on Saturday to complain about interference in its internal affairs after Doha criticized Cairo’s crackdown on the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. 


Egypt president makes historic visit to Coptic pope
Interim president Adly Mansour met Sunday with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II to convey the government’s support and acknowledgement of upcoming Christmas celebrations. Tawadros II called Mansour’s visit, the first ever of its kind, a “beautiful message” to all Egyptians. The visit, which took place at Abbasiya Cathedral, the Coptic papal seat in Cairo, comes two days before Egypt’s 10 million Christians, roughly ten percent of the country’s population, are due to celebrate Christmas. The highly symbolic visit at the papal seat at Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral by Adly Mansour was the first such visit since socialist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser attended the cathedral’s consecration ceremony more than 40 years ago. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, Egypt Independent, 1/5/2014]

Minister of Higher Education says Terrorism Law to be applied in universities
Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa said in a press statement on Sunday that the Terrorism Law will be applied inside universities against faculty members who support on-campus protests, as it is considered a felony, reported state owned Al-Ahram. Eissa highlighted that the penal articles in the executive bylaw of the universities were only changed to punish protesting students, ensuring a suitable educational environment for students and punishing those who commit acts of violence. The Supreme Council of Universities also agreed to a new article giving university presidents the authority to fully suspend students involved in “terrorist and disruptive acts,” in an emergency meeting Sunday, state-run news portal Al-Ahram reported. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 1/5/2014]

Ministry of Interior approves website for registering planned protests
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has approved a new online system that citizens can use to notify security officials of an upcoming general meeting or demonstration, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Interior via email on Monday. Protest organizers can logon to the MOI website,, free of charge to file the notification. The system is being implemented in accordance with the controversial Protest Law, which was issued in November. The highly restrictive piece of legislation obliges organizers of demonstrations to give 24 hour prior notice to the nearest police station in advance of the event. [Mada Masr, 1/6/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt names Brotherhood leaders whose assets have been frozen | Ahram Online
Secretary General of the National Salvation Front resigns | DNE
Campaigns supporting Sisi for president unite action, call for marches | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Sources: If constitution approved, presidential elections in April | Egypt Independent
Military tries to quell rumors that Sisi will run for president | Mada Masr


Activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mona Seif receive suspended jail sentence
Twelve Egyptian activists were given one-year suspended jail terms on Sunday in a case brought over an attack on the campaign headquarters of defeated presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik during the 2012 election. The activists include siblings Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mona Seif, leading figures in the protest movement that triggered the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The activists’ defense team member, Taher Abul-Nasr, said that they were sentenced for arson. The vandalism charge was omitted due to Shafiq’s earlier retraction of his complaint and the defendants were found innocent of theft. Abul-Nasr added that the suspended sentence means that if one of the activists commits another crime and receives a sentence for it, Sunday’s suspended sentence will be implemented. Lawyer Ramy Ghanem, another member of the defence team, stressed that they will appeal the verdict. Human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam criticized on Sunday the sentence handed to his children, Abdel-Fatah Seif. He accused the judiciary system after June 30 of “being politicized,” adding that it will be clear whether the verdict was politicized or not when the court releases its reasoning for the ruling. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, Egypt Independent, 1/5/2014]

Egypt eases voting restrictions for constitution referendum
Interim President Adly Mansour amended the political rights law on Monday. Citizens can now vote at polling stations not affiliated to their registered addresses in the upcoming constitution referendum. Special polling stations will be designated to receive voters who do not reside at their registered addresses. Voters in parliamentary polls in 2011, as well as the presidential election and constitution referendum in 2012 had to vote at specific polling stations linked to the addresses mentioned on their national identity card or passport. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 1/6/2014]

Also of Interest:
Complaints against activists referred to prosecution in State Security case | Mada Masr
24 Muslim Brotherhood members investigated for attacking house of anti-Morsi activist | Ahram Online
Egyptian judge dismissed for visiting pro-Morsi protest | Ahram Online, DNE
11 pro-Morsi protesters referred to military prosecution | Ahram Online
Alexandria court adjourns final January 25 murder trial | Ahram Online
Detained Al-Jazeera journalists face more questioning | DNE
Trial of Morsi era information minister hearing postponed | DNE, Egypt Independent
Retrial of police accused of killing Khaled Said resumes | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
April 6 Movement accused of espionage | Egypt Independent
Sources say prosecution rejects demand to visit Morsi in prison for security reasons | Egypt Independent
Investigations with Brotherhood figures over Giza violence adjourned to January 16 | Egypt Independent
One-year prison sentences for five Brotherhood members | Mada Masr


Egypt: Economic plan is being finalized to be presented to parliament  
The Ministry of Planning is currently finalizing the new economic development plan to be presented to the upcoming parliament as soon as it takes office, according to Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby. The Ministry of Planning is preparing Egypt’s strategy for sustainable development until 2030, Araby said, and the strategy planning is scheduled to be completed in December this year. A new strategy is also being developed to promote the national system of accounts in Egypt to raise the decision making efficiency and to allow the necessary data required to predict the most significant macroeconomic variables locally and nationally. Another national plan for employment will be announced within a few days, the minister disclosed, noting that the plan aims to employ a large number of youths in micro and small projects. [Cairo Post, 1/5/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt Suez Canal master plan to be finalized in nine months | Aswat Masriya
Egypt to apply maximum wages in January | Aswat Masriya, DNE, Egypt Independent
Armed Forces to implement an EGP 350 million project for developing 30 slum areas | DNE
Cooperation agreement signed to increase Saudi investment in Egypt | DNE


Deadliest clashes in two months – 14 killed, 235 arrested in Friday protests
Egypt witnessed a day of violent clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the police at a level unparalleled in more than two months.  The ministry of health said on Saturday that 14 people were killed and 62 injured in clashes across the country on Friday. 17 police officers were also injured, according to a senior security source. A security source also told Egypt Independent that security services arrested “258 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood,” saying that some were in possession of “rudimentary bombs, arms, sharp weapons, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and sums of money.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 1/4/2014]

Report by rights groups shows more Egyptians killed post-Morsi than during 2011 revolution
Several Egyptian human rights groups on Saturday claimed that the number of people killed in political violence in the summer after the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi was more than twice as many as those killed in the protests to oust Hosni Mubarak. According to a report issued by the rights groups, a total of 2,665 people died between July and October 2013 in incidents including terrorist violence. The figure includes 2,273 people killed at political events, 32 in sectarian clashes, three in social protests, 62 while in the custody of authorities, 16 due to excess use of violence from security, 200 in terrorist attacks, 18 during security crackdowns, and 61 due to the negligence of authorities. Those killed include 11 journalists, eight doctors, 51 women, 118 minors, 211 students, 174 policemen, and 70 military personnel. The rights groups that signed the report include the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC), Nazra for Feminist Studies, Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the No to Military Trials campaign, and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, among others. [Ahram Online, 1/4/2013]

Also of Interest:
Islamists call for protests before Morsi’s trial | Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent
Head of Nile TV sacked for airing video on Morsi’s achievements | Ahram Online
Egypt bars Canadian Shia from entering | Reuters
Protesters in Cairo demand release of jailed activists | Ahram Online
Calm prevails at Azhar University following minor clashes | Aswat Masriya
Journalists must acquire permit from SEC to cover referendum vote | DNE, Mada Masr
Fact-finding committee hears Delga witness testimonies | DNE
Twenty Brotherhood members detained for Maadi violence | Egypt Independent
Minya University students clash with security | Egypt Independent


Bomb kills officer in North Sinai
A bomb exploded under an armored vehicle near the Egyptian North Sinai town of Areesh on Saturday, killing one army soldier, Ayman Hassan Ali, and wounding at least two others, security sources told Reuters. Armed men planted the explosive device on the road used by army vehicles in Egypt’s campaign against militant Islamists in Sinai, the sources said. It went off when the armored vehicle drove over it. Three suspects were arrested following the attack, a military spokesman said. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 1/4/2014]

Also of Interest:
Heightened security at churches ahead of Coptic Christmas | Ahram Online, Reuters
Unknown assailants torch police outpost north of Cairo | Ahram Online
Bomb defused in Giza’s Boulaq district | Ahram Online


Egypt summons Qatari envoy after criticisms of crackdown
Egypt’s foreign ministry summoned Qatar’s ambassador on Saturday to complain about interference in its internal affairs after Doha criticized Cairo’s crackdown on the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. The decision follows a statement by the Qatari Foreign Ministry a day earlier expressing concern about the increasing number of people killed at demonstrations in support of the ousted Islamist president. Qatar also on Friday said that the designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist group was a “prelude” to intensifying a policy of “shooting to kill” demonstrators, alluding to those supporting the toppled Islamist president. “The remarks were an unacceptable interference in Egypt’s internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said in a statement. Abdelatty also cited violations by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera news broadcaster and its Egyptian affiliates, accused of pro-Brotherhood bias. Qatar’s envoy in Egypt asserted that his country had backed Egypt’s “revolutions.” Ambassador Saif Moqadam al-Boenain affirmed Doha’s support to Egypt’s 2011 revolution – which unseated long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak – and the 30 June revolution, when millions protested against Morsi last year, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said in a statement about the summoning. Egyptian political groups are calling on the Foreign Ministry to expel the Qatari Ambassador to Cairo while Nabil Fahmy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Egypt would take additional steps against Qatar. On Monday, Egypt decided to withdraw its ambassador to Qatar for consultation, once the constitution referendum is held for Egyptians abroad. [Reuters, AP, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 1/6/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt summons Iran’s charge d’affaires: foreign ministry | Reuters
Egyptian fisherman killed by Tunisia coast guard | AP
Egypt asks Switzerland to unfreeze funds of Mubarak-era minister | Aswat Masriya
Official: Halayeb region is 100 percent Sudanese | Egypt Independent
Egypt-Ethiopia dam impasse remains as talks reach dead-end | Ahram Online, Mada Masr

Image: Photo: Al-Ahram