Top News: Islamist Rally Turns Violent Outside Alexandria Mosque

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Clashes erupted shortly after several thousand demonstrators gathered at Alexandria’s Qaed Ibrahim Mosque Friday to "defend [Islamic] scholars and mosques," and to call for Sharia (Islamic law). The rally, which was initially peaceful after Friday noon prayers, turned violent when clashes broke out between Islamist demonstrators and rival opposition group


New law governing protests
A new law governing protests is expected to be issued soon, amid concern over a possible crack-down on freedom of protests.In a press conference held at the presidential palace Thursday night, the president’s official spokesperson Yasser Ali denied that the new protests law would resemble the notorious emergency law which governed Egypt throughout Mubarak’s 30-year reign. Ali stated that the law would guarantee the preservation of democratic mechanisms and the protection of public as well as private properties, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. At the press conference he also stated that President Mohamed Morsi will remain open to dialogue regardless of the referendum outcome, and denied media reports about the president’s failing health. [DNE, 12/21/2012]

FJP: Finance Ministry policies embarrass the govt.
The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) sharply attacked the Finance Ministry for pursuing policies that it says are harmful to the presidency. The ministry insists on adopting policies that are against what political forces recommend, said Mohamed Gouda, the vice chairman of the FJP’s economic committee. He added that its uninformed decisions embarrass the government. “It has passed the Islamic Crediting Bill, although the FJP and Nour Party objected to it,” he said. [Egypt Independent, 12/20/2012]

ElBaradei addresses the nation
Mohamed ElBaradei, the coordinator of the National Salvation Front (NSF), the country’s largest opposition bloc, called on everyone to vote ‘No’ to the draft constitution. He said in the speech aired on Al-Nahar channel on Thursday night , Our goal is not that Morsi leaves, our goal is that the country moves on. The country is on the verge of bankruptcy, I am sorry to say, if we manage to make it for three months, we will not make it for four.” [DNE, 12/21/2012]

Egypt President Morsi upholds list of new Shura Council members
Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi upheld a list of 90 members to be appointed to the Shura Council. The National Dialogue Committee (NDC),formed by the president in an attempt to appease political forces who oppose the draft constitution, and to bridge differences across the parties in the future of the political process, compiled the list. According to El Watan, the list includes Freedom and Justice Party Vice President Essam El Erian, Dr. Mohamed Selim El Awa, Nour Party spokesman Nader Bakkar, Ayman Nour, and head of the Journalist’s Syndicate, Mamdouh al-Wali. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic), El Watan (Arabic) 12/21/2012]

Also of Interest:
Minister of information regrets lack of Brotherhood candidates in ministry | DNE


Judges, prosecutors demand SJC accept prosecutor general’s resignation
Several judges and prosecutors sent a memorandum to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Thursday, demanding the council officially accept Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah’s resignation. They also demanded the SJC nominate a vice president from the Court of Cassation or a presiding judge from the Court of Appeals to replace him.The memorandum that was issued today also said anyone nominated for the prosecutor general position should have worked for the Public Prosecution for an established duration and not be affiliated to any political party or movement. In a telephone interview on satellite channel, al-Hayat, Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki said the controversy surrounding the prosecutor general’s resignation can only be put to rest out of the public eye, and asked the media not to dwell on the subject.[Egypt Independent, El Watan (Arabic), 12/20/2012]

Egypt’s Court of Cassation cancels Ezz’s 10-year sentence
Egypt’s Court of Cassation on Thursday cancelled the 10-year sentence against the steel magnate Ahmed Ezz and the former head of the Industrial Development Authority Amr Assal for graft charges related to the illegal sale of steel licenses, state-run news agency MENA reported. The Cassation Court ordered the retrial of the two defendants before a different criminal court after accepting their appeal. Ezz, the general secretary of now dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), Assal and the former trade and industry minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid who is currently outside Egypt, were convicted last September. The court also fined Ezz and Assal LE660 million ($110.9m) and ordered the concerned steel companies to hand back their licences. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 12/20/2012]

‘Constitution will not be amended for two years’: Strong Egypt Party spokesman
If Egypt’s draft constitution is passed by a national referendum it will not be amended for at least two years, Mohamed El-Mohandes, spokesperson of the Strong Egypt Party, said via his official Facebook page on Thursday. He made the claim based on comments made by government officials at the national dialogue meeting called to discuss the opposition’s objections to the draft constitution. [Ahram Online, 12/20/2012]

Also of Interest:
Doubt cast over judicial oversight | DNE
Court refuses to release former Radio and Television Union head | Egypt Independent
Analysts predict low voter turnout in second round of referendum | Egypt Independent
Media shouldn’t ‘dwell’ on prosecutor general controversy, says justice minister | Egypt Independent


Stock market ends on high note amid increased investor optimism
The Egyptian Stock Exchange rose on Thursday after the announcement of positive news related to the economy, including Dubai bank ENBD’s agreement to buy a 95.2 per cent stake in BNP Paribas’ Egyptian branch from the French bank. This, combined with a brief period of political calm in between the two rounds of voting in the constitutional referendum, has inspired optimism among investors. There is hope that forthcoming stability would provide the opportunity to rebuild state institutions and address the nation’s economic development. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 12/20/2012]


Brotherhood youth demand more transparent governance
The Muslim Brotherhood Youth have called on President Mohamed Morsi to clarify the reasons behind his recent actions. The people need clarification on the president’s decision-making process and what happens within state institutions, including the appointment and dismissal of officials, said Mohamed Haddad, a Brotherhood Youth member in the Delta city of Mahalla. The Brotherhood Youth are troubled by the Morsi administration’s lack of transparency, said Mohamed Saeed, a Brotherhood member from Alexandria. The youth question their group leaders but are unable to get firm answers, Saeed added. However, other members have defended the fact that the Brotherhood has a democratic structure allowing for differences within its ranks. [Egypt Independent, 12/21/2012]

Islamist rally turns violent outside Alexandria mosque
Clashes erupted shortly after several thousand demonstrators gathered at Alexandria’s Qaed Ibrahim Mosque Friday to "defend [Islamic] scholars and mosques," and to call for Sharia (Islamic law). The rally, which was initially peaceful after Friday noon prayers, turned violent when clashes broke out between Islamist demonstrators and rival opposition group. Thirty-two people were injured in the clashes according to Ahmed Omar, the health ministry spokesperson. Security forces attempted to disperse protesters by throwing tear gas canisters. The Interior Ministry issued a strong worded statement following the clashes, saying it “ord ered security leaders to deal with rioters with all force and strictness.” For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood accused security forces of their ‘complicity’ in the events. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), El Watan (Arabic), 12/21/2012]

Egyptian doctors’ strike postponed
The temporary general assembly of Egypt’s Doctors’ Syndicate has decided to postpone theri nationwide strike until March, when elections for a new general assembly will be held.
Egyptian doctors have been on a partial strike since 1 October to demand an increase in health spending to 15 per cent of the state budget, better healthcare standards, improved security at hospitals and wage increases. [Ahram Online, 12/21/2012]

Also of Interest:
The Prophet wants people to pray for Morsi, says sheikh amid rival protests | Egypt Independent


Missiles, explosives uncovered in Cairo stockroom
Security forces uncovered dozens of missiles and explosives in a stock room in the Dar al-Salam district of Cairo, security sources said on Friday. The weapons included two rocket-propelled grenade missiles, 10 mortar missiles, 61 anti-aircraft missiles, 28 projectiles and 22 explosives. The owner of an unlicensed foundry confessed to the police that he had bought the weapons from a scrap stockyard in the Abu Regeila neighborhood, and that they had been discarded by the Armed Forces in Suez. [Egypt Independent, 12/21/2012]

Report: Live ammo, bird shot killed protesters at presidential palace
Live ammunition and bird shot caused the deaths of 10 protesters during the clashes in front of the presidential palace on 5 December, according to the forensic reports delivered to the prosecution on Thursday. Al-Fagr newspaper journalist Al-Husseini Abu Deif was among those killed by live ammo during the clashes between President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters and opponents, the reports said. [Egypt Independent, 12/21/2012]


Hamas committed to Cairo for reconciliation talks
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, confirmed its commitment to conducting talks on the implementation of the Palestinian national reconciliation agreement in Cairo, rejecting Fatah’s suggestion that talks should be held in another capital. A Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil said today that the idea of relocating is a "diversion of efforts" and not something Hamas will consider; he added that current political turmoil in Egypt will soon come to an end. [Ahram Online,12/20/2012]

Egypt to resume natural gas flow to Jordan
Egypt will resume pumping natural gas to Jordan at about 250 million cubic feet per day, following Prime Minister Hisham Qandil’s visit to the Jordanian capital. Qandil arrived in Amman Thursday to hold talks with his Jordanian counterpart on developing strong bilateral relations as well as strengthening economic ties between the two countries. Egypt halted natural gas exports to Jordan in March after several gas pipelines were blown up in the Sinai Peninsula. [Ahram Online, 12/21/2012]

Also of Interest:
German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle calls on Morsi to engage with the opposition in order to reach a compromise | EGYNews (Arabic)

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