Top News: Liberals, Islamists at Odds Over Controversial Protest Law


A new law governing protests, approved in principle by the Shura Council Tuesday, has sparked anger among the opposition’s political forces. Opponents, comprised mostly of liberal, secular and revolutionary youth groups, criticized the bill, saying it restricts Egyptians’ right to demonstrate peacefully. Meanwhile, the law’s supporters, who are mainly Islamist factions, said the legislation is a necessary measure to curb chaos and lawlessness. 


NSF condemns activists prosecution, calls for Friday protests
The National Salvation Front denounced the interrogation of political activists alleged to have participated in Moqattam clashes last Friday, prompting the main opposition coalition to call for new protests Friday. In a press conference held on Wednesday at the Democratic Front Party headquarters, NSF spokesperson Hussein Abdel Ghani blamed President Mohamed Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood for the "shedding of Egyptian blood." Osama Al-Ghazali Harb said the NSF will hold popular conferences in all Egyptian governorates and support any peaceful revolutionary action that aims to restore the revolution stolen by the Brotherhood. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 3/28/2013]

Liberals, Islamists at odds over controversial protest law
A new law governing protests, approved in principle by the Shura Council Tuesday, has sparked anger among the opposition’s political forces. Opponents, comprised mostly of liberal, secular and revolutionary youth groups, criticized the bill, saying it restricts Egyptians’ right to demonstrate peacefully. Meanwhile, the law’s supporters, who are mainly Islamist factions, said the legislation is a necessary measure to curb chaos and lawlessness. The Shura Council, which took over temporary legislative powers late last year after the passing of the Constitution, approved the draft law prohibiting citizens from organizing protests that "pose a risk to the nation’s security." [Egypt Independent, 3/28/2013]

Wasat Party leader says ‘thugs’ remarks out of context 
News reports had quoted Wasat Party chairman Abul Ela Mady as saying during a meeting with junior party members that the president told him “the intelligence service had formed a 300,000-strong army of thugs.” But Mady said Wednesday he was explaining how the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak used state institutions to clamp down on its opponents, adding that some “took the remarks out of context to stir political confusion.” Following Madi’s statement, former intelligence officer and security expert Sameh Seif El-Yazal demanded that the presidency explain itself. The Morsi administration, he said, "wants to restructure the intelligence apparatus, like the police force, by defaming it and replacing its leaders with new ones loyal to the new regime." Nader Bakkar, spokesman for the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, and Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, head of the Reform and Development Party, issued statements condemning the remarks. [Egypt IndependentAhram Online, DNE, 3/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
NCW submits violence against women bill | DNE
FJP questions court verdict dismissing prosecutor-general | Ahram Online
Salafi MP calls for reinstatement of emergency law | Egypt Independent
Ayman Nour supports Brotherhood, Morsy | Egypt Independent


Ex-top prosecutor eager to get back on the job
Former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud called a court ruling reinstating him as “historic” in an interview with State Television published Thursday on the broadcaster’s website. Mahmoud said he was waiting for details of the Cairo Court of Appeals decision and how the decision would be implemented. Egypt’s presidency said on Wednesday it is waiting for the ruling of a Cairo court on the appeal against the prosecutor general’s case to take the appropriate legal steps in light of that ruling. A judicial source close to former prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud explained, however, that Mahmoud refuses to resume his position, only to file a lawsuit requesting of judicial colleagues to elect a replacement. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 3/28/2013]

SLA rejects Supreme Administrative Court’s decision
In an unprecedented move, the State Litigation Authority (SLA) said it is calling on the Egyptian public for support. The SLA held a presser on Wednesday rejecting the Supreme Administrative Court’s 24 March decision to postpone an appeal the authority had handed against the Administrative Judiciary Court’s decision to suspend the House of Representatives Elections. The elections were originally scheduled to begin in April. The Supreme Administrative Court postponed the appeal to 7 April until evidence is provided that the presidency, Shura Council and Ministry of Justice approve the appeal. [DNE, 3/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt dissident says will face trial for protest | Egypt Independent, DNE,
Court releases former petroleum minister without bail | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online
Detained opposition figure refuses to pay LE50,000 bail | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Justice Minister sues paper for reporting coroner’s resignation | Egypt Independent


Moody’s downgrades five Egyptian banks
Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the local-currency deposit rating of five Egyptian banks: National Bank of Egypt to Caa1 from B3, Banque du Caire to Caa1 from B3, Banque Misr to Caa1 from B3, Commercial International Bank (CIB) to Caa1 from B3 and Bank of Alexandria to B2 from B3. The step comes after the credit-rating agency decided to downgrade Egypt’s government bond rating to Caa1 from B3. [Ahram Online, 3/27/2013]

NSGB investors can repurchase stocks to avoid 10% tax
Investors who sold their National Societe Generale Bank shares to Qatar National Bank can buy back their stocks and avoid being taxed on the sale, according to stock market officials Wednesday. The decision comes after the Egyptian Tax Authority imposed a surprise 10 percent tariff on the buyout. Mamdouh Omar, chairman of the ETA, announced the new tax in a letter to the Egyptian Stock Exchange on Tuesday, a measure that stirred frustration stock traders and investors. [Egypt Independent, 3/27/2013]


Army demolishes 250 tunnels between Egypt and Gaza
Army Forces have shut down all tunnels in Arish Governorate’s Sarsoriya region, an area where smugglers are known to transport goods and commodities between Egypt and Gaza. About 250 tunnels have been demolished so far, according to a military source in North Sinai Governorate. Forces are now turning their attention to tunnels in the vicinity of the Salaheddin and Barahema checkpoints, notorious for human trafficking, the source told Al-Masry Al-Youm. [Egypt Independent, 3/27/2013]

Four arrested for attacking Tahrir sit-in
Four people were arrested Thursday on charges of being among dozens of assailants that stormed Tahrir Square at dawn that same morning, attacking protesters and opening the square for traffic. Security sources said the four were in possession of a gun that could fire bird shot and a knife. Eyewitnesses said that more than 100 people, some of whom were armed, riding motorcycles and pickup trucks stormed the square from the direction of Talaat Harb Street. They set fire to tents, while chasing and beating protesters. Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim stressed on Wednesday that police occasionally try to open Tahrir Square to traffic and to arrest outlaws and thugs who infiltrate peaceful protestors. [Egypt Independent, SIS, Aswat Masriya, 3/28/2013]


Youth groups plan Friday protest at High Court
Several youth movements announced Tuesday that they would perform Friday prayers outside the prosecutor general’s office at the High Court in Cairo. They are demanding the dismissal of Prosecutor General Talaat Abdullah, Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim after Abdullah issued arrest warrants for five activists, accused of inciting clashes near the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam last week. They also called for the Public Prosecution to summon Brotherhood members involved in the Moqattam and Ettehadiya President Palace violence and accused the judicial body of being biased against Brotherhood opponents. [Egypt Independent, 3/28/2013]

Brotherhood preps for major protest against Moqattam attacks
The Muslim Brotherhood is planning a major Islamist protest against opponents it claims attacked its headquarters in Cairo and elsewhere last weekend. Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater is coordinating with other Islamist groups to organize the demonstrations outside Cairo University within days, a source within the group told Al-Masry Al-Youm Wednesday. Members of the group’s guidance bureau and Shura Council met Wednesday afternoon at its headquarters in Moqattam, where leaders discussed possible repercussions of the attacks. The leader of Egypt’s ruling Islamists Mohammed Badie lashed out at the opposition, accusing it of teaming up with remnants of Hosni Mubarak’s regime to sow unrest and violence. [Egypt Independent, AP, 3/28/2013]

State TV workers stage protests in Maspero
State Radio and Television Union employees staged protests outside the iconic building along the Maspero Nile Corniche on Wednesday, demanding outstanding salaries be paid in full and the dismissal of Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud, who they claim is a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. “The minister of information and the ruling administration restrict us,” said presenter Doaa Abdel Meguid. She added, “We are accused of being biased,” referring to accusations that state broadcasters are not defending the Muslim Brotherhood against critics. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 3/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Brotherhood HQ clashes leave residents of Cairo’s Moqattam polarised | Ahram Online
Journalist Syndicate to boycott prosecutor general | Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic)
Campaign to combat sexual harassment in Egypt underground | Aswat Masriya


FJP head discusses draft NGO law with US, UK ambassadors
Freedom and Justice Party leader Saad El-Katatni on Wednesday discussed Egypt’s draft NGO law with the US and UK ambassadors at the party’s headquarters in Cairo. The Shura Council on Sunday gave preliminary approval to a draft law regulating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Egypt. The draft law, which was pushed through the council’s human development committee in one hour, makes the social affairs ministry responsible for licensing NGOs. [Ahram Online, 3/28/2013]

Libya mulls aid for Egypt
Libya is considering extending financial aid to Egypt to help its North African neighbor overcome a severe economic crisis, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan said on Wednesday. Egypt, which has endured more than two years of political instability since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, is struggling with sliding currency reserves, falling tourism and a soaring budget deficit. OPEC-producer Libya is itself rebuilding after the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi in 2011. Several newspapers had reported this week that Libya will deposit $2 billion in the Central Bank of Egypt’s coffers to support the economy but Zaidan denied reports of a done deal. [Reuters/Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 3/27/2013]

Syrian crisis, economic cooperation topped Egyptian-Russian meeting
President Mohamed Morsi held a summit with Russian President Vlademir Putin on Wednesday in Durban on the sidelines of the summit of BRICS Group. Presidential Spokesman Omar Amer said that this summit focused on two issues; first is the economic, trade and investment dimensions that Egypt needs now and means to promote and revive the Egyptian economy. The second issue discussed in the meeting was the regional issues particularly the Syrian crisis, where the two sides reviewed the latest developments. [SIS, Ahram (Arabic), 3/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Delegation heads to US over F16 jet deal | Egypt Independent
Norway’s Foreign Minister to visit Egypt next Tuesday | Shorouk (Arabic)
Al-Zahar decries bids to harm Egyptian-Hamas ties | Ahram Online
Egypt’s Morsi asks African presidents to embrace development | Aswat Masriya, SIS

Image: protest.jpg