Top News: Morsi Accuses Army of Role in Deaths During 2011 Protests

Former president Mohamed Morsi defended himself in court on Sunday for the first time since his ouster, claiming he was innocent of charges of espionage and asserting that he was still Egypt’s president.


Egypt’s Sisi says respects right to protest but warns of harm to economy
Speaking in Cairo on Tuesday on the occasion of Police Day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said people in Egypt have the right to demonstrate but cautioned that protesting now could cause more harm to the country’s battered economy. He commended the police for their efforts in fighting terrorism, asserting that Egypt is at the forefront of the International battle against it. He added that Egypt is paying the price for global stability. Earlier on Sunday, speaking to Sky News Arabia, Sisi had also said there are “no restrictions” on the freedom of expression in Egypt, adding that the standards Western countries promote concerning freedom of expression do not match Egypt’s current situation. Sisi’s statements come on the heels of his first official visit to the UAE since being elected president, where he met with Abu Dhabi crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. During his speech at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Sisi urged Arab countries to mobilize efforts to confront terrorism. During his visit he also announced that the Egyptian interior ministry is preparing a list of young detainees who were wrongly arrested or have been detained over minor charges, to be released before the fourth anniversary of the 25 January uprising. Rights lawyers are, however, taking the statement with a grain of salt. Following his visit to the UAE, Sisi made a lightning stop in Riyadh on Monday night to wish the ailing Saudi King Abdullah good health. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 1/20/2015]

Twenty political parties consider unified list for elections
Senior leaders from around twenty political parties are set to meet on Tuesday evening in a bid to reach consensus over a unified list of candidates in the coming parliamentary polls. Tuesday’s meeting will be the second in a week, with the parties holding a meeting on Saturday. Among the parties involved are the Wafd, Karama, and Congress parties. Major parties and coalitions who did not attend the meeting include the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), the coalition headed by former Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzoury and the Civil Democratic Union coalition. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/20/2015]

Forty-three NGOs register to monitor elections; HEC to open registration for media coverage
Since the official start of the registration process on January 12, the Ministry of Solidarity issued permits for forty-three Egyptian NGOs to observe the upcoming parliamentary elections. The Egyptian Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights will cooperate with the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) and the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights (IIPJHR), in addition to coordinating with thirty-one local NGOs across Egypt. Maat Foundation requested permits for 400 international observers and 7,000 local observers. In related news, the High Electoral Commission (HEC) announced on Monday that media outlets may apply for covering the coming parliamentary elections starting Wednesday and until February 1. Journalists will need to register online from February 5 to 16 and permits will be delivered from February 26 to March 12. [DNE, 1/19/2015]

Also of Interest

  • ‘We are the solution’ initiative is positive step, lacks organization says Ayman Nour | DNE
  • Revolutionary figures angered by media claims of opposition government in Germany | DNE
  • Sufi party demands probe into Egypt’s Salafist Nour Party | Ahram Online
  • Sisi ratifies local product preference law | SIS


Morsi accuses army of role in deaths during 2011 protests
Former president Mohamed Morsi defended himself in court on Sunday for the first time since his ouster, claiming he was innocent of charges of espionage and asserting that he was still Egypt’s president. Speaking for two hours, he accused the country’s army of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising. Citing testimony in what he called a fact-finding report, he did not name then Minister of Defense, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who went on to become elected president, but said that elements belonging to a sovereign body led by the “coup leader” took part in killing protesters. There was no immediate comment from the army or presidency. Earlier on Saturday, Morsi gave his account of the Wadi al-Natrun prison break that took place on January 29 during the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 1/19/2015]

250 referred to Minya military court; Students, Brotherhood supporters sentenced to prison
The South Minya Prosecution referred on Sunday 250 defendants accused of storming and torching three public facilities in the wake of the dispersal of the pro-Morsi protests in August of 2013. The general prosecution in Minya also charged the defendants with joining “a terrorist organization,” violating the protest law, resisting authorities, and inciting violence and riots. The Mansoura Criminal Court issued verdicts Monday on seventy-five alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters in eleven cases of violence, “terrorism” and joining a banned group. The defendants were given sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment, twenty-six of which were sentenced in absentia. In a separate case, thirty-three Al-Azhar University students were sentenced to one year in prison after a Cairo court refused their appeal Sunday. The defendants were arrested on campus on charges of protesting without permit. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, 1/19/2015]

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Egypt does not see oil price drop hitting investments from Gulf
According to Egypt’s investment minister, Egypt does not expect Gulf Arab countries to reduce their investment in the country despite the fall in oil prices, as Cairo is of particular strategic importance for the region. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, which support Sisi as a bulwark against the spread of political Islam in the region, have kept Egypt’s economy afloat. [Reuters, 1/19/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Qatar’s emir to attend Egypt economic summit, sources say | Ahram Online
  • Leaks halt construction at Suez Canal project | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi to present Egypt’s economic reform program at Davos Forum on Wednesday | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi invites Bashir to participate in Sharm al-Sheikh economic conference |SIS
  • Egyptian cotton hangs by thread after state subsidy axed |The Guardian
  • Egypt: Back from the brink | Zawya
  • Egyptian pound hits historic low as country courts investors | Reuters

Iraq agrees to supply Egypt with 4 million barrels of oil per month | Zawya


Leak allegedly reveals government using media to shape public opinion
A new leak allegedly reveals that government officials instructed leading media figures to appeal to people’s emotions and encourage them to support Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his presidential campaign in 2014. The leak, aired by the pro-Morsi satellite channel Mekamelin Monday night, allegedly features Sisi’s office head Abbas Kamel and the military spokesperson Ahmed Ali, speaking at the time of Sisi’s bid for the presidency. Kamel allegedly told Ali that he and Sisi wanted “our media personnel” on TV “to stage a mood which incites people”, Kamel said, referring to Sisi supporters who, he instructed, are required to believe that there is a defamation campaign targeting the current president. The media should drive the Egyptian people to protect the candidate and stand by him, without letting anyone question someone as “honorable” and “good” as Sisi. [DNE, 1/20/2015]

Also of Interest
Significant rise in military trials for civilians after June 30 protests says rights group | Aswat Masriya
Egyptian TV presenter says police ‘pushed’ to commit foolishness such as rape | Ahram Online, Mada Masr
Security forces allegedly kill student in Giza protest | DNE
Ministry estimate of 20,000 street children in Egypt ‘far from reality’ says NGO | DNE
UN Population Fund, Egyptian government to ‘re-energize reproductive health, youth policies’ | DNE
NGOs find creative solutions to educate Egyptians about reproductive health | DNE
British, Egyptian civil society figures pen open letters to protest abuse of activists | DNE


ABM posts photos of confrontations with military; Sinai road bomb injures four
The terrorist group now calling itself the Islamic State in Egypt, formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), posted unconfirmed photos on Monday showing confrontations between its elements and armed forces in North Sinai. Posted on the group’s Twitter account, the photos showed confrontations with a tank they claimed belonged to the army. ABM jihadists also claimed Monday to have bombed a pipeline in the Sinai that carries gas to Jordan, saying it was targeted over Amman’s role in the US-led war on the Islamic State group. Meanwhile, a roadside bomb west of Sheikh Zuweid in North Sinai exploded Sunday evening, leaving one army officer and three conscripts injured. The soldiers were patrolling the area around al-Tawil village, close to Qarm al-Qawadis, when a bomb by the roadside exploded as an armored military vehicle drove by, a representative from the military spokesman’s office said.  [DNE, Egypt Independent, 1/20/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Woman dies in Rafah after her house is shelled |Aswat Masriya
  • Bomb explodes on Egypt’s Suez railway, derails train, no injuries | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Child injured by bomb in Alexandria | Ahram Online
  • Gas cylinder explosion kills hospital guard in Alexandria, says interior ministry | Aswat Masriya
  • Explosive device causes electricity outages east Delta villages | Ahram Online
  • Suspect in deadly Minya church attack killed, says security director | Aswat Masriya


Al-Azhar blasts West for ‘double standards’ on freedom of speech
The high committee of scholars at Al-Azhar criticized the West’s repeated attacks on Islam and its double standards in response to the attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, on Sunday. The foremost school of Sunni thought took issue with what it called an inconsistency in attitudes on free speech, suggesting that it is acceptable to mock Islam, but not other religions. The al-Azhar scholars referred to the firing of a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist, Maurice ‘Sine’ Sinet, for anti-Semitism after allegedly insulting the French Jewish community. British Prime Minister David Cameron said in an interview that in a free society one cannot ‘wreak vengeance’ on those who say offensive things about religion, but Azhar scholar Abbas Shouman said, “Cameron can say what he wants, but we don’t accept it. We don’t have to explain ‘freedom’ to him or to anyone else. Freedoms don’t include offending religion.” [DNE, Ahram Online, 1/19/2015]

Egyptian judiciary violates human rights, says German official
During his visit to Egypt, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid Christoph Strässer said fighting terrorism should not violate human rights. He also criticized the highly controversial protest and NGO laws, both of which have created much heated debate in Egypt since their respective enforcements. When asked if the Egyptian judiciary violates human rights, Strässer answered in the affirmative. “People who have terroristic demonstrations do not hold peaceful demonstrations. If people are criminalized and are denied access to a fair court within a certain time-limit, democracy will not be reached,” Strässer stated. [DNE, 1/17/2015]

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