Top News: Police Disperse Mohamed Mahmoud Protests

Small protests broke out in Downtown Cairo on Wednesday commemorating the third anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes. Security forces cordoned Talaat Harb Square with armored vehicles, eye-witnesses said.


Egypt’s Salafist Call condemns proposed protests
The Salafist Call has denounced calls by another Salafist group for demonstrations on November 28. The Salafist Call, one of the largest and most influential Salafist groups in Egypt, said it rejected the anticipated protests led by the Salafist Front. “It has become clear that the purpose of the protests is to exhaust the state,” the Call said in a statement published on its official Facebook page. The Front said it would stage demonstrations to call for the “imposition of the Islamic identity without disguise.” However, the Call said these aims were “deceptive.” [Ahram Online, 11/18/2014]

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Morsi says he is outside the court’s authority
Cairo Criminal Court postponed the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Espionage” trial to November 26 to listen to the defense for Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and former Speaker of Parliament Saad al-Katatni. Former president Mohamed Morsi asked to defend himself in the case, saying that “the court considers me a defendant, and I consider myself outside the court’s authority.” He added that he rejected the court proceedings. The prosecution claimed that terrorist organizations have trained Muslim Brotherhood “demons” to violate the sanctity of Egypt. The prosecution also claimed that the Brotherhood planned to create an Islamic state in North Sinai, in the event of a victory by Morsi’s electoral opponent, Ahmed Shafiq. [Daily News Egypt, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 11/19/2014]

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3.8 percent growth rate expected by end of FY 2014/2015
The targeted growth rate by the end of the current fiscal year of 3.5 percent will hopefully be surpassed to reach 3.8 percent, though it will not reach 4 percent, said Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby. The minister also said that “the tourism sector and Suez Canal achieved positive growth during the first quarter of the current fiscal year.” He said that the Suez Canal achieved a growth of 9.1 percent and industrial production exceeded 2 percent, while production reached 9.1 percent. [DNE, 11/18/2014]

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Egyptian NGOs call for ‘serious’ government talks
Ten Egyptian NGOs have called on the government to start a “serious and transparent” discussion amid rising fears of the future of NGO’s rights in the country. In a joint statement, the NGOs said they were ready to sit with the ministry of social solidarity to discuss NGOs’ independence and the level of governmental interference in their work, in addition to providing suggestions to the government on dealing with rights’ issues. “The NGOs see that this approach will not end the crisis of forming NGOs freely in Egypt but rather prolongs and complicates it,” they said in a joint statement, adding that the law contradicts article 75 of the constitution that guarantees freedoms for NGOs. The signatories of the statement include the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Nazra for Women’s Studies. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 11/18/2014]

Brotherhood launch new ‘impartial’ satellite channel
A new satellite channel funded by the Muslim Brotherhood and launched from Turkey aired for the first time on Monday, hosting a non-Islamist media figure as the face of its first program. According to Masr al-Arabyia, a news website known to be close to Islamists, the channel is the Brotherhood’s first attempt to provide an “impartial” media platform. The Misr Alaan (Egypt Now) channel was launched by the program Min Misr (From Egypt) and was hosted by non-Islamist media figure Mohamed Nasser, who started off by slamming religious figures who defend Egypt’s current government and President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. In statements to Masr al-Arabiya, staff members of Misr Alaan explained that the new channel is an attempt to influence a larger audience of Egyptians, unlike other Brotherhood funded channels that mainly speak to loyalists. [Ahram Online, 11/18/2014]

Police disperse minor protests commemorating Mohamed Mahmoud clashes
Small protests broke out in Downtown Cairo on Wednesday commemorating the third anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes. Security forces cordoned Talaat Harb Square with armored vehicles, eye-witnesses said. Police fired warning shots and dispersed protests around the square, a security source said. Security forces also arrested eight protesters belonging to youth political movements following clashes with policemen. The movements included April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists. The April 6 Youth Movement, on Monday, had announced it would commemorate the anniversary with protests, but later said it had cancelled its plans. The Kefaya Movement announced its plan to participate, stressing it had not coordinated with the Muslim Brotherhood for the event. The Students Against the Coup also  announced that marches would take place at universities on Wednesday to coincide with the third anniversary. Security forces dispersed protests at Minya University and Fayoum University. Three students were arrested at Tanta University, and another six at Fayoum University. [Aswat Masriya, Shorouk (Arabic), DNE, 11/19/2014]

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Seven civilians, three militants killed by rocket attack in Sinai
Seven civilians and three militants have been killed in an exchange of fire between militants and the army in the restive North Sinai, Egyptian security officials said. The officials said a mortar round killed seven civilians from a prominent Bedouin family in the village of Negah Shabana south of Rafah. They said it happened while the area was heavily shelled by militants and the Egyptian military. The officials said a 65-year-old woman was injured by shrapnel during the exchange of fire and was rushed to a hospital for treatment. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, 11/18/2014]

Over 700 houses destroyed in Rafah to create “buffer zone”
Egypt’s armed forces has so far destroyed over 700 out of 802 houses to create a “buffer zone” on the country’s Eastern border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip, a North Sinai official said on Wednesday. The official said that the remaining houses in the area will be destroyed within the coming few days. The official added that the government has so far paid around 63 million Egyptian pounds worth of compensation for displaced Rafah residents. [Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), 11/19/2014]

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Egypt welcomes Saudi monarch’s appeal to support gulf accord
Egypt “strongly welcomed” on Wednesday an appeal by the Saudi monarch to support the gulf accord signed by four gulf countries earlier this week, a presidency statement said. Saudi King Abdullah had urged Egypt earlier on Wednesday to back an agreement between the gulf countries brokered in Riyadh on Sunday to restore diplomatic relations with Qatar. “Egypt announces its full trust in the wisdom of opinion and correct vision of the custodian of the two holy mosques,” the presidency statement read, applauding King Abdullah’s “tireless efforts” to serve the interests of the Arab and Islamic nations. “Egypt renews its pledge to … remain the ‘home of the Arabs’.” [Aswat Masriya, Reuters, AP, 11/19/2014]

Congress weighs easing restrictions on military aid to Egypt
Key lawmakers are debating whether to ease the tough restrictions on military aid to Egypt that they put in place after the military ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. The potential changes are part of continuing talks surrounding a 10-month “omnibus” spending bill that House and Senate leaders hope to pass by December 11, when the current stopgap measure expires. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s muscular crackdown on Islamists — including campaigns in the Sinai Peninsula and against smuggling tunnels to Gaza — is prompting some lawmakers to consider giving the Obama administration more flexibility to keep the $1.3 billion a year military aid spigot open despite human rights concerns. [Al Monitor, 11/18/2014]

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