Egypt’s interior ministry has said that it will start arresting those using social media websites to incite violence against the police and other citizens. In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said that its initiative to track online users is in response to “terrorist” Muslim Brotherhood members who use social media sites to urge others to commit violence as well as to provide detailed instructions on how to create explosives and plant them in police cars and buildings. 


Police to arrest social media users ‘inciting’ violence; Blogger jailed for allegedly threatening national security

Egypt’s interior ministry has said that it will start arresting those using social media websites to incite violence against the police and other citizens. In a statement released on Thursday, the ministry said that its initiative to track online users is in response to “terrorist” Muslim Brotherhood members who use social media sites to urge others to commit violence as well as to provide detailed instructions on how to create explosives and plant them in police cars and buildings. The statement included the names of ten Brotherhood members who had all been arrested, most of whom had allegedly administered Facebook pages that incited violence against police and advocated the use of terrorism against the state. South Giza prosecutors ordered the detention of a blogger for 15 days pending investigation into charges that he threatened national security. The blogger allegedly created a Facebook page called “Free Army of Egypt, Iraq and the Levant”, which calls for armed militias to oppose security forces. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/31/2014]

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Morsi Ittihadeya trial to resume on Saturday
The trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, along with fourteen other defendants, will resume Saturday for the third time at the Cairo Criminal Court where they face charges related to clashes outside the Ittihadeya Palace on December 5 last year. The defendants face a number of charges including murder and attempted murder of demonstrators outside the presidential palace. Demonstrators had taken to the streets in rejection of Morsi’s November 2012 Constitutional Declaration. The last session in this case was adjourned due to bad weather. This is one of several trials Morsi is currently facing. [Tahrir (Arabic), 1/31/2014]


Defending subsidy cuts, government officials accuse wealthy of abusing the system
Egypt’s wealthiest citizens are abusing energy subsidies, a government official claimed in a panel discussion on Thursday. Of citizens belonging to the wealthiest 20 percent of Egyptian society, 72 percent were taking advantage of ration cards for subsidized energy, claimed General Abu Bakr al-Gendy, the head of the governmental Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), reported the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA). “We have to take real and practical steps towards amending the subsidy system,” he said. “These steps include revising the consumption rates database and developing appropriate mechanisms like smart cards, in addition to reviewing the costs of these services and studying ways to reduce them.” [Mada Masr, 1/30/2014]

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165 objects in Islamic museum collection damaged or destroyed after bomb attack
At least 165 objects in Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Art were destroyed by the impact of an explosion near the museum last week, the antiquities minister said on Friday. Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told reporters at a press conference that the museum, the façade of which was damaged in the explosion, would be restored. Ibrahim said that of the 1,471 objects held in the museum, seventy-four ceramic and glass artefact and wooden items were totally destroyed, twenty-six were slightly damaged, while sixty-four artifacts could be easily restored. Six jewelry items were damaged. During the conference, Ibrahim announced that USAID granted an amount of EGP 1,000,000 ($143,000) for the restoration of the museum, while renowned actor Mohamed Sobhi has offered another EGP 50,000 ($7,000). These damages were reported after an archaeological team from UNESCO inspected the damages at the museum. The delegation is examining the losses in order to determine how it can help in the restoration efforts. [Ahram Online, 1/31/2014]

Islamist rallies on Friday see limited clashes

Following a call by the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy for its supporters to rally for one week starting Friday in order to commemorate martyrs, Egypt has witnessed limited protests across several governorates. Protests have been seen in Cairo’s Maadi, Helwan, Nasr City and Ain Shams, as well as in Giza and Minya. Protests in Sharqiya broke out in clashes between supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and residents, leaving five injured. Clashes also broke out in Mattariya, where residents and pro-Morsi protesters exchanged gunfire and several homes were set on fire according to Al-Ahram. In Suez, police pursued protesters participating in a pro-Morsi march as they emerged from a mosque after Friday prayers, firing teargas at them. In Alexandria, clashes broke out between protesters and the police, with security forces firing teargas at protesters. Ten protesters, who according to Tahrir were in possession of blades and molotov cocktails, were arrested in Alexandria. Al-Ahram reports that six Brotherhood members were arrested in Abdeen, also in possession of molotov cocktails. Heightened security was seen in Mohandessin and at the Helwan police station, in anticipation of pro-Morsi protests. On Thursday, at least one person was killed in clashes between residents and pro-Morsi protesters in Alexandria according to a ministry of interior statement. [Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), 1/31/2014]

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One injured as two bombs explode in front of Giza police barracks
Two improvised explosive devices were detonated Friday in front of a Giza Central Security Forces barracks on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road. Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel-Latif told Al-Ahram that the explosions had severely damaged a central security vehicle parked in front of the camp, and injured a lower-ranking police officer. The explosion caused the vehicle’s glass to shatter, the ministry wrote on Facebook. Civil defence teams and bomb squads are currently sweeping the area, it added. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, 1/31/2014]

Airstrikes kill thirteen thirteen militants, wound seven
Airstrikes on four homes near the North Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid killed thirteen and injured another seven on Thursday, according to a statement by Armed Forces spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali. The Air Forces carried out the strikes with the intent to eliminate “Takrifist [hardline extremists] elements tied to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Ali said in a post on his official Facebook page. Officials told AP Apache helicopters fired missiles at houses used as hideouts and gathering points for the suspected militants. The explosions resounded for miles and smoke rose in the sky from the targeted villages. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Meanwhile, North Sinai security denied reports that an unidentified gunmen killed a police officer on Thursday night in Sinai. [Mada Masr, AP, EGYNews (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, AMAY (Arabic), 1/31/2014]

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African Union stands by decision on Egypt suspension
The African Union (AU) High-Level Panel for Egypt “affirmed the correctness” of the July 2013 decision to suspend Egypt’s activities within the union. The three-man delegation visited Egypt twice in the months following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013. The panel met with the leading political stakeholders as well as civil society, business and religious leaders. The panel prepared a progress report containing the details of their visits, which was presented in full to the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) on Wednesday evening. Within the “observations” section of the report, which was published on Thursday, the panel said the decision taken by the PSC in July was correct, adding; “It is important that the PSC remain actively seized of the situation in Egypt to enable it to assess progress towards the full restoration of constitutional order and take the necessary steps in this regard.” During their meetings the panel pointed out that the PSC’s decisions “should not be misconstrued as a punitive measure”. The PSC at the time said that Morsi’s removal “did not conform to the relevant provisions of the Egyptian Constitution and, therefore, fell under the definition of an unconstitutional change of government as provided for in the relevant AU instruments”, which prompted the suspension. Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy is scheduled to meet with a delegation from the British parliament, head of the Arab Parliament Ahmed Al-Jarwan, and Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Samura Kamara on Saturday to discuss Egypt’s situation in the wake of the passing of the 2012 amended constitution. The Sierra Leonean minister’s visit comes as part of a new bid for Egypt to restore its African Union membership. [DNE, 1/31/2014]

Also of interest:
France issues warning for citizens travelling in Egypt | Shorouk (Arabic)
Libyan prime minister to visit Egypt Friday | Ahram Online, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic)