Top News: Prosecutor Refers Espionage Allegations Against Political Activists to State Security

Well-known activists and founding members of the April 6 Youth movement Esraa Abdel Fattah and Asmaa Mahfouz are being investigated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution on charges of espionage.


Presidential spokesman warns against attempts to ‘break’ military 
Presidential spokesperson Ahmed al-Muslimani warned against attempts to “break” Egypt’s Armed Forces and make an enemy of them in political life, saying Egypt has survived schemes to bring down the state. In a press conference Sunday, Muslimani said political forces need to ponder how the Muslim Brotherhood was able to survive for eighty years but only fell in eighty hours. It should be a lesson to all, he said. Speaking about the draft constitution, he said that the presidency would not interfere in the work of the assembly that will finalize it before it is put to a referendum. He said the assembly would be made up of political factions willing to participate if they were not responsible for violence. [Mada Masr, DNE, Ahram Online, 8/25/2013]

Islamist groups seek truce 
Two of Egypt’s former militant groups are offering an initiative to halt the country’s political violence, in which supporters of the ousted Islamist president will stop street protests if the military-backed government stops its crackdown on them, the groups’ leaders said Monday. The initiative led by Egypt’s Jama’a Islamiya and Islamic Jihad movements aims to bring dialogue between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The groups do not speak for the Brotherhood, but the initiative is a new sign of flexibility from the pro-Morsi alliance of mostly Islamist groups. Top Muslim Brotherhood negotiator Amr Darrag said that the group is open for talks but after “confidence-building measures.” However, he added, “the other side didn’t show a single gesture or any sign that it is ready for dialogue. It only talks about it but no action.” Meanwhile, on Saturday, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) announced another week of protests, dubbed “The people lead their revolution.”  [AP, Ahram Online, 8/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Not a coup, but popular revolution: Egypt’s Sabbahy | Ahram Online
Egypt foreign minister to rally Arab support | Ahram Online
No police state: Deputy prime ministers | DNE
Justice Ministry considers changes to nationality law | DNE
NCHR reshuffle receives mixed reactions | DNE
Deputy PM says will resign if unable to offer something beneficial |Egypt Independent


As arrests continue, former youth minister latest to be detained
On Monday, Egyptian authorities arrested Muslim Brotherhood leader and former Youth Minister Osama Yassin on Monday, reported the state-owned news agency. He faces multiple charges of murder and inciting violence. Security forces also arrested Mohamed Hafez, secretary of Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater. A Cairo prosecution office ordered the detention of Islamic sheikh and TV presenter Abdullah Badr and Salafist activist Gamal Saber for fifteen days pending investigations into charges of inciting murder at the presidential palace in December 2012. Both men are already in jail on other charges. Egypt’s Prosecutor-General Hisham Barakat referred sixty-three Morsi supporters to a criminal court in Alexandria. The defendants stand accused of a raft of charges including murder, attempted murder, violence and possession of arms during protests. The defendants include Mahmoud Hassan Ramadan, an Islamist who was caught on camera throwing a teenage boy off a rooftop, according to a statement by Egypt’s public prosecution office. On Sunday, Ammar Al-Beltagy, son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed al-Beltagy, was arrested in Beni Suef with three others. He was released several hours after his arrest due to a lack of evidence, and no charges have been brought against him. Meanwhile, the Beni Suef prosecutor-general ordered the detainment of Mohamed Essam Ahmed Ibrahim (doctor), Tarek Mostafa Mohamed al-Deri (grandson of Sheikh Hassan Gouda, former member of the Brotherhood’s Executive Office), Belal Younes Sarhan (son of a leading Brotherhood figure) and Mohamed Hussein Abdel Azim for four days pending investigation into recent acts of violence in the province. Another four members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in Aswan for allegedly taking part in an attack on the city’s security directorate on August 14. An Egyptian court reviewed allegations brought against six Muslim Brotherhood members, including Mohamed Badie and Khairat al-Shater. The trial was postponed to October 29, because the defendants were not brought to court on security grounds. Badie’s lawyer said the Brotherhood was beaten by police during his arrest, and his trial is part of an attempt by the military to eliminate its political foes. Meanwhile, the detention of Salafist figure Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, leading Muslim Brotherhood member Helmy al-Gazzar, former MP Mohamed Omda, Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud and Wasat Party head Abu El-Ela Madi was extended for another fifteen days. On Saturday, State Security Prosecution ordered the detention of leading Muslim Brotherhood figures, Ahmed Abu Baraka and Mostafa El-Ghonemi for fifteen days, after charging them with “seeking foreign support.” Egypt’s security forces arrested on Saturday evening Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohey Hamed, who was transferred to Tora prison. Egyptian prosecution charged detained Islamist preacher and Muslim Brotherhood loyalist Safwat Hegazy with attempted murder and inciting violence at two Cairo sit-ins, with his investigation beginning on Sunday. Egyptian authorities on Saturday referred twenty-six Muslim Brotherhood leaders to State Security Emergency Prosecution in the Delta governorate of Daqahliya over their alleged involvement in violent clashes in Egypt’s Nile Delta city of Tanta on Friday. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, DNE, Reuters, 8/26/2013]

Prosecutor refers espionage allegations against political activists to State Security 
Well-known activists and founding members of the April 6 Youth movement Esraa Abdel Fattah and Asmaa Mahfouz are being investigated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution on charges of espionage according to state-run Al-Ahram. The investigation was initiated by top prosecutor Hisham Barakat after a complaint was filed by Abdel Aziz-Fahmy, General Manager of Youth and Sports in Gharbiya governorate. Al-Ahram reported  Fahmy’s claim that Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz were the recipients of foreign money “which entered Egypt for political and human rights activists” totalling EGP1.6 billion. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 8/24/2013]

Constitutional committee submits draft to president
Ali Awad, presidential adviser for constitutional affairs and rapporteur for the constitution amendment committee, has handed a draft constitution to Interim President Adly Mansour, sources from the Shura Council said. Awad told reporters the draft will be submitted to the secondary fifty member amendment committee which will receive proposals from political powers and other entities. The suggested changes scrap Islamic additions to a constitution forced through under deposed President Mohamed Morsi and revive a voting system dating back to his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. Meanwhile, Abdallah Badran, a member of the Salafi Nour Party’s supreme council, denied reports that his party will participate in the fifty member committee tasked with amending the constitution, MENA reported. [Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Reuters, 8/25/2013]

Also of interest:
Mubarak retrial postponed to September 14 pending investigations  | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
Court adjourns re-trial of Mubarak-era Petroleum minister to October 26 | Ahram Online
Khosous sectarian violence case adjourned to September 21 | Ahram Online
Egypt court rules against banning porn websites | Ahram Online
Court sets 5 October for case of closed Islamist channels | Ahram Online
Ex-interior minister’s lawyer calls for Sisi’s testimony | Egypt Independent
Zawahiri’s aide arrested | DNE, Aswat Masriya, Reuters
Badawi barred from traveling due to charges placed on him by Morsi | DNE


Egypt government acknowledges shortages in energy and supply goods
Egypt is currently suffering from multiple shortages in both energy and supply goods, and will seek to address such crises in cooperation with “friendly” nations, according to Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi. Beblawi said such countries would help Egypt address its budget deficit and high spending costs via long term partnerships that would last until the end of next year. He further added that no economy can develop in the absence of peace and stability. [DNE, 8/25/2013]

Egypt mulls replacing sales tax with VAT 
Egypt’s government mulls over switching to Value-Added Tax (VAT) as a backbone for financial discipline and social justice, the finance ministry said on Friday. Finance Minister Ahmed Galal considers the VAT more efficient than the current sales taxes and says it one of the best indirect taxing systems on consumption, according to the statement. Galal added that it would be one approach to raising the state’s tax revenues. The idea will be discussed through an inclusive social dialogue, including commerce and industry federations, investors’ associations and political parties, Galal confirmed. [Ahram Online, 8/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt banks back to normal working hours Monday | Ahram Online
Curfew costing Cairo metro LE500k daily | Ahram Online
Egyptian stock exchange continues to rise | Ahram Online
Egypt’s FDI saw whopping rise of 417 percent in Q3 of 2012/13: CBE | Ahram Online


Lethal force justified against armed groups says former grand mufti 

Any armed group opposing the Egyptian military and police forces should be met with lethal force, former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa urged on Friday. In televised statements on CBC, Gomaa described an armed uprising against the Egyptian military as “unacceptable” and urged the army to “fearlessly” defend themselves in response to attacks. The former Grand Mufti went on to describe the Raba’a al-Adaweya dispersal, saying protesters attacked security members who started moving barriers around Raba’a. [DNE, 8/24/2013]

lso of Interest:
Egypt Mufti: Insulting Al-Azhar is a “threat to national security” | Ahram Online
Research center finds sit-in dispersal adhered to international standards | DNE


Army continues security campaign in Sinai 
Clashes erupted again in Sinai after a brief period of calm, with security sources successfully preventing armed assailants from launching attacks on security checkpoints in Sheikh Zuweid. Security forces were also able during Saturday to arrest seven individuals thought to be implicated in recent events taking place throughout Sinai. A security source, however, denied claims that they had successfully arrested all those responsible for the execution of 25 police conscripts in Rafah last Monday.  Five alleged Islamic militants have been arrested in Sheikh Zuweid, North Sinai, in a joint operation between the Egyptian army and border guards, state news agency MENA reported on Sunday. Security forces arrested another eight suspects, four of whom are Palestinians, in ongoing operations in North Sinai on Sunday. Meanwhile, two bombs planted by suspected Islamist militants detonated without reported casualties on Sunday in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, near the border with Israel, state news agency MENA reported.[DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 8/26/2013]

Clashes in Tanta on ‘Friday of Martyrs’ leave two dead
Clashes that erupted Friday between allies of the Muslim Brotherhood and Tanta residents left two people killed and twenty-five injured, medical sources said on Saturday. An Aswat Masriya eyewitness said the second victim died after being taken to the hospital in a critical condition following clashes between the Brotherhood’s supporters in Gharbiya and residents of the province. Meanwhile, five employees of Egypt’s Mehwar TV channel were held hostage for several hours late Friday by Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo’s Helwan district, the channel’s editor-in-chief, Beshir Hassan, has said. Police eventually released the hostages and arrested the armed kidnappers, Al-Ahram‘s Arabic news website reported [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 8/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Curfew hours reduced | DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
150 arrested in illegal border crossing | DNE
One police officer killed in Minya armed attack | Aswat Masriya
Army and police are tyrants: Salafi Jihadists | DNE


Fahmy defends roadmap progress to Kerry

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy defended Egypt’s progress in its political roadmap to US Secretary of State John Kerry, and discussed a number of topics of interest between the two countries in a Friday phone call. Fahmy detailed internal developments in Egypt, with a focus on the implementation of the roadmap that was created after former president Mohamed Morsi was removed from power, according to a press release from the foreign ministry. [DNE, 8/24/2013]

Turkey and Qatar urge Egypt to return to the ballot box, release Morsi 
The foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar held a joint press conference on Saturday where they urged Egypt to “return to the path of legitimacy and democracy.” The two countries, which have taken firm positions against the military-backed ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, called on Egypt to placate all parties in the ongoing political crisis to avoid further conflict. Following the statements, Egypt’s Independent General Tourism Workers Syndicate called Sunday for the removal of Turkey and Qatar as tourism destinations as both states refuse to recognize Morsi’s ouster as the result of a popular uprising on June 30. [DNE, Ahram Online, 8/25/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian ambassadors in Europe deliver Fahmy’s message | DNE
Egypt rejects military solution in Syria | DNE
Saudi preacher investigated for anti-Sisi prayers | Ahram Online
Hamas denies setting up training camps with Egypt’s Brotherhood in Gaza | Ahram Online
Qaeda head slams Saudi support to Egypt | Ahram Online
Fahmy meets Jordanian foreign minister | DNE
Rafah border reopened five days after militant attack | DNE, AP
Turkey PM fires back at United States over his claims on Israel, Egypt | DNE

Image: Photo: European Parliament