Top News: Secularists to Dominate Egypt’s Final Constitution-Drafting Process

Informed sources close to the ten-member technical committee tasked with drafting the constitutional amendments revealed to Ahram Online that: “The presidency has already received the names nominated by political, religious, social and economic institutions to form the fifty member committee.” The lists show that secular forces are slated to gain a majority in the fifty member committee


Fugitive Brotherhood leader argues against “terrorism” charge
In a video aired Monday night on Al-Jazeera satellite station, leading Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed al-Beltagy said Egyptian authorities have no shred of evidence the group engaged in any terrorist acts, as alleged by the Egyptian government. He also accused the army of killing twenty-five Central Security Forces soldiers in Rafah to divert the attention from the death of thirty-two detainees in Abu Zaabal. The Brotherhood leader, who is in an unknown place, described 30 June as a “manufactured revolution, photoshopped” admitting that lots of people were in the streets, but they were deceived by “putschists” and now they know how “bloody” the “putschists” are, having “discovered that the country has returned (Hosni) Mubarak to the heart of his regime.” [Ahram Online, DNE, 8/27/2013]

Egypt’s presidency to hold talks with Salafist Nour Party 
Presidential media advisor Ahmed al-Muslimany is expected to meet with the Salafist Nour Party as part of the recent discussions the Egyptian presidency has been holding with different political groups. Muslimany, who met with Nasserist Party head Sameh Ashour on Saturday, is expected to meet with the Nour Party leadership on Wednesday. Younis Makhioun, the president of the Nour Party, said on Monday that the party will present its vision for ending Egypt’s current political crisis at the meeting on Wednesday. The party’s solution includes ending violence, upholding the rule of law and respecting human rights, Makhioun said. The proposal also includes a commitment to democracy for those who don’t practice violence. [Ahram Online, 8/26/2013]

Official denies inquiry into Egyptian activists 
A spokesman for Egypt’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denied reports in the state news media over the weekend about an investigation into two prominent activists, Asmaa Mahfouz and Esraa Abdel Fattah, who are sometimes associated with the April 6 group. A spokesman for the public prosecutor told journalists last week that his office had referred the accusations against the two to a special security service for investigation. On Monday, the same spokesman declined to confirm or deny the referral or an investigation, saying he “had no information.” But Ambassador Badr Abdelatty, a Foreign Ministry spokesman who handles outreach to international news organizations, said that no inquiry of any kind was under way against Ms. Mahfouz and Ms. Abdel Fattah. [New York Times, 8/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian Foreign Ministry slams Turkish PM’s criticism of Grand Mufti | Ahram Online
Beblawi condemns criminal acts targeting Christians | Shorouk (Arabic)
Tamarod likely to form political party | DNE
New labor unions law submitted to cabinet | Mada Masr
Nour Party’s Borhamy: Sisi saved us from a civil war, and those opposed to him do not exceed 100,000 AMAY (Arabic)


Brotherhood’s Shater given fresh incitement charge; Salah Sultan’s son arrested
Egyptian prosecutors on Monday charged leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat al-Shater and Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy with inciting violence against protesters in July. Security officials say the son of an outspoken Muslim Brotherhood figure Salah Sultan has also been detained. Mohamed Sultan’s family says he is a US citizen and does not know his whereabouts. An active supporter of the Islamist group online, the 25-year-old had posted pictures of his arm after it was shot when security forces cleared out two Brotherhood sit-ins August 14. Former youth minister Osama Yassin, who was arrested on Monday, has been detained for fifteen days pending investigation, on charges of inciting to kill protesters at the Guidance Bureau headquarters and presidential palace. Meanwhile, the Front for Defence of Egyptian Protesters has released a comprehensive list of the names and details of protesters arrested since August 14. The report shows that 1876 protesters were arrested and eleven declared missing. Al-Ezbakiya prosecution renewed on Sunday the detention for forty-five days of sixty people arrested during clashes near Ramses Square in mid-July, while the detention of another 104 was renewed for fifteen days on charges of related to the Fath Mosque incident.  [Ahram Online, AP, Ahram (Arabic), DNE, 8/27/2013]

Secularists to dominate Egypt’s final constitution-drafting process
Informed sources close to the ten-member technical committee tasked with drafting the constitutional amendments revealed to Ahram Online that: “The presidency has already received the names nominated by political, religious, social and economic institutions to form the fifty member committee.” The lists show that secular forces are slated to gain a majority in the fifty member committee entrusted with completing the constitution before it is put to a national referendum. The initial list of the secularist representatives will include liberals such as former foreign minister Amr Moussa, Journalists’ Syndicate leader and Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies director Diaa Rashwan, and leftists such as Sameh Ashour, Lawyers’ Syndicate chairman and chairman of the Arab Nasserist Party. The June 30 Front nominated Tamarod co-founders Mohamed Abdel-Aziz and Mahmoud Badr, and January 2011 revolutionary youth figures Tamer Gomaa, Amr Salah and Hossam Mo’nes, while the Strong Egypt party refused to participate in the committee. Reports have emerged that the Nour Party nominated members Bassem Zarqa and Mohamed Saad al-Azhary. Earlier reports indicated that the Nour Party was also refusing to participate in the committee.  Speaking about the constitutional amendments, Yasser Hamza, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party’s legal committee has said that the changes are disastrous, and they will not allow them to pass. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Syndicate of Journalists expressed its rejection for the disregard which the ten-member committee in charge of making constitutional amendments showed for the suggestions of the syndicate. Diaa Rashwan, the syndicate’s head, said that the committee ignored the journalists’ requests, which include amending articles on banning the confiscation of newspapers and abolishing sentences involving jail terms. [Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic), Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2013]

Also of interest:
Nile City clashes case postponed after judge’s absence | DNE
Court sentences five to life on terrorism charges | Mada Masr


Egypt curfew cripples local businesses

Cairo’s once bustling night life has been choked by a curfew imposed recently as Egypt experienced its deadliest bout of violence since the 2011 uprising amid clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Most of Cairo’s hotspots, once adorned with bright lights and hustling shopkeepers, are now dark and padlocked at least an hour before the 9 p.m. curfew, which ends at 6 a.m. local time. Even essential services such as private medical facilities have been affected. Many doctors in Egypt, who work in public hospitals during the day and in private clinics after that, have lost business. [WSJ, 8/26/2013]

Beblawi: Lagarde comments admit Egypt’s needs
Egypt’s premier said comments by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde acknowledge that Egypt needs assistance. While domestic efforts to resolve the economic crisis are paramount, “that doesn’t mean the IMF should be excluded,” Hazem El-Beblawi told reporters in Cairo. “No wise country would want to cut its relations with international funding organizations.” [Bloomberg, 8/26/2013]

Also of Interest:
Market Update: Egypt stocks plunge midday Tuesday on Syria dilemma | Ahram Online
Electrolux restarts full production in Egypt | Ahram Online
EGX30 down on selling by Arab investors | Ahram Online
Domestic liquidity surges to EGP 1.268 trillion end of May | DNE
Egypt’s air traffic down by half due to recent events | Aswat Masriya, AP
PM holds meeting on plan to boost economy | SIS


Egyptians’ sentiments towards the Muslim Brotherhood: poll 
The Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research Baseera conducted a survey of opinion regarding Egyptians’ assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and the extent of acceptance for their continuation in the Egyptian political scene following the June 30 Revolution and ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, and in the wake of the dispersals of the sit-ins at Raba’a al Adawiya and Nahda Squares and what followed in terms of large scale violence. Also solicited was the extent of Egyptians’ acceptance of the Freedom and Justice party (FJP) — the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood — in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Results revealed that 63 percent of Egyptians do not approve of the FJP’s participation, while 26 percent do and 12 percent replied that they could not decide. [DNE, 8/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
EIPR condemns ‘security interference’ in Suez strike | DNE
Egypt Press Syndicate demands press ID be recognised for curfew exemption | Ahram Online
Egypt’s Mahalla textile workers on strike again | Ahram Online
Muslim Brotherhood youth march to commemorate Raba’a | DNE


Teargas killed last week’s thirty-seven prisoners – forensics report
The final forensics reports of last week’s Abu Zaabal incident where thirty-seven prisoners were killed have shown that the deaths were caused by suffocation from teargas. The reports said that the victims sustained no burns or bullet wounds on their bodies, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported, adding that the teargas that killed the victims is known as “CS.” [Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2013]

Interior minister defends police to rights groups 
During a meeting with rights activists Monday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim defended the practices of the state’s security apparatus and insisted that it respects human rights given that it exercises maximum restraint in using violence. The ministry is keen on challenging “all forms of violence and terrorism” that threaten the lives of citizens, Ibrahim told rights organizations during the meeting, according to state news agency MENA. [Mada Masr, 8/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s police state resurgent in Sinai tourist haven | Reuters 
Bomb explodes in North Sinai, no casualties | Ahram Online
Sinai security HQ attacked | DNE


Saudi Arabia provides ‘unequivocal’ support for Egypt’s ‘fight against terrorism’ 
Arab and Islamic nations must adopt a united front in Egypt’s fight against terrorism, said Saudi Arabia’s minister of culture and media, Abdel Aziz Khoga, in a statement Monday. Saudi ambassador Ahmad Al-Qattan meanwhile said:  “The directive” of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz was “clear and unequivocal towards providing all forms of support to Egypt and its people,” while Khoga expressed Saudi Arabia’s” keenness” to stand with Egypt against terrorism and anyone who tries to “interfere in its internal affairs.” [DNE, 8/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
US-Egypt alliance to remain, despite dim democracy | AP, SIS
UNESCO head deplores deaths of Egyptian journalists | DNE
Analysis: Gulf Islamists irked as monarchs back Egypt’s generals | Reuters
UAE official meets Egypt PM, reaffirms support | Aswat Masriya
Civil, political leaders react to Turkish PM’s comments | Mada Masr, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic)
Greek foreign minister to visit Egypt | DNE
Fahmy travels to Ramallah | DNE
Majority of Americans support cutting aid to Egypt | DNE

Image: Photo: Egypt Presidency