Top News | Security sources: Egyptian activist tortured to death

Alexandria protests DNE.jpg

An Egyptian activist, Mohamed al-Gendy who died Monday was beaten unconscious during interrogation at a security camp where he was detained for three days, two security sources told Reuters Tuesday.


Justice Minister’s torture comments prompt walkout
Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki’s comments supporting government-sanctioned torture prompted a walkout by activists and professors during a ministerial meeting Tuesday.  Mekky said recent torture allegations against President Mohamed Morsi’s government were not “crimes of the regime,” prompting several attendees, including American University in Cairo Professors Naglaa Rezq and Khaled Fahmy, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights head Hossam Bahgat and activist Amr Gharbiya to withdraw from the meeting. Rezq criticized Mekky, saying, “We didn’t come to attend a lecture on torture and [a promotion] for the protest law. We came to discuss the law on the circulation of information, which didn’t happen after half an hour.” [Egypt Independent, 2/5/2013]

Egypt Islamic coalition calls for ban on ‘disruptive’ protest activity
The Islamic Forces Coalition, which consists of 13 Egyptian Islamic parties and movements, has called for the criminalisation of all "disruptive" political activity, including the blocking of streets and public squares. In a Tuesday statement, the coalition – which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Call – called for reopening Tahrir Square to traffic. It also called for investigations into recent incidents of rape in Cairo’s best-known protest venue. In its statement, the coalition went on to urge the Egyptian media to refrain from publishing "seditious content" and to select with caution the material they chose to run. The coalition also criticised what it described as "increasingly anti-Islamist sentiments" in the local media. The coalition also rejected calls both for the dismissal of the prosecutor general and for early presidential elections, believing the latter would bring “chaos” to the country. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Salafis denounce arrest of Ahmadinejad protesters | Egypt Independent
Cabinet to mull harsher sex assault penalties | Egypt Independent
New Salafist party takes final step towards official recognition | Ahram Online
Developing slums will cost L.E. 202 million – Egypt PM | Aswat Masriya


Court orders former Shura Council speaker released
The Cairo Criminal Court on Wednesday ordered the release of former Shura Council Speaker Safwat al-Sherif from detention after accepting his request to reverse the decision imprisoning him for 15 days. Sherif was jailed pending investigations into charges of graft, profiteering and squandering public money during his tenure as information minister under former President Hosni Mubarak. [Egypt Independent, 2/6/2013]

Coptic Pope Tawadros II criticizes Egypt’s Islamist leadership, new constitution
Egypt’s Coptic patriarch delivered a cautious but unusually sharp criticism of the nation’s Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, dismissing the new constitution as discriminatory and rounds of national dialogues sponsored by the president as meaningless. Tawadros was dismissive of a series of national dialogues that Morsi has been holding, ostensibly as a way to broaden decision-making in response to criticism of the concentration of power with the Brotherhood. [AP, 2/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Ahmed Shafiq corruption trial begins March 3 | EGYNews (Arabic) 


Authorities looking for revenue boost, says planning minister 
Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf al-Araby confirmed Tuesday that Egypt’s foreign cash reserves are enough to cover three months’ of imports, adding that the government is doing all it can to boost revenues. “We have prepared an urgent plan to reduce the budget deficit and raise cash reserves by the end of June,” he said during a visit to the annual Cairo International Book Fair. The minister explained that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund were currently stalled as the government amends its economic reform program. “But we expect to resume talks soon,” he said. [Egypt Independent, 2/5/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s foreign reserves enough for 3 months of imports: Minister |Ahram Online
Pound falls Wednesday, CBE to hold extra auction | Ahram Online


Security sources: Egyptian activist tortured to death
An Egyptian activist, Mohamed al-Gendy who died Monday was beaten unconscious during interrogation at a security camp where he was detained for three days, two security sources told Reuters Tuesday. The security sources spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to journalists. Human rights campaigners say the same brutal tactics that helped ignite the uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago are back under the auspices of freely elected President Mohamed Morsi. Official autopsy reports on slain activists al-Gendy and Amr Saad will be referred to the prosecutor-general’s office next week. An autopsy of Saad’s body revealed that the activist was shot in both the chest and stomach by an automatic weapon.Forensic authorities found that al-Gendy had suffered head trauma that led to internal bleeding in the brain that ultimately caused his death. [Reuters/Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 2/6/2013]

Activists in Alexandria claim police threatened them with rape
Activists in Alexandria have claimed they were "terrorised" and threatened with rape after they were arrested during clashes in the city on 21-22 January. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Mohamed Ezz al-Din, a young activist, said police at Borg El-Arab prison threatened to rape him and other detainees. Ezz al-Din was one of dozens of activists, including minors, arrested in Alexandria during clashes with police on 21-22 January. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/6/2013]

Also of Interest:

Security chief: Tanta clashes under control | Egypt Independent
Military denies reports of president ordering live fire against protesters | Egypt Independent, SIS, EGYNews (Arabic)
Teenager cancer sufferer released after 9 days in detention in Alexandria | Ahram Online
71 anti-aircraft missiles found in Sinai | SIS
15 protesters arrested on Nile Corniche | EGYNews


Dozens protest unemployment in South Sinai  
Egyptian youth burned tires at a protest against unemployment and corruption in front of the South Sinai Governorate headquarters Tuesday. Others quickly joined in and blocked the main road linking Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh. Demonstrators say nepotism and unfair land pricing is taking jobs away from young people. South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda responded with promises to lead a committee that includes the governorate’s secretary general, a judicial adviser and Bedouin chiefs to determine fair prices for land. [Egypt Independent, 2/6/2013]

Women’s group asks sexual violence victims to report attacks
The state-funded National Council for Women called on female protesters to report sexual violence and harassment in a statement released Tuesday, saying the "phenomenon [has become more violent] recently.” National Council for Women President Mervat al-Tellawy said the council is compiling victim accounts with the hopes of eventually prosecuting offenders, as well as providing better support for women. She added that the NWC is drafting tougher legislation against harassers that provide courts with a legal definition of sexual harassment and violence. Protesters are planning a march on Wednesday afternoon to show solidarity with women who have fallen victim to sexual violence, and to send the message that women will continue to fight for a state of law and accountability. “The women of Egypt will not give up their right to be part of the field of political work,” said a joint statement signed by participating political groups, parties, NGOs and public figures. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, EGYNews, 2/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
NGO condemns Interior Ministry for child abuse | Aswat Masriya
Protests spark in Cairo and Alexandria over police violence | Egypt Independent


Iran, Egypt and Turkey to convene on Islamic summit sidelines
The 12th session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit kicked off on Wednesday attended by the leaders of more than 25 Islamic countries, including Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The conference will discuss developments in Syria, the Palestinian issue, and the conflict in Mali. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr said there will be a closed session aiming to discuss the Palestinian case in the afternoon. He said that decisions concerning Palestine might emerge from this meeting. Iran, Egypt and Turkey will hold a tripartite meeting on the sidelines of the 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Cairo on either Wednesday or Thursday, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi said in press statements that the meeting will tackle an initiative by Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib to solve the Syrian conflict. Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr said communications are ongoing with Saudi Arabia to brief the kingdom on Khatib’s initiative. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 2/6/2013]

Iran’s Ahmadinejad seeks strategic axis with Egypt
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the first visit to Cairo by an Iranian leader in more than three decades, called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and said he had offered the cash-strapped Arab state a loan, but drew a cool response. Ahmadinejad said outside forces were trying to prevent a rapprochement between the Middle East’s two most populous nations. Iran’s president on Wednesday offered to help rescue Egypt’s failing economy with a "big credit line," another sign of improving relations between two regional powers after a freeze of more than three decades. Video footage shot by a Turkish cameraman appeared to show a bearded man trying twice to throw a shoe at Ahmadinejad as he was mobbed by well-wishers on leaving the Hussein mosque. During a meeting with Egypt’s top cleric, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb told Ahmadinejad not to interfere in the affairs of Bahrain or other Gulf states, and to uphold the rights of his country’s Sunni minority. [Reuters, AP, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online/AFP, 2/6/2013]

Pentagon: US, Egypt defense chiefs back security ties
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke by phone with his Egyptian counterpart on Tuesday to hear an update on the tense political situation in Cairo and the "role" of the Army amid recent street demonstrations, a Pentagon spokesperson said. Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the military chief who has warned the state could collapse in the face of political upheaval, voiced support for maintaining strong security ties with Washington and reassured Panetta that the military remained committed to his country’s peace treaty with Israel, spokesperson George Little said in a statement. [Egypt Independent/AFP, SIS, 2/6/2013]

EU delegation in Cairo
The delegation is discussing progress made on deals struck last November for financial assistance to Egypt. The European Union (EU) Special Representative to the Southern Mediterranean Region Bernardino León is currently in Cairo holding talks with various political parties and government officials. León arrived in Cairo on Monday and began talks with government officials and political parties on Tuesday, the EU delegation to Egypt press officer confirmed . She said León had met the finance and foreign affairs ministers on Tuesday, as well as members of the Al-Dostour Party, the National Salvation Front (NSF), the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and the Salafi Al-Nour Party. [DNE, 2/6/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s Morsi Calls for Palestinian Rights at Islamic Summit | Bloomberg
Investment opportunities in Egypt are promising – U.S. envoy | Aswat Masriya

Photo: DNE

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