Top News: Thousands of Pro-Morsi Demonstrators Take to the Streets

Marches are underway in several parts of Egypt on Friday with thousands taking to the streets protesting the removal of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and the killing of hundreds of Morsi supporters during a security crackdown last week.

Reshuffle of Egypt’s National Human Rights Council includes activists
New members of state body the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) were announced in a decree by Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi on Thursday. The council is to be headed by Mohamed Fayeq, a former secretary-general of the Arab Human Rights Organization and a former Nasser-era minister of information, an era when media freedoms heavily restricted. Fayeq was previously vice-president of the NCHR at its inception in 2003. The head of the leftist Socialist Popular Alliance Party Abdel-Ghaffar Shokr was appointed the council’s vice-president. Other members include liberal politicians Mona Zul Faqar and George Ishaq, who led the Kefaya opposition movement under the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, as well as lawyers Ragai Atteya, who represented the Mubarak family, and Mokhtar Nouh, who used to defend Islamist groups. Nageh Ibrahim, another Islamist figure, was also among the reported appointees, as well as Kamal al-Helbawy, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader. Ragia Omran and Hossam Bahgat were among the human rights advocates appointed, but when asked about his appointment, Bahgat told Mada Masr that he didn’t know anything about it and wasn’t consulted. [Ahram Online, SIS, Mada Masr, 8/22/2013]

Egypt political parties react to deputy PM’s peace proposal
Some of Egypt’s political parties cautiously welcomed the political initiative of Ziad Bahaa-Eldin to end the current political crisis in Egypt. Bahaa-Eldin, Egypt’s deputy prime minister, presented the proposition to the cabinet last Wednesday. The Nour Party demanded to have a meeting with Bahaa-Eldin to discuss the terms of the initiative, especially since it includes lifting the state of emergency. Nour spokesperson Sherif Taha said the party calls on the Muslim Brotherhood-led National Coalition to Support Legitimacy to consider the initiative as a realistic option to end the current political crisis. In a statement published on Wednesday, the leftist Popular Alliance Party also welcomed and supported the initiative, calling on the cabinet to adopt it. The Strong Egypt Party also welcomed the initiative as a start for a true complete national reconciliation and to end the bloodshed in Egypt. [Ahram Online, 8/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Sabbahy: People reject return of NDP, Muslim Brotherhood | Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic)
Column: What’s next for the Muslim Brotherhood? | Reuters
Insight: In small American town, a window into Egyptian general’s past | Reuters
ElBaradei came to divide Egypt: Shafiq | DNE
Egyptian diplomats face a ‘hard mission’ | Ahram Online
Tamarod: Mubarak’s release does not represent a failure of the January Revolution | Shorouk (Arabic)


Court orders Qursaya residents to stay, military to depart
The Administrative Court ordered the Armed Forces to retreat from the Qursaya Island on Tuesday, reinstating the residents’ right to stay, the state-run EgyNews website reported on Thursday. Qursaya Island, located in the south of Cairo, is home to some 5,000 people who have been in a tense standoff with the state since 2007, when it began trying to evict them for what was believed to be a tourism investment plan. Today’s court found that the military’s control over the island is unlawful since it is considered part of an agricultural plot and the main economic activities of residents are agriculture and fishing. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 8/23/2013]

Amendments are not final, says Constitutional Committee rapporteur
Ali Awad, rapporteur of the Constitutional Committee, has said that the committee sent its amendments to the Audit and Drafting Committee, expecting it would be sent to President Adly Mansour in the coming three days. A fifty person committee meant to represent the many social and political stripes of Egyptian society will next approve the amendments before putting them before the public in a referendum. Members of the April 6 Movement, the Ghad Party, and others, condemned the removal of the political isolation article which bans the National Democratic Party from political participation. Some also called for the article to be applied to the Freedom and Justice Party. Sheikh Yasser Borhami, vice president of the Salafist Nour Party, said that he will encourage members to reject the amendments if Article 219, which states that the principles of Sharia are defined in Sunni terms, is removed. [Egypt Independent, Ahram (Arabic), 8/23/2013]

Also of interest:
Mubarak defense will not appeal house arrest: lawyer | Egypt Independent


Egypt, Turkey delay stock market connectivity plan  
The implementation of a plan to connect the Egyptian stock exchange with Turkey’s has been delayed due to a lack of “market readiness,” according to a statement by the EGX on Thursday. “Both exchanges have duly embarked on the connectivity project and recently finalized its technical components. Market readiness, however, is a pending issue since brokers from each end need to commit resources through bilateral agreements,” the statement read. [Mada Masr, 8/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Blog:Why Egypt’s pound is not strengthening | Rebel Economy
Apache’s Egypt quandary symbolizes tough business call | Reuters
Egypt: Workers at Suez Steel end month-long strike | Ahram Online


Thousands of pro-Morsi demonstrators take the streets in Egypt amid tightened security
Marches are underway in several parts of Egypt on Friday with thousands taking to the streets protesting the removal of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and the killing of hundreds of Morsi supporters during a security crackdown last week. Demonstrations marched through the Cairo and Giza districts of Ramsis, Mohandeseen, Kerdassa, Helwan, Haram and Shoubra. The Governorates of Aswan, Suez, Minya and Fayoum also witnessed protests. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy announced that it would stage twenty-eight marches across greater Cairo, dubbing the day the “Friday of Martyrs.” Army and police forces have spread over the vicinity of Raba’a al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City, as well as securing the presidential palace. Army forces were also deployed at entrances and exits of Cairo hours before the protests began. Clashes broke out between residents and protesters in Tanta, where seven were injured, in Sharqiya and Giza. Clashes broke out between Morsi’s supporters and other citizens at al-Fath Mosque in Shoubra after a preacher voiced support for the Egyptian army during a Friday prayer sermon. Clashes also broke out between security forces and protesters in Daqahliya, where hundreds of residents stormed Brotherhood homes and the organization’s headquarters after protesters destroyed several cars. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), 8/23/2013]

Deaths of prisoners is a ‘heinous crime’ says anti-torture group
Anti-torture organisation Watan Bela Ta’azeeb, or Torture-Free State, accused the Ministry of Interior of “torturing and exterminating” fifty-two prisoners being transferred to Abu Za’abal prison. In a Thursday statement, the group cited eyewitness reports of police firing bullets at a truck holding the detainees, before officers “shot a tear gas grenade into the overly crowded truck and set it on fire.” The movement disputed Ministry of Interior figures of thirty-six dead, alleging that there were fifty-two deceased among the prisoners, and that “bodies of the dead were burnt to conceal torture marks.” [DNE, 8/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Beards, niqab become liability in Egypt after crackdown | AFP/Egypt Independent
Azhar: Incitement is forbidden, protecting citizens is the duty of the state | EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic)
Army warns against attacking military facilities in Suez | EGYNews (Arabic)
Protests at the high court against Mubarak’s release | EGYNews (Arabic)


Campaign of Muslim Brotherhood arrests continues
Nineteen Muslim Brotherhood figures were arrested on Thursday including former deputy governor of Alexandria Hassan al-Prince. Al-Prince, who was transferred to Borg al-Arab prison, is facing seventeen charges, including inciting violence. Security sources also announced the arrest of Brotherhood leader and former Member of Parliament Ahmed Abu-Baraka. Abu-Baraka is a member of the Brotherhood’s guidance bureau. Another nineteen Brotherhood members arrested on Thursday, according to state-owned Al-Ahram, include Fathi Shehab, a former member of parliament for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Mostafa Ghoneim, a member of the Guidance Bureau, Abdel Rahman Youssef, a leading Brotherhood member, Gamal Heshmat, a former member of the Shura Council and a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, and Ahmed Mourad, a Muslim Brotherhood member from Suez. Mohamed al-Mekkawy and five leading Brotherhood members from Cairo were arrested in Fayoum. Ahmed Sayed Mayhoub has been detained for fifteen days pending investigations on charges of inciting violence. Mohamed Badie’s driver was also among those detained. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 8/23/2013]

Armed Forces spokesperson: 203 “terrorists” detained, seventy-eight killed
A military spokesman announced on Friday that raids carried out by the armed forces and the police have resulted in the arrest of 203 “terrorists” and the deaths of seventy-eight accused of attacks on military facilities in Sinai. Among those arrested,124 were Egyptian, while the remaining seventy-nine were foreign nationals. Among those killed, forty-six were Egyptian, and thirty-two were foreign nationals. On Friday, nineteen were arrested in Sinai, among them seven Palestinians. Security forces also discovered and destroyed 343 tunnels at the Rafah border. [EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 8/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Tunisian forces guard Egypt’s embassy after bomb threat | Aswat Masriya
Curfew to start at 9 p.m. from Saturday | Mada Masr
Tightened security at Cairo Airport | EGYNews (Arabic)
FJP headquarters in Mansoura stormed | AMAY (Arabic)
‘Next generation’ of Qaeda being born in Egypt: analysts | DNE


Cutting Egypt aid may not reverse actions: Obama
President Barack Obama says cutting off aid to Egypt “may not reverse what the interim government does.” But he says the United States must be “very careful” about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that run contrary to the country’s values. The president defended his decision to hold off in cutting aid, saying there was a period of time after former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted where the United States needed to use diplomacy to encourage military to seek reconciliation. The United States sidestepped questions about former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s release, saying it was a matter for Cairo to decide, but called for his ousted successor Mohamed Morsi to be freed. Persistent violence in Egypt has sharply divided senior advisers in the Obama administration over how far it should go to stop violence when its actions could damage relations with Egypt. Analysts say Egypt and the US defense industry will not likely break ties, but in the wake of Morsi’s ouster Obama must decide whether to renew that pragmatic bargain with a government again accused of crushing bedrock freedoms. About 500 Egyptian protesters protested outside the White House in Washington DC on Thursday against the Muslim Brotherhood and in support of the Egyptian army. [AP, Shorouk (Arabic), DNE, SIS, Defense News, Ahram Online, 8/23/2013]

EU ambassador in Egypt says arms suspension will end ‘as things return to normal’
James Moran, the ambassador of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Egypt, held a press briefing in Cairo Thursday to discuss latest developments in the grouping’s position towards Egypt’s ongoing political crisis. On Wednesday, foreign ministers of the twenty-eight EU member states issued a statement that includes a decision to suspend the sale of security equipment and arms to Egypt. The step came in response to violence in Egypt that led to emergency EU talks. Moran assured that this EU move will be reversed as “things return to normal, in order to avoid internal repression.” Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy accused the EU of being late to condemn “terrorism” in a Thursday meeting with Belgian counterpart Didier Reynders in Cairo, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to a ministry statement, Fahmy assured Reynders that the interim government is committed to the roadmap set after July 3, 2013, and that “no security issue would be handled without a political outline.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Shorouk (Arabic), 8/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt to reopen Rafah crossing to Gaza: Hamas | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Foreign minister to meet Ethiopian counterpart in September – ministry | Aswat Masriya
Turkish FM tours Europe to discuss Egypt | DNE

Image: Photo: DNE