Top News: US Government “Troubled” by Court Decision in Activists’ Case; Egypt Rejects US Comments

A spokesman for the US state department expressed concern over an Egyptian court’s decision to uphold a three year sentence for three Egyptian activists prosecuted under Egypt’s new protest law.

Hamdeen Sabbahi demands release of ‘revolution activists’
Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi has demanded the release from prison of activists who played key roles in the January 2011 uprising. Egypt cannot detain those who revolted, while the corrupt and murderers are free, Sabbahi said via Twitter. Interim President Adly Mansour should grant them an immediate pardon, he added. The Constitution Party has also called on Mansour to pardon activists Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, as well as Loay Abdel Rahman, Omar Hussein, Islam Ahmed and Nasser Ibrahim, who were sentenced to prison in Alexandria for two years and fined EGP 50,000 for demonstrating to demand retribution for Khaled Said. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 4/7/2014]

Presidential hopeful Mansour will declare war on Ethiopia, ban alcohol, social media, cancel Camp David
Hopeful presidential candidate Mortada Mansour said he will ban Facebook and Twitter if they threaten the nation’s internal security and declare war on Ethiopia should it maintain its stance on the Renaissance dam. Speaking to television host Amr al-Leithy on privately owned Al-Hayah TV channel on Monday, Mansour shared his views on protests in Egypt, US aid and the Muslim Brotherhood, among numerous other issues. Mansour said during the Monday interview he would cut off US aid if he became president, in order for Egyptians to start working and producing, adding that the aid supports the Camp David peace treaty, which he believes is no longer applicable. Mansour also said he would ban alcohol retail shops in accordance with Islamic law limiting consumption to foreigners in hotels. Meanwhile, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that the Salafi Call has requested a meeting with Mansour to discuss his positions on the law and political Islam, in order to determine whether or not the group will support his presidential bid. The group has also requested meetings with former defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabbahi. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic)

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt housing minister supports affordable housing expansion | Ahram Online
  • Government sets ceiling for transportation, state allowances | DNE
  • Prime Minister visits CSF camp in Cairo | SIS
  • Mansour heads National Security Council meeting | SIS
  • Public Union for Egyptian Workers renews its support for Sisi campaign in presidential elections | Shorouk (Arabic)


Men sentenced to eight years prison for debauchery
Three men were sentenced to eight years in prison on Monday on charges related to homosexual practices, while a fourth was sentenced to three years. The Nasr City Misdemeanor Court issued the sentence only days after the four men were arrested in their Nasr City flat on Thursday after a police raid, the Associated Press reported. While Egypt has no laws banning homosexuality, the men were charged with debauchery, an accusation that is often levied against homosexuals in Egypt along with other vague indictments such as “indecent behavior.” [Mada Masr, AFP/Ahram Online, 4/8/2014]

Raba’a ‘Control Room’ trial, lawsuit calling for ban on Brotherhood presidential candidates postponed
A court case aiming to legally marginalize the Muslim Brotherhood was adjourned on Tuesday, state-run Al-Ahram reported.  The case, heard by the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters, calls for banning the Brotherhood from nominating candidates for the presidential elections, was adjourned to April 15. Additionally, on April 15 the Court of Urgent Matters will also try the case of the Al-Jazeera journalists accused of being terrorists. In related news, the Cairo Court of Appeal will look into the request to replace the judge in the Raba’a Control Room trial. The defendants, among them Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad, are accused of forming an operations room through which they instructed members of the group to confront the state and spread chaos following the dispersal of the Raba’a al-Adaweya and Nahda sit-ins in August last year. [Mada Masr, 4/8/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Former Interior Minister Adly’s lawyer to resume pleading over killing protesters charges | Egypt Independent
  • Four Brotherhood members imprisoned and twenty-six others acquitted for inciting violence in Suez | AMAY (Arabic)


Kuwait signs oil and diesel supply deals with Egypt
Kuwait will boost its supply of crude oil to Egypt by nearly a third and increase shipments of petroleum products in a deal the Gulf state’s oil minister said was an obligation to help Cairo through its problems. The contracts run for three years and were signed on Monday. [Reuters, 4/8/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt foreign reserves up at $17.414 billion in March: Central Bank | DNE
  • Egypt sticks to tough standards for wheat imports | Reuters
  • Egypt’s real estate market to recover in late 2014 and 2015: Jones Lang LaSalle | DNE
  • Where does Egypt stand? Rankings 2013/2014 | DNE
  • Overview of financial aid packages to Egypt | DNE
  • Minister of Housing seeks partnerships with private companies to revitalize housing sector | DNE
  • Egypt’s tax dispute with Orascom remains ongoing: ETA | Ahram Online


Hours after it begins, sit-in against protest law suspended
Around 200 protesters decided Monday night to suspend a sit-in held in front of the Presidential Palace against the contentious protest law, citing safety and security concerns. Protesters had rallied for an impromptu sit-in earlier on Monday following a court ruling that rejected an appeal against three-year prison sentences handed down to April 6 founding members Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, alongside activist Ahmed Douma, for violating the protest law. The sit-in was initiated by Douma’s wife, Nourhan Hefzy. Members of the Freedom for the Brave campaign and other political groups were also present, while Daily News Egypt reports that Dostour Party President Hala Shukrallah and party leader Gamila Ismail also planned to attend the protest. The Dostour Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Popular Current and the Freedom for the Brave movement are also planning a press conference at the Dostour Party headquarters calling for the release of the activists.[Mada Masr, 4/8/2014]

Three day truce in Aswan as negotiations continue
Fighting tribes in Aswan have agreed to a three day truce to allow for another attempt at reconciling the dispute that has left twenty-five people dead and dozens injured since Friday, reported state-owned Al-Ahram. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb will oversee the reconciliation dialogue between the Daboudya and Bani Hilal tribes in Aswan. According to Magdy Daboody, an Aswani activist, clashes have stopped since Monday and the military is controlling the streets. However, Daboody also told Mada Masr that the youth don’t recognize this truce. Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s general prosecutor, traveled to Aswan on Tuesday to follow up on the ongoing investigation of last weekend’s violence, while interim President Adly Mansour met with security officials to review the latest developments. Meanwhile Nubian protesters declared they would boycott the upcoming presidential elections unless the government took action to stem the violence that has held Aswan hostage since Friday. Dozens gathered at the Journalists Syndicate on Monday to decry the bloodshed, chanting against the interior ministry as well as the governor of Aswan. Things began to return to normal as trains and schools began to resume Monday and Tuesday. [Mada Masr, Ahram Online, 4/7/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Al-Azhar University expels twenty-seven students over violence | Aswat Masriya, Egypt Indepdnent
  • Another Twitter campaign calls for release of Al-Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt | Ahram Online
  • April 6 favors laws that protect right to protest: General coordinator | DNE
  • Three Cairo University students arrested for unlawful assembly | DNE
  • Group calls for release of all Egyptians accused of contempt of religion | DNE
  • Islamists plan protests in Tahrir Square on Sinai Liberation Day | Egypt Independent


Twelve handmade bombs found at Ain Shams University; Four students arrested
Sources in the interior ministry stated that twelve handmade primitive bombs that were found in Ain Shams University campus in Cairo were defused by campus security early Tuesday.
According to state-owned MENA, an informed source in the media center of the interior ministry told the Cairo security directorate that the twelve “strange unidentified devices” were found by campus security at Ain Shams University between the Faculty of Law and Faculty of Computer Science buildings. In related news a security source at the university on Monday said the campus security arrested four students who were allegedly trying to smuggle three bombs and ammunition into campus. Security officials also defused a bomb near Al-Azhar University on Tuesday. [Ahram Online, 4/8/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Military spokesman says twenty-four armed suspects arrested in Sinai | Aswat Masriya


We want good candidates in Egypt’s presidential polls says EU’s Ashton
Ahead of her visit to Cairo this week to meet with Egyptian officials, European Union (EU) foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said that the EU supports Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections. Speaking from the EU-Africa summit in Brussels she added, “It is extremely important that Egypt brings people who believe in a democratic future to work together,” Ashton also stressed the importance of Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections set for May and ensured the EU’s support of the electoral process in Egypt. “We want to see good candidates coming forward so that the Egyptian people have a good choice,” she said. “We already see at least two candidates.” She also condemned groups that resort to violence saying they must be stopped. [Ahram Online, 4/7/2014]

US government “troubled” by court decision in activists’ case; Egypt rejects US comments
A spokesman for the US state department expressed concern over an Egyptian court’s decision to uphold a three year sentence for three Egyptian activists prosecuted under Egypt’s new protest law. “The United States is deeply troubled by the decision today of an Egyptian court to uphold an on-appeal three-year prison sentences and substantial fines for Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Douma, and Ahmed Maher – three peaceful, pro-democracy activists. Their continued imprisonment under a law that severely restricts the universal right to peaceful assembly and expression runs counter the Egyptian Government’s commitment to fostering an open electoral environment and a transition process that protects the universal rights of all Egyptians. We urge the Egyptian Government to exercise its constitutional authority to commute these excessive sentences, which are not in line with the rights guaranteed in Egypt’s new constitution, Egypt’s international obligations, or the government’s own commitment not to return to Mubarak-era practices.” said Jen Psaki during a press briefing Monday. According to Aswat Masriya, the Egyptian foreign ministry rejected these statements, saying that it was not right for the United States to “comment” on or “reject” an Egyptian judicial decision. [AMAY (Arabic), 4/8/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Ethiopian diplomat calms Egypt down | Mada Masr
  • Sisi meets with African Union Delegation | Ahram Online
  • African Union Panel meets with PM, Moussa | DNE