News Links – May 2

An Egyptian friend of mine, Paul Attallah, provides a regular service of linking to the major news headlines pertaining to Egypt. He also provides his own commentary, which tends towards suspicion of the post-revolution transition and ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood. All information below is his own, but is a very useful summary of recent events, opinions, and rumors. Please enjoy:


Secret of the day

Salafist Preacher: Muslim Brotherhood preparing plan to dissolve army in cooperation with Jihadist elements

The ruling group supports and protects Jihadists in Egypt, especially in Sinai, says Salafist preacher Mohamed el-Abaseery…


Question of the day

Are the Salafists presenting themselves as a MB alternative?

Comment: are the Americans still insisting that Egypt must be ruled by Islamists? You will hear: but you know, civil forces are not ready to rule the country. Is it an Alzheimer symptom?


Quotes of the day

Shafiq to Morsi: You will not complete your mandate and look for a grocery to run.


Records of the day

The World’s Worst Places To Be A Christian (Or Another Religious Minority)

Knox Thames, USCIRF director of policy and research, told RNS in an interview, “USCIRF added a special emphasis on non-state actors, as their violent actions are a growing threat to religious freedom.”

Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea are among the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, according to the annual U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report released today.

The U.S. currently designates Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan as CPCs. USCIRF wants Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam added to the list.


Article of the day

An Unnecessary Constitution: Rajī Sulaymān of the Free Egyptians Party

The new Egyptian Constitution was unnecessary from the start, says Rajī Sulaymān of the Free Egyptians Party (FEP). The 1971 Constitution, with added amendments, would have served just fine. Sulaymān is the founding lawyer who brought the liberal FEP into existence following the January 25 Revolution. A member of the party’s political office, he also heads its legal and constitutional committees. Though the FEP declined participation in writing the constitution in protest of the lack of sufficient women and Coptic representation, they actively opposed the final draft. Rather than delving into the problems of content, Sulaymān preferred to describe how the process was flawed from the beginning.


Fatwa of the day

Secretary-General of Islamic Jihad Party: Spilling of some Christian blood allowed

“It is permissible to kill some Christians today,” said Mohamed Abu Samra, secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad Party…


Waheed Abdel Maguid: Samra’s statements are treason and he should be prosecuted

Leading member of the Egyptian National Salvation Front and professor of political science Waheed Abdel Maguid condemned the statements by…


Sameh Fawzi: Islamic trend must bear responsibility for aftermath of Samra’s statements

Member of Egypt’s Shura Council Sameh Fawzi said, “The statements of Mohamed Abu Samra are a direct incitement for violence against Copts…


Azhari group against sedition: Samra’s statements aim to kill Christians

Sheikh Mohamed Abdullah Nasr, coordinator of the “Azharis with the Civil State”, said, “It is not permissible for…


Former jihadist: Abu Samra’s remarks must be investigated as they incite violence

Dr. Osama el-Qusi, Salafi preacher and former jihadist, described remarks by Mohamed Abu Samra as irresponsible remarks amid the absence of the rule of law…


Naggar: Abu Samra’s statement aims to incite Muslims against Christians

The allegation that Pope Tawadros II is trying to establish a Coptic state is an attempt to incite Muslims against Christians…


Congratulating Copts

Deputy chairperson of Nour Party: We will not congratulate Copts on their religious holidays as we hold different faiths

Deputy Chairperson of Egypt’s Nour Party, Sayed Mustafa, said, “We are not forced to congratulate Copts on their religious holidays, because we…


Leading member of Gamaat Islamiyya: We have a principle not to congratulate Copts on their religious holidays

Leading member of Gamaat Islamiyya Assem Abdel Maguid said, “One of the main principles of Gamaat Islamiyya is to not congratulate the…



Renewed threats against Coptic shop owners in Shubra el-Kheima

A Muslim extremist and a number of Salafists have renewed their threats against Coptic shop owners in Shubra el-Kheima…


Mona Prince

Egypt professor prevented from teaching for insulting religion

An Egyptian professor who was questioned over allegations that included insulting religion filed a legal complaint on Wednesday against the university’s vice-president for preventing her from performing her job.

Mona al-Brince told Aswat Masriya that when she arrived to campus on Tuesday, she was surprised to have University Deputy Shaker Rezk prevent her from teaching.

She explained that he forced her to depart the premises, causing her humiliation, even though no official suspension letter has been issued to date.

“The insulting religion allegation is a scheme to get rid of me,” Brince said, adding that there were similar attempts to expel her last year, because she promotes critical thinking and gives students space to participate.

Suez Canal University President Maher Mosbah had ordered that Professor Brince be questioned after her students and head of department filed complaints against her, accusing her of insulting religion and failing to be present for her lectures.

“I will go to university tomorrow, to give my lectures and meet my students, as no official decision to suspend me has been issued yet,” Brince told Aswat Masriya on Monday. “I know how they operate; if I am not present tomorrow, they will punish me for my absence,” she added.

The English professor added that the department’s secretariat had informed her that an official letter of suspension is underway upon a request from the university president, even though Mosbah denied it.

Brince was also accused of insulting the head of the department, she said, adding that her Facebook activity, which included complaints against the department and its conditions, was used against her.

The accusers complained that Brince discusses topics that are irrelevant to the syllabus and is not always present for her lectures.

Mosbah had asked students to continue to pay respect to the professor as the law takes its course, while Brince, who teaches English at Suez Canal University, has denied that she insulted religion, insisting that she is a practicing Muslim.


Rights groups condemn crackdown on university professor

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) condemned the referral of Professor Mona Prince to disciplinary investigation and said that those working in the academic community should be afforded the protection to express views that may or may not be widely accepted.

“The two organisations believe that the protection and promotion of academic freedom, and the protection of faculty members from any attempts to interfere or intellectual terrorism, is mainly the responsibility of the academic institution,” said the statement, issued on Tuesday. It called on academic institutions to create a safe environment for university faculty to freely express views, instead of cracking down on freedom of expression.


Labor Day protests

Hundreds march to Egypt’s Shura Council on Labour Day

Hundreds of Egyptian workers and political activists have joined a march from Cairo’s Sayyeda Zeinab district to the Shura Council headquarters to voice workers’ demands on Labour Day.

Protesters waved red flags as they shouted the famous slogan of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution: “bread, freedom, social justice.”

Many protesters also chanted against both President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.


The Tamarod campaign gathers in Tahrir

The Tamarod campaign called on Wednesday for a public gathering in Tahrir Square to collect signatures to withdraw confidence from President Mohamed Morsi.

On its Facebook page, the campaign announced that the gathering is set to take place on Wednesday at 5 pm. The campaign called on citizens to join the gathering and support their calls for withdrawing confidence from Morsi and holding early presidential elections.

Tamarod, or ‘Rebellion’, is calling for holding early presidential elections on 30 June, under the supervision of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

Hassan Shahin, a Tamarod member, said the campaign is not calling for the return of the army to the political scene or supporting any political candidate for president. “We only want the departure of Morsi, as he has failed to achieve anything so far. Early presidential elections should then be held under the supervision of the SCC head. We don’t care about who the winner would be.”


Interrogations and trials

Egypt prosecutor orders interrogation of Bassem Youssef’s team member

Egypt’s prosecutor-general has ordered the interrogation of khaled Mansour who is a member of the team behind Bassem Youssef’s al-Bernameg (The Programme) over the sixth episode, the satirist said on Wednesday.

In the episode, a segment titled “Where to next Friday?” mocked the expenses required for President Mohamed Mursi to perform Friday prayers.

Mansour will be questioned for playing a reporter who announced a fake competition where the winner had to guess where Mursi would perform his prayers next.


Doma held in Damanhur prison for insulting Morsi

Journalist and political activist Ahmed Doma is being held in Damanhur prison after the appeals prosecution in Tanta ordered him detained for four days, his lawyer said.

Doma is facing charges of insulting the president that could lead to between one and two years of jail time for calling President Mohamed Morsi a criminal, a murderer, and a fugitive from justice.

“We can now say we are 90 percent sure he is being held in Damanhur prison. This information came to us through personal efforts, as neither the prosecution nor the Ministry of Interior revealed it officially,” Doma’s lawyer and member of the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters Ali Soliman said.


Detention of activist Ahmed Douma sparks protests

Scores of protesters rallied in front of Beheira’s security directory to demand revealing the detention place of activist Ahmed Douma on Wednesday.

Douma had been arrested and detained for four days pending investigation on charges of insulting President Mohamed Mursi.

Demonstrators from the Democratic Front Party and the Arab Revolution Youth Movement gathered at the security directory and chanted slogans to demand revealing the whereabouts of Douma.

Douma was also charged of spreading false news likely to disrupt public order and harm public interest.


The historical confrontation between Abu Duma and Sheikh Abu Islam which obliged Abu Islam to put his slipper on the desk.



Armed protests in Libya threatening safety in capital

Armed protests targeting Libya’s ministries and media in the capital this week have alarmed international observers who say deteriorating security conditions are becoming a matter of serious concern.

Reporters without Borders said there was cause for “grave concern about recent violent attacks on Libyan journalists, whose safety conditions are deteriorating drastically” and called on the government to act.

Demonstrators holding signs attend a demonstration calling for the passing of a legislation barring former aides to deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi from senior government posts, in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Office in Benghazi


Libya: Gunmen Surround Libyan Foreign Ministry

Gunmen have surrounded Libya’s foreign ministry, demanding passage of a draft law that would ban Gadhafi-era officials from senior government jobs. Roving, well armed militias often challenge Libya’s new leaders.

Dozens of armed men with at least 20 armed pick-up trucks blockaded the foreign ministry in Tripoli Sunday, directing traffic away from the building, witnesses said.



Christian Crackdown Moves Sudan Closer To ‘100 Percent’ Muslim

World Watch Monitor (WWM) reports that the Sudanese president’s call for amnesty included the release of one Christian woman. However, the same WWM dispatch states that “over the past few weeks Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have ordered more than 100 expatriate workers suspected of being involved with Christian activities to leave the country or face deportation.”



ElBaradei: Current situation may lead to angry, hungry people

National Salvation Front (NSF) leader Mohamed ElBaradei accused the Muslim Brotherhood of eliminating other political powers in Egypt from the decision making process.

“They are putting up barriers, which is not helping,” he said, adding that although the Brotherhood previously showed a willingness to negotiate with the opposition, they went back on their agreement and decided to act independently.


ElBaradei says Egypt needs political consensus to heal economy

Egypt’s government must seek political compromise to win broad support for a crucial IMF loan and revive the country’s ailing economy, senior opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said on Tuesday.

“Without stability, you don’t have an economy going on, and without an economy going on, you will end up with hungry, angry people.”

“I think that in the end, if the different political parties feel they are partners, and if they sit around the table with the government, and there is an honest, open discussion on what are the options available … I don’t think it’s impossible that they will turn around and accept a loan,” he said.


Islamic bonds

Egypt Islamic bonds could attract $15 bn annually: Finance official

Sovereign Islamic bonds, or sukuk, could attract $15 billion in investments to Egypt annually from domestic and foreign investors, according to statements made by an advisor to the finance minister to the state-run MENA news agency.



Brotherhood rival Abul-Fotouh complains of official obstruction

Islamist politician Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh finds his talks at Egyptian universities are repeatedly prevented from going ahead by authorities, say his supporters

“The university administration has been trying to cancel the lecture, but there is still considerable pressure from the students to hold the talk,” said Karim Hassan, coordinator of the Strong Egypt Party’s student wing. (More…)


Free Media

Information Minister Criticizes media

“The misuse of freedom is a form of backwardness” said Minister of Information Salah Abdel Maqsoud at the opening of the Fifth Forum of the Association of Purposive Visual Media.



Muslim Brotherhood Now Getting the Perks in Egyptian Army

Egyptian sources said the Brotherhood has spread rapidly throughout the military since the election of Mohammed Morsi as president in June 2012. They said Morsi supporters in the Brotherhood were using their connections to win promotions and privileges.

“For decades, people with Brotherhood connections were held over for promotions and never reached anywhere higher than that of junior officers,” a source said. “Now, Brotherhood-aligned soldiers are getting accepted into officers’ courses and the military academy.”

The sources said the Brotherhood made the greatest advance in the Army over the last year. They said many suspected Islamists in the Army during the era of President Hosni Mubarak were now flaunting their political affiliation.



Egypt challenges a UK auctioneer over 200 ‘stolen’ antiquities

Egypt informs International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) of allegedly stolen artefacts on sale at London’s Bonhams auction house.


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