Egypt Media Roundup – Feb 11, 2014

02/11/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

A European Union meeting of ministers of foreign affairs in Brussels resulted in a “series of strongly worded” recommendation to Egypt. In  their press release Egypt was criticized over the “absence of a fully inclusive process, the lack of attempts to overcome the polarization of society and the closing of political space for dissenting opinion before and during the referendum.” Amongst the other issues cited by the group is the lack of an investigation “to hold accountable those responsible for the deaths of hundreds since June 30 and the deepening rift between the pro-military government and the ousted Muslim Brotherhood.” In a response to the EU statement, Egypt’s foreign Ministry spokesperson Badr Adel Aty referred to the statement as “contain[ing] some negative points that either exhibit a lack of European understanding of the situation in Egypt or a deliberate position to ignore the realities on the ground.” He added that “some of the points raised by the EU may amount to interference in sovereign matters.” Read More.. [Mada Masr]

Gender & Sexuality

Amal Elmohandes, Director of the Women Human Rights Defenders Program, Nazraa wrote a “concept paper” on the different practices of sexual violence against women giving a description of the practice and an example from its recent use in Egypt. Amongst the sexual violence practices described were virginity tests, rape, and sexual assault and Harassment. [Daily News Egypt]

Security Sector

Lelila Fadel writes that, estimates from the Egyptian Center of Economic and Social Rights are: 16,687 detainees estimated to be imprisoned, 4,482 dead in clashes, 198 number killed in armed attacks on police and army, these are the numbers since since the ousting of Morsi on July 3rd. She adds that “analysts say oppressive practices by the military-backed government have encouraged more extreme actions by jihadists — and they predict that the attacks on the state will likely grow.” Read More..[NPR] [Op-ed]

Marginalized Groups

A Human Rights Watch report released today finds that Egyptian and Sudanese security officials have “turned a blind eye to allow convoys of kidnapped Eritrean asylum seekers reach Sinai between 2009-2012.” The report estimates that between 25,000-30,000 people were victims of trafficking in Sinai, and that the industry generated $622million in profit for the traffickers, and kidnapper randoms ranging between $1,000 to $40,000 per person. Read More.. [ Al Jazeera, HRW, Daily News Egypt]

Rights & Freedoms

A trial date for February 20 has been set for 20 journalists, amongst them the nine who work for Al Jazeera. The journalists face charges of “spreading false news and terrorism. 16 of the defendants standing trial are Egyptians, four are foreigners and three of which will stand trial as Dutch journalist Rena Netjes was able to flee the country.  Prosecutors are accusing the Al Jazeera news crew “of portraying Egypt in a state of “civil war” and “airing false news.” Read More.. [Daily News Egypt, National Australia]

Economy

One rescue worker has been killed when part of Shaikh Mansour Bridge collapsed in northeast Cairo.  The collapse was caused when a fire broke out in shacks under the bridge causing a number of fas cylinders to explode. Several people were injured, and another worker was trapped under the rubble. Cairo’s governor Gala Mostfa “ordered the allocation of flats for families whose homes were damaged in the accident,” adding that the “bridge could be reopened in one to two weeks time, while the reconstruction process could take a month.” Read More..[Ahram, All Africa]

Foreign Relations

Palestinian Ma’An news agency reported that the Palestine Authority has plans to build two airports in the West Bank. Palestine transport minister Nabil Dmeidi stated that “a deal has been already been reached between Palestinian Authority and Egypt to utilize Egypt’s aviation expertise.” One of the planned airports will be located east of Jericho the other, on Area C, “currently under Israeli security and administrative control.” Future plans for a railway line between Gaza and Cairo along with a seaport on the Gaza strip are also planned. [International Business Times]

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Legal & Political Institutions

New Poll finds: More Egyptians Satisfied with Government Performance

Mada Masr: Poll: 27% satisfied with government

Summary: Results of a phone poll taken between January 28th-30th released by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, Baseera, revealed that 27% of respondents rate the cabinet as “good,” 20% rate them at “bad,” 38% rate them as “average,” and 16% of respondents had no rating for the cabinet. Baseera finds the results to demonstrate an improvement from a prior poll administered in November which revealed that only 20% of respondents were satisfied with the government performance.

Proposal for New Presidential Elections Law Rejected by Majority

Ahram: Political factions reject allowing appeals in presidential elections 

Summary: Following the proposal of a new presidential elections law that would allow the presidential polls to be open to appeals was rejected by the majority of Egypt’s political forces and public figures. The law announced by President Mansour on January 29 was “turned over to public scrutiny in a dialogue running until February 9, with both politicians and civilians invited to submitted proposed changes.” President Mansour is set to review the submissions and provide a final version of the law on February 17. According to Ali Awad, Mansour’s constitutional and legal affairs advisors, “most of the submissions dealt with article 7 of the law, which allows both candidates and citizens the right to file appeals against the decision of the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), the government body tasked with announcing official elections results.” Most the suggestions call for the “article to be re-amended to remove the possibility of appeals” out of fear that the appeal’s process would delay the voting process, resulting in further instability in the country.

Mahmoud Salem: if Sisi becomes president, June 30 is officially a coup

Daily News Egypt: Al-Sisi’s dwindling options [Op-ed] 

Summary: Political commentator Mahmoud Salem speculates that what’s driving Al-Sisi’s to not announce his impending run for the presidency, because “all of Al-Sisi’s options are bad.” Salem elaborates that “if [Al-Sisi] runs for president, then 30 June is completely and officially a coup; if he stays Minister of Defence, people will say he is the real president anyway and undermine the next president at every turn; if he quits his post, then his fans will cry that he abandoned them and his enemies would immediately call for his trial, if they don’t try to assassinate him or members of his family. He is stuck in the worst possible position, with very little room to manoeuvre, thanks to his insane supporters’ insistence that he is some sort of Messianic figure that will make all of our problems go away.” Al-Sisi run, Salem concludes would mean that “the military would be directly involved in the ruling of the country.”

Morsi: states that recent Protests by MB have been “Useless” due to violent crackdown by the state

ABC News: Egypt’s Ousted President says protests “Useless” 

US News: In leak, Egypt’s ousted president says proponents’ protests useless, ask for money 

Summary: Former president Mohammed Morsi stated that “protests by his supporters and the violent crackdown against them are “useless.”” The statement was leaked by security authorities from a private conversation between Morsi and his lawyers. In another part of the conversation Morsi asks of what is  happening on the streets, to which he responds “how will we stop all the deaths? enough deaths.”  Another of Morsi’s lawyers cited that the leaked conversations “a violation of privacy and the Islamist leader’s constitutional rights” threatening to file a lawsuit.

Trial Date for 1,207 Muslim Brotherhood members set, Referred to Criminal Court with death sentences

Mada Masr: The prosecution referred 1,207 Muslim Brotherhood members to the Minya Criminal court on Monday 

Israel National News: Egypt Gives Death Sentence to Terroists 

Summary: Defendants in this trial which has been set for March 3rd are being charged with “storming and burning the Matay police station, killing a police officer, stealing weapons, and releasing inmates,” as reported by the state-owned site EgyNews. Ihab Bedawy the spokesperson for the president  stated that President Adly Mansour’s  administration “did not uphold the death sentence handed down to 14 individuals convicted of terrorism.” Bedawy made an additional statement refuting the existence of an Office for State Security Affairs. Which the Middle East News Agency’s had reported that the office  “had approved the death sentences as well as life imprisonment for four others convicted of bombing an Arish police station last year.” Adding that the Office of State security affairs represents a “special judicial body tasked with approving or vetoing verdicts issued by the State Security Court.”

Security Sector

Israel Retaliates to Rocket Attacks From Gaza

Ahram: Israeli military hits Gaza in response to rocket

Summary: In a response to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, Israel has struck two targets within the territory. The Israeli military struck “an underground rocket launcher and a “terror site” in Gaza. No injuries were reported by either side.

Ansar Beit Al Maqdis Targets Gas Pipeline

Daily News Egypt: Suspected militants bomb gas pipeline in Sinai 

El Watan: [AR] Gasline to Jordan explosion: Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis suspected to be behind attack

Summary: Security officials in North Sinai reported that Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the Sinai based militant group, have targeted for the third time, in the same manner within the time frame of one month the gasline feeding cement factories and the nation of Jordan. The explosion itself took place 40km south of the city of El-Arish.

Policeman Targeted in violence in Ismailiya

Ahram: Gunmen kill police officer in Egypt’s Ismailiya

Summary: Two gunmen on the city of Ismailiya have opened fire on a police officer on Ibrahim Salma street in a drive-by-shooting. An investigation has been launched to determine whether the police officer was shot by his own gun, or the gunmen’s own weapon. This attack marks another on a series of attacks targeting army and police post the ousting of Morsi in July of 2013.

Marginalized Groups

Textile workers on Strike for Bonuses and Higher Wages

Ahram: Strike at Egypt’s largest public textile factory

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt: Strike action takes center state 

Summary: Workers for Egypt’s biggest public textile company, Weaving and Textile Company in Mahalla went on strike Monday. Over 10,000 workers went on strike “as the government delayed the payment of the last installment of the yearly bonus.” In addition to the bonus, workers are asking for the head of the company, Fouad Abdel-Alim to be dismissed, as well as the minimum wage raised to LE 1, 200. Speaking with Ahram Online, Abdel-Alim stated that the “ministerial economic group will grant the workers the delayed installment and that an official decision would be announced soon.”

Rights & Freedoms

Claims of Torture by Detainees arrested for activism, reporting–MOI denies allegations

Aswat Masriya: Secular Egyptian detainees complain of police torture

Summary: Activists arrested last month on the anniversary of the revolution“ have been tortured, some with electric shocks,” their relatives and lawyers relayed. The wife of Khaled al-Sayed shared that she was told by him that “he was hanging by his arms from the ceiling and beaten very badly…[then he was] taken to a room and blindfolded so he could hear the screams of men who were being tortured” she added that “some [detainees] were sexually abused.” The interior Ministry has denied any abuse allegations.

Economy

Touism in Egypt: in decline after years of unrest

The Guardian: Tourist desert-Egypt desperate to woo back visitors after years of unrest 

Summary: Egypt’s tourism industry is working to recover from 2013 the year describes by Egypt’s tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, as the  “worst year in modern history.” According to Zaazou, Egypt’s tourism industry made “3.6bn in 2013, compared with £7.7bn in its record year of 2010.” Zaazou added that,“9.5 million tourists stayed in Egypt’s hotel in 2013 compared to the 14.7million in 2010″. According to the tourism minister, “some of Egypt’s famous tourist towns had their worst month in September.”  Some areas have zero tourists such as Abu Simbel and Aswan, with other areas such as the Red Sea doing slightly better at “10, 15, 20%.” Though the tourism sector is expected to recover, the head of the Egyptian tourism federation, Elhamy Elzayat does not see it happening in “the near future.”

Egypt Building its Wheat Storage, Reserve to Last until mid-June

Egypt Independent: Supply Minister: Wheat reserve until mid-June

Reuters: Update 1: Egypt has enough wheat to mid-June while builds storage 

Summary: Egypt’s Supply Minister Mohamed Abu Shady stated that Egypt current wheat reserve is “sufficient to meet demand until mid-June 2014.” The minister added that Egypt will be increasing storage capacity “to 6 million tonnes by around mid-2015.” Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat and buys “around 10 million tonnes of wheat a year.” Government officials commented that “storage capacity is vital for Egypt to make use of its domestic wheat production and reduce its need for imports.”