Egypt Media Roundup – Feb 28, 2014

02/28/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s interim president reshuffled the country’s top military council on Thursday and installed the nation’s military chief as its leader for the first time, part of a series of decrees that experts say gives the military more independence as its current leader is widely expected to run for president. Adly Mansour’s decree is part of series of declarations related to rearranging the country’s sprawling security and military establishment nearly two months before presidential elections. The decrees come amidst Prime Minister delegate’s cabinet appointments. [Gulf News, News24, Xinhuanet, Daily Star lebanon, Ahram, Mada MasrRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

Executive director of UN Women, John Hendra, states: “We’ve seen a rollback of women’s rights in Arab Spring countries like Egypt, where women have been at the heart of the civil society movement pressing for the rights of all Egyptians from the beginning of the transition process.” [National Geographic

Security Sector

Gunmen killed a police officer Friday in northern Egypt who worked as a guard for a judge hearing a case against the country’s ousted president as his supporters held scattered demonstrations that saw one person killed, authorities said. [Washington Post, Naharnet, Daily Star Lebanon, Mada MasrRead More..

Marginalized Groups

This week, a transportation strike led the military to man public buses to prevent Cairo from grinding to a standstill. Khaki-clad soldiers were drafted in to drive the white vehicles, in what the army’s spokesman described as an attempt to “decrease the suffering of the citizens.” [CS Monitor, The GuardianRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

In an interview with Al Jazeera America’s John Seigenthaler, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon said the journalists were hostages since the Egyptian government had not come up with any credible charges against them. [Al JazeeraRead More..

Economy

Egypt’s central bank left official interest rates on hold on Thursday, as it tries to stimulate an economy hurt by three years of political turmoil while keeping inflation in check. [AhramRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

Egypt has begun a diplomatic offensive aimed at stopping Ethiopia from building a huge hydroelectric dam on the Nile River. “The campaign initiated by Egypt … aims to persuade the international community to reject the dam’s construction because it may lead to further conflict and instability in the region of the Nile Basin.” [UPI

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Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s heavily entrenched hypernationalism: A Blog dedicated to “Where have you seen Sisi today?”

Free Arabs: EGYPT. FOR THE LOVE OF SISI

Summary: The flagrant personality cult that Field Marshall Abdelfattah El-Sisi enjoys in his country may be the only thing he needs to be elected Egypt’s President. Never mind the thousands of deaths, imprisonment and torture he is responsible for… Many Egyptians seem to genuinely adore Egypt’s new strong man. And they show it. A very entertaining blog is dedicated to showcasing any manifestation of the El-Sisi mania in Egypt. Where Else Have You Seen Sisi Today? is a jewel of self-derision, highlighting the willingness of numerous Egyptian artists, business people, journalists and common folk to pander to whoever is in charge regardless of what they stand for.

Alfred Raouf: It is in Egypt’s best interests to end the bilateral conflict between the state and political Islam

Al Monitor: Sisi not Egypt’s civilian Messiah

Summary: It is in the military establishment’s interest to bring Egypt to a state of stability and get the economy moving forward after being stalled for the last three years. It is also in its interest to end the bilateral conflict between itself and political Islam, and turn the rudder of the conflict in a different direction. This would end the risk of a potential Turkey-like experience, which must be present in military leaders’ minds.

In light of the global and regional conflict that Egypt is in the middle of, it would behoove the military establishment to share responsibilities, especially civilian ones, with other national entities. This would free up the military to focus on rebuilding its capacities and get its internal house in order, instead of taking on full responsibility for issues such as gas and wheat. It might then only intervene in such matters as needed, at the request of the president, or if a grave national security crisis occurred. In return for its support, the civilian president would have to listen very closely and attentively to the military establishment, and not repeat the Brotherhood’s mistake, causing the armed forces’ leadership to lose its trust in him.

Sisi is not the magic pill that will save Egypt–Mina Fayek and blogger Big Pharaoh write

Open Democracy: Four reasons for throwing down a gauntlet to El Sisi

Big Pharaoh: What Can Happen If “President El-Sisi” Failed….Or Succeeded?

Summary: If El-Sisi failed to save Egypt’s economy and improve the lives of millions who have been suffering during the past three years, the masses could react in two ways. First, they could do what they did best during Mubarak’s 30 years era: do nothing. Second, the masses could start taking to the streets against the same person whom they glorify today. Judging from the past three years, it is hard to believe that Egyptians, especially the young generation, will settle down again. The genie is out of the bottle.

Security Sector

Palestinians protest closing of Gaza crossing

The Times of Israel: Egypt to Hamas: Smuggling tunnels will be shut entirely

Ahram: Palestinians protest Egypt’s closure of Gaza crossing

Al Masry Al Youm: Security forces closed all the roads leading to the city of Rafah

Summary: Hundreds of Palestinians protested Friday in front of the Rafah border crossing, demanding Egyptian authorities reopen the crossing.

“We demand the Egyptian authorities open the Gaza crossing permanently in both directions and we affirm that we won’t stop our peaceful escalation on Palestinian land until the [Israeli] siege is lifted,” said Hamad El-Rakeb, a leading member of Hamas, during the protest.

The crossing, Gaza’s only open border due to the ongoing Israeli siege of the strip, has frequently been closed by Egyptian authorities in recent months.

Egypt argues that the closures are necessary to limit possible weapons smuggling into Sinai, a troubled region with a pronounced security void.

Human Rights Watch calling for full investigation into Sinai bus bombing

HRW: Egypt: Investigate Lethal Attack on Civilians in Sinai

Summary:  Egyptian authorities should ensure a full, speedy and effective investigation into the February 16, 2014 bombing of a tourist bus in the Sinai Peninsula that killed four civilians. The investigation should lead to the identification and prosecution of those responsible for planning as well as for carrying out the attack. “Such wanton killings are never justified, no matter what the political or other purpose,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Minister of Tourism reassures German government that all touristic areas in Egypt have been secured

Aswat Masriya: Minister: Authorities confirm securing all touristic areas

Summary: Egypt’s authorities have confirmed that all touristic areas have been secured, said the Minister of Tourism.

Minister Hisham Za’zou’ expressed his hope that the German government will reconsider its warnings to German citizens to avoid the South Sinai region.

Tour operator TUI Deutschland has said it was halting trips to Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh until March 14 after Germany’s Foreign Office advised against travel to the entire Sinai Peninsula.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the operator said it has around 100 guests in the region at the moment, whom it will now bring back early from their holidays.

Egypt’s tourism ministry has previously warned against travel to North Sinai and the Egyptian-Israeli border as well as Taba.

Marginalized Groups

New Gulf housing development scheme would displace thousands in Maspero Triangle

Ahram: Residents of Maspero Triangle: We will not leave our land

Summary: According to a research conducted by Madd platform, an independent institution that works on issues related to urban development, the triangle stands on 74 feddans (77 acres) of land and is home to at least 18,000 residents.

The triangle occupies a central location overlooking the Nile Corniche — and just metres away from luxury developments that include luxury shopping malls and five-star hotels.

Last summer, families who live in the triangle were promised new houses in the neighbourhood by the government if they vacated and demolished their houses. The land would then be turned over to investors from Egypt and the Gulf, who own it. “These houses collapsed in 2008. There were children who left for school and came back to find that their houses were gone,” Mahmoud Shaaban, a member of the Maspero Association to Defend the Land and the Right for Housing, told Ahram Online. The owners of the land, along with the governorate, have imposed a ban on the restoration of houses in the triangle, and with an inability to prove ownership over the land, rebuilding is not an option.

Human Rights group condemns 5 year prison sentence of Egyptian Shiite–violation of religious freedom

EIPR: An Egyptian Shiite sentenced to five years in prison: EIPR criticizes ongoing security harassment and prosecution of Shia and demands legal guarantees for religious liberties

Summary: The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) is deeply concerned by a judgment issued by the Gamaliya Misdemeanor Court on 26 February, sentencing Amr Abdullah, an Egyptian Shiite, to five years in prison with labor on charges of blasphemy and defaming the prophet Mohamed’s companions, pursuant to Article 98(f) of the Penal Code. The EIPR criticized the ongoing prosecution of religious minorities, especially Shia Muslims, based on this flawed article, which in effect leads to citizens being tried for their religious beliefs. This violates freedom of religion, belief, opinion and expression—fundamental human rights protected by the new Constitution and international conventions ratified by Egypt.

Rights & Freedoms

US Department of State Human Rights Report on Egypt highlights human rights violations in 2013

US Dept of State: Egypt: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013

Summary: US Department of State full report. Excerpt: “The most significant human rights problems were: the removal of an elected civilian government; excessive use of force by security forces, including unlawful killings and torture; the suppression of civil liberties, including societal and government restrictions on freedom of expression and press and freedom of assembly; and military trials of civilians. Domestic and international human rights organizations reported that police tortured suspects at police stations under both the Morsy and interim governments. The interim government closed several Islamist satellite television stations and jammed three pan-Arab channels, claiming they were inciting violence. Under the Morsy government, there also were actions taken to stifle freedom of expression, with private citizens and the government bringing cases against public and media personalities for blasphemy, incitement, or insulting the president or other government figures. President Morsy withdrew complaints against media professionals that were brought by his office. A restrictive November 24 law on demonstrations requires permission to demonstrate, contains vague language listing prohibited activities, and gives the minister of interior the authority to prohibit or curtail planned demonstrations.”

7 Pro-Morsi ‘Facebook activists’ arrested for inciting people against security forces

Reuters: Egypt arrests seven pro-Mursi Facebook activists

Summary: Egyptian police detained seven men accused of using Facebook for inciting people against the security forces, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, clamping down on internet activism by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.

It said the men, aged between 21 and 43, were behind an array of Facebook sites, some of which had published the addresses of policemen. It follows the February 16 announcement of the arrest of 14 other Muslim Brotherhood activists on similar charges.

Economy

Samsung to implement plan to invest $279.3million in Ben Suef factory

Aswat Masriya: Egypt: Samsung Seeks to Increase Upper Egypt’s Project Capacity

Summary: The South Korean electronics company Samsung seeks a plan to produce eight million television screens and computer monitors through its project in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Beni Suef within the next five years, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The Korean investments in the project, located in Kom Ombo in Beni Suef, is estimated at 1.7 billion Egyptian pounds ($279.3m), said Sung Yong Hong, Manager of Samsung, Egypt.