Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 17, 2014

03/17/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

A former Egyptian presidential candidate, Khaled Ali, close to the country’s youth movements said Sunday he would not take part in upcoming presidential elections, calling them a “farce” stacked in favor of Egypt’s powerful military chief. [Associated PressRead More..

Security Sector

Two policemen were killed on Monday during a security raid that targeted wanted suspects for possessing weapons. Major General Mohamed Kamal, Qena security chief, was notified over the death of First Lieutenant Mahmoud Mohamed Hanafy, 23, and Police Sergeant Ibrahim Abdel Hamid, 38, after being shot during the raid. On storming the house of the suspect, he fired heavy shots, killing the two officers. [Egypt Independent

Marginalized Groups

A wave of strikes has been sweeping Egypt for over a month, bringing some sectors to a standstill. The strike by about 38,000 public bus drivers forced authorities to use the army and the private sector to provide alternative services, costing the government over $100,000. Doctors, steel and textile workers are among those who have also carried out industrial action. [BBCRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

Egypt’s crackdown on Islamists has jailed 16,000 people over the past eight months in the country’s biggest round-up in nearly two decades, according to previously unreleased figures from security officials. Rights activists say reports of abuses in prisons are mounting, with prisoners describing systematic beatings and miserable conditions for dozens packed into tiny cells. [Associated PressRead More..

Economy

Egypt’s food subsidy bill will be 30 billion Egyptian pounds (4.31 billion US dollars) this year, an amount that is expected to remain stable in the next fiscal year that begins in July, the new supplies minister said, pledging to tackle a smuggling “mafia.” [Asharq al Awsat, Daily Star Lebanon, Gulf NewsRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

Members of the UN Human Rights Council called on Egypt and Sudan on March 14, 2014, to investigate and prosecute traffickers for kidnapping, torturing, and killing refugees in the Sinai Peninsula. The 24 countries sponsoring the German-led statement also called on both countries to identify and prosecute any security officials who may have colluded with traffickers. [HRW

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Legal & Political Institutions

Adly Mansour: “Egypt today is not the Egypt I first received”

Ahram: Egypt has come a long way since July: Interim leader

In this article: “Interim leader Adly Mansour has expressed optimism about Egypt’s future during an interview on private satellite channel CBC.

Speaking to Lamis El-Hadidi, Mansour said Egypt had progressed since the beginning of the transitional phase, but he acknowledged there were challenges ahead.

“Egypt today is not the Egypt I first received. At the beginning of transitional phase, we only had hopes and ideas and we did not know if we could realise them.”

The ratification of the constitution in January was a key milestone in the transition to democracy, he added.”

Adly Mansour: any Muslim Brotherhood member who renounced violence and gives up membership can join upcoming elections

Washington Post: Egypt leader says public opposes the Brotherhood

In this article: “Egypt’s interim leader on Sunday said that the general public opposes the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in the political process because he said it uses violence.

In a wide-ranging interview broadcast late into the night on CBC television, Adly Mansour said that any member of the Brotherhood who renounces violence and gives up membership in the group is welcomed to join the upcoming elections.”

Yahia Hamad highlights the failures of Egypt’s post-Morsi regime: economic disaster, widespread repression

Guardian: Egypt’s coup has plunged the country into catastrophe

In this article: “If only the country was maintaining some sense of social cohesion while it was being hurtled towards economic disaster, perhaps the Sisi regime could have claimed some victory. Instead, the country is hurtling towards economic disaster under the most repressive regime in the history of modern Egypt. Murder, torture, arbitrary detentions, and the confiscation of assets have all become routine. More than 23,000 are now illegally detained including hundreds of children and women; more than 4,000 have been killed while peacefully protesting. Many of those who supported the military coup are now themselves imprisoned, tortured and silenced. The latest change in the dummy government means there is now no one left that has any link to the 25 January revolution.”

Baseera poll: 51% of Egyptians are willing to vote for Sisi, 45% are undecided

Ahram: CORRECTION: 51 percent are willing to vote for El-Sisi: Baseera

CairoPost: Egyptians continue to support Sisi’s bid, but almost as many are undecided: poll

In this article: A recent survey conducted by an Egyptian polling centre says that just over half of the population would vote for army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in the country’s upcoming presidential elections.

Forty-five percent of Egyptians said they were undecided as to who they would vote for.

Regarding future turnout at polling centres, 82.5 percent said they were willing to vote in the presidential elections, while 11.8 percent said they would not vote and 5.7 percent were still undecided.

The poll, conducted by the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera), drew from a sample of 2,062 citizens from the age of 18 and above, with interviews conducted between 27 February and 4 March.

Eighty-six percent of residents from Lower Egypt said they would vote, as compared to 79 percent from Upper Egypt.

Notably, the poll shows that youth below 30 years of age have expressed a lower tendency to participate in the elections.”

Marginalized Groups

Index on censorship highlights the politicization of Egypt’s mosques by the Egyptian government

Index on Censorship: Mosques are the new battlegrounds in Egypt’s political standoff

In this article: “Amid deep polarisation and a widening crackdown on dissent in Egypt, the country’s military-backed authorities have now taken their conflict with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to a new front — houses of worship.

Egypt’s mosques have become the new battleground in the country’s political standoff, with the authorities recently introducing a set of measures to control religious discourse and silence pro-Muslim Brotherhood clerics they accuse of “mobilising anti-military protests and inciting violence”.

The latest measures include forbidding prayers in small mosques that are not under state control, and restricting sermons to graduates of Al Azhar University — Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution. In recent months, no fewer than 55,000 imams lacking such credentials, have been dismissed from their jobs.

Ministry of Religious Endowments officials defend the move, insisting it is “necessary to stop lay preachers from exploiting the pulpits to advance their political interests”. For decades, the country’s mosques and universities have been fertile ground for enrolment of Muslim Brotherhood recruits and the spread of the Islamist group’s ideology. The Muslim Brotherhood , which rose to power following former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011, was designated a terrorist organisation by authorities in December.

In another controversial move tightening the state’s grip on mosques across the country, the Ministry of Religious Endowments has unified the theme of the weekly mosque sermons preceding Friday noon prayers. Previously, Egypt’s imams or preachers were free to choose the topic of their weekly sermons but it is now the ministry that decides what the imams should preach to the millions of worshippers attending Friday prayers.”

Revisiting treatment of Christians in Egypt: are Christians being used as political pawns?

Atlantic Council: Yesterday an Enemy, Today a Friend?

In this article: “Revisiting the treatment of Christians over the years begs the question of whether Egypt has actually entered a new era of protection and concern for the community or, if Christians are being used as a political tool. More specifically, the question is whether society could have changed so drastically and quickly that Christians are now in safe hands and enjoy equal opportunities as citizens of the country. Reality leads observers to believe that while there may be a genuine focus on Christians at the present, it is part of a larger political scheme, the very same scheme that demonized the Brotherhood and may very-well backfire in the delicate social and political environment that Egypt now finds itself in. There is no better way to appear democratic than to embrace the largest Christian population in the Middle East. The question remains how long this phase will last.”

Doctor syndicate to continue to strike despite talks with PM Mahleb

Ahram: Doctors refuse Egyptian PM’s request to suspend strike

In this article: “Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has called on doctors to suspend an ongoing strike for three months so the government can study their demands and attempt to reach a solution.

Doctors and other health professionals who work in government hospitals have been holding a partial open-ended strike since last week, demanding higher wages and increased government spending on healthcare.

“Prime Minister Mahlab would like to know more about the problems of the doctors and to familiarise himself with these problems in a way that contributes to raising the standard of health systems in Egypt,” said a statement issued on Sunday night by the cabinet on behalf of the prime minister.

According to the statement, Mahlab and the health minister met with a delegation from the Doctors Syndicate on Sunday to discuss the issue.”

Rights & Freedoms

FJP journalist sentenced to 1 year in prison for opposing constitutional referendum

Ahram: Egyptian journalist gets year in prison for ‘opposing constitution’

In this article: “An Egyptian misdemeanour court sentenced a journalist who had worked for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice newspaper to a year in prison with hard labour for disturbing the peace and “opposing the constitution.”

Samah Ibrahim was apprehended by security forces while covering a rally by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi who were demonstrating against the constitution during a referendum in January. She was among nine people arrested at the rally.”

Economy

“Military Inc.” now in charge of Egypt’s economy

Today’s Zaman: Egypt’s military expands its control of the country’s economy

Washington Post: Egypt’s military expands its control of the country’s economy

In this article: “The industries owned by the military have always been a powerful force in the country’s economy, though their profits and scope have never been disclosed to the public. In the years before the 2011 revolution, the military and its businesses sometimes competed for economic policymaking power with the family oflongtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and a handful of oligarchs.

Now, experts say, the Egyptian economy is increasingly shaped by the opaque desires of the ruling generals. And the military’s business activities appear to be expanding — from the manufacture of basic items such as bottled water and furniture into larger infrastructure, energy and technology projects, analysts say.

“We’re dealing with a brand-new economy that’s now run by ‘Military Inc.,’ ” said Joshua Stacher, an Egypt expert at Kent State University who has studied the military economy.”

Egypt’s economy sees some growth in first half of fiscal year–according to Minister of Planning

Reuters: UPDATE 1-Egypt’s GDP grew 1.2 pct in first half 2013/14 – minister

In this article: “Egypt’s economy grew 1.2 percent in the first half of fiscal year 2013/14, the minister of planning said on Monday.

Ashraf al-Arabi said Egypt had spent 25 billion Egyptian pounds ($3.59 billion) of 64 billion pounds pledged in stimulus packages, with much of that money coming in aid from the United Arab Emirates.

“We aim to achieve a growth rate in the third quarter of more than 2 percent,” al-Arabi added. Egyptian gross domestic product in the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30, was up 2.1 percent.”

Number of tourists visiting Egypt drops by nearly 30% since January 2013

Mada Masr: Number of tourists down by 28.9%, says CAPMAS

In this article: “The number of tourists visiting Egypt decreased by 28.9 percent this January compared to the same period last year, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the official news agency MENA reported Monday.

CAPMAS said that 642,000 tourists visited Egypt this January, while 903,000 had been to the country in January 2013.”