Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 25, 2014

03/25/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

The death sentence for 529 defendants, unprecedented in modern Egyptian history, came after a controversial one-day trial that casts Egypt’s military-backed government in even worse light amid its ruthless crackdown on dissent. The order Monday by a judge in Upper Egypt brought condemnation from rights groups and foreign observers in terms familiar to the aftermath of a car bomb — “indiscriminate,” “mass killing,”“grotesque,” “disaster,” “exterminationist.” Legal experts scrambled to find an instance in modern history where more executions were ordered in a single go, and came up empty. [IkhwanWeb, Al Jazeera, CNN, Atlantic Council, Ahram, TIME, NYTRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

Since her captivating appearance on popular TV talent show “Arabs Got Talent” last October, Mayam Mahmoud,  the young veiled hip-hop artist, has amassed a huge following for challenging how women in Egypt are meant to behave. Her lyrics highlight the importance of girls’ education and denounce sexual harassment of women on the streets of Egypt. “It was never about going on stage in a scarf,” says Mahmoud. “It was about going on stage and sharing a message,” she adds. “Egyptian women undergo harassment and bullying on a daily basis.” [CNNRead More..

Security Sector

The outgoing head of the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees urged Israel and Egypt on Tuesday to lift their border restrictions on the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip.

Filippo Grandi, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Organization (UNRWA), said Israel and Egypt had legitimate security concerns but that the plight of the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza should also be taken into account. “I think the world should not forget about the security of the people of Gaza,” he said. “Their security is worth the same as everybody else’s security so we appeal to the humanitarian sense of all.” [ReutersRead More..

Marginalized Groups

Leaders of the post workers strike in Alexandria were seized from their homes in dawn raids. Ismail Gabr, Haitham Uthman, Ayman Hanafi, Hani Said and Hisham Abd-al-Hamid were arrested at 1am by the police. According to the labour lawyer Mohammed Ramadan, the five men were due to be brought before prosecutors in Moharrem Bey this morning. Post workers mobilised immediately to defend their arrested colleagues, with a mass march and protest outside the main post office in Alexandria. The Alexandrian postal workers are taking part in national strike action called by the Independent Union of Post Workers, which union leaders say has seen 70 per cent of Egypt’s 52,000 postal workers walk out to demand better pay and inclusion in the national minimum wage. [MENA Solidarity Network

Rights & Freedoms

Defense lawyers in Egypt’s trial of three journalists and 17 others cross-examined prosecution witnesses Monday, grilling them over seized equipment and footage shot by the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera English that the prosecution says undermines national security. Only eight defendants, including Australian journalist Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy, were in court. Twelve, including three foreigners, are being tried in absentia. The trial was adjourned to March 31. [Star Telegram, The Daily BeastRead More..

Economy

The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation signed a €80m agreement with the French Agency for Development Monday to offer long-term credit to small and micro Egyptian businesses. The agreement will support the Egyptian Social Development Fund, a state-owned agency founded in 1991, in its mission to encourage employment and improve living conditions in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, according to a statement from the French Embassy in Cairo. [Daily News Egypt 

Foreign Relations

Global outcry surrounding the mass death sentence for 529 Egyptians amassed reactions from the Tunisian government, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights–all condemning the verdict and calling for an immediate appeal. 

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Legal & Political Institutions

Egyptian television host celebrates mass death sentence of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, saying “burn them, burn their bodies, burn their clothes”

Mada Masr: Egyptian television celebrates mass death sentence

In this article: “While the decision to hand the death sentence to 528 members of the Muslim Brotherhood on charges of storming and burning a Minya police station was met with condemnation from local and international rights watchdogs, Egyptian television had a different story to tell.

Most Egyptian satellite television channels, increasingly a mouthpiece for state institutions, particularly following the ouster of the Brotherhood from power last summer, celebrated the judiciary for the move.

Ahmad Moussa, who presents a show titled “Ala Masou’ouleyati” (On my Responsibility) at privately owned Sada al-Balad channel, opened his show with a salute to the Egyptian judiciary.

“I salute the fairness and justice of our judiciary in defiance of those killers, and all those who attack it. Egypt’s judiciary is clean and fair,” he said.

Moussa slammed human rights organizations for attacking the judiciary, saying that their job is to defend the human rights of the Muslim Brotherhood while forgetting about the people.

Responding to criticism of the death sentence being handed to hundreds in one go, he said, “May they be 10,000, 20,000, not 500. We are not sad, we are happy.”

“Burn them, burn their bodies, burn their clothes,” he continued. “The state will win under the law and not with violence,” he concluded paradoxically.”

Sisi: “Egypt is still very much on its way to building a modern democratic country”

Aswat Masriya: Sisi: Egypt still on way to building modern democratic state

In this article:“Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Tuesday that Egypt is still very much on its way to building a modern democratic country that satisfies all Egyptians and meets their demands and future aspirations.

According to a statement made by the army’s official spokesman, Sisi said that Egypt’s security and peace lie in an army that is strong, able and prepared to exert its utmost effort with devotion, sincerity and honor.

Sisi went on to say that the armed forces are faced with a great responsibility in the upcoming period, which requires high performance and spirit to confront terrorism and restore stability.

He added that the army is working hard to face the challenges and that “it can do the impossible”.

Tourism Ministry revokes 2 Sharm el Sheikh hotel licenses after reports of sexual violence ignored by hotel management

Ahram: Ministry revokes 2 Sharm hotel licenses after rape of tourist reported

In this article: “The licenses of two hotels in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh were revoked after sexual harassment cases occurring at the hotels were ignored by management, state news agency MENA reported on Tuesday.

Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou’s decision was taken against the five-star Hilton Sharks Bay Resort and the four-star Sharm Holiday Resort.

The decision comes after a holidaymaker, a British businesswoman in her 40s, told the Daily Mail she had been raped by a security guard in an unnamed five-star hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Egypt’s tourism ministry said on Monday it was investigating the alleged rape.

ZaaZou said in 2013 that the previous year the ministry discovered 3 cases of rape and 150 cases of sexual harassment in Sharm El-Sheikh alone.”

Verdict of mass trial of 682 Muslim Brotherhood members to be reached April 28–while defense lawyers boycott the trial amidst human rights condemnations

Washington Post: Egypt to rule on Islamists’ mass trial on April 28

AP: Egypt lawyers boycott new mass trial of Islamists

BBC: Egypt Muslim Brotherhood leader and 682 others on trial

Reuters: Egypt puts Muslim Brotherhood leader, 682 others on trial

Reuters: Protests over trials of Muslim Brotherhood members erupt in Alexandria

In this article: “After a single session with no defense lawyers present, an Egyptian judge said Tuesday he will issue verdicts next month in a new mass trial of 683 suspected Islamists on charges of murder and attempted murder, a day after he sentenced hundreds to death in a similar trial that raised a storm of international criticism.

The mass trials have raised deep concerns among human rights activists over the lack of due process as Egyptian authorities push swift and heavy prosecutions in their crackdown against Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Some 16,000 have been in arrested in the crackdown since the the military’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi last summer. Defense lawyers boycotted the trial that began Tuesday in the court in the city of Minya, south of Cairo, to protest the verdicts issued the day before in a separate trial. Despite the lawyer boycott, presiding judge Said Youssef went ahead with the session, hearing testimony, in what the lawyers called a violation of the law.”

Gender & Sexuality

Chairwoman of National Council for Women: Egypt has achieved little in promoting gender equality

Daily News Egypt: Egypt is falling short of UN women’s rights standards: Al-Tallawi

In this article: “Egypt has achieved little regarding the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of promoting gender equality, said National Council for Women (NCW) Chairman Mervat Al-Tallawi.

The NCW held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the outcome of their representation of Egypt at the 58th UN Commission on the Status of Women. She said that this year’s session, held from 10 to 21 March, focused on the MDGs, a set of eight international development goals established in 2000 following the UN Millennium Summit. The third goal aims to promote equality and empower women by eliminating gender disparities in education, employment and government.

“We still have a long way to go when it comes to achieving the third MDG despite [achievements made] in the 2014 constitution,” Al-Tallawi said.”

Security Sector

North Sinai: a hot spot for militancy, trafficking, smuggling– due to large security vaccuum

Jadaliyya: A Cycle of Insecurity in Egypt’s North Sinai

In this article: “Shortly after Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in July 2013 a renewed military campaign in the Sinai began, which escalated as militants responded violently to the military’s overthrow of the Islamist leader with almost daily attacks on security forces. Other areas outside North Sinai are also affected. Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based group, claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Daqahliya Security Directorate in Mansoura in December 2013, in which sixteen were killed and over 134 injured. On 16 February 2014 a bomb destroyed a bus transporting South Korean tourists in the Egyptian city of Taba in the south of the peninsula, creating fear that militants are broadening their campaign to include attacks on civilians. However, instability in North Sinai is not a new concern. The area is bound by the Camp David Agreement, which leaves the Egyptian state constrained in its ability to secure the region. Its population was marginalized from Egyptian society by the Israeli occupation from 1967 to 1982. The state’s emphasis on tourism has neglected the more populous north in favor of southern resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab. While the government has undertaken a series of other socio-economic development programs in the Sinai, these have largely promoted the settlement of Nile valley migrants, excluding the local Bedouin from the job market and further aggravating existing identity issues.

A lack of legitimate economic opportunities (over fifty percent of Sinai Bedouin live in poverty), underdevelopment, and the denial of land claims have entrenched long-standing grievances with the Egyptian government. Combining these issues with high levels of unemployment has meant that smuggling and trafficking are for many the only source of income. Within the security vacuum that has developed in North Sinai, this and other serious forms of organized crime will increase.

Rights & Freedoms

Dostour head signs petition demanding revocation of protest law

Ahram: Hala Shukrallah signs April 6 petition against protest law

In this article: “April 6 Youth Movement met with recently elected president of the liberal Constitution Party, Hala Shukrallah, in their series of meetings with political party leadership to collect signatures in objection to the current protest law, announced the movement on Tuesday. Shukrallah signed the petition demanding that the Egyptian government cancel the current protest law during her meeting with the movement’s representatives on Monday.”