Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 5, 2014

03/05/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

A government-appointed panel largely blamed supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi for the death of hundreds of people when security forces dispersed a Cairo protest camp last August, one of the bloodiest days in Egypt’s modern history. The panel placed some responsibility on security forces, saying that they did not maintain proportional use of force during the clearing operation. [Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Thomson Reuters FoundationRead More..

Gender & Sexuality

The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights criticizes the government’s poor representation of women, stating: “despite two Revolutions, for which women fought in great numbers, the proportion of women in Cabinet is only 12%. This percentage is in stark contrast to population percentages or to the contribution made by women to the country’s economic activity which stands at 30% in the formal sector and nearly 70% in the informal sector. This percentage also shows how successive governments turn a blind eye to the expertise on offer by women, consistently ignoring all economic development reports which stress that having women participate in decision-making challenges corruption and contributes to the optimal investment of resources.” [ECWR

Security Sector

A bomb hit Egypt’s reserve gas pipeline near Port Said on Wednesday morning. The improvised explosive device caused no casualties. Explosives experts have begun investigations at the site. Initial reports show the bombers placed the device near the reserve gas pipeline and not the active one, avoiding a massive explosion in the area. [AhramRead More..

Marginalized Groups

Egyptian imams are pushing back against a recent move by the military-installed government to control the theme of weekly Friday sermons calling the last move to curb Islamist dissent nakedly political. Scuffles have often broken out between pro- and anti-Morsi camps during Friday prayers, particularly when the sermon appears to favor one side over the other. But now imams have government-approved themes such as squatter settlements, the role of youth, employment and the environment. [Daily Star LebanonRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

A group of mainly al-Jazeera journalists return to court in Egypt on Wednesday for the second day of their trial on charges of spreading disinformation and abetting terrorists, a day after an Egyptian minister admitted that their incarceration was a mistake. Australian ex-BBC correspondent Peter Greste and ex-CNN producer Mohamed Fahmy are among 20 journalists accused of helping Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood and smearing Egypt’s reputation overseas, in a case that has sparked international outcry. [Guardian, BBC, Daily News Egypt, SCMP, Al JazeeraRead More..

Economy

Nine Egyptian public holding companies and their subsidiaries will soon be under an independent sovereign fund. The fund to restructure the public companies will be managed directly by the prime minister’s cabinet. [Ahram

Foreign Relations

Ethiopia is moving forward with the establishment of a new dam on the Blue Nile River. The Mandaia Dam, which is planned to have a storage capacity of over 30 billion cubic meters of water, is the latest attempt to pressure Egypt into agreeing to the establishment of the Renaissance Dam. [Mada Masr

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Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s new housing minister: Will he use his expertise to fix Egypt’s housing crisis?

Mada Masr: On the new minister of housing and the policies Egyptians deserve

Summary: Mostafa Madbuly is the fourth housing minister since January 2011, and the beginning of a revolution that called for social justice. What is important is Madbuly’s expertise in matters of urban research and planning, which his resume attests to. Much of his research reveals him to be someone who is quite knowledgeable of Egypt’s housing and urban problems, something that will come in handy no doubt when realising prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s promise that social justice would be at the forefront of his cabinet’s priorities.

When it comes to social justice and housing, no issue is more prominent than affordability. Each year the gap between house prices or rental prices and income widens. According to the cost of living aggregator, Numbeo, house prices in Egypt relative to income are more expensive than in Western Europe, double most Gulf countries, and four times more expensive than in the US.

Madbuly is well aware of all the inner workings of the land market, as his policy note on public land management tells us. So, will he be putting this knowledge towards policies that regulate the land and real estate market and curb massive price inflation?

Second on the list of issues is the production and delivery of subsidised housing. The previous Mubarak National Housing Programme’s (NHP) units mostly went to middle and upper income beneficiaries, while the rules for the current programme, the Social Housing Project (SHP) or “Million Units” — endorsed by Beblawi’s cabinet but still to be ratified — also channelled billions of pounds of investments and subsidies to the richer half of Egyptians. This is because so-called affordable mortgages require a minimum income to qualify, and this income base is currently in the middle quintile, effectively ruling out the poor and the extremely poor.

April 6th group: Sisi’s presidency will detract from Egypt’s stability and progress

Reuters: Liberal Egyptian group opposes any Sisi run for presidency

Summary: Egypt’s April 6 protest group, which helped topple Hosni Mubarak in 2011, spoke out on Wednesday against any attempt by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to seek the presidency, saying this would be divisive and destabilizing. April 6 at first backed Sisi’s removal of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, but, like some other secular groups, has since returned to its former stance opposing army-backed rule.

“The defense minister’s candidacy for the post of president of the republic would not be in the interest of the divided nation and will not achieve the objectives of the revolution,” April 6 said on its official Facebook page.

“Rather, it will increase the crisis greatly and detract from stability and desired progress,” it said.

Opposition from April 6, which helped mobilize crowds against Mubarak, but has no broad political base, seems unlikely to dent Sisi’s chances of sweeping to the presidency. No date for the election has been set.

Security Sector

Egypt’s ban of Hamas may increase tensions

J-Post: Analysis: Hamas not afraid of Egypt ban

Xinhua: Hamas ban in Egypt may complicate ties with Gaza

Summary: An Egyptian Urgent Matters Court on Tuesday ordered the seizure of Palestinian Hamas movements’ assets in the country, ahead of a final ruling. The recent ban may complicate Egypt’s already tense ties with Gaza, where the movement is based, local analysts say.

The ruling came in response to lawsuit filed to designate Hamas as a “terrorist group,” although the court stated it didn’t have the jurisdiction to do so.

“Tensions between Egypt and Hamas will accumulate,” said Hussein Haridi, a former assistant to foreign minister.

Marginalized Groups

Egyptians pay internet bills in change to protest high price for slow connection in “Internet Revolution Egypt” campaign

Al Monitor: Egyptians begin ‘Internet Revolution’

Summary: The call to object to poor Internet service in Egypt under the slogan, “We will pay with small change,” which was posted on the Internet Revolution Egypt Facebook page. Salah was not the only one who responded to the campaign, as many have posted photos on the page of themselves carrying bags of coins to pay their bills. The Internet Revolution Egypt has become very popular on Facebook. Barely one month after the campaign began, the page has over 400,000 likes. The first statement issued by the campaign read: “Internet service providers underestimate the minds of the users. … Internet in Egypt is slow, customer service is bad, the infrastructure of internet exchange points is bad and companies are giving fake offers.” Most of the Internet users in Egypt reacted to the statement and let out a cry of anger labeled the “Internet Revolution.” The main demands of this campaign are “to lower the cost of access to Internet in a way that goes in line with the income of the [average] Egyptian citizen, to improve technical support, and to abolish the service providers’ monopoly and control over the Internet.”

Rights & Freedoms

Egypt responds to US activist detained in Cairo airport claiming she was ‘denied entry’ to Gaza, ‘not detained’

Boston Herald: US activist says Egypt police assaulted her

CNN: Egypt deports U.S. anti-war activist on way to Gaza

Summary: Medea Benjamin, who co-founded the Code Pink anti-war group, said she was detained on arrival at Cairo airport Monday evening. She had planned to join a delegation of activists on a visit to the Palestinian coastal enclave this week. An official from Egypt’s Interior Ministry communications department said Benjamin had not been detained.

“She was denied entry, not detained. There’s a big difference,” Brigadier Alaa Mahmoud told CNN. “There is no legal basis to detain her.”

He said she had stated her reason for visiting as a trip to Gaza, but authorities explained to her that the crossing was closed and consequently refused to allow her to enter the country.