Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 6, 2014

03/06/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

The Egyptian government approved the new presidential elections law on Thursday and referred it to interim President Adly Mansour for ratification. Egypt’s cabinet also worked on passing legislation on projects concerning gender empowerment, traffic, development, and more. [Aswat Masriya, Youm7-ar, Shorouk News-ar] Read More..

Gender & Sexuality

Qahera is a new web-based comic heroine who fights social problems affecting women in Egypt. Qahera, the Arabic word for ‘Cairo’, is on a mission to combat “misogyny and Islamophobia, among other things,” said 19-year-old comic designer Deena Mohamed, whose work is presented in Arabic and English. [Al Arabiya

Security Sector

Egypt’s government-appointed human rights organisation has announced its findings of a six-month investigation into last August’s bloody dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in, concluding that while supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi fired first, security forces on the scene responded with excessive force, “firing out of proportion” and leaving over 600 dead. [Ahram, Al JazeeraRead More..

Marginalized Groups

Since the revolution, Christians have begun participating more directly in the political process, a primary goal of the Maspero Youth Union, which celebrated its third anniversary on Wednesday (March 5). The group, formed to fight for civil rights, rejects the mostly passive role Christian Copts played before the revolution, when the church’s patriarch served as proxy for the Coptic community in all matters political. It targets younger people — a powerful force in a nation where more than half the population is under 25 — and teaches them to advocate for their rights. [Washington Post] Read More..

Rights & Freedoms

Egyptian prosecutors laid out boxes, bags and envelopes of evidence Wednesday in a dramatic showing that lasted nearly an hour but revealed almost nothing in support of a case against journalists that has inspired outrage and condemnation around the world. Egyptian-Canadian bureau chief Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Australian correspondent Peter Greste and cameraman Baher Mohamed of the Al Jazeera English satellite news network have been imprisoned in Egypt for more than two months on charges of being members of and aiding a designated terrorist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. [Washington Post, LA Times, CP24, AP, France24Read More..

Economy

Egypt’s financial regulator, as part of a broader effort to invigorate the country’s financial markets, has lifted a ban on brokerage firms and fund managers trading shares listed overseas. [Reuters, Daily Star Lebanon, Gulf Times, Gulf Daily NewsRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

Jordan, Egypt and Iraq sealed on Thursday two cooperation agreements in the fields of oil and natural gas. The first agreement provides for transferring natural gas through the Arab Gas Pipeline, while the second requires connecting the import of liquefied natural gas project to the gas tube with a link up with the Jordanian Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the National Electricity Company on the one hand and the Jordanian Egyptian FAJR company for Natural Gas Transmission and Supply on the other. [Jordan News AgencyRead More..

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Legal & Political Institutions

Morsi trial delayed while Appeals court considers replacing judges

LSE: Morsi’s trial over protester deaths suspended after recusal request

Summary: The trial of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi and 14 aides on charges of inciting protester deaths was suspended Thursday to give a superior court time to consider replacing the judges hearing the case. The suspension occurred after Mohammed al-Demati, a lawyer for one of the defendants, accused the court of bias and requested the judges step down. Al-Demati – who is defending Essam al-Erian, a senior detained leader in the Muslim Brotherhood – said one of the judges had given his opinion about the case in a recent interview on state television in violation of Egyptian law. An appeals court is to decide whether to assign the case to a new panel of judges.

Prominent Egyptian judge referred to judicial council for interfering in politics

Ahram: Complaint against prominent judge Zend referred to judicial council

Summary: Egypt’s prosecutor-general ordered on Thursday that a complaint by a group of judges directed at the head of the Judges Club, Ahmed El-Zend, be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council. The 13 judges accused El-Zend of intervening in politics, which would constitute a violation of the law on judicial powers. El-Zend had demanded that military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi form a “council of war” to deal with terrorists, acts of violence and vandalism allegedly committed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Security Sector

Analysts: Hamas ban in Egypt could push Hamas into open confrontation with Israel to “embarrass Egypt and win the sympathy of the Arab World”

Naharnet: Egypt Ban Could Push Hamas into New Fight with Israel

Channel News Asia: Egypt ban could push Hamas into new fight with Israel

Summary: An Egyptian court ban on Hamas activities could push the increasingly isolated Palestinian Islamist movement into another battle with Israel, analysts say.

The latest move marked a further deterioration in ties between Egypt and Hamas, which has close links to the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and is now the target of a sweeping crackdown by the military-installed government.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, the Egyptian authorities have destroyed hundreds of tunnels along the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which had been used to bring in fuel and construction materials, as well as weapons and ammunition.

The loss of the tunnels has deepened the economic crisis in Gaza, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006, and a senior Hamas official warned the court’s move could prompt a new confrontation with Israel.

“The situation between Egypt and Hamas has reached the point of no return,” said Mukhaimar Abu Saada, political science professor at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.

“For Hamas, the choices are extremely limited: reconciliation with (Western-backed Palestinian) President Mahmud Abbas, or open confrontation with Israel to embarrass Egypt and win the sympathy of the Arab world,” he said.

Marginalized Groups

Egyptian news website alleges Egypt to revoke citizenship of Hamas members who were granted citizenship during Morsi’s presidency

Ma’an News: Egypt to ‘revoke citizenship’ of thousands of Hamas members

Jewish Press: Egypt to Revoke Hamas Citizenships After Court Ban

Summary: Egyptian security services have started to collect information about thousands of Hamas members who were granted Egyptian citizenship during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Mursi, according to Egyptian media. Egypt’s Youm7 news website reported that Egyptian authorities plan to revoke the citizenship of 13,757 Hamas members for being “affiliated to an offshoot of the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood.” Egyptian authorities are investigating whether Hamas members have been involved in what they describe as “terrorist attacks,” adding that the prime minister has the right to revoke the citizenship of Hamas members without a court ruling if it is deemed that they endanger public security.

Rights & Freedoms

Restoring democracy in Egypt requires military staying out of politics, an end to political polarisation, and adherence to transitional justice

Guardian: Brutality, torture, rape: Egypt’s crisis will continue until military rule is dismantled

Summary: To restore democracy and bring stability the military must first stay away from politics once and for all. The best indication of this principle would be the barring of all those with military backgrounds from standing for the presidency or other senior roles. For six decades Egypt’s military has been in control of most of its political and economic life: of 27 governors, 19 are former army generals. Moreover, the chief executives of 55 of Egypt’s largest companies, which control as much as a third of the economy, are former generals.

Secondly, the political polarisation engulfing the country must be defused. This can only take place when all political parties and movements are allowed to operate freely without fear or intimidation. This necessitates the dismantling of the police state that returned last July. In addition, we need the restoration of the rule of law, civil liberties and human rights; reform of the judiciary; and an end to polarising media campaigns. All political prisoners must be released and all sham trials must end.

Finally, transitional justice must be adhered to in order to heal our society. Reconciliation efforts and independent investigations led by credible institutions must take place, and those responsible for gross violations of human rights must be brought to justice.

The EU and other democratic nations can and must help bring about such an outcome. Democracy in Egypt will not be restored until the international community takes a strong and unequivocal stand against military rule and the police state.

In solidarity with activist who was deported from Cairo airport, female activists protest at Cairo airport

Mada Masr: Activists seeking to enter Gaza face deportation from Cairo airport

AP: Activists Heading to Gaza Stuck at Egypt Airport

Ahram: Gaza-bound activists protest entry ban at Cairo airport: MENA

Summary: Dozens of Gaza-bound female activists have protested at Cairo airport after they were barred from entering the country.

A delegation of 58 activists, mostly French, arrived in Cairo on Thursday morning from Paris and planned to travel to the blockaded Palestinian enclave through the Egyptian Rafah border crossing, state news agency MENA reported.

“Only fifteen of the 58 women have been barred from leaving the airport. Six have left and the others refused to enter the country in solidarity with their banned colleagues,” an airport security official told MENA.

At least eleven women later left on flights to Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt after the French consul asked the French nationals to leave, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Economy

Foreign firms hesitant to invest in Egypt’s debt-ridden energy sector

Reuters: Egypt tries harder to stop energy firm exodus

Summary: Egypt is enhancing exploration terms and striving to repay nearly $5 billion it owes to foreign oil and gas producers as it struggles to prevent them fleeing to more promising prospects elsewhere in Africa.

Cairo needs them to expand exploration and bring new finds to production if it is to keep the lights on and avoid more civil unrest. But investors are hesitant – Egypt pays them barely enough to cover investment costs.

The costing issue has been compounded since the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak by Egypt’s inability to pay foreign firms for existing output and its decision to divert for domestic use the share of gas they normally get to export.

The crisis has left BG Group, a major investor which relies on Egypt for almost a fifth of its output, unable to meet export commitments. The British firm has said it would not invest further until more debts are paid and assurances made.

Global Telecom posts $749million loss in Quarter 4 of 2013

Reuters: Egypt’s Global Telecom posts net loss of $749 million in Q4 2013

Summary: Egypt-based international telecoms firm Global Telecom, formerly Orascom Telecom Holding, reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $749 million on Thursday, a 59 percent increase in losses on a year ago, blaming lower currency exchange rates and regulatory pressures in several countries in which it operates.

Revenues fell to $834 million from £908 million in the same period in 2012.

Foreign Relations

In wake of Gulf countries withdrawing ambassadors from Qatar, Egypt reveals that its ambassador to Qatar was recalled weeks ago

Gulf News: Egypt recalled Qatar envoy ‘weeks ago’

Summary: Egypt on Wednesday revealed that its ambassador to Qatar was recalled and has been kept in Cairo for weeks now, a disclosure made hours after three Gulf allies recalled their envoys from Doha.

“The Egyptian ambassador in Doha has been in Cairo since the beginning of February,” said spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry Badr Abdul Atti. “The decision to keep him is a political and sovereign decision due to objective reasons including (Qatar’s) continued interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs and failure to hand over Egyptians wanted [in] criminal trials,” he added in a press statement.

Earlier this year, Egypt summoned the Qatari ambassador in Cairo to protest Doha’s condemnation of a security crackdown on supporters of the deposed Islamist president Mohammad Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.