Egypt Media Roundup – May 1, 2014

05/01/2014 . By TIMEP

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TOP STORIES

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Gender & Sexuality

A Egyptian court has handed down a sentence of one year in prison and LE10,000 fine to a Cairene man guilty of verbally sexual harassing a woman at the Dokki Metro Station. The woman reported the incident and a Cairo court found the defendant guilty “of attacking the modesty of the victim.” [Egyptian Streets]

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Rights & Freedoms

Thousands of Egyptian prisoners have been refusing to attend trials and staging hunger strikes to protest the prison conditions and “violations of justice.” In a statement issued on behalf of the prisoners by various rights groups in Egypt, it was stated that the strike spanned 90 jails and detention centers. One prisoner stated, “We have started our hunger strike now. Plus we’ve decided not to go out for exercise. We won’t be attending any court sessions, no will we stand before any prosecutors.” [Al Jazeera]

After an Egyptian court ordered the ban on the April 6 Movement, the group defied the court-order and ridiculed the government by gathering by the hundreds in defiance of Egypt’s protest law and holding up balloons, a cake, and a watermelon with the inscription “Your mother is banned.” The group says, “We are here to celebrate the ban with sarcasm because since our founding the government has been trying to ruin our image, and this is the price of struggle we have paid — from martyrs to people being jailed — not just from our movement but the whole nation,” April 6 leader Zizo Abdo told Al-Monitor. “We will continue paying this price until we get justice in this country.” Human Rights Watch has also called on the government to overturn the ban. [Al Monitor, Ahram, Global Post Read More..

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Economy

The BG Group is attributing its first quarter net losses of 8% to Egypt’s political turmoil. “In the absence of concerted action from the Egyptian government, the future of commercial operations of Egyptian LNG is increasingly at risk,” BG’s Chairman said. According to WSJ, “Political unrest in Egypt, where presidential elections are planned for later this month, have made it harder for BG to bring in the personnel and equipment needed to drill new wells at its offshore West Delta Deep Marine gas field.” [Wall Street Journal
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Marginalized Groups

As cases of the Middle East Respiratory Virus [MERS] increase in Egypt, Egyptians are encouraged to delay travel to Saudi Arabia, where the virus is most prevalent. Foreign Policy breaks down the most recent cases and the virus’ implications. [Foreign Policy, Ahram
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Legal & Political Institutions

The Presidential Election Committee has announced that it will be investigating presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi’s alleged violations of campaign procedures. They stated, “presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi was informed that he violated the presidential elections campaigning rules when he held a press conference to present his presidential programme.” [AhramRead More..

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Foreign Relations

The US has reaffirmed its commitment to encouraging Egypt’s progress to democracy, in Egypt foreign minister Nabil Fahmy’s several meetings with high-ranking officials of the US government in Washington. Fahmy expressed to NPR, commenting on the recent mass death sentences in Egypt, “[Egypt’s] judiciary is independent. We don’t comment on their cases until they finish all of the appeal process.” Fahmy went on to describe US-Egypt relations as “a marriage, its not a fling.” Fahmy’s visit comes amidst increased concerns from US legislators of human rights violations in Egypt and their reluctance to release foreign aid. [Ahram, NPR, Washington Post, LA Times]  Read More..

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MORE STORIES

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Legal & Political Institutions

 Presidential candidates Sisi and Sabbahi will not debate before elections 

Al Masry Al Youm: [AR] Sisi campaign refuses to debate with Sabbahi

Al Arabiya: Report: Sisi’s campaigners reject debate with Sabahi

In this article: Egyptian presidential candidates Abdel Fattah al Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi will not be debating prior to the elections. Sisi’s campaign has allegedly rejected calls for a debate, stating that a debate will mean they will lose 3-5million votes. Their cause for concern comes from previous presidential debates between Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, which allegedly cause the candidates to lose votes.

 Sabbahi’s electoral program: abolish anti-protest law, fight terrorism, improve agriculture, healthcare, and education 

Ahram: Terrorism, justice on top of Sabahi’s electoral programme

LA Times: Egyptian candidate vows if elected to undo law limiting protests  

In this article: Egyptian presidential hopeful has announced his electoral program, calling for abolishing the controversial anti-protest law, fighting terrorism, implementing transitional justice, improving agriculture, healthcare, and education. His slogan, “social justice, democracy, and national independence” denotes his goal of “achiev[ing] Egypt’s future hopes and rebuild[ing] it from the beginning.” In reference to abolishing the protest law, which will come as a popular choice by the opposition, if elected, Sabbahi stated, “”Among the urgent matters that I will use my legislative powers to fulfill would be eradicating the protest law and pardoning everyone who has been prosecuted as a result of it.” Sabbahi also plans to rid of the recent legislation preventing third-party appeals to government contracts.

 Steven Cook addresses the Egyptian government’s distortion of the rhetoric of “progress” 

Foreign Policy: Egypt’s War on Honest Language

In this article: Steven Cook discusses the distortion of rhetoric in the Egyptian government’s portrayal of its democratic transition. He uses examples such as Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy’s comments that Egypt’s constitution is just, saying, “Whether they relate to gender equality, freedom of expression and religion, it is an extremely progressive framework that essentially invites Egyptians to come together”–Fahmy made these comments on the same day that a death sentence was handed down to 683 Egyptians. Cook asks, “when leaders purposefully distort a political vocabulary to justify their actions and existence, what hope do Egyptians have for building a more open and just political order?” Egypt’s rejection of criticism has only led to the “persecution of an ever-expanding array of enemies.”

 NYT highlights Sabbahi’s difficulty in running against Sisi’s personality cult 

NYT: Candidate for President in Egypt Tempers His Expectations

In this article: NYT points out how presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi is already aware of his opponent, Abdel Fattah al Sisi’s popularity in Egypt, but just hopes that there will not be blatant rigging of the elections. “[Sabbahi’s] meager expectations in many ways illustrate the breakdown of Egypt’s political life since the presidential election two years ago, when an energetic six-candidate race delivered spirited public policy debates, unforeseen turns and, finally, the first fairly elected president in the nation’s modern history.” In Egypt’s 2014 presidential race, its difficult to tell whether having two candidates, as opposed to six in the last, is more or less legitimate.

Rights & Freedoms

 173 students banned from taking final exams for alleged links to on-campus violence 

Ahram: Cairo University head bans 173 student from taking final exams

In this article: The head of Cairo University has issued a ban against 173 students who were allegedly linked to violent clashes on campus. The students will not be allowed to sit their final exams, a second punishment after being suspended after an investigation “proved their involvement in clashes that have frequently taken place at the university since the start of the academic term.”

 AUC students protest peers’ jail sentences, call for AUC administrators to intervene 

Ahram: AUC students protest jail sentences for two colleagues

In this article: American University of Cairo students protested on campus after two fellow students were sentenced to five years in prison for protesting. The students, Abdel-Rahman Boghdady and Abdallah Ghandour were arrested in December for protesting against military trials and calling for release of political prisoners. The students were convicted on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, AUC students gathered in front of the university president’s office to call for administrators to intervene on behalf of Boghdady and Ghandour.

 Al Jazeera to pursue legal action against Egypt if situation does not change within six months 

Bloomberg: Al Jazeera Tries to Make Egypt Pay for Media Crackdown

In this article: Al Jazeera network has accused the Egyptian government of continuous harassment and intimidation of its journalists and has taken legal actions to pursue arbitration with an international tribunal. “Al Jazeera has invested substantial sums in Egypt since it began broadcasting in Egypt in 2001,” the network explained in a statement, “and the effect of this sustained campaign against Al Jazeera is that its investment has been expropriated.” If the matter isn’t resolved within six months, Al Jazeera will proceed with an arbitration case.

Foreign Relations

 European Union, France condemn mass sentencing in Egypt 

The Daily Star Lebanon: France slams Egypt’s mass ‘slaughter’ sentences

Ahram: France slams Egypt’s mass ‘slaughter’ sentences

Ahram: EU’s Ashton says Egypt mass death sentences breach international law

In this article: The French foreign minister has condemned Egypt’s recent death sentence verdict to 683 people. FM Fabius stated, “These sort of slaughter sentences are absolutely unacceptable…One does not build peace through mass executions. One builds peace through reconciliation, and that is true for Egypt and for all nations in the world.” The EU also released a statement criticizing the sentencing, Catherine Ashton stating that the “mass trials are clearly in a breach of international human rights law.” She also went on to explain that “the exact charges against each defendant remain unclear, the proceedings lack the most basic standards of due process, and the verdicts appear grossly disproportionate.”

 Foreign Minister Fahmy meets with Secretary of Defense Hagel and National Security Advisor Rice 

Defense.gov: Readout of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy

WhiteHouse.gov: Readout of National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s Meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Fahmy

In this article: During Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy’s visit to Washington, he met with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. With Hagel, Fahmy discussed the defense relationship between Egypt and the US and Hagel, “assured Minister Fahmy that the United States remains committed to advancing our shared security interests in the region, to include counter-terrorism, border security, and Sinai security” and “ stressed the role of political inclusiveness and dissent in the democratic process and asked Minister Fahmy to help encourage peaceful dissent by releasing activists and journalists who have been detained.” In her meeting with FM Fahmy, Susan Rice “reiterated [the US’] deep, growing concerns about recent developments in Egypt, including the mass trials and death sentences handed down this week, the continued detention of journalists and activists, and ongoing restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association.”

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