Legal & Political Institutions
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies released a statement on the problematic politicization of the judiciary in Egypt, particularly concerning the recent rulings the the Urgent Matters Court, which they say “usurp[s] jurisdiction of higher courts and undermine[s] trust in justice system.” [CIHRS] Read More..
The European Union observer mission for the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt is Egypt’s chance to “assure international recognition and legitimacy for these next and important steps on the country’s military-backed road map.” [The National] Read More..
Rights & Freedoms
Presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al Sisi has expressed to journalists that they should not pressure the government for freedom of speech and other rights because it would jeopardize national security. [Press TV, AP] Read More..
The Egyptian cabinet has approved a temporary five percent tax increase for the wealthy, meaning Egyptians who earn more than one million Egyptian pounds per year, in order to provide funding for social programs. [Reuters] Read More..
University campuses in Egypt have become a hotspot for anti-government demonstrations, and Egyptian security forces have become a constant presence on campus. The government’s attempts to quash dissent on campus, is what an AUC professor describes as an attempt to “produce obedient citizens in its image who will propagate its own values.” [Atlantic Council] Read More..
Legal & Political Institutions
Sabbahi: Military is subject to civilian monitoring
The Economist: The sphinx speaks
In this article: Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi has distinguished himself from his opponent, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, in two important ways. Sabbahi has emphasized, in a four-hour long live interview, that the military is subject to civilian scrutiny, and he will “produce democratic conditions that will ensure that the Armed Forces will have no reason to be involved in politics. This is quite opposite of Sisi’s views, particularly considering Sisi’s long career in the military. Sabbahi has also announced that he will repeal the controversial protest law, and pardon all those imprisoned under the law, a move starkly different from Sisi, who believes that banning protests is a matter of national security.
Sisi challenging “religious discourse” in the Islamic world in a bid to rid of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Egypt
In this article: Presidential hopeful Abdel Fattah al Sisi, in his public campaign for presidency, has rebranded Islam in his push to rid of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Egypt. He said, “I see that the religious discourse in the entire Islamic world has cost Islam its humanity. This requires us, and for that matter all leaders, to review their positions.” Though Sisi seems to have a ‘pious’ air, he has stressed that there is no such thing as a “religious state”. Reuters writes, “as the authorities try to curb Islamist influence by tightening control over mosques, Sisi’s presidency could bring a sustained effort to reinforce state-backed, apolitical Islam, providing clerical cover for destroying his Islamist foes,”
Tamarod movement refuses to meet with new US ambassador to Egypt
In this article: A spokesman for the Tamarod campaign has reported that the group refuses to meet with a delegation from the US embassy in Cairo. The newly appointed US ambassador to Cairo asked to meet with Tamarod, but the group “refused the ambassador;s request and asked him to improve US relations with Egypt, Syria, and the Arab countries instead.”
Sisi’s supporters call him a “decisive man of action” while others are seeing “signs of a new autocrat in waiting”
In this article: Unpacking the meaning behind Abdel fattah al Sisi’s recent public remarks shows “the gruff personality that his supporters say shows he is a decisive man of action, and his opponents say are signs of a new autocrat in waiting.” Sisi has asserted many ideas about the fact that Egyptian democracy is a long-term goal and that as president he will do whatever it takes to ensure national security, which means keeping protesters and journalists in jail. “We always turn to the image of stable democracies in states that preceded us and compare them with Egypt,” said Sisi. “Applying the models of Western democracies in the case of Egypt does an injustice to Egyptians. Egyptian society still faces time before it enjoys true democracy as it should be.”
Egypt government requires that imams follow state-sanctioned sermons in an attempt to control Islamist politics
In this article: The Egyptian state has attempted to control popular friday mosque sermons by enforcing state-sanctioned theme each week which normally speak on social issues and steer clear of politics. Mosques, and friday sermons in particular, played a large role in the 2011 uprisings in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood “often used the mosques to rally supporters for marches and votes.” The government justifies its interference to assert the idea of “stability” but “critics see it as a campaign to cleanse the mosques of Islamist politics and a blatant attempt to co-opt Egypt’s most respected religious institutions.
Rights & Freedoms
Mohamed Soltan, American citizen in prison in Egypt–over 100 days on hunger strike
In this article: An American citizen who was detained in August 2013 after being shot in the arm after a forced dispersal of a protest camp. Mohammed Soltan has been on hunger strike for 100 days and has lost significant body weight in that time, forcing him to use a wheelchair. Soltan was reportedly transferred to a civilian hospital due to increased health concerns. Soltan was arrested in August 2013 during the mass protests after the military takedown of former president Morsi. He is the son of a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, but is not a member of the organization himself.
Egypt’s tourism industry trying to attract business in the Gulf and Arab countries, with the message “We Miss You”
In this article: Egypt’s flailing tourism industry is trying to reboot with a new campaign called “We’ve missed you” targeted at wealthy Gulf countries. The past three years have dealt a heavy toll on the once lively tourism industry, with one tour company operator saying they don’t expect business to pick up until 2015. Having failed at attracting business and travelers from the United States and Europe, Egypt is now focused on catering to Arab tourists, particularly in the Gulf.
New US Ambassador to Egypt, Stephen Beecroft, awaiting approval from US Senate
In this article: Stephen Beecroft has been chosen to be the first US ambassador to Cairo since Ann Patterson’s hasty departure last year. “The choice of Ambassador Stephen Beecroft comes after several weeks of visits to Washington by high-level Egyptian officials seeking a new start with the U.S. after presidential elections in the Arab nation later this month.”