This Week on TIMEP
Turkey and Egypt: Misconceptions & Missed Opportunities – By: Ziya Meral
The relationship between Turkey and Egypt has rarely been an easy one. During the British Mandate, the Turkish government found itself clashing with Egyptian authorities over the rights and entitlements of Turks living in Egypt.
To gain greater insight into the implications of the day’s events, the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) contacted one of Egypt’s foremost judicial experts. Negad el-Borai is a lawyer and human rights activist who has defendend civil society actors and activists and has been an outspoken opponent of corruption and government malfeasance.
The Politicization of Egypt’s Judiciary Amidst the “War on Terror” By: Mai El Sadany
While Egypt’s security sector and executive branch have for months been entrenched in a self-declared, politicized “war on terror” that has brought about a repressive protest law and a large-scale crackdown on most forms of opposition, decisions in three cases heard in two separate courts on April 28, 2014 reflect an undeniable willingness on the part of the judiciary to join this “war.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]
Legal & Political Institutions
An Egyptian court issued its largest mass death sentence of 683 alleged members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s top official, Mohamed Badie, was amongst those accused. None of the defendants were present for the verdict, as most have gone into hiding or fled abroad. Badie, however, is in government custody.
In a separate case, a Minya court upheld 37 death sentences out of the 529 mass death sentencing that took place in March. The remaining defendants were issued 25-year sentences and fined LE20,000. [Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Mada Masr, Global Post, NYT, Daily News Egypt, Ahram, CNN, Reuters, BBC, Daily Sabah]
The youth movement that played a large role in the ousting of former president Mohammed Morsi in 2013, the Tamarod or “Rebel” movement, will form a political party after presidential elections take place in order to run in parliamentary elections. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram]
Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi announced his electoral program in a press conference–fulfilling the goals of the Egyptian people and pursuing Egyptian economic development are Sabbahi’s electoral priorities. Sabbahi has also publicly addressed the April 6 Youth Movement ban, saying, that the ban represented a serious “departure from July 3 roadmap, the path and democratic principles chosen by the Egyptian people on 25 January and 30 June.” [Aswat Masriya, Ahram]
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.” [Ahram]
Despite Egypt’s recent initiative to repay government oil debt, the debts continued to rise at the end of March. “Arrears to foreign oil firms in Egypt reached $5.7 billion by the end of March,” Tarek El Molla, chairman of Egyptian General Petroleum Corp, said late on Tuesday. [Ahram]
The New York Times and Washington Post highlight Egypt’s energy crisis in the face of Cairo’s impending summer heat waves. Cairo has seen daily blackouts forcing businesses to shut down and lose money. Allegedly, “the government is trying to secure a floating re-gasification plant to allow the import of liquefied natural gas, with talk of obtaining it sometime in August. But industry insiders say it’s highly unlikely.” [Washington Post, NYT]
Al Jazeera’s Qatar headquarters have served Egypt with a $150million lawsuit for “damage to its media business inflicted by Cairo’s military rulers.” The lawyer handling the case has said, “Al Jazeera invested substantial sums in Egypt. The effect of this recent campaign by the military government is that this investment has been expropriated. Egypt is bound by international law to pay Al Jazeera just and effective compensation.” [Reuters, AL Jazeera]
Following Egypt’s second mass sentencing of 683 defendants, the global community spoke out. Eighteen human rights groups expressed their condemnation of the rulings in a joint statement released on Tuesday. International condemnation was led by the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom and Turkey, who all strongly condemned Monday’s rulings all expressing concerns that neither trial was conducted in line with international standards. The Egyptian government responded to international scrutiny by stating that the sentencing was conducted by an independent judiciary and that the executive branch cannot intervene in the judicial process. [Gov.UK, UN, Egypt Embassy, US Embassy, Mada Masr, Daily News Egypt]
Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid, has put a block on the recent release of $650million in military funding to Egypt in light of the recent mass death sentences. “I’m not prepared to sign off on the delivery of additional aid for the Egyptian military,” Mr. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “I’m not prepared to do that until we see convincing evidence the government is committed to the rule of law.” [NYT, Washington Post]
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]
CNN reports on the hundreds of Egyptian children who have been detained and tortured following mass protests in the summer of 2013. Many were arrested for breaking Egypt’s controversial protest law–those arrested are minors, under the age of 18. [CNN –video]
As the heavy crackdown on labor strikes continue in Ain Sokhna, where riot police fired tear gas at strikers on the Red Sea dock–several workers were injured and one was reportedly arrested. Labor groups and trade unions have denounced the crackdown in what they say is a continued campaign of heavy security crackdowns on striking laborers. [Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr]
The World Food Programme and the Bank of Alexandria are partnering to provide poor children in Beni Suef with healthy snacks to “boost their concentration and ensure their attendance at school.” Fifteen hundred children in 53 schools — with a special emphasis on girls — in addition to 6000 members of their families, will be provided with meals fortified with Vitamin A and iron. [Ahram]
Rights & Freedoms
Bassem Sabry, a highly acclaimed Egyptian activist and writer passed away on Tuesday, April 29. An outpouring of love and support has swept social media and international media, displaying the impact that Mr. Sabry had on not only Egyptians, but all supporters of Egypt’s cause. The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Vox, Huffington Post, The Atlantic Council, and many others have expressed their sentiments about Mr. Sabry in heartfelt accounts of his life and work.
The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters issued a ban on the April 6 Youth Movement on charges of “espionage” and “activities that distort Egypt’s image.” The court also shut down the movement’s headquarters, to which April 6 media director, Khaled al-Masri stated: “We are an idea, not a company. How would they ban people from assembling in coffee shops, clubs and other places?” The group plans to appeal the ban. [Daily News Egypt, Egyptian Streets, Al Jazeera, Ahram]
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]
Police stormed Alexandria University’s campus after clashes broke out between pro-Morsi supporters and university security forces. University security alleges that they could not control the violence, so police intervention was necessary. [Ahram]
A wave of violent attacks swept Egypt today. In Sinai, two suicide bombs killed one soldier and wounded several others. The attacks occurred in El Tor, with the bombers attacking a security checkpoint and civilian bus, respectively. [Reuters, Washington Post, Global Post, NYT, The Guardian] In Cairo, a third bombing killed a police officer at a traffic post near a courthouse, and wounded four other policemen. [Reuters, CNN, Gulf News, Ahram, EuroNews, Al Arabiya]