Weekly Roundup – Feb 7, 2014

02/07/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Speaking at a conference in Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi projects that if Field Marshal El-Sisi does announce his candidacy for president, “then there will be three vacant ministerial positions.” Stressing that there should be a “limited ministerial reshuffle,” El-Beblawi expands that “the current government is founded for the current transitional period; the remaining time for this government does not demand new ministers in [the] upcoming phase.” [Ahram]

An Egyptian court on Thursday accepted a prosecution appeal in the Port Said football killings case, meaning that 64 defendants in the case will be retried. The Court of Cassation also rejected nine appeals from other defendants. The case charged defendants with the murder of over 70 Ahly club football fans in February 2012 at an Egyptian league match in the city of Port Said. [Ahram]

Gender & Sexuality

Mazhar Shahin, the imam of Omar Makram Mosque, said on Facebook that he insists that husbands of women who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and practice terrorism should divorce their wives. “I do not care what others say,” he said. “Those women threaten society.” [Egypt Independent]

Women should have at least 100 of the 444 seats in the next parliament, the National Council for Women said in a statement Thursday. Representation of women should be proportionate to their weight in society and their wide-scale participation in the constitutional referendum. [Cairo Post]

The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) is contributing SEK 27m (~$4m) in support of Women’s rights in Egypt. In addition to creating 500,000 jobs for Egyptian women, the money will be put in programs to “strengthen the participation of women in politics and business, reduce genital mutilation and sexual harassment.” [Daily News Egypt]

Security Sector

Thirty suspected militants were killed and another 15 injured in a series of military airstrikes in North Sinai on Monday, the biggest operation yet in the Egyptian army’s ongoing offensive against militants in the restive peninsula. [Ahram]

A group called “Walla3” has claimed responsibility for the Friday morning bombing of a police checkpoint in Giza which killed one and injured six. Around 2 pm, the group posted on their official Facebook page that the attack was the first in a series of actions they would take against “the deep state.” [Mada Masr, Arab News, Now, Al Akhbar, BBC, Ahram]

Marginalized Groups

Journalist Hassan Hassan writes the Muslim Brotherhood is incorrectly labeled by “experts outside the region” and by “the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathisers” as a “moderate organisation.” Additionally, the MB Hassan adds, “is closer to Salafi Jihadism … than academics are ready to admit.” [The UAE National]   [Op-ed]

Rights & Freedoms

An Egyptian court on Sunday acquitted an Al Jazeera journalist and 61 other people who had been charged with a variety of offenses after being arrested in July during clashes with security forces. [BBC, LA Times, HuffPost, SMH, Ahram]

A concrete wall blocking Qasr Al-Aini street in downtown Cairo has been replaced with a gated metal barrier. The gate can be closed to prevent protesters or rioters entering streets leading to the nearby interior ministry, parliament and government headquarters. Police and military personnel removed the concrete wall on Wednesday night and erected its replacement on Thursday morning. [Ahram]

Economy

Egypt’s central bank has taken extraordinary steps to prop up its currency and curb a black market in foreign exchange – but in back alleys and money changing shops around the country, illicit dealing continues to thrive. This stubborn survival shows the limits of the economic recovery since Islamist President Mohamed Mursi was ousted last July, despite inflows of billions of dollars in aid from governments in the Gulf. [Reuters, Daily News Egypt, IOL]

Foreign Relations

The US Congress has passed legislation that allows the White House to transfer more than $1 billion in aid money to Egypt. Experts say that Washington is prioritizing Mubarak-era security arrangements over democracy. [DW]

Wael Nawara questions the motives of the recent open letter submitted to the White House by the Working Group on Egypt. He says, ‘“Western analysts always assumed, wrongly so, that Islamists would thrive because the people liked them. But when more than 20 million Egyptians go to the polls, 98.1% of whom voted for the constitution, in effect saying “No to terrorism,” the WGE is not thrilled.”[Al-Monitor]

Egypt does not want to escalate conflicts with the Gulf state of Qatar but will not remain silent if there is a “direct” interference in its domestic affairs, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia. [Al Arabiya]