Weekly Roundup – Jun2-6, 2014

06/06/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

An Egyptian court has defended its verdict of life sentences for 492 Islamists and death sentences for 37 others. This particular court, located in Minya, has come under fire recently for its frequent sentencing of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood affiliates to death and/or life sentences. [SMH]

The new parliamentary elections law, which grants approximately 80% of the parliamentary seats to individual candidates, has alienated political groups, particularly the small pro-revolutionary groups, who say the new system cuts them out, and have threatened to boycott the elections altogether. [Ahram]

The Parliamentary elections reform committee has reduced the number of seats in the House of Representatives from 600 to 540, which stipulates that 420 seats will be elected through individual seats and 120 others will be elected via the electoral list system, while 27 members will be appointed by the president. The  official spokesman of the committee said that the committee had worked on increasing the number of seats to “guarantee fair representation” but there was a “presidential desire” to reduce the number of seats. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya]

Gender & Sexuality

Shoft Ta7rosh [I Saw Harassment] has issued a letter to Egypt’s incoming president, demanding that he prioritize legislation criminalizing sexual violence against women “rather than adapting to it.” Shoft Ta7rosh sends the letter after a law on sexual harassment was recently passed, which the group criticized, saying it lacks “deterrent” penalties. [Daily News Egypt]

23 young male students were arrested in Sohag for secually harassing their female classmates during an exam. No reports have been released as of yet, concerning whether the boys will be charged under the new sexual harassment law. [AhramDaily News Egypt]

Outgoing president Adly Mansour issued one of his last presidential decrees to criminalize sexual harassment and amending existing laws that refer to sexual harassment vaguely, outlining punishments for any harasser seeking to “achieve an [unsolicited] interest of a sexual nature”. According to the law, now “any sexual hints via words, signs or acts can now result in at least six months in jail, and could carry fines between 3,000 – 5, 000 Egyptian pounds. ($420-$700)”–whether the act occurs in private or in public. [Al ArabiyaBBCGuardian]

Marginalized Groups

A group of entrepreneurs has mobilized in Egypt to try to combat the daily functional problems that the country faces due to the failure of the government to address things such as traffic congestion, garbage pileups, and power shortages. For example, Bey2ollak is a start-up mobile application that provides traffic updates, founded by Gamal El-Din Sadek. Entrepreneurism is taking off in Egypt because “entrepreneurs are in better position than established businesses to secure highly competitive investment opportunities, and he advocates government incentives like tax exemptions for startups as rewards for hiring the unemployed.” [Global Post]

The Atlantic Council highlights a “community of activists and younger voters who have seen their city more or less taken from them, their politics coopted by the older generation, and the causes they began fighting for in 2011 labeled taboo amidst the country’s mad dash for “stability” at all costs” residing in Mansoura. [Atlantic Council]

Rights & Freedoms

Recently the Interior Ministry’s plans to impose government surveillance on social media networks was leaked to Al-Watan newspaper, causing an uproar on social media. The Interior Ministry stipulated that it will “set up a monitoring instrument to deal with security risks on social media, which includes material posted that involves contempt of religion, spreading rumors, slander, inciting violence and rebellion, calling for protests and sit-ins, encouraging debauchery, and liaising with the enemy.” [Buzzfeed, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr]

The prosecution and defense teams in the Al Jazeera trial of journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste issued their final statements today. The prosecution fired a series of accusations at the journalists and the Al Jazeera network, claiming it was responsible for the “fall of Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen” and that the journalists made reports on clashes between protesters and police in order to bring down the Egyptian state and harm Egyptian unity. The prosecution then asked the judge for the maximum sentence for the three. The defense team then issue their final statements reminding the judge that the prosecution tampered with and edited video evidence, and that “nothing in the investigation proves the accusation that Mohamed Fahmy is a threat to national security.” The judge postponed the trial until June 16 for the defense to finish its statements and a verdict will be issued. [Al Jazeera, AU, Egyptian Streets]

In another case of an Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, the Cairo Criminal Court extended Elshamy’s detention until June 11. Elshamy has been detained without charge since August 2013, and his detention has been repeatedly extended without ever going to trial. He has also been on hunger strike for over 100 days, and was recently placed in solitary confinement and force fed by prison authorities. A fact finding committee that was commissioned by President Adly Mansour said that Elshamy is in good health and is not in detention for any political reasons after they allegedly visited him in jail earlier in the week. Elshamy’s family refutes these claims, asserting that Elshamy risks death and regular abuse from prison authorities. [Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, Ahram]

Vodafone, a UK-based company that has been operating in Egypt since 1998, issued a report disclosing details about wire tapping of mobile phone conversations in Egypt and other countries within its network. “The company justified publishing the information to further the debate on government surveillance systems, vowing to renew the report on an annual basis.

Moreover, Vodafone argued that the need of governments to balance the two duties of protecting the state and its citizens and securing individual privacy is the “focus of a significant global debate.” [Mada Masr, Ahram]

Security Sector

Security forces raided 10 hideouts in North Sinai and killed seven Islamist militants in the raids that were allegedly trying to attack a security convoy. The raids took place in Sheikh Zuweid and Bear Al-Abd of North Sinai. [Ahram]

Security forces prepared increased security measures across Cairo in anticipation of major protests that were called by the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated National Alliance to Support Legitimacy. The NASL called for a “revolutionary week” after Abdel Fattah al Sisi was elected president. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram, Mada Masr]

Economy

Egypt will spend 70billion EGP more than the budgeted energy subsidies in the current fiscal year. [Al Arabiya] 

Foreign Relations

After the election victory of president-elect Abdel Fattah al Sisi, the European Union has stated that it will prepare to work “closely” with Sisi to “ensure his government respects human rights and the rule of law.” [Ahram]

Saudi Arabia has offered to host a donor conference for Egypt in order to “help Egypt overcome its economic difficulty.” King Abdullah said that “any country that did not contribute to Egypt’s future despite having the ability to do so would ‘have no future place among [Saudi Arabia].’” [Reuters, Egyptian Streets]