Weekly Roundup – Feb 21, 2014

02/21/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Two possible candidates for the upcoming presidential elections, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Khaled Ali, met on Thursday to discuss their campaigns. Nasserist Sabbahi announced earlier this month that he will run in the elections, expected to take place this spring. It has been said that leftist Ali will announce his candidacy soon. [Ahram, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent]

Egypt’s presidential polls delayed by political divisions and legislative disputes over a new elections law that interim President Adly Mansour still has not issued, despite a 17 February deadline. [Ahram, The Times]

Gender & Sexuality

Shahira Amin writes: “The apparent resumption of forced “virginity tests” by security forces in Egypt has dashed activists’ hopes for democratic reforms and fueled fears of a return to police brutality and abuse reminiscent of the Hosni Mubarak-era. Four women arrested in recent months for taking part in anti-military protests have said they were subjected to virginity tests by the police whilst in custody.” [CNN]

In Egypt, women who have been arrested and human rights organizations are raising their voices about the physical and psychological abuse women are subjected to in prisons, detention centers and police departments. [Al Monitor]

Security Sector

Egypt’s interior ministry will review its decision to lift the ban on fans attending matches following clashes that left 24 injured at Thursday’s Super Cup between Al Ahly and CS Sfaxien in Cairo. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, BBC Sport, Al Arabiya]

The Sinai-based Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdes claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the bombing of a tourist bus that killed three on Sunday in Taba [Mada Masr, Daily News Egypt, Jeune Afrique-fr, Ahram]

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi has said Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists. Officials say they are taking seriously a reported ultimatum by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. [BBC]

A shadowy Islamist militant group based in the remote Sinai desert is emerging as a major threat to Egypt’s stability, and there are no signs that the army-backed government has devised an effective strategy to contain it.With assassinations, suicide bombings and shootings, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has earned a spot on the global jihad map and its bloody campaign spreading across Egypt is cause for alarm in the West. [Reuters, Daily Star Lebanon]

Marginalized Groups

Head of a council bringing together Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical and Greek Orthodox churches says the churches will not back a particular presidential candidate [Ahram]

An attempt by Investment Minister Osama Saleh to end a strike by textile workers in Mahalla is unlikely to succeed, according to a labour activist. Saleh said he expected strikers to return to work at the state-owned Mahalla Spinning and Weaving Company on Wednesday. [Ahram]

Rights & Freedoms

Mai Shams al Din writes: “As the boundaries of the analogue world of network television and print journalism seem to keep tightening, journalists in Egypt are increasingly fleeing to the Internet in search of greater freedoms, either through personal blogs or more institutionalized media outlets. And with most mainstream media — whether state-run or privately owned — marching to the beat of the same drum, readers are also going online in search of diversity.” [Mada Masr]

The trial of three Al Jazeera English journalists in Egypt has been adjourned until March 5 after they appeared in court in Cairo and pleaded not guilty to all charges against them. The journalists were not granted bail.

Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohammed are accused of joining, or aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation.  After opening the trial, the Cairo court said it would hear prosecution witnesses and consider the evidence at the next hearing. Al Jazeera continues to reject the charges and is demanding the immediate release of its staff. [Al Jazeera, BBC, LA Times, CNN, Your Middle East, Mada Masr]

Economy

According to the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence , Egyptians consumers are the most concerned in the world about political stability. Twenty-one percent of Egyptians are worried about terrorism; placing Egypt as the most worried about terrorism globally despite the fact that this is an improvement from 26 percent in Q3. [Ahram]

Egypt’s army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won vast popularity by crushing the Muslim Brotherhood, but even a man seen by his followers as invincible may be unable to fix the mess in the politically sensitive energy sector. [Reuters]

Foreign Relations

Saudi Arabia will provide Egypt with $3 billion in aid soon, mostly in the form of petroleum products, to help stabilize the country’s economy. [Arab News]

US Secretary of State John Kerry, “My hope is to be able to meet with General [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi somewhere in the next days or weeks to be able to talk about Egypt, as I have in the past.” [Daily News Egypt, Ahram]