Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1313, (29 september - 5 October 2016)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1313, (29 september - 5 October 2016)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Plotting pessimism

THE INTERIOR Ministry has announced the arrest of 17 people accused of plotting to harm the country’s economic image, and seeking to create a “pessimistic atmosphere” by fabricating and provoking crises in order to claim that the state had failed to implement development plans.

In its video statement released on Saturday, the ministry referred to more than a dozen groups belong to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, known as the “crises cell.”

“The role of the cell [led by Muslim Brotherhood members abroad] is to find new ways to create and provoke crises through its cadres in the country,” the ministry said in a press conference.

According to the ministry, the group targeted Egypt’s economy by “claiming the state had failed in implementing its development plans”. Among the crises which the group is accused of provoking is "escalation" in the dollar crunch and the "escalation of factional demands of some workers" in various institutions, according to the ministry.

In the video statement, four of those arrested were shown confessing to having been part of the unit. Shaaban Gamil Al-Sayed, who joined the Brotherhood in 1989, was the first member who appeared in the video. "The crises cell is led by a high committee that prepares the necessary tools to implement the group’s objectives," Al-Sayed said in the video, adding that the cell's work is divided into two parts, creating a crisis, then activating it.

"The cell also has a representative in every governorate who informs the members about the situation in the area so that all provinces are aligned in activating crises," he added.

The second member, Mohamed Mustafa Kamal, said he joined the Brotherhood in 1993. Kamal confessed he was part of the group responsible for highlighting controversial topics in the media, including strikes by workers, and PhD and Master’s degree holders.

The arrest of the Brotherhood group created controversy and sarcasm in social media platforms. One social media user wrote, "We must now feel the optimistic atmosphere since the crises cell charged with spreading a pessimistic atmosphere has been arrested." Another said "one has to pretend to be happy while driving through a security checkpoint so as not to be accused of spreading pessimism".

Jail for nine policemen

A CAIRO court of misdemeanours last week sentenced nine low-ranking policemen to three years in prison for assaulting two doctors at Matariya Teaching Hospital in January. However, the verdict can be appealed. The court ordered the defendants freed on LE2,000 bail.

The incident prompted thousands of Egyptian doctors, led by the Doctors Syndicate, to hold strikes and a rare protest demanding that the policemen involved be brought to trial and the health minister be sacked. Following the strikes and pressure from the syndicate, prosecutors decided to reopen the case.

The prosecution accused the defendants of verbally and physically assaulting doctors in the hospital after a doctor conducting a medical examination on one of the policemen refused his demand to include fake injuries in the medical report.

Surveillance of social media

THE ADVISORY body for the State Council issued a report on Sunday in favour of the use of technology to monitor social media networks. In its report the authority lent its support to limited monitoring of social media by Egypt's Interior Ministry.

Though it is non-binding, the report by the State Council Commissioner’s Authority recommended that the administrative court dismiss a case challenging a Ministry of Interior decision to introduce a new security system to monitor social media. It also claimed that social media pages are used to incite violence against the state and its institutions which harms Egypt’s national security, which it said is the concern of the Ministry of Interior.

A lawsuit filed earlier this year with the Administrative Court of the State Council opposed the ministry's plans to monitor social media, claiming it violates freedoms laid out in the Egyptian constitution.

According to Marsad, Hassan Al-Azhari, a lawyer at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), said a lawsuit filed since the ministry’s decision came to light in 2014 was delayed repeatedly pending the commissioner’s authority’s report. The next court session is scheduled for 25 October.

The first official statement revealing the possibility of official monitoring of social media websites was made by former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim in 2014, in which he said it would not harm anybody's freedoms but would rather counteract the “dangers of social media.”

In press statements in June 2014, Ibrahim explained that the planned monitoring programme would aim to tackle security problems that could spread via social media and hence have an impact on the security situation.

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