Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)
Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Issue 1194, (24-30 April 2014)

Ahram Weekly


Not strongly recommended

THE EGYPTIAN Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the African Union has not yet made a decision on sending observers to monitor Egypt’s upcoming presidential elections. The statement was made in response to the Head of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Department Paul Lolo Bolus recommending earlier in the week that the commission should not send observers following discreet voting at a department meeting held after the former minister of defence Abdel- Fattah Al-Sisi decided to run for president. Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati explained that during the meeting it was suggested that observers should not be sent on the basis that those who took part in the political process after 30 June should not run in the presidential elections. Not all members agreed, however.

Abdel-Ati also said the council had decided to review the situation in Egypt in the light of a report put together by the high-level delegation headed by former Malian president Alpha Oumar Konaré, whose statements had led the Foreign Ministry to believe the AU would send observers in support of Egypt’s roadmap. Konaré’s own statements during his visit to Egypt had emphasised Egypt’s role in the black continent, adding that Africa would never give up on Egypt and that Egypt’s absence from the African Union was a common loss. Konaré had also highlighted the Egyptian public’s anger over the AU decision to freeze Egypt’s membership, calling on the AU to review its stance. In meetings with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi and Arab League Secretary Nabil Al-Arabi, Konaré had affirmed that 30 June was a revolution, not a coup d’etat.

The African Union suspended Egypt’s membership on 5 July, 2013, following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi two days earlier.

CD evidence

THE CAIRO Criminal Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing in the trial of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and 35 co-defendants for espionage to 28 April, giving it time to review eyewitness testimonies and evidence from a “technical committee” to attend the next session. Morsi and 21 defendants attended the Tuesday session; the rest of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

During last Wednesday’s court session, Morsi told the court panel trying him that the “military coup” which unseated him is destined to failure.

“I assure the Egyptian people that the coup will eventually fail and its leaders held to account,” Morsi said from a soundproof glass cage.

The defendants face charges of spying for the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizbullah, conspiring with Jihadist groups inside and outside Egypt to carry out terrorist acts and revealing top national security issues. Morsi and the defendants deny all charges, saying the accusations are politically motivated.

Bassem Youssef on hold

THE SAUDI-owned MBC Misr Channel said in a statement on its Website that Al-Bernameg, comedian Bassem Youssef’s political satire show, will not be broadcast until 30 May in order not to influence voters in the buildup to the presidential, scheduled to take place on 26 and 27 May. Youssef had earlier announced that he would take a two-week annual holiday, which was supposed to end on 9 May.

The channel said it was committed to the electoral process running smoothly, as well as respecting the process itself. The third season of Al-Bernameg resumed on 7 February on MBC Misr after being cancelled on the Egyptian Satellite Channel CBC in October 2013. The show had been suspended following complaints that Youssef, as well as mocking supporters of former army commander Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, had insulted the military. In February, Egypt’s general prosecution opened up fresh complaints accusing Youssef of insulting the Armed Forces, the will of the Egyptian people and the “symbols” of Egypt, thereby threatening the safety and stability of the country. The prosecutor referred the case to Cairo’s appeals prosecution, which is already looking into at least 30 complaints filed against Youssef since November.

Youssef was a staunch opponent of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and was influential in diverting public opinion against him and his Islamist allies.          

Protesting for protest

ON TUESDAY evening, a group of women activists staged a sit-in outside the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace, as part of a series of activities calling for the annulment of the protest law. Nourhan Hefzi, the wife of political activist Ahmed Doma, who was sentenced to three years in jail for breaking the law, said there would be a march to the palace on 26 April. Together with Doma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, both of whom were part of the 2011 Revolution, received three-year jail terms and LE50,000 fines for breaking the protest law by demonstrating outside the Shura Council without prior approval from the Interior Minisrty in December 2013.

Another prominent activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, is being tried on the same charge. Authorities say the protest law, which was passed in November 2013, was necessary to deal with Muslim Brotherhood protests, but the law has been widely criticised by local and international rights groups. The sit-in is a part of series of events against the protest law organised by the Way of the Revolution Front, an anti-military and anti-Muslim Brotherhood coalition, along with the April 6 Youth Movement and a number of other movements and political parties.

Belly dancer arrested

SECURITY forces arrested on Sunday belly dancer Sama Al-Masri, on charges of operating a satellite channel without a license. Al-Masri, who has generated controversy with her involvement in politics, has been detained for four days pending investigations. Under ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Al-Masri used to release videos in which she bluntly mocked the Islamists. Last January she launched her own channel, “Felul”, an Arabic word used to refer to figures from Mubarak’s regime. In her channel, Al-Masri ridiculed the opposition while praising the army.

The channel, reportedly broadcast from Jordan, has not been shut down and can still be seen in Egypt. Official sources say the station cannot be closed because it broadcasts from overseas and does not fall under the authority of the state-run Media Production City, where most private Egyptian TV and radio channels are based. Al-Masri was arrested together with several of the channel’s staff at her flat in Dokki district. Equipment and cameras were confiscated. Controversial lawyer Mortada Mansour, who had announced his withdrawal from the presidential race earlier in the week, had filed a lawsuit against Al-Masri, accusing her of spreading obscenity as well as libel and defamation. Following her arrest, Mansour vowed to shut down her channel.

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