Thursday, July 25, 2013

Army calls for public rallies against 'terrorism'

DW News

Egyptian army chief al-Sissi calls for public rallies against 'terrorism'


Following a bombing at a police station, Egypt's army chief has asked Egyptians to give the military a mandate to end "terrorism" threatening the country. People are supposed to take to the streets to show their support.

General Abdel-Fatah al-Sissi called on Egyptians to hold mass demonstrations at the end of the week as a sign of permission for the military to battle "violence and terrorism."

"On Friday, every honorable and honest Egyptian must come out. Come out and remind the whole world that you have a will and resolve of your own," al-Sissi said during a televised speech he was giving during a graduation ceremony at Cairo's military college. "Please, shoulder your responsibility with me, your army and the police and show your size and steadfastness in the face of what is going on," al-Sissi said.

A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood rejected the appeal to Egyptians soon after the speech.
"Your threat will not prevent millions from continuing to gather," Essam Erian wrote on Facebook, according to the news agency AFP.

The Muslim Brotherhood has accused the transitional government of targeting its members during mass demonstrations. On Wednesday, a statement on the Islamist group's website alleged that plain-clothes agents had fired live ammunition into the crowd at a pro-Morsi march, killing two people. Emergency services only confirmed one death in the incident.

Tensions have escalated as supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi become more vocal in their calls for his reinstatement and more deliberate in their rejection of the transitional government.

Violent clashes have led to the deaths of over 100 people since the Egyptian military removed the president from power.

Morsi's family has also joined the outrage felt by his supporters. On Tuesday, they threatened to seek international justice if the military continues to hold the deposed leader without charge. The ex-president disappeared completely from public view and has not even been seen by his family since his removal from power on July 3 by General al-Sissi.

Bombing was 'terrorism'

A bombing - condemned by the government as an act of terror - in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura overnight prompted al-Sissi's call for public support of military action against dissidents.

At least one person was killed when unidentified assailants detonated a bomb at a security building in Mansour, which lies about 126 kilometers (78 miles) north of the capital city, Cairo. The explosion wounded over 15 people.

"The Mansour terrorist incident will not cause Egypt's resolve to waver," he said. "Egypt has triumphed in the war against terrorism before and will win again today," presidential spokesman Ahmad al-Muslimani said in a statement early Wednesday.

The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, distanced the group from the bombing, saying its activities were "peaceful." However, Badie defended Egyptians' right to contest the removal of the ex-president.

"Our cause against the coup is fair, and we demand the return of legitimacy," the Brotherhood website quoted Badie as saying.

Morsi supporters attack Tahrir Sq. with firearms


Pro and anti-Mursi protesters clash near Cairo's Tahrir square

CAIRO (Reuters) - Supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi clashed in central Cairo on Monday, hurling stones at each other as security forces fired tear gas to try to disperse them, witnesses said.

State television said one person was killed and seven injured in the worst violence in the Egyptian capital since July 16, when seven died in confrontations.

Blood stains and broken glass littered the pavement between the dueling sides, and injured people were whisked away from the clashes on motorbikes.

State television said they had arrested seven Mursi supporters and confiscated two guns from them. A Reuters correspondent also saw two anti-Mursi activists holding homemade pistols, with the two sides shooting fireworks at each other.

A few hundred protesters backing Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood movement appeared to be trying to march on Tahrir Square, the epicenter of mass demonstrations which led Egypt's army to oust the elected Islamist leader on July 3.

"They fired on us with birdshot and pistols. They tried to overrun the square." said Tarik Sabir, 41, an employee in a petrol company, who was wounded in the thigh by birdshot.

Around 100 people have been killed in violence since the downfall of Mursi earlier this month -- most of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Monday's clashes were the latest instance of violence in and around Tahrir square, a focal point for demonstrations since mass protests there led to the downfall of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

*(Reporting By Tom Finn and Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Noah Browning; editing by Crispian Balmer)

Egypt: Sectarian attacks amid political crisis

Scant Protection As Christians Attacked in Several Cities
July 23, 2013
(New York) – Egyptian Christians have been targeted in several attacks since the military’s ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy. The authorities should urgently investigate the attacks, hold the perpetrators to account, and determine whether the police could have prevented or stopped the violence.

In the deadliest incident, on July 5, 2013, local residents brutally beat to death four Christians inside their home as police and a mob of residents surrounded the house, during a day of violence that erupted after a Muslim was found deadin Naga Hassan, a village 10 kilometers west of the city of Luxor in southern Egypt.

Local residents also wounded three others and destroyed at least 24 Christian-owned properties. Witnesses and the police told Human Rights Watch that police did not stop a 17-hour anti-Christian rampage in the village until after the men were killed. Human Rights Watch visited Luxor and Naga Hassan, and interviewed at least 20 witnesses to the violence.

“Egyptian security forces should be on high alert to prevent and halt sectarian violence in the current tense and polarized situation,” said Nadim Houry, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Egypt’s religious and political leaders should denounce the dangerous escalation of sectarian attacks.”

Since Morsy’s ouster on July 3, at least six attacks on Christians have taken place in governorates across Egypt, including Luxor, Marsa Matrouh, Minya, North Sinai, Port Said, and Qena. In many of the incidents, witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces failed to take necessary action to prevent or stop the violence. Authorities should hold accountable the people responsible for the sectarian killings and attacks on houses of worship and property, and investigate whether security forces took inadequate measures to prevent or stop the attacks, Human Rights Watch said.

In Naga Hassan, a mob surrounded the homes of two Coptic Christians after a Muslim was found dead and rumors spread that two Christian youth had killed him. The mob killed four Christians and wounded others. Only after the killings did the approximately 60 police present bring the situation under control.

In an earlier incident, on July 3, Morsy supporters looted and burned St. George’s Coptic Catholic church and al-Saleh church in the village of  Delga, in Minya, about 150 miles south of Cairo.The attacks injured eight people – Christians and Muslims – a local media outlet reported. Police and army forces did not protect St. George’s during the attack and have not been there yet, its priest said.
Christian residents of Delga told reporters that most of the Christians in the area had fled, afraid to return home and unsure whether their homes have been burned.

In separate incidents in North Sinai on July 5, 6, and 11, unidentified assailants killed three Coptic Christians, including a priest, according to a witness Human Rights Watch interviewed and to media accounts, though it was unclear whether they were targeted because of their religion.

Other apparent sectarian attacks on Christian churches since Morsy’s ouster took place in Marsa Matruh on July 3, where two witnesses told Human Rights Watch that pro-Morsy protesters attacked St. Mary’s church, set fire to a security booth outside the church, and attacked a police station there, stealing two police vehicles. In Port Said on July 9, masked men attacked St. Mina’s church, according to a local media report.

The only sectarian attack in which police appeared to have intervened effectively was in Qena, on July 5. The police used teargas when Morsy supporters attempted to attack a church, preventing the assailants from inflicting damage on the building or injuring anyone inside, according to a local media report.

Authorities in Egypt should ensure that prosecutors promptly and impartially investigate allegations of sectarian violence, whether the victims are Christian or Muslim, and bring prosecutions as appropriate, Human Rights Watch said.

The authorities should also investigate the adequacy of the police response to sectarian violence, and police officers who fail to act appropriately should be held to account.

Religious and political leaders should speak out against sectarian violence. State security forces should take measures to prevent sectarian violence, uphold the rights of religious minorities and facilitate the safe and voluntary return of people forced to flee their homes as a result of sectarian attacks.

“The Egyptian government should make ending sectarian violence a priority, or risk letting this deadly problem spiral out of control,” Houry said. “Prosecutors should thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible, including security forces, if they want to show they are capable of preventing future bloodshed.”

The Luxor Area Attack

At least 20 witnesses who spoke to Human Rights Watch agreed that problems in Naga Hassan, a village near Luxor with a large Christian minority, started at about 2 a.m. on July 5, when the body of Hassan Sidqi Hefni, a 52-year-old Muslim resident of Naga Hassan, washed up on the bank of the Nile behind a local resident’s house.

The circumstances of Hefni’s death are still unclear. Residents told Human Rights Watch that the villagers believed two young Christian men seen in the area where Hefny’s body washed up on the riverbank, Majdi Iskander, 18, and Shnouda Romani, 20, were responsible for the death.

A local resident told Human Rights Watch that he woke up at about 2 a.m. when he heard Hefni, whom he knew, crying for help. He saw Hefni in the river, and a person he could not identify pushing him under the water, while another person standing on the bank looked on. He said that it was too dark for him to see the assailants.

Angry villagers began to gather when word spread of Hefni’s death, until the crowd swelled to between 200 and 300 people. A police officer said he saw villagers chase Iskander and Romani and surround the house of Iskander’s neighbor, while other villagers attacked Christians’ homes with stones and Molotov cocktails.

Iskander tried to hide on the roof; Romani escaped. The police officer, who was standing in front of the house where Iskander hid, said that some villagers managed to enter the house between 4:30 and 5 a.m. and beat and choked Iskander until they thought he was dead.

Although 15 or 16 officers were present, they could not control the mob, he said. The police realized that Iskander was not dead. They wrapped him in a blanket and took him in a Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicle to the central Luxor hospital, in order to lead the angry residents to believe he had died, the officer said.

Iskander was immediately transferred to Assiut hospital and treated for choking wounds and internal bleeding from the beating, according to a hospital employee that Human Rights Watch interviewed. At about 10 a.m., two police trucks arrived in Naga Hassan as the mob began to disperse for Friday midday prayer.

A local priest told Human Rights Watch that he was on the phone with a police officer from the police station at the nearby township of Daba’aya from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. to find out what was happening. He then went to Naga Hassan, but the clashes seemed to have stopped and he was reassured by the presence of the two police trucks.

“I returned [to the church] smiling,” he said, “I thought it was all over.” He said that at about 5 p.m., Christian town residents began calling him again, “panic-stricken,” because mobs had again begun to form and attack their homes.

Throughout the course of the day, groups of villagers also attacked, set fire to, and looted as many as 110 Christian-owned homes in the area, causing severe damage to 24 of them, according to witnesses and an official in the prosecutor’s office. Residents of a nearby village drove by on motorcycles and shot two other Christian residents of the area at about 5 p.m., critically wounding one, Bolis Zaky Nassim, according to the official in the prosecutor’s office, a hospital admissions employee, and Nassim’s son, who witnessed the shooting.

At about 5 p.m., between 300 and 500 Muslim residents of Naga Hassan and surrounding villages began to gather and head toward Naga Hassan’s main street. At about 8 p.m., close to 50 men broke into the home of Habib Noshi Habib and brutally beat to death two of his brothers, Muharib Noshi Habib, 38, and Romani Noshi Habib, 36, and Rassem Tawadros Aqladious, 56, who were seeking safety in the house. All suffered serious head wounds among their injuries. Other men beat to death Emil Nassim Sarufeem, 41, and attacked his nephew, Milad Emil Nassim, 25, seriously wounding him, as they fled from the house.

Human Rights Watch reviewed admission records at the central Luxor Hospital which initially received the bodies and documented severe brain injuries and skull fractures to Romani Noshi Habib, who died two hours after being admitted; slash wounds, skull fractures, and internal bleeding to Emil Nassim Serufeem, who died at 7 a.m. the next morning; and severe head injuries, including open head wounds and internal bleeding, to Milad Emil Nassim, who survived the attack. Muharib Noshi Habib and Rassem Tawadros Aqladious were dead on arrival, according to the records, which did not detail their injuries.

Photographs of the bodies of the four deceased viewed by Human Rights Watch showed numerous cuts and bruises that appear to have been made by blunt objects.

Habib, Emil Nassim’s cousin, told Human Rights Watch that he hid from the attackers in an inner courtyard under a bathroom window:
I woke up at 6 a.m. to a lot of commotion. I live on Kobri al-Gaban street, the main street in Naga Hassan, next to Emil [Nassim Serupheem]. I looked outside and saw hundreds of people running by, carrying metal pipes, shovels, and knives. My cousin Rafit Fowaz, who lives on the water, called me and said that people attacked his house and were attacking other Christians’ houses. After a while things calmed down, but later in the day it all started again. I live here with Romani and Moharib, my brothers, and my friends Rassem and Emil and his nephew, Milad, also came to hide here. Girgis, our other brother, fled to Aswan with his children.

At about 8 p.m., [name withheld] broke into my house with two other men [one of whom he named]. At that point Emil and Milad escaped out the back. There were about 20 people standing in front throwing Molotov cocktails at the house, and suddenly men were streaming in, there must have been about 50 of them. I watched as several attacked Moharib. They beat him on his head and body with metal pipes and shovels. I ran and hid in the small internal courtyard, under the bathroom window. I knew when they were finished with Moharib because I heard them say, “There is no God but God.” I also heard someone from outside say, “Yalla, finish it off.” Judging from his accent he wasn’t from here.
Habib said that four police officers wearing civilian clothes refused to help the men hiding in the house to escape. “There were 13 women and 7 men in the house, and many children,” Habib said. “They took the women and the children in the police vehicles to the church, but they wouldn’t take us.”

Although as many as 60 police officers eventually arrived in Naga Hassan by around 6 p.m., they did not prevent the attackers from entering the house or bring the situation under control until after the four men had been killed. A local police officer told Human Rights Watch that the Luxor security directorate did not send more forces to the scene because of a protest taking place in front of Luxor’s local government building that day.

A senior local police officer told Human Rights Watch that they had tried to control the mob, but without success. He said that seven or eight high-ranking police officers and about 60 CSF officers from Daba’aya and Luxor shot teargas and used batons against the mob surrounding the houses, but could not control the mob until after the four men were killed. “I didn’t know what to do,” the officer told Human Rights Watch:
Put yourself in my position, and ask yourself two questions. First, do you fire live fire on those people outside? Who will be killed, the people outside or inside? Second, as a police officer, you can’t do anything without orders. What do you do if you don’t get an order that will allow you to take more action?
Maj. Khalid Mamdouh, Luxor’s director of security and the officer in charge of the police and CSF deployed in Naga Hassan on July 5, told Human Rights Watch that there was “no way” police could have controlled the situation. “These people do these things all the time, they are stupid people,” he said. “There was no reason for the police to take any special measures, it’s not [the police’s] job to stop killings, we just investigate afterward.”

Mamdouh, who said he was transferred from Cairo to the Luxor security directorate in early July, denied any sectarian dimension to the killings, and attributed the violence to the “savagery” of the people in the area. “You’ll see, come back in a month and everyone will be telling you that nothing ever happened here,” he said.

Habib said that an investigator in the Luxor prosecutor’s office briefly visited Naga Hassan the day after the attack, and he gave him the names of 18 men he saw participate in the attacks. One he identified is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Habib also said he told the prosecutor he believed police were involved in the attack, but on July 10, when the prosecutor called Habib to Luxor for another interview, the prosecutor did not question Habib about police intervention in the incident.

An official in the Luxor public prosecutor’s office, who declined to be named, told Human Rights Watch that according to the reports they received, throughout the day villagers attacked the homes of Christian residents with stones, pipes, and Molotov cocktails, damaging 24 homes, both early in the morning as villagers chased Iskander, and again between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The official told Human Rights Watch that they were investigating the murders and property destruction but did not intend to investigate security forces’ failure to contain the violence and prevent further violence, which escalated over a 17-hour period without any effective police intervention. He said that as of July 13, 10 people were suspects in the killings of the 4 men, and 4 of the 10 were in detention. Another 26 people, 12 of whom are detained pending further investigation, are suspected of participating in looting and destroying property in Christian-owned homes.

“Until now there is no probe into police behavior, and there won’t be,” the prosecution official said. “We are taking decisive measures to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, but the police were not at fault. They saved people. If they hadn’t, the whole town would have gone up in flames. There will not be any investigation into police failures, because there is no need.”

Muslim residents of Naga Hassan told Human Rights Watch that the police had failed to adequately intervene to stop clashes from escalating. “They didn’t do anything,” said Mohamed Gilani, principal of Naga Hassan’s elementary school. “We’ve got used to solving our own problems here.”

Muslim residents also told Human Rights Watch that police arrested between 45 and 50 men for the July 5 attacks, 7 of whom they held for 5 days without a detention order by prosecutors and who were then released without charge. The Muslim residents said they did not know the basis for the arrests of the men, and considered them to be “random.”

They alleged that police had used excessive force in carrying out several of the arrests. Hamdi Ali Mohamed, 29, told Human Rights Watch that police officers arrested him at 12:30 a.m. on July 6, after he got into a verbal altercation with an officer who was playing a recording of Quran verses over the village mosque’s loudspeaker at about 9:30 p.m., shortly after the four men were killed. “I told him it was provocative, and that it wasn’t the right time,” Mohamed said. “At about 11:30 p.m., three officers arrested me in the street – two to hold my arms, and one to beat me. My gallabaya [traditional long shirt] still has blood stains on it from the beating.”

Mohamed Abdel-Mohsen, 32, told Human Rights Watch that police broke into his house at 1:30 a.m. on July 6, while he and his two brothers, Mahmoud, 28, and Ahmed, 31 were sleeping. He said police beat his brothers and arrested them. “They kicked in the door, and broke all the lights in the house, yelling insults at my brothers the whole time,” Abdel-Mohsen said. “They handcuffed them and beat them with clubs and shoes, then took them into the street and beat them more there.” He said his brothers were being detained, pending investigation, in the Awameya police station.

Another village resident who declined to be named said he saw police officers beat Mohamed Bughdadi Rashad, 28, on the side of his head with a gun as he arrested him.

After the attacks on July 5, many of Naga Hassan’s Christians fled the town. Priests at a church in Daba’aya told Human Rights Watch that 40 Christian families sought refuge in the church. Of these, 10 families are still in the church, some because their homes are destroyed and uninhabitable, and others because they are afraid to return out of fear of reprisals.

The Minya Area Attack

On July 3, Morsy supporters looted and burned St. George’s Coptic Catholic church and al-Saleh church in the village of Delga, in Minya, about 150 miles south of Cairo.The attacks injured eight people – Christians and Muslims – a local media outlet, al-Masry al-Youm, reported.

Father Ayoub Youssef of St. George’s church told Human Rights Watch that on July 2, a group of Morsy supporters gathered close to the church shouting anti-Christian slogans. “They were shouting, ‘Islamic! Islamic! Egypt is Islamic, despite what the Christians want!’ and ‘Christians are against the revolutionaries!’” Youssef said.

The following day, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi announced on television the removal of Morsy from power. Al-Sissi was flanked by Egyptian political and religious leaders including the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros. Youssef said that immediately following al-Sissi’s declaration,Morsy supporters attacked and looted the church and then set it on fire:
Five minutes after the army’s statement, and once Pope Towadros started to talk, a group of more than 500 people attacked the three-story building. I live on the third floor. They were chanting “Sissi, Morsy is my president!” They looted the place taking everything in the nursery, gift shop, and library. They even took the water pump, the lamps, the electrical wires. They completely looted the place and then they set it ablaze.
Youssef said that later that evening he went to the police station to file a report. When he returned home he found that his apartment above the church had been robbed. “They took my personal belongings and my books and everything,” he said. “And what they couldn’t take, they vandalized. That night, they also looted the church and raided the homes of seven or eight Copts.”

He told Human Rights Watch that one of the Coptic houses raided on July 3 was threateningly daubed with the words, “This is the house of Talayfas,” the name of a Coptic family in Delga. Tharwat Bekhit, a local Coptic lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that mobs also looted 12 Coptic-owned shops, including gold shops and stationery and grocery stores.

Police and army forces did not protect the church during the attack and have not been there yet, Youssef said, despite his repeated calls for protection. Prosecutors have apparently not yet begun to investigate. “The few officers who were protecting the church left as soon as the crowds approached,” he said. “I called the police, the military, anyone I could possibly reach, but no one has yet come to help.”

Bekhit told Human Rights Watch that the same group of people who attacked St. George’s shot at al-Saleh Church, but that no one was injured.

Christian residents of Delga told al-Masry al-Youm that most of the Christians in the area had fled, afraid to return home and unsure whether their homes have been burned.

Other Attacks on Christians

In separate incidents in North Sinai on July 5, 6, and 11, unidentified assailants killed three Coptic Christians, though it was unclear whether they were targeted because of their religion. Unidentified armed men kidnapped Magdy Lamei Sama'ei, a Christian salesman of power tools on July 5 in Sheikh Zuwaid city, near North Sinai’s border with the Gaza Strip. On July 11, Lamei’s body was found decapitated in a graveyard in Sheikh Zuweid after kidnappers demanded a ransom equivalent to US$70,000.

On July 11, security sources reported the killing of another Christian merchant, 60-year-old Magdy Habashi, abducted by unidentified gunmen on July 6 in Sheikh Zuwaid. His decapitated body was later found in a cemetery.

And on the afternoon of July 6 in Arish, three masked gunmen repeatedly and fatally shot Father Mina Aboud, a Coptic priest, as he was driving by an outdoor market.

A woman who lives in an apartment just above where the shooting occurred, told Human Rights Watch:
On July 6, at 1:30 or 2 p.m. I heard gunshots, so I ran to the balcony to see what was happening. I saw a white Verna car passing a gray car and blocking the way. Two masked men got out of the [Verna] car and were shooting at the [gray] car. Another masked man was standing by. They opened the gray car’s door and shot the man inside, then threw him out, took his car and left. I screamed from the balcony and people started gathering around the body. I went downstairs and I saw him lying on the ground. [I saw where he] was shot in the neck, chest, and leg. It all took less than 10 minutes.
Other apparent sectarian attacks on Christian churches since Morsy’s ouster took place in Marsa Matruh in the north west of Egypt, on July 3, where pro-Morsy protesters attack St. Mary’s church, set fire to a security booth outside the church, and attacked a police station in al-Dabaa, a neighborhood in Marsa Matruh, stealing two police vehicles. In the Suez Canal city of Port Said on July 9, masked men attacked St. Mina’s church. The police were responsive to a sectarian attack in Qena, in southern Egypt, on July 5, intervening with teargas when Morsy supporters attempted to attack a church, preventing the assailants from inflicting damage on the building or injuring anyone inside.

Unions & syndicates divided over Morsi’s ouster

Mada Masr
And where do the workers stand? Syndicates, unions divided over Morsi’s ouster

July 15, 2013

Jano Charbel

Since the events of June 30, divisive fault lines have emerged within the country’s trade unions and professional syndicates, with leading members of these associations taking sides with the new ruling elites or former President Mohamed Morsi’s ousted regime.

Unions and syndicates have been brought to the forefront of this ongoing conflict, as their leadership, loyalties and politics all come under question.

On July 2, a call for a general strike against the Morsi regime issued by the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) failed to materialize. EFITU’s presidency has since expressed support for the new ruling elites, endorsed by the military council.

On the other hand, prior to and since Morsi’s ouster on July 3, a number of syndicates have moved to show their support for the Islamist president.

Before Morsi’s ascent to power, the Muslim Brotherhood had a negligible presence within Egypt’s blue-collar labor unions, but was tremendously influential within the white-collar professional syndicates.

The Brotherhood has historically maintained a strong presence in the Doctors, Dentists, Pharmacists, Veterinarians, Lawyers, Engineers and Teachers Syndicates, winning elections in many of these associations and controlling their boards.

Now, having lost control of the executive and legislative branches of the state, the Brotherhood is resorting to its historic base of power, and, perhaps, their last remaining political refuge — the professional syndicates.

According to Amr al-Shoura of the independent Doctors Without Rights group, the Federation of Professional Syndicates — consisting of some 18 associations — “and especially the Doctors and Pharmacists Syndicates have been and still are actively mobilizing their forces against the June 30 movement, and in support of Morsi.”

Shoura pointed to the bloody events of July 8, where more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters were shot dead by military forces and hundreds of others were injured outside the Republican Guard headquarters, where the ousted president was reportedly being detained.

The following day, a press conference was held at the Doctors Syndicate, where members of the Brotherhood-controlled Doctors for Egypt group announced the formation of a fact finding committee to investigate what it called a “massacre.”

According to Brotherhood sources, at least 85 protesters were shot dead in the incident and more than 1,000 were injured — nearly all of whom were Morsi supporters. According to the Republican Guards and Ministry of Health, though, only 52 were killed and over 200 injured in the incident, including both security forces and protesters.

Independent investigations conducted by the Doctors Without Rights group suggest that “the actual number of casualties may be somewhere between the figures issued by both the Brotherhood and the Ministry of Health. The number of fatalities could be subject to increase,” Shoura says.

He adds that both sides of the conflict were involved in deliberate misinformation campaigns.

“Brotherhood members screened photos and videos during their press conference at the syndicate in which they claimed that women and minors were killed in these clashes. This has proven to be misleading and untrue,” asserts Shoura. Images of dead women and children from the Syrian civil war were allegedly used as Brotherhood propaganda claiming that they were killed by Egyptian security forces.

On the other hand, a media blackout appears to have been imposed on many hospitals who received casualties from these clashes.

“While we strongly denounce the violence and bloodshed, we are wary of the politicized news and statistics coming from both the Brotherhood side and the army’s side,” Shoura adds.

The Doctors Syndicate has announced that it would provide LE5,000 to the families of each of those “martyred” by the Republican Guards.

According to Brotherhood member Abdallah al-Keryoni, the Republican Guards clashes necessitated an intervention by the syndicate.

“Two doctors were shot dead by Republican Guards, another nine were injured after having been shot with live ammunition, and several other doctors were arrested during these events,” he alleges.

“The function of the Doctors Syndicate is to support physicians and to stand up for their human rights. The syndicate is supposed to engage itself in political issues pertaining to health care and doctors’ rights nationwide,” Keryoni says.

Doctors Syndicate President Khairi Abdel Dayyem is careful to note that the syndicate has no political position on the situation. “The syndicate takes no official stance regarding the events of June 30,” he states.

Abdel Dayyem, a member of the Brotherhood-dominated Doctors for Egypt coalition, angrily seeks to distance himself from the Islamist group. He insists that he is an independent figure, and not a Brotherhood member.

“The syndicate does not take political stances,” he loudly asserts while speaking to Mada Masr. “Every syndicate member has their own political position.”

Syndicate actions, however, are entertained by the Brotherhood as a possible tool of pressure. Keryoni notes that the Brotherhood is “deliberating whether or not it should resort to syndicate strikes as part of their campaign of resistance against this military coup.

“This must be a decision taken by the syndicate’s general assembly. The idea of strikes has been proposed, but our position has not yet been determined.”

The Brotherhood-dominated syndicate councils opposed a series of strikes spearheaded by independent and opposition doctors from May 2011 to March 2013.

In the longer term, Keryoni explains that the Brotherhood is still studying its position as to whether it will boycott or participate in upcoming syndicate elections.

Meanwhile, a physician from Doctors Without Rights who asked to remain anonymous says, “We will seek to purge our general and branch syndicates of the Brotherhood’s control. We are discussing the possibility of holding early syndicate elections in order to oust those who have obstructed our freedoms and have deprived the Egyptian people of their rights to proper medical attention and a sufficient health care budget.”

Doctors Without Rights has repeatedly sought to raise the health care allocation in the national budget from its present figure of less than 4 percent up to 15 percent.

And the anti-Brotherhood sentiment at some levels of the syndicate is translating itself beyond the scope of elections.

According to Shoura, a recent initiative launched by anti-Brotherhood doctors in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, called Rebellion of Doctors, seeks to purge elements loyal to this Islamist group from their branch syndicate by calling for early elections to unseat Morsi loyalists.

This initiative is said to be inspired by the Tamarod petition campaign that claims to have collected 22 million signatures demanding Morsi’s ouster and early presidential elections, which sparked the massive June 30 protests that ultimately led to his downfall.

A spin-off campaign called Tamarod Fayoum has similarly sought to purge the Teachers Syndicate of the Brotherhood’s presence by collecting signatures and demanding early elections.

Similarly, on Sunday, the Popular National Alliance was established with 15 different professional syndicates and associations with the aim of "defending the gains of the January 25 and June 30 revolutions, and supporting the political road-map announced by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces."

Chief figures within the alliance include head of the Lawyers Syndicate Sameh Ashour, former Supreme Constitutional Court Vice President Tahani al-Gebali and writer Mohamed Salmawi.

Several different unions and syndicates participated in the mass protests of June 30, took part in anti-Morsi marches, and pitched their tents in squares and protest sites across the country. Nevertheless, conflicts have emerged even within the ranks of those associations that stood up against the Morsi regime.

A call for a general strike among transport workers was issued on July 2 by the EFITU and circulated online. This call was issued in light of “the failure in realizing the objectives of the January 25 revolution — bread, freedom and social justice.”

But this general strike never got off the ground.

The invitation to strike had underlined that workers should utilize their weapon of work stoppage against “the creeping Brotherhoodization of the labor and trade union movements being facilitated through the office of the minister of manpower,” wrote the Brotherhood’s Khaled al-Azhary. 

Both Morsi and Azhary were accused of attempting to coopt the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) and bringing it under the Brotherhood’s sway.

Shortly after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces deposed Morsi on July 3, the presidency of the EFITU issued a statement praising the Armed Forces and their role in the “June 30 revolution,” while also calling on workers to forfeit their right to strike. EFITU President Kamal Abu Eita wrote that “workers who were champions of the strike under the previous regime should now become champions of production.”

But Abu Eita, named the new minister of manpower on Monday by interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, isn’t the only representative of the independent unions movement.

On July 10, EFITU council member Fatma Ramadan issued a rebuttal to Abu Eita’s statement. Ramadan insisted that “Egypt’s workers must never sacrifice their right to strike.”

Ramadan told Mada Masr that Abu Eita unilaterally issued his statement without conferring with other EFITU council members.

“As a union federation our role must be to uphold all workers’ rights, including the right to strike. Workers can reclaim their rights and freedoms only if they retain their right to strike — as a weapon by which to confront labor violations and employers’ abuses,” Ramadan says. “As unionists, we cannot possibly call on workers to protect the interests of businessmen by forfeiting labor rights under the pretext of bolstering the national economy.”

Ramadan views the June 30 movement as “an uprising-turned-coup. It lacks both a unified leadership and clear aims. SCAF, along with right-wing elements and remnants of the Mubarak regime, appear to be taking over this movement, and may turn June 30 from an uprising to a counter-revolution.”

Egypt: Media embraces army propaganda

Associated Press

Publishers support crackdown on Brotherhood after promises of press freedom fail to emerge

Egyptian media embrace military

Paul Schemm 

When autocrat Hosni Mubarak fell after popular protests in 2011, journalist Sabah Hamamou hoped for change at her newspaper, Al-Ahram, the state-owned media flagship with an editorial line firmly controlled by the regime.

Hamamou and some of her fellow journalists held demonstrations, issued petitions and pressed editors for the paper to break from state dictates and adopt independent, objective coverage.

Change never came. First, the military rulers who took over after Mubarak tightly controlled the paper. Once Mohammed Morsi became president, his Muslim Brotherhood stepped in and pushed coverage their direction.

“What happened was they just put in their people in Al-Ahram and other state institutions, and nobody tried to reform the institutions themselves,” Hamamou said. “The saying goes if you are confused about who is ruling Egypt, just look at the headlines of Al-Ahram.”

Now Hamamou is dismayed to see the paper and other state media unquestionably embracing the military after its coup that ousted Morsi on July 3, following protests by millions around the country demanding his removal.

It’s not only state media. Independent TV stations and newspapers have also enthusiastically backed the military and its crackdown on the Brotherhood, which included shutting down four Islamist TV stations.

Their full-throated support reflects how convinced they became over Morsi’s year that the Brotherhood were fundamentally anti-democratic and intertwined with violent extremists.

Independent stations thrived after Mubarak’s fall, usually touting their advocacy for democratic principles. Many, including several owned by wealthy opponents of the Islamists, were deeply critical of Morsi. They raised the alarm over signs of the Brotherhood monopolizing power, infringements of press freedoms and civil liberties, violent hate speech from his hardline allies — and over the killing of protesters by police under his administration.

In recent days, however, they have been uncritical of acts by the military.

After more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters were shot to death by security forces in clashes last week, a star announcer on independent CBC TV, Lamis Hadidi — once a spokeswoman for Mubarak’s 2005 re-election campaign — cautioned viewers not to think of the dead as “martyrs.”

Instead, she blamed the Islamists for “a new Brotherhood massacre.”

Egypt’s media landscape has long been sharply partisan. The Brotherhood’s TV station and others run by their ultraconservative Islamist allies — now off the air — were whole-heartedly in Morsi’s camp.

In recent weeks, the Brotherhood’s party has posted pictures of children killed in Syria’s civil war, presenting them as Egyptian Brotherhood dead.

Al-Jazeera TV, owned by Brotherhood ally Qatar, was also accused of strongly pro-Morsi coverage. Since protests against him began, the station has covered mass rallies in his support more extensively than those against him — the mirror image of some anti-Morsi stations’ coverage. Six staffers quit, accusing it of bias.

“At the end of the day, as much as journalism is supposed to be about a lack of bias, the opinion journalism model has taken over the media,” said Mahmoud Salem, an Egyptian writer and political analyst — and sharp critic of the Brotherhood. “Everyone wants to be a cheerleader for his or her team.”

Now that has turned into lashing out at the other team as well.

During a military news conference last week, a journalist from the state news agency stood up and demanded Al-Jazeera reporters be excluded.The station’s reporters walked out to chants of “Out! Out!” from others in the crowd. They also applauded repeatedly in reaction to the military spokesman’s statements.

Earlier, security forces raided the offices of the local Al-Jazeera affiliate, detaining its staff briefly and holding its manager and chief engineer for several days. On Friday, Al-Jazeera reported that a correspondent and a three-member camera team were detained by the military while filming in the city of Suez and were being questioned.

A senior police official late last week also ordered The Associated Press to stop providing the station live television footage from Tahrir Square.

The AP dispatched two executives to Cairo to protest the suppression. After a series of meetings with senior government officials, who stressed the shutdown was not official government policy, the AP live video service to Al-Jazeera was restored Wednesday.

In a statement, Al-Jazeera said it was being targeted by a “crackdown on information” and denied bias.
“We’ve always given all sides of opinion airtime on Al-Jazeera, it’s our mantra,” it said. “Large sections of the Egyptian media object to this open-minded ethos.”

Atlanta-based CNN has also come under criticism and its journalists have been harassed because many in the anti-Morsi camp accused it of a pro-Brotherhood bias after it called his ouster a coup. Protesters have carried signs against the network in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“What specifically brought attention to CNN is that we called this a coup early on,” said Tony Maddox, director of CNN International. “Some people don’t want it described as that, but I’m afraid that is what it is and we will call it as we see it.”

Lina Atallah, editor-in-chief of a new online news site Mada Masr, said there was increased pressure on journalists to toe the line. She pointed to coverage of the protester killings last week, which repeated the military’s version of the violence with few independent witness accounts.

“What’s scary about this time around in the media performance is that there is much more agenda-setting from above,” she said.

Media emphasizing independent reporting struggle for funding in a landscape dominated by outlets owned by the state or by well-funded movements like the Islamists or by businessmen with an agenda.

Mada Masr is one attempt to create such an outlet, founded by a group of young journalists.

Publisher Hisham Kassem is attempting another, with his plans for a new independent daily, Al-Gomhouriya Al-Gadida, or the New Republic.

He said he has to fend off offers from old regime sympathizers on one hand and Brotherhood members on the other to buy it up and use it as a platform for their views.

During Mubarak’s last years in power, Kassem helmed Al-Masry Al-Youm, one of the first independent papers that avoided the sycophancy of the state press and the unreliable shrillness of opposition party newspapers.

In state media such as Al-Ahram, the ruler of the day stocked the paper with loyalists to keep it in line. Under Mubarak, Al-Ahram’s chief was a close associate of the president. State security often weighed in on its and state TV’s coverage. Al-Ahram’s newsroom was notorious for nepotism and favoritism and was influenced by the interests of the sprawling Al-Ahram conglomerate, which includes a large advertising agency.

Hamamou, a 20-year veteran at Al-Ahram and a reporter for the economic section, said she has been appalled by the unprofessionalism.

“There are no lines between editorial and advertising pages,” the 38-year-old said. “According to the documents we got after the revolution, many journalists got commissions (to write pieces) from the advertising department — it’s against journalism ethics.”

With Morsi’s inauguration and a freely elected president in place, many in the staff expected reform.
They were disappointed when the Brotherhood appointed a new chief editor they said had little experience, who turned coverage in the Islamists’ favor.

Younger journalists staged a sit-in, complete with a tent, in the paper’s lobby and demanded his removal.
The new editor, Abdel-Nasser Salama, fired some reformists appointed since Mubarak’s fall and brought back editors who had been pushed into retirement.

Still, the Brotherhood was less successful than the military in dominating the state media. There were flashes of resistance. In one case, a presenter on state TV ended his newscast by sarcastically thanking the presidency for providing the material. Another pulled out a shroud on air and pronounced she was ready to die rather than obey Brotherhood directives.

With the military now in charge, these qualms have disappeared and state media resumed lockstep support for those in charge.

Al-Ahram editors saw the direction the wind was blowing even before Morsi’s exit. On July 1, the day after the first massive rallies against the president, the paper’s front-page blared, “Morsi: Quit or be Forced to Quit.”

Hammamo and other staffers saw that as a sure sign that the military, about to make its move, had told the paper’s management to fall into line.

“The editor-in-chief wouldn’t have put this if he didn’t have direct information,” she said.

“It is human nature,” she said. “They will be with whoever is the winner.”

*Photo courtesy of AP

How Egypt' Brotherhood manipulate media

Revealed: How Egyptian Islamists are manipulating the media

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Nada Altuwaijri

The Muslim Brotherhood has been accused of gross distortions of the truth in its TV and social-media broadcasts, with some of its messages constituting what one commentator called “a big lie.”

Both mainstream media and social channels like Facebook and Twitter became battlegrounds between opposing sides in the unrest that led up to the ouster of Egypt’s Mohammad Mursi.

Critics point to the distortions of the truth made by Muslim Brotherhood-linked media, while accusations of bias have been leveled against Al Jazeera, just as others have attacked channels such as Al Arabiya and CNN for their coverage.

In one of the most brazen and alarming cases, the Facebook page of Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) - the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood - displayed images of children killed in Syria claiming they were victims of the recent unrest in Egypt.

Gamal Zayda, managing editor of the Al Ahram newspaper in Egypt, said that the Muslim Brotherhood used some images to “benefit their cause.”

“The Muslim brothers know the importance of the image in the western media; they use it to seek sympathy,” he told Al Arabiya.

The Muslim Brotherhood Facebook page also featured a picture of Egyptian football player Mohammad Abu Trika, apparently leading a demonstration against the military council in Cairo. Yet Abu Trika was pictured wearing winter clothes, in what turned out to be older footage that was passed off as being current.

“It was a big lie”, said Zayda.

In another case, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official website last week posted an article claiming that the new interim president Adly Mansour is secretly Jewish. It also made other unfounded allegations about him, such as Mansour being part of a conspiracy to appoint Mohammed ElBaradei, the former U.N. official and opposition figure, as president, according to Foreign Policy.

The article – later removed from the website – “suggests that some elements of the Muslim Brotherhood may be indulging in conspiracy theories”, the Washington Post said.

Zayda alleged that the Muslim Brotherhood had recruited young people to criticize him and others via the internet.

“Every column I write I receive tons of emails from Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood members] insulting me; they try very hard to use the social media to portray a negative image and to destroy their political rivals; unfortunately for them the media in Egypt is wider than that,” he said.

Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Mursi TV channels have also been accused of bias.

At least three Islamist TV stations – including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt 25 channel, as well as al-Hafiz and al-Nas – were forced off air by the army in the hours after Mursi was overthrown.

Author and journalist Abdel Latif el-Menawy, who was head of the Egypt News Center under ex-president Hosni Mubarak, said such channels lacked balanced and had helped stir tensions.

“These channels were not dealing in a proper way,” el-Menawy told Al Arabiya. “They were tools in a fight. They were completely biased. [They were] creating hatred between Muslims and Christians, even between Muslims and Muslims.”

Press freedom groups Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists slammed the army’s move to close the TV stations, saying it constituted a threat to free speech.

Yet while el-Menawy said he was “against any action that threatens the free media”, he pointed out that “difficult circumstances” sometimes called for such measures.

Allowing the channels to start broadcasting again, and then dealing with any transgressions through proper legal channels is the best way forward, el-Menawy added. “They should get these channels to work again, and deal with them legally,” he said.

During their heyday under Mursi, the Islamist channels were known for hosting guests that made wild accusations against public figures.

In June the presenter of a popular TV talk show on the Brotherhood’s Egypt 25 channel accused several popular figures in the Egyptian media of apostasy and of links to the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Nourdeddin Abdel Hafiz even leveled accusations against Amr Mousa, saying the former presidential candidate worked for a “Zionist company” along with other remnants of the old regime.

The Al-Hafiz channel also hosted Mahmoud Shaban, a prominent Islamic professor from Al-Azhar university, who attacked the popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef.

Youssef had mocked Shaban on his own show, after the professor apparently refused to be interviewed by a female TV anchor. On al-Hafiz, Shaban responded to Youssef, calling him a “ribald” and “hypocrite”. He alleged that Youssef received funding from Christian groups.

“If you are a man as you claim to be, and I doubt that, I challenge you to attack the Pope or any Christian figure… but you get paid by them and their associates, who manage your channel [CBC] through their advertisements and money,” Shaban said in his angry response to Youssef.

Mainstream media channels such as Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera have also been subject to criticism during the recent events in Egypt.

Several Al Jazeera employees in Egypt quit their jobs amid concern over the channel’s alleged bias towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its coverage of Egypt, with some media reports putting the number at 22. A source at Al Jazeera told Al Arabiya however that number is “considerably too high”.

A media expert with access to Al Jazeera’s newsroom said that the station’s alleged pro-Brotherhood stance is being associated with its Qatari backers.

“The problem is Al Jazeera has recently cemented its position as being an instrument of the Qatari government, people associate it with the Qatari leadership,” the media expert told Al Arabiya. “While it is true a lot of people are angry with Al Jazeera’s pro-Brotherhood coverage, many more are really just angry at Qatar as they feel that nothing has changed with the abdication of the Emir [Sheikh Hamad] who is still ruling from behind the scenes.”

Al Jazeera fiercely denies its coverage lacks balance, and said yesterday in a statement that the channel covers “all angles of events in Egypt with balance and integrity.”

However, in the following video, Al Jazeera’s television presenter and interviewer Ahmad Mansour calls for a counter uprising to the June 30 revolution. The slogan of the anticipated events, Mansour says, should be the Jan. 25 revolution, and not reinstating ousted president Mursi.

Egypt: Do Not Return Asylum Seekers to Syria

Egypt: Do Not Return Asylum Seekers to Syria 
Syrians Summarily Returned; Registered Asylum Seekers Denied Reentry
July 10, 2013

(New York) – Egypt should allow those fleeing Syria full access to the UN refugee agency to have their asylum claims properly examined, and should also allow Syrians already registered with the UN body to reenter the country after periods abroad, Human Rights Watch said today.

Without prior warning, on July 8, the Egyptian government changed its entry policy for Syrians arriving in Egypt by requiring them to obtain a visa and security clearance before arriving in the country. According to media reports, on the same day Egypt denied entry to 276 people arriving from Syria, including a plane with Syrian nationals on board, who were then flown back to the Syrian town of Latakia.

The new policy has also left several Syrians stranded in Alexandria’s international airport, including at least three people already registered as asylum seekers with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, who say the authorities plan to return them to the countries from which they arrived.

“Egypt may be going through tumultuous times, but it must not return anyone, including Syrians, to somewhere threatening their life or freedom,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While the Egyptian government can require foreign nationals to obtain visas before arriving in Egypt, it must properly protect them. Egypt should continue to allow those fleeing from Syria to lodge asylum claims with UNHCR and receive protection.”

To date, UNHCR in Egypt has registered, or is in the process of registering, some 90,000 asylum seekers from Syria.

On its official Facebook page, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that a new visa policy had been implemented but said the decision was temporary, and a result of the current unrest in the country. According to one media account, airport officials also said that the new requirement followed reports that Syrians in Egypt were supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, and that some had participated in violent protests following President Mohamed Morsy’s removal from power.

Under international refugee and human rights law, the Egyptian government may not send anyone back to a place threatening their life or freedom, or where they risk inhuman or degrading treatment or torture. Before deporting anyone to Syria, Egypt should therefore guarantee all asylum seekers from Syria access to UNHCR which, under a 1954 agreement with Egypt, conducts refugee status determination procedures in the country.

Egypt should also guarantee the right of all Syrians already registered as asylum seekers in Egypt to freely move in and out of the country. Human Rights Watch said that refusing such people reentry into Egypt after travel abroad would expose them to the risk of getting stuck in limbo, with no country allowing them entry.

Two Syrians told Human Rights Watch that they’ve been trapped at Alexandria’s international airport since July 8, despite being registered as asylum seekers with UNHCR in Egypt.

One woman who spoke to Human Rights Watch explained that she’d been residing in Egypt with her family for nearly six months, but that she recently had to travel with her mother to renew their passports in Amman, Jordan. After renewing their passports, they returned to Egypt from Amman. But when they arrived at the airport in Alexandria on July 8, an airport official informed them they would not be allowed into the country because of the new visa rules – despite the fact that they are registered asylum seekers.

In addition to her fear of being separated from her family, including her three daughters and husband who reside in Alexandria, the woman told Human Rights Watch that she was concerned about her mother’s health. She said her mother suffers from diabetes and that she was running out of the medication she needs to manage her condition. According to the daughter, her mother requested to see a doctor in the airport, and while one was provided for her, he was not able to give her the medication she needs.

Under international human rights law, Egypt is obliged to protect the right to health of everyone within its territory, including ensuring, as a core minimum obligation, access to essential medication.

A Syrian man, who also told Human Rights Watch that he is registered as an asylum seeker with UNHCR in Egypt, was also being held in Alexandria airport. He said he came to Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he works, to see his family members who have resided in Egypt for the past seven months. He said airport officials told him that he would not be allowed entry because of the new visa rules, and that he would be returned to Saudi Arabia.

“While Egypt is going through a very difficult period, it simply should not strand Syrians this way, especially those who have fled such a devastating conflict at home,” Houry said.

Constitutional Declaration raises democratic concerns

USA Today 
Mansour's ruling document raises democratic concerns

CAIRO – Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour's overnight constitutional declaration prompted concerns about democracy and human rights in Egypt's period of tumultuous political transition.

Mansour's declaration preceded his naming of economist Hazem el-Beblawi, a compromise candidate supported by a key Islamist party, as interim prime minister.

He also appointed former United Nations nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei as deputy to the president, responsible for foreign affairs, spokesman Ahmed El-Musalamani said.

Unlike Monday, which was wracked by attacks that killed 51 people, Tuesday was calmer. Military officials warned political groups against factionalism that would hurt the political transition from ousted president Mohammed Morsi to Mansour.

Mansour's declaration replaces the nation's suspended constitution, which was drafted by an Islamist-dominated body before it was approved in a nationwide vote last year despite lack of consensus among political groups.

The 33-article declaration will remain the country's ruling document until a new constitution is voted in – possibly in about four months.

"Human rights and democracy were not at the forefront for the drafters of this constitutional declaration," said Ziad Abdel Tawab, deputy director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The 2012 constitution will be revised in the interim period, which could see parliamentary and presidential elections completed by the spring of 2014.

For now, the constitutional declaration rules, disappointing some and worrying others in Egypt.
"If your standard is the best level of democracy in the world … this is very worrying, and there are serious problems" said Zaid Al-Ali, senior adviser on constitution building at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Cairo.

He noted that the whole spirit of the text is in keeping with Egyptian constitutional tradition – for better or worse. "I would say worse," he said.

When the revolution started, "we had very high hopes for what democracy in this country could be, and it looks like although improvements have been made it doesn't look like it will be to the extent that we originally hoped," said Al-Ali, who is Iraqi.

One concern is that the president holds almost all executive and legislative powers until a parliament is elected. It is unclear when presidential elections will take place, Al-Ali said.

There are also human rights concerns.

Freedom of expression is restricted, and the right to freedom of association is rolled back, affecting non-governmental groups, Abdel Tawab said. The declaration also restricts rights such as freedom of religion, similar to the 2012 constitution.

The wording of the new document is similar to a constitutional declaration issued in March 2011 when the country was under military rule after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, said Heba Morayef, the Egypt director of Human Rights Watch.

In this declaration, a provision will allow for military trials of civilians to continue, Morayef said. Instead of spelling out rights, the document states they are guaranteed "in accordance with the law" – not providing constitutional protection.

"It is worrying in the sense that I don't see these rights provisions as setting a check on whatever legislation we may end up with in the next period," Morayef said.

Opposition movement spokesperson Mahmoud Badr said opposition leader ElBaradei, along with a legal expert, plans to propose amendments to the declaration to the presidency, Egyptian news media reported.

For liberal-minded Egyptians, a concern is that the document entrenches sharia by defining the "principles" of Islamic law that are collectively the main source of legislation. The wording has long been a hot-button issue as liberals insisted that "principles" should not be defined, so interpretations can be flexible.

"It was one of the controversial clauses that the liberals objected to in the previous constitution," said political analyst Mazen Hassan in Cairo. "And there are things that if you give, you can't take away. It will be a fight for the liberals to take it out."

Hassan said the clause is a prize for Egypt's Salafis, an ultraconservative portion of the population who practice a seventh-century interpretation of Islam and embrace a restrictive vision of sharia.

"Any route we take, the next period will not be stable and will not be a period where we see all factions agree on the same thing," Hassan said.

Abdel Tawab said the declaration is worrying especially given that it is unclear who is responsible for the country.

"Accountability and end of impunity is at the heart of a democratic transformation," he said, but as long as no one knows whether President Mansour or Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is really in charge, there can be an endless cycle of violence and rights violations.

Rows of dead bodies lined a makeshift morgue Monday after security forces fired on Islamist demonstrators in clashes that killed more than 50 people, prompting calls for an impartial investigation.

The military-installed government arrested members of the media as well as Muslim Brotherhood figures, including Morsi who has been detained incommunicado for several days. Monday, Human Rights Watch said at least 15 other Brotherhood leaders and members were detained.

Authorities shut down several Islamist television stations after Morsi was ousted from power.

"Without strict respect for the rule of law and basic rights from the start, there will be no political freedom," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, in a recent statement.

*Contributing: Associated Press

Investigate army violence before Egypt spirals into violence

Tuesday 9 July 2013

The undersigned organizations express their deep regret and strong condemnation of the excessive force used by army and security forces against supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi who were staging a sit-in in front of the premises of the Republican Guard. This violence left at least 51 dead and over 400 injured, according to official statements from the Ministry of Health.

The undersigned organizations insist that responses to demonstrations must be comply with international standards, even if demonstrations witness violence or the use of firearms.  International standards do not allow the excessive use of lethal force, nor do they justify the intentional murder of large numbers of protestors by snipers belonging to police or military forces. The use of force must not exceed what required to prevent the use of violence by armed individuals.  Such standards apply to the incident described above, which was referred to in a statement by the Armed Forces as an attempt to storm the premises of the Republican Guard.

The undersigned organizations emphasize that security forces and the army bear a responsibility to provide protection to all protestors, including both supporters and opponents of the deposed president.

At the same time, the undersigned organizations strongly condemn the ongoing incitement to violence and killing by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters as well as their incitement to participate in widespread clashes, which only serve to further deepen the political crisis in Egypt. We condemn all forms of violence committed by some segments of Islamist groups, including the violence committed in Manial and Maspero areas of Cairo and in the Sidi Gaber area in Alexandria. 

We also condemn the violations which have targeted the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in Sidi Beshr, El Zagazig, and elsewhere, as well as the incitement against them by some media outlets.

The undersigned organizations stress the need to expose the truth of what happened during that clashes that occurred at dawn yesterday and to hold all parties which were involved to account. We stress that a fair, independent investigation into this massacre will require the participation of independent human rights organizations and the immediate release of the findings to the public.  The participation of such organizations is particularly critical in light of the politicization of the Egyptian judiciary under the rule of both Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and in the wake of the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood and the deposed president over the last year which further undermined the credibility of the judiciary and the investigating authorities, dividing judges and making the judiciary a victim of political and ideological polarization.

The investigating committee should be comprised of judicial and rights figures known for their professionalism and impartiality, in order to win the respect of all parties and avoid challenges to its final report. We urge all parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its partisans, to support and welcome this demand.

Once again, we urge that all forms of incitement to violence and murder must cease and that all parties must refrain from undermining the civic peace. The continued incitement to bloodshed will make it practically impossible to re-launch a comprehensive political process leading to the fulfillment of the revolution's goals in Egypt.  

Signatory organizations
1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
2. Andalus Institute for Tolerance & Anti-violence Studies 
3. Arab Penal Reform Organization
4. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
5. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
6. Center for Appropriate Communication Techniques
7. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Aid
8. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
9. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
10. Habi Center for Environmental Rights
11. Hisham Mubarak Law Center
12. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
13. Land Center for Human Rights
14. Masriyon Against Religious Discrimination
15. Nazra for Feminist Studies

Photographer who chronicled his own death

The Telegraph

Ahmed Assem: the Egyptian photographer who chronicled his own death

The grainy film captures the soldier as he shoots from his vantage point on top of the yellow stone building.

He fires more than once and then, suddenly, turns the rifle and points toward the camera lens.
The film ends – and so too ended the life of Ahmed Samir Assem.

The 26-year-old photographer for Egypt’s Al-Horia Wa Al-Adala newspaper was among a least 51 people killed after security forces opened fire on a large crowd that had camped outside the Egyptian army’s Republican Guard officers’ club in Cairo, where Mohammed Morsi, the deposed president, was believed to be in detention.

Mr Assem had been on the scene as the pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters knelt for prayer shortly before dawn on Monday morning.

According to friends and relatives, the moment of his own death was captured as the grainy film culminates.

News of Mr Assem’s death filtered through after his bloodied camera and mobile phone were found at the site of the makeshift camp.

“At around 6am, a man came into the media centre with a camera covered in blood and told us that one of our colleagues had been injured,” said Ahmed Abu Zeid, the culture editor of Mr Assem’s newspaper, who was working from a facility set up next to the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, about a mile away.

“Around an hour later, I received news that Ahmed had been shot by a sniper in the forehead while filming or taking pictures on top of the buildings around the incident.

“Ahmed’s camera was the only one which filmed the entire incident from the first moment.

“He had started filming from the beginning of the prayers so he captured the very beginnings and in the video, you can see tens of victims. Ahmed’s camera will remain a piece of evidence in the violations that have been committed.”

Like much else about Monday’s incident, the exact circumstances of the shooting are hard to prove. However, other witnesses to whom The Daily Telegraph spoke have described snipers being stationed on buildings overlooking the site, which is in an area dominated by military installations.

Excerpts of a 20-minute video said to have been recorded by Mr Assem as the horror unfolded in front of him were shown at a Muslim Brotherhood press conference and are now being touted as evidence of a massacre on the streets of Egypt’s capital.
The other video, which purports to show the final seconds before Mr Assem was shot, have now been put on to his Facebook page, although the provenance of it could not be independently verified by The Daily Telegraph.

What is certain, friends say, is that Mr Assem has left a vivid testimony of events whose origins have been hotly disputed. Mr Morsi’s supporters say they were fired on from behind without provocation while they were praying. The army insists that security forces only fired after protesters attempted to storm the Republican Guard facility.

There have also been suggestions that the original firing may have come from agents provocateurs, triggering a wave of violence.

Whatever the truth, the Muslim Brotherhood says Mr Assem’s last film bears out its version of events and says it plans to use it as evidence — though it had not responded to requests for a physical copy by the time of publication.

However, Mr Assem’s brother, Eslam, 29, said the footage’s last seconds showed a soldier shooting demonstrators from a roof. The soldier then turned his gun towards Mr Assem and the film suddenly went dead, he added.

Colleagues described Mr Assem, a graduate of Cairo University’s communications department, as a dedicated professional who had amassed an archive of 10,000 photographs since starting his career as a photographer three years ago.

His work for Al-Horia Wa Al-Adala — the official newspaper of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing — put him in the front line of Egypt’s political turmoil. It had also put him at odds with his family, who were supporters of the late Egyptian nationalist leader, Gamal Abdal Nasser.

As Mr Assem’s friends and family mourned, Adly Mansour, Egypt’s new interim president, unveiled a draft constitution to replace the one drafted by Islamists and suspended last week. A committee will be set up to make final improvements to the document before it is put to a referendum. Parliamentary elections will then follow within three months and a date for a presidential election will be set once the parliament has convened.

Mr Mansour also named Mohammed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN atomic energy watchdog, as vice-president in charge of foreign affairs and Hazem al-Beblawi, a former finance minister, as prime minister.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Halt arbitrary action against MB & media

Investigate Criminal Violence; Detain Only Based on law
July 8, 2013

(New York) – Egypt’s military-installed government should end its arbitrary acts against the Muslim Brotherhood and the news media, Human Rights Watch said today. Since Defense Minister General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi announced the removal of President Mohamed Morsy from power on the night of July 3, the authorities have detained Muslim Brotherhood leaders, apparently solely on the basis of their membership in the group, sealed off Brotherhood buildings, and closed down its TV station and other stations sympathetic to the organization.

The military has also arrested the deposed president himself and at least ten members of his team and kept them in incommunicado detention for four days, unable to speak with their families or lawyer.

The military has not confirmed where they are currently held, nor formally charged them with any recognizable offenses or brought them before a judge. The military should release the former president and his aides unless prosecutors have evidence that they committed a cognizable crime under Egyptian law, Human Rights Watch said. Any such charges should not contradict the internationally recognized rights to free expression and peaceful association.

“Both General al-Sisi and interim President Adli Mansour promised that the political transition process would be inclusive , but these violations of basic political rights will mean the Muslim Brotherhood and others will be shut out of political life,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Without strict respect for the rule of law and basic rights from the start there will be no political freedom.”

Security officials have so far arrested at least six other members of the ousted ruling Freedom and Justice Party, and prosecutors have ordered their detention on charges of incitement to violence and others with insulting the judiciary. Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for hundreds of other members of the group.

The Egyptian authorities should immediately announce that they – and all state officials, including members of the army and security forces – will be bound by the existing law, and respect basic rights of all Egyptians, Human Rights Watch said.

Just moments after al-Sisi’s July 3, 2013 speech announcing the army’s ouster of Mohamed Morsy as president of Egypt, security agencies halted the broadcast of five TV stations and arrested the journalists on site. The journalists were released over the next two days but the stations remain shuttered.

In a July 6 interview with the state Middle East News Agency, Social Affairs Minister Nagwa Khalil said that with the constitution suspended her ministry had the authority to order the closure of nongovernmental groups.

She said she had instructed her ministry to study dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood, which is registered under Law 84 as a nongovernmental organization, on the grounds that it has a “militia wing.” On July 7, the Freedom and Justice Party issued a news release stating that security forces had sealed off its offices in downtown Cairo without a court order. The action was a blatant violation of freedom of association, Human Rights Watch said.

Prosecutors have told Egyptian media that they are investigating members of the Muslim Brotherhood for their role in the deaths of anti-Morsy protesters in clashes outside the Brotherhood party headquarters in Moqattam on June 30, the clashes near Cairo University on July 2, the clashes outside Ettihadiya in December 2012, as well as the January 2011 prison breaks in which Morsy and other Brotherhood leaders fled detention.

Egypt is in desperate need of justice for past crimes but investigations should be independent of any political interference or the appearance of partiality, Human Rights Watch said. Anyone who has committed serious crimes, whether police, military, or Brotherhood should be held accountable.

With Egypt’s constitution suspended, there is a vacuum when it comes to the protection of fundamental rights. But Egypt is not under a state of emergency, and has not derogated from any of its international obligations. As a result, authorities are bound to respect fully the right to freedom of association and speech, and due process rights that protect against arbitrary arrest, Human Rights Watch said. Authorities should not act as if they have been given new powers to interfere with basic rights.

The Egyptian daily Al Shorouk reported that Mansour will issue a new constitutional declaration in the coming days. It is vitally important for this declaration to bind the government and all state officials to respect completely all rights that apply in Egypt, Human Rights Watch said.

“After a year of protracted struggle between the judiciary and the Muslim Brotherhood, the last thing Egypt needs is the appearance of arbitrary and partisan arrests and prosecutions,” Stork said. “Prosecutors should be doubly careful to avoid that perception, be transparent about the evidence they have to issue arrest warrants, and ensure that due process rights are respected.”

Arrests and Criminal Investigations of Brotherhood Leaders

The military is detaining at least 10 members of Morsy’s presidential team at the presidential guard quarters in Cairo, relatives and friends told Human Rights Watch. The military has not made public the legal basis for their detention, nor whether they have been charged with anything.

A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad al-Haddad, who has not been detained, tweeted on July 4 that President Morsy had been separated from the rest of his team and was being held at the Defense Ministry. Those being detained include Essam al-Haddad, who had been an assistant to the president; Khaled al-Qazzaz, who had been secretary for international affairs; Ayman Ali; Ahmed Abdelaty and at least six others.

On July 4, Al Ahram reported that the Office of the Public Prosecutor had issued arrest warrants for 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood. To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, police have thus far arrested six leaders of the group and prosecutors have ordered their pretrial detention and interrogated them on charges of inciting violence.

Assistant Prosecutor Adel al Said told the Egyptian daily Al Tahrir that the public prosecutor had placed 35 Muslim Brotherhood leaders on a travel ban list on charges of inciting violence. He was reported to have said that those on the list included Morsy; the deputy Brotherhood guide Khairat al Shatir; Mahmoud Ghozlan, and former members of parliament Essam el Erian, Sobhi Daleh, and Saad al- Hosseini, among others.

On July 5, the military spokesman issued a statement claiming that, “The armed forces have not arrested or detained any individual in Egypt for political reasons” and calling on Egyptians to “exercise caution when spreading information about the military since this can be sold internationally” and “exploited for political reasons to tarnish the situation of freedoms in Egypt.”

There has been little transparency about the overall number of those arrested, on what charges, and what evidence prosecutors have to justify a detention order, Human Rights Watch said. Acting Prosecutor General Abdelmeguid Mahmoud is the Mubarak-era prosecutor whom Morsy had dismissed on November 22.

Mahmoud returned as acting prosecutor a few days before Morsy’s ouster. Mahmoud’s record as head of the Office of the Public Prosecutor for years under Mubarak and his very public opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of his dismissal does not inspire confidence in the impartiality of his initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

Detentions, criminal investigations and prosecutions should occur only on the basis of evidence in relation to recognized crimes such as direct incitement to or participation in violence, Human Rights Watch said. Such actions should not be based on spurious charges related to peaceful speech such as insulting the judiciary, or charges that violate free association, such as membership in an organization.

While some Brotherhood leaders may have made public statements that amount to incitement to violence, for which they could be lawfully prosecuted, this mass arrest of most senior Brotherhood leaders appears to be politically-motivated, based solely on their membership in the group, Human Rights Watch said.

Prosecutors also announced that they were investigating the killing of protesters during the December 5, 2012 Ettihadiya protests outside the presidential palace, and the June 30 killings during an attack on the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters.

Any investigation into what happened at Ettihadiya should include the killing and injuries to both Muslim Brotherhood and anti-Morsy demonstrators, but also the role of Muslim Brotherhood members in the detention and abuse of 49 protesters in front of the presidential palace gate 4 and the violent clashes that night. The public prosecutor has a duty to ensure that he carries out his duties in an impartial manner, Human Rights Watch said.

Of those arrested, prosecutors have ordered the release so far of only al-Katatny, the party leader, and Bayoumy, the Brotherhood deputy guide. The Interior Ministry did not carry out the release orders, though because prosecutors ordered their detention for 15 days pending interrogation on further charges. The deputy interior minister for prisons, Gen. Mostafa Baz, told the Egyptian daily Al Masry al Youm on July 5 that security officers had arrested the chief Muslim Brotherhood lawyer, Abdelmoneim Abdelmaqsud, when he appeared before prosecutors as Bayoumi’s legal counsel during his interrogation.

The report said that Tora prison guards arrested the lawyer because of an outstanding arrest warrant in his name on charges of “insulting the judiciary” and inciting violence. “Insulting the judiciary” cannot be considered a criminal offense, and prosecution on those grounds would be a violation of the right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.

Media Closures

A few minutes after General al-Sissi announced on July 3 that Morsy had been removed as president and the constitution had been suspended, the screens of the Muslim Brotherhood TV station, Misr 25, went blank.

The station’s program director, Mosaad Barbary, told Human Rights Watch that special forces dressed in black stormed into the studio and arrested him along with 22 other journalists and detained them overnight, releasing a day-and-a-half later.

Security forces halted the broadcast of at least four other channels at the same time, including three known for their Salafi programming: El-Naas, El-Rahma, and Khaligiyya. The Interior Ministry later claimed that these stations were inciting violence but did not provide any evidence or seek a court order.

If the authorities have grounds to believe that individual journalists or broadcasters are inciting violence, they should charge those individuals, Human Rights Watch said. Shutting down a station by executive order is an arbitrary measure that appears totally disproportionate to any crimes committed by individuals, and may constitute collective punishment, violating people’s right to freedom of information and opinion.

On July 4, state censors banned that day’s second edition of Freedom and Justice, the party newspaper, and on July 6 the newspaper said that the state-owned Ahram printing house had limited its distribution to 10,000 copies.

On July 3, the military and police raided the offices of Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubashir Misr, seizing cameras and transmission equipment. They arrested managing director Ayman Gaballah, accusing him of operating without a proper license, and the studio engineer, Ahmad Hassan, and detained them for two days. On July 5, prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Al Jazeera Arabic Bureau Cheif Abdelfattah Fayed on charges of undermining public peace by broadcasting “incendiary news.”

Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members arrested:

Detained incommunicado, believed to be at Defense Ministry

1.      Mohamed Morsy, former president;

Detained incommunicado by military, presumed to be at Presidential Guard headquarters
2.      Essam al-Haddad, former assistant to the president for international affairs;
3.      Khaled al-Qazzaz, secretary to the president for international affairs;
4.      Ahmed Abdelaty;
5.      Abdelmeguid al-Meshaly;
6.      Ayman Ali;
7.      Rifaa al-Tahtawy, chief of staff;
8.      Ayman al-Serafy;
9.      Ayman Hudhod, adviser for ministerial affairs;
10.  Asaad El-Sheikha, deputy chief of staff;

In pretrial detention in Tora Prison, under interrogation on charges of incitement to violence
11.  Khairat al-Shatir, deputy guide of Muslim Berotherhood, in Tora Prison;
12.  Rashad Bayoumy, deputy guide of Muslim Brotherhood, in Tora Prison;
13.  Saad al-Katany, head of Freedom and Justice Party, in Tora Prison;
14.  Mahdi Akef, age 84;
15.  Helmy al-Gazzar; and
16.  Abdelmoneim Abdelmaqsud, chief lawyer of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Tora Prison, also charged with “insulting the judiciary.”