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June 5, 2016

Egyptian teen dies in illegal genital mutilation procedure

Egyptian teen dies in illegal genital mutilation procedure

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An Egyptian 17-year-old girl has died while under anaesthetics for an illegal female genital mutilation operation at a private hospital in Suez. Egyptian prosecutors are investigating the cause of her death, while waiting to receive the medical examiner’s results from the girl’s autopsy.

The girl, Mayar Mohamed Mousa, died as doctors performed the operation. Egypt, having banned the operation in 2008, is among several countries that have banned female genital mutilation. However, 85 percent of females between the age of 15 and 49 are still having the operation. According to a report published by the United Nations Development Programme, over 90 percent of Egyptian mothers have received the operation, but only 35% approve having it.

Mousa’s death has prompted campaign groups and the United Nations to request a strict response from the Egyptian government to enforce the operation’s ban. Egypt is one of five countries that are actively taking steps against female genital mutilation, with the others being Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Kenya. In a February report published by the United Nations children’s agency, nearly 200 million women worldwide receive the operation, which has been shown to cause several complications, such as bleeding and pain while urinating, discomfort during sexual interaction, as well as fatal complications during childbirth.

Both the girl’s mother and the doctor who performed the operation have been charged with manslaughter.



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July 1, 2013

Egyptian military issues ultimatum to Morsi

Egyptian military issues ultimatum to Morsi

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Today the Egyptian military issued an ultimatum to Mohammed Morsi that gives him 48 hours, until Wednesday, to meet the demands of the hundreds of thousands of people protesting his presidency, by announcing a snap election, resigning, and allowing a provisional government to take over, or they will force a political transition.

Cquote1.svg For an institution of state to come and stage a coup against the president, this will not happen. Any force that goes against the constitution is a call for sabotage and anarchy. Cquote2.svg

—Yasser Hamza, member of the Freedom and Justice Party

The military said the protests were an “unprecedented” demonstration of the people’s will.

The ultimatum was issued by an unnamed official on Egyptian state television hours after the Muslim Brotherhood‘s headquarters in Cairo was taken over. Accompanied by an image of the Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, the ultimatum read, “If the demands of the people are not met by the expiry of this deadline, the Armed Forces will announce a road-map for the future, and procedures that the Armed Forces will oversee with the participation of all political and national streams, including the youths, who were and still are the real force that ignited their glorious revolution, and without the exclusion of any party”, after which the television channel played patriotic music.

The military also said it would “not be a party in politics or rule,” and would enforce what the people wanted.

Mohammed Morsi at a press conference in June 2012.
Image: Jonathan Rashad.

The Muslim Brotherhood has denounced the ultimatum. Yasser Hamza, a member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, said, “For an institution of state to come and stage a coup against the president, this will not happen. Any force that goes against the constitution is a call for sabotage and anarchy.”

The ultimatum was due to the hundreds of thousands of people that protested in Egyptian cities including Alexandria, {Cairo, Port Said, and Suez yesterday, the first anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration, and today, demanding Morsi resign. Some estimate the turnout was tens of thousands, some hundreds of thousands, and a military source estimated the number at almost fourteen million. In Cairo, the protesters were massed at Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace. At least sixteen people died and 780 were injured in the protests, according to Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman Yehya Moussa.

Stones and petrol bombs were thrown at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been fortified with sandbags. Morsi was a leading member of the Brotherhood. The protesters say the Brotherhood fired on the protesters, killing five. Today the headquarters was overrun and looted.

Late Sunday, the National Salvation Front released a statement telling protesters to “maintain their peaceful [rallies] in all the squares and streets and villages and hamlets of the country… until the last of this dictatorial regime falls” and stated that this has “confirmed the downfall of the regime of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood”. The National Salvation Front, a secular, liberal organization, has endorsed a petition calling for a snap election, started by the grassroots movement Rebel.

Cquote1.svg maintain their peaceful [rallies] in all the squares and streets and villages and hamlets of the country… until the last of this dictatorial regime falls Cquote2.svg

National Salvation Front in “Revolution Statement 1”

Protesters argue Morsi since taking power has failed to address political deadlock, economic crises, and personal safety problems. Many are angry at the Muslim Brotherhood, which they claim hijacked the Egyptian revolution, seizing authoritarian control and imposing Islamic law.

The BBC reported some protesters showed anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment, noting one flag with a picture of Morsi in a Star of David.

A presidential spokesman, Ihab Fahmi, said people must “unite and listen to the sound of wisdom […] Political diversity necessitates on all parties to abide by the democratic process”. Another spokesman, Omar Amer, said “[Morsi] announced to all of Egypt’s people he made mistakes and that he is in the process of fixing these mistakes […] I want to confirm one truth, if there is a total lack of response to this initiative, no listening to it, no interest in it from any side, what do you think the presidency can do?”. Morsi has said he was validly elected, and denied instigating religious authority clauses in the new Egyptian constitution.


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June 4, 2012

Mubarak sentenced to life in prison over protester deaths

Mubarak sentenced to life in prison over protester deaths

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Former president Hosni Mubarak was the leader of Egypt for around 30 years.
Image: onbekend.

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Egypt for his responsibility as leader in the murders of protesters during the last year’s Egyptian revolution.

Mubarak resigned from his presidential position in February 2011 as a result of the widespread protests. He has been hospitalized in Egypt’s International Medical Center since the start of his trial due to bad health; and is the first Arab world leader, since the Arab Spring began over a year ago, prosecuted while in custody.

Habib el-Adly, who was Mubarak’s interior minister, was also given life for the same type of offense. Four highly-placed government workers from the interior ministry in charge of security — including former Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Abd El Rahman — and two regional security directors were cleared of any wrongdoing. The former president’s sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were found not guilty on corruption charges.

People in Egypt both celebrated the convictions and protested the acquittals. Protests occurred throughout the country in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Suez, and Mansoura.

While Mubarak was transferred to the Tora prison hospital, independent lawyers said they expect an appeal, which would extend the trial. The trial has already gone on for ten months before the verdict.



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January 25, 2012

One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

One year on: Egyptians mark anniversary of protests that toppled Mubarak

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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Across Egypt hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets for the day, marking exactly one year since the outbreak of protests leading to 83-year-old longstanding ruler Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. The country’s decades-long emergency rule was partially lifted this week; meanwhile, a possible economic meltdown looms and a newly-elected parliament held their first meeting on Monday.

Protestors in Tahrir Square during the revolution.
Image: Jonathan Rashad.

Protestors in Tahrir Square today.
Image: Gigi Ibrahim.

Despite the new parliament, military rule introduced following Mubarak’s fall last spring remains. Echoing the demands from a year ago, some protesters are demanding the military relinquish power; there are doubts an elected civilian leader will be permitted to replace the army.

The brief unity against Mubarak has since fragmented, with Secularists and Islamists marking the revolution’s anniversary splitting to opposing sides of Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square and chanting at each other. Initial demonstrations last year were mainly from young secularists; now, Islamic parties hold most of the new parliament’s seats — the country’s first democratic one in six decades.

Salafis hold 25% of the seats and 47% are held by the Muslim Brotherhood, which brought supporters to Cairo for the anniversary. Tahrir Square alone contained tens of thousands of people, some witnesses putting the crowd at 150,000 strong. It’s the largest number on the streets since the revolution.

Military rulers planned celebrations including pyrotechnics, commemorative coins, and air displays. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces took power after last year’s February 11 resignation of Mubarak.

Alaa al-Aswani, a pro-democracy activist writing in al-Masry al-Youm, said: “We must take to the streets on Wednesday, not to celebrate a revolution which has not achieved its goals, but to demonstrate peacefully our determination to achieve the objectives of the revolution,” — to “live in dignity, bring about justice, try the killers of the martyrs and achieve a minimum social justice”

Alexandria in the north and the eastern port city of Suez also saw large gatherings. It was bitter fighting in Suez led to the first of the revolution’s 850 casualties in ousting Mubarak. “We didn’t come out to celebrate. We came out to protest against the military council and to tell it to leave power immediately and hand over power to civilians,” said protestor Mohamed Ismail.

“Martyrs, sleep and rest. We will complete the struggle,” chanted crowds in Alexandria, a reference to the 850 ‘martyrs of the revolution’. No convictions are in yet although Mubarak is on trial. Photos of the dead were displayed in Tahrir Square. Young Tahrir chanters went with “Down with military rule” and “Revolution until victory, revolution in all of Egypt’s streets”.

If the protestors demanding the military leave power get their way, the Islamists celebrating election victory face a variety of challenges. For now, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi — whose career featured twenty years as defence minister under Mubarak — rules the nation and promises to cede power following presidential elections this year.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, pictured whilst he was still Mubarak’s defence minister, is now ruling the country.
Image: Helene C. Stikke, US DoD.

The economy is troubled and unemployment is up since Mubarak left. With tourism and foreign investment greatly lower than usual, budget and payment deficits are up — with the Central Bank eating into its reserves in a bid to keep the Egyptian pound from losing too much value.

Last week the nation sought US$3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF insists upon funding also being secured from other donors, and strong support from Egypt’s leaders. IMF estimates say the money could be handed over in a few months — whereas Egypt wanted it in a matter of weeks.

The country has managed to bolster trade with the United States and Jordan. Amr Abul Ata, Egyptian ambassador to the fellow Middle-East state, told The Jordan Times in an interview for the anniversary that trade between the nations increased in 2011, and he expects another increase this year. This despite insurgent attacks reducing Egyptian gas production — alongside electricity the main export to Jordan. Jordan exports foodstuffs to Egypt and has just signed a deal increasing the prices it pays for gas. 2011 trade between the countries was worth US$1 billion.

The anniversary also saw a new trade deal with the US, signed by foreign trade and industry minister Mahmoud Eisa and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. President Barack Obama promises work to improve U.S. investment in, and trade with, nations changing political systems after the Arab Spring. Details remain to be agreed, but various proposals include US assistance for Egyptian small and medium enterprises. Both nations intend subjecting plans to ministerial scrutiny.

The U.S. hailed “several historic milestones in its transition to democracy” within a matter of days of Egypt’s revolution. This despite U.S.-Egypt ties being close during Mubarak’s rule.

US$1 billion in grants has been received already from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but army rulers refused to take loans from Gulf nations despite offers-in-principle coming from nations including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. Foreign aid has trickled in; no money at all has been sent from G8 nations, despite the G8 Deauville Partnership earmarking US$20 billion for Arab Spring nations.

A total of US$7 billion was promised from the Gulf. The United Kingdom pledged to split £110 million between Egypt and Arab Spring initiator Tunisia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development says G8 money should start arriving in June, when the presidential election is scheduled.

The African Development Bank approved US$1.5 billion in loans whilst Mubarak still held power but, despite discussions since last March, no further funding has been agreed. The IMF offered a cheap loan six months ago, but was turned away. Foreign investment last year fell from US$6 billion to $375 million.

Rights, justice and public order remain contentious issues. Tantawi lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, a day before the revolution’s anniversary, but left it in place to deal with the exception of ‘thuggery’. “This is not a real cancellation of the state of emergency,” said Islamist Wasat Party MP Essam Sultan. “The proper law designates the ending of the state of emergency completely or enforcing it completely, nothing in between.”

One year after the protests that led to his loss of power, Hosni Mubarak faces death if convicted of killing those protesting against him.
Image: 2008 World Economic Forum.

The same day, Amnesty International released a report on its efforts to establish basic human rights and end the death penalty in the country. Despite sending a ten-point manifesto to all 54 political parties, only the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (of the Egyptian Bloc liberals) and the left-wing Popular Socialist Alliance Party signed up. Measures included religious freedom, help to the impoverished, and rights for women. Elections did see a handful of women win seats in the new parliament.

The largest parliamentary group is the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood, who Amnesty say did not respond. Oral assurances on all but female rights and abolition of the death penalty were given by Al-Nour, the Salafist runners-up in the elections, but no written declaration or signature.

“We challenge the new parliament to use the opportunity of drafting the new constitution to guarantee all of these rights for all people in Egypt. The cornerstone must be non-discrimination and gender equality,” said Amnesty, noting that the first seven points were less contentious amongst the twelve responding parties. There was general agreement for free speech, free assembly, fair trials, investigating Mubarak’s 30-year rule for atrocities, and lifting the state of emergency. A more mixed response was given to ensuring no discrimination against LGBT individuals, whilst two parties claimed reports of Coptic Christian persecution are exaggerated.

Mubarak himself is a prominent contender for the death penalty, currently on trial for the killings of protesters. The five-man prosecution team are also seeking death for six senior police officers and the chief of security in the same case. Corruption offences are also being tried, with Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak accused alongside their father Hosni.

The prosecution case has been hampered by changes in witness testimony and there are complaints of Interior Ministry obstruction in producing evidence. Tantawi has testified in a closed hearing that Mubarak never ordered protesters shot.

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Hisham Talaat Moustafa, an ex-MP and real estate billionaire, is another death penalty candidate. He, alongside Ahmed Sukkari, was initially sentenced to death for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamim. A new trial was granted on procedural grounds and he is now serving a fifteen-year term for paying Sukkari US$2 million to slit 30-year-old’s Tamim’s throat in Dubai. Her assassin was caught when police followed him back to his hotel and found a shirt stained with her blood; he was in custody within two hours of the murder.

The court of appeals is now set to hear another trial for both men after the convictions were once more ruled unsound.

A military crackdown took place last November, the morning after a major protest, and sparking off days of violence. Egypt was wary of a repeat this week, with police and military massed near Tahrir Square whilst volunteers manned checkpoints into the square itself.

The military has pardoned and released at least 2,000 prisoners jailed following military trials, prominently including a blogger imprisoned for defaming the army and deemed troublesome for supporting Israel. 26-year-old Maikel Nabil was given a three year sentence in April. He has been on hunger strike alleging abuse at the hands of his captors. He wants normalised relations with Israel. Thousands have now left Tora prison in Cairo.

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February 1, 2011

Egypt protests: Army say they will not use force on demonstrators as Mubarak announces cabinet

Egypt protests: Army say they will not use force on demonstrators as Mubarak announces cabinet

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Egypt
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  • 27 January 2015: Greek singer Demis Roussos dies aged 68
  • 23 December 2014: Egypt opens Rafah border crossing for additional day
  • 16 December 2014: Freighter hits fishing boat in Gulf of Suez; thirteen dead
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Egyptian army soldiers monitor protests over the weekend.
Image: Ramy Raoof.

The president of Egypt has suffered a “devastating blow” after the country’s army announced they would not use force against their own people, who continue to protest against the government tonight. The news came hours after six journalists who reported on the protests were released from custody.

Hosni Mubarak yesterday announced a new cabinet, which does not include several figures who protesters largely do not approve of. Analysts have, however, suggested little had changed within the government; many positions, they say, are filled with military figures.

Army will ‘not use force’

Cquote1.svg To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people. Cquote2.svg

Egyptian army statement

In a statement broadcast on state media in Egypt, the army said: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people … have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.” A BBC correspondent in Cairo said the announcement meant it “now seems increasingly likely that the 30-year rule of Mr Mubarak is drawing to a close.”

“The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people,” the statement added. “Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody.”

Journalists released

Earlier today, six journalists from the independent news network Al-Jazeera were released from custody after being detained by police. The U.S. State Department criticized the arrests; equipment was reportedly confiscated from the journalists.

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Egyptian officials yesterday ordered the satellite channel to stop broadcasting in the country. Al-Jazeera said they were “appalled” by the government’s decision to close its Egyptian offices, which they described as the “latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt.”

In a statement, the news agency added: “Al-Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.”

On Friday, Wikinews reported the government had shut off practically all Internet traffic both out of and into the nation, as well as disrupting cellphone usage. A spokesperson for the social networking website Facebook said “limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.”

Protests continue

Protesters in Tahrir Square on Sunday.
Image: Mona.

A reported 50,000 campaigners, who are demanding the long-time leader step down and complaining of poverty, corruption, and oppression, filled Tahrir Square in Cairo today, chanting “We will stay until the coward leaves.” It is thought 100 people have so far died in the demonstrations. Today there have been protests in Suez, Mansoura, Damanhour, and Alexandria.

Speaking to news media in the area, many protesters said the new cabinet did little to quell their anger. “We want a complete change of government, with a civilian authority,” one said. Another added: “This is not a new government. This is the same regime—this is the same bluff. [Mubarak] has been bluffing us for 30 years.”

In Tahrir Square today, protesters played music as strings of barbed wire and army tanks stood nearby. Demonstrators scaled light poles, hanging Egyptian flags and calling for an end to Mubarak’s rule. “One poster featured Mubarak’s face plastered with a Hitler mustache, a sign of the deep resentment toward the 82-year-old leader they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power,” one journalist in the square reported this evening.



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May 3, 2008

Fiery Egyptian tourist bus crash kills nine

Fiery Egyptian tourist bus crash kills nine

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

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Nine people have died in a fiery tourist bus crash in Egypt on Thursday. The bus was carrying 40 North American and European passengers when it crashed in the Sinai peninsula.

The bus left the road when it skidded off a tight bend and struck a concrete barrier, rolling over and catching fire. The bus ended the roll back the right way up and was completely destroyed by the fire. One wheel lay twelve metres from the main wreckage and skid marks were left on the road. The coach had been travelling from a resort at nearby Sharm el-Sheikh to the capital Cairo when it crashed at Abu Zenima, with some reports suggesting the cause was a blowout on a tyre.

According to the Egyptian security official eight Russian nationals were killed, as was one of two drivers on board, both of whom were Egyptian. This was contradicted by Russian state owned service RIA Novosti, which stated just two Russians were among the dead. The Russian foreign ministry only said 16 Russians were injured and none killed, also contradicting the Egyptian security official who said only 14 people were injured in total. The Ukrainian foreign ministry said a Ukrainian woman had been killed and the Romanian foreign ministry said a 41-year-old Romanian woman was amongst the dead. The driver behind the wheel at the time survived the accident.

The crash occurred at 6:00 am (0300 GMT) about 70km (45 miles) from Suez, and many of the injured were rushed to hospital there. Traffic officials, security personnel, civil defence soldiers and ambulances all responded to the crash. In addition, the Azure Travel coach, like all Egyptian tour buses, had at least one armed police officer travelling on board.

Other injured passengers were taken to Sharm. Two Canadians and two British citizens are reported to be amongst the injured. The Brits are in a serious condition and one Canadian woman had her hand amputated. At least one person died in hospital. It is also reported that Italians were injured in the crash.

Road accidents claim around 6,000 lives and injure 30,000 every year in Egypt. This high accident rate is fed by poor maintenance and regulatory enforcement and reckless driving, with many roads allowing high rates of speed to be achieved. A fog-triggered pile-up killed 29 in February, and 23 died in March in a head-on collision between two lorries.



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