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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mubarak Set to be Released, Placed Under House Arrest

As Egypt reels from political unrest over the past week, ousted President Hosni Mubarak is set to be released from prison. Egyptian authorities stated that he would likely be placed under house arrest, after a court ruled Wednesday that the former president could be released within 48 hours and the prosecution decided not to appeal the ruling.

President Mubarak was popularly ousted from office during mass protests in Egypt in early 2011. He was put on trial in August of the same year for a number of corruption charges and for complicity in the deaths of 800 protesters. Not all of the charges against him have been dropped, but he is scheduled to be released based on appeals stating that he has spent the maximum time in prison for a defendant pending trial.

Muslim Brotherhood Spokesperson Arrested

In a continuation of the crackdown on supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ahmed Aref, the official spokesperson of the group, was arrested by Egyptian security forces early Thursday morning in Nasr City.

Over the last few days, several other prominent figures affiliated with the group have been arrested, including Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy and Murad Ali, the media advisor of the group’s political wing. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie was arrested on Tuesday and faces charges of inciting violence which led to the deaths of protesters. According to the group, more than 400 members in various leadership positions have been arrested since Egyptian security forces violently dispersed protests in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares on Aug. 14.

Egypt’s Amended Constitution Moves Forward

A new draft of Egypt’s constitution will be announced soon, said Ali Awad, the head of a small committee appointed by the new interim government. One controversial aspect of the draft constitution is a proposed ban on all parties which incorporate religion into their political platform. Egypt Independent reported that other amendments included in the current draft would not allow future presidents to be ousted by public protests. Both former President Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi were deposed in the wake of giant popular protests demanding their resignation.

The constitution must still be reviewed by a 50-person representative committee, which has three months to offer feedback. The president will then put the new draft of the constitution up for a national referendum. The Egyptian armed forces suspended the 2012 constitution after they removed President Mohamed Morsi from office on July 3.

Sectarian Clashes Continue in Minya

Christian and Muslim families in the upper Egypt province of Minya fought on Thursday, and four houses were set on fire, as sectarian clashes continued outside of Cairo. Egyptian security forces intervened to stop the fighting, which is the latest development in a series of attacks against Christians over the past month. After massive public protests on June 30, the Egyptian armed forces removed President Mohammed Morsi from office on July 3. In response, some supporters of the deposed Islamist president have lashed out at the country’s Christian minority, burning churches and attacking priests.

Egypt’s Tourists Disappear

Following the army’s violent dispersal of protesters from Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo on Aug. 14, the unrest that has gripped the country has sent tourism on a downward spiral. Thousands of tourists have fled resorts in classic tourist destinations like Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada over the past two weeks. Tourism accounts for over 11 percent of Egypt’s economy, and many millions of Egyptians who rely on the influx of foreign dollars for survival are barely scraping by.

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