Egyptian authorities extend crackdown
The army-backed interim government has extended its crackdown on members of the Muslim Brotherhood to journalists, activists and filmmakers. Two founders of the left-leaning April 6 Youth Movement, Esraa Abdel Fatah and Asmaa Mahfouz, are currently being detained on charges of espionage. This comes after two Canadians, a filmmaker and doctor, were arrested last week while on their way to their hotel after curfew hours and accused of assisting the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s Cinematic Syndicate has demanded that they be released. Also last week, two journalists with Al-Ahram News were detained at a military checkpoint; one was shot and killed and the other wounded, then detained for four days on charges that he possessed weapons. In spite of the increased military crackdown, the interim government announced on Saturday that the state of emergency curfew will be pushed back to 9 pm, rather than 7 pm.
Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood Trials Delayed
Deposed President Hosni Mubarak, who was recently released from prison and is currently under house arrest, returned to court yesterday for his retrial on charges that he was complicit in the deaths of hundreds of protesters during mass popular protests in 2011. Many Egyptians are outraged that Mubarak was set free not long after the army-backed interim government came into power, and are decrying this move as “the return of the old regime.” Mubarak’s trial was adjourned until mid-September. The trial of three Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Supreme Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Badie, was postponed until Oct. 29. The three are being charged with inciting violence that led to the deaths of protesters last month. Badie has said that he refuses to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction and many view the trials as politically motivated.
Egyptian Stock Exchange rises
In an apparent reaction to the last few calm days on the Egyptian political scene, the Egyptian stock exchange or Bourse has continued to rise over the past week, and closed 2.7 percent higher than on Aug. 19, a few days after the military violently dispersed pro-Morsi protesters from their encampments around Cairo. Many large international companies such as Shell and General Motors temporarily closed their doors after the army’s violent crackdown on protesters but are now operating normally. Electrolux, the world’s second largest appliance maker, reopened today and resumed normal operations.
Snipers attack UN Inspectors in Syria
In a development that may lead to further unrest in the region, Syrian government forces bombed a rebel-controlled area outside of Damascus last week and killed over 300 people, in what many are alleging was a chemical weapons attack. Today, snipers attacked a UN Convoy on its way to investigate the scene of the alleged chemical attack, and forced the convoy to turn around before reaching its destination. US President Barack Obama has called chemical weapons use “a red line” that, if crossed, could lead to US military intervention in the Syria conflict. Military leadership from various Middle Eastern and Western countries are currently meeting in Jordan to discuss next steps.
Salafist Noor Party to participate in Constitutional Committee
A spokesperson with the Salafist Noor party announced that they would take part in the upcoming constitutional committee, in a reversal of their previous stance. The existing draft of the new constitution currently bars parties who are religiously affiliated from participating in the government, and the Noor party has stated their intention to reinstate this right which was excised by the technical committee picked by the new interim government. According to Al-Ahram, the state-owned media website, the Noor party believes that removing the controversial article 219 from the constitution is an attempt to separate Egyptians from their “Islamic identity.”