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Monday, September 2, 2013

Morsi to Stand Trial on Violence Charges

After almost two months in detention, deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will be put on trial for inciting violence and attacks on protesters in December of last year. 14 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood will be tried under the same charges. “It’s an attempt to paralyze the movement, and affect its activism. It’s very symbolic — this is a political move by the state against the Brotherhood,” Khalil al-Anani of the Middle East Institute in Washington said in a recent New York Times article.

Arab League Urges International Action, Rejects Military Strike

The Arab League announced Sunday that they would be in favor of international action against the Syrian regime, but did not call for or endorse a military strike. At a meeting in Cairo, Saudi Arabia made a strong bid for international military operations, while Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, called for internationally mediated talks and rejected any military action in the country. Bashar al-Assad’s government stands accused of using chemical weapons on civilians. US President Barack Obama has declared that he is willing to engage in a military operation in Syria but said he would put the final decision to the US Congress.

Egyptian Authorities Detain “Spy Bird”

True story: a man in Qena governorate southeast of Cairo found a suspicious-looking electronic device attached to a stork, and brought it to authorities for further investigation. They determined that the device was not espionage-related, nor a bomb, but rather a migratory tracking device which French scientists had attached to the bird for research purposes. Despite this, military officials (who spoke anonymously, as they weren’t authorized to speak to journalists) reported that the bird remains behind bars as they had not received permission to release it. The head of security in Qena governorate said that the man who found the stork behaved patriotically.

Three Al Jazeera Journalists Deported

Three Al Jazeera journalists who were detained by Egyptian security forces last Tuesday have been deported to London. Not long after President Morsi was deposed in early July, Egyptian security forces cracked down on the news station, which has a reputation in Egypt as being sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the Egyptian government for partaking in a “censorship campaign,” and two journalists affiliated with the news network remain in prison. Last Thursday, the Egyptian-based Al Jazeera channel’s offices were raided and the administration was told that they were operating illegally and that the channel posed a threat to national security.

Egypt’s New Constitution Moves in Secular Direction

The interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour has assembled a 50-person committee to draft the new constitution, which the Egyptian paper Egypt Independent described as “dominated by secularists.” This is a distinct shift from the previous constitutional committee in 2012, which had a large number of Islamist representatives. The new group does not include members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but does include a representative from the Salafist Noor party and three leaders of the Coptic church. The current draft remains controversial because of the recent removal of article 219, which defines the principles of Islamic law.  After they finish drafting the constitution, the committee will submit it to the president who will put it up for a national referendum, anticipated to take place in November.


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