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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Egypt’s President Rejects Police State Label

In his first television interview, Adly Mansour dismissed concerns that the police state is reestablishing itself in the country. Mansour added that the announcement of a month-long state of emergency and strict curfew was a strict necessity, following the dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins. The president also praised Egyptian security forces’ “restraint” and commitment to “international standards” while discussing the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi protesters on Aug. 14 which left hundreds dead. Critics of the interim government’s actions in the protest encampments worry that anti-Muslim Brotherhood sentiment could provide the state with the legitimacy to use the reconstituted police force against future dissidents.

Al Jazeera Reports Egypt Jamming Satellite Signals

Al Jazeera reports that it has been forced to change frequencies because Egyptian authorities have deliberately jammed their satellite signals. Independent trackers, they say, have pin-pointed the military installations outside of Cairo responsible for the satellite interference. Since the ouster of president Morsi, Al Jazeera has come under intense pressure within Egypt. On Monday, three members of a TV crew working for Al Jazeera English were deported after being detained for nearly a week. Al Jazeera’s report comes a day after an Egyptian court ordered Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr to cease broadcasting after being accused of bias in its coverage of the recent political events within Egypt. The station, however, says it “carries no torch for any political party.”

Obama’s Syria Strike Gains Support in Congress

In his call for a US military operation to punish President Bashar al-Assad for the suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians, President Obama has managed to win the support of key figures, including John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. In a recent Reuters article, Boehner was quoted as saying “I believe that my colleagues should support this call for action.”  The President has said that strikes will “degrade Assad’s capabilities.” However, the White House insists it will not seek regime change. Though President Obama has won support in Congress, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday that he has failed to win the support of the majority of Americans. 56 percent of those surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria, and only 19 percent support action. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern about the US plan to launch a military strike against Syria, saying “the use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations charter.” He also suggested that a U.S. attack could lead to further unrest and conflict in Syria.

On Two Month Anniversary of Morsi’s Ouster, Thousands Protest

Supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi marched in Cairo and throughout Egypt to protest the “military coup” that deposed him two months prior. Though several thousand people marched in Cairo and Giza, Suez, the Nile Delta governorate of Sharqiya and upper Egypt’s Qena, the movement appears to have dwindled. After the August 14th dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins, Cairo saw massive demonstrations the following Friday. However, the security clampdown and arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members appears to have seriously affected their ability to mobilize in recent weeks.

Egypt’s Artists and Activists Use Crowdfunding to Support Work

Online crowdfunding is providing Egyptian artists and activists with a new way to fund projects. Supporters hope that these new financial models will facilitate projects traditionally supported by private or state funding. All that is needed is a “budget outline, a description for the project, perhaps a catchy video, and a social media marketing campaign for the duration of the project.” Mohamed El-Shahed, who runs the website cairobserver.com, recently used crowdfunding to raise several thousand dollars.

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