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Friday, September 6, 2013

Labor Lawyer and Journalist Arrested

A labor rights lawyer and prominent member of the Revolutionary Socialists party was arrested yesterday by the Egyptian military near the city of Suez on his way to visit clients. Haytham Mohamadein is still being held on unknown charges. The Revolutionary Socialists supported the calls for President Morsi to step down, but have criticized the Egyptian army in recent weeks. In a recent interview, Mohamadein said “General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is leading a counter-revolution under the cover of suppressing Islamists in the streets,” adding, “The Mubarak regime is being revived again.” A Sinai-based journalist, Ahmed Abu Draa, was also arrested yesterday on charges of publishing false information about the Egyptian armed forces.

Political Unrest Closes St. Catherine’s Monastery, Local Economy Suffers

St. Catherine’s Monastery, a 1,500 year-old popular tourist destination in the Sinai peninsula, is suffering from a financial crisis. After Egyptian security forces mandated that the monastery close its doors in early July due to regional unrest and attacks on local churches, the regular flow of tourists has dried up, and the monastery cannot afford to pay the nearly 400 bedouin workers they hire to work in their olive groves, grape farms, honey bee farms and processing facilities. The nearby town of St. Catherine’s is suffering as well; families who worked in tourism can’t afford to feed their camels, and are selling them in order to survive. The monastery has only shuttered its doors twice in the past fifty years.

Few Details Emerge about Bomb Attack on Interior Minister

In the aftermath of Thursday morning’s bomb attack targeting the Egyptian interior minister, several political groups have condemned the event, and some have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of planning the attack. A 16-year-old British teenager reportedly had to have part of her leg amputated because of the bomb blast, and one person has died from injuries sustained in the attack. President Adly Mansour issued a statement promising to find the perpetrators and the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Morsi group, accused the Egyptian government of involvement in the event. Muslim Brotherhood members continue to condemn the attack and deny any responsibility.

NSA Secret Surveillance Program Sweeps Up Encrypted Information

In a development that may affect many Americans both in the US and overseas, leaked documents have revealed that the US National Security Agency has a secret program called Bullrun which deciphers protected, encrypted information, including medical records, web searches, internet chats, phone calls and emails. A leading cryptographer said that the intelligence community was “conducting instant, total invasion of privacy with limited effort,” adding, “this is the golden age of spying.” The New York Times, which recently published a lengthy article on the secret program, said that intelligence authorities asked them not to publish the article out of concern that foreign groups would learn about their techniques. The Times made the decision to go to print anyway, they said, because of “the value of a public debate about government actions that weaken the most powerful privacy tools.”

Egypt Reportedly Decides to Dissolve Muslim Brotherhood NGO

The Egyptian government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood’s non-governmental organization on the premise that their offices were used to store weapons and explosives, according to a government spokesperson. Though there has been much talk among Egyptian politicians and in the Egyptian media (including Al-Ahram, the state-run newspaper, and Al-Shurooq, a privately-owned paper) about dissolving the group, this move would fall short of implementing a direct ban on the Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood was dissolved by a military-backed government in 1954 and consequently went underground.

Weekend Read

Among Syria’s Islamist Fighters is a story from the New Yorker’s News Desk by Rania AbouZeid.

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