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Friday, September 13, 2013

State of Emergency Extended Two Months

Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour announced that he is extending the current State of Emergency in the country for another two months, until November 14. The announcement comes on the heels of recent violent attacks by armed gunmen on police and army forces in the Sinai Peninsula, and an assassination attempt against the Interior Minister. Yesterday, unknown assailants shot at two policeman in a car in Cairo. The current curfew stretches from 11 pm until 6 am, except for Fridays, when the curfew begins at 7 pm.

Media Crackdown in Egypt

In a disturbing trend, Egyptian authorities are cracking down on journalists and media outlets. Emad Sayed Abu Zeid, a journalist with Ahram Gate, was arrested yesterday on charges of “disturbing the public opinion and publishing information from a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated website.” Earlier this week, Ahmed Abu Draa, a journalist with the state media newspaper Al Ahram, was arrested and charged with “deliberately spreading abroad false news, reports, and rumors about the domestic situation in the country and spreading false news, on an Arabic satellite channel, about the Armed Forces and the results of its operations in North Sinai” reported Mada Masr. Abu Draa will be tried in a military court on Sunday.

Russia and US Want Peace Conference on Syria Issue

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that their talks about the current Russian proposal to disarm Syria of chemical weapons are proceeding in a “constructive” manner – a potential good sign for those who hope to avoid a US-led military strike on Syria. They plan to meet again in two weeks and hope to host a peace conference in Geneva to help resolve the current political crisis in Syria, if the chemical weapon disarmament plan is successful.

Syrian Refugees Leave Egypt for Italy

As anti-Syrian sentiment increases in Egypt in reaction to the shifting domestic political scene, thousands of Syrian refugees – who originally sought safe haven within Egyptian borders – are fleeing the country by boat for Italy.  A spokesperson for the UN’s refugee body, UNHCR, said that over 3,000 Syrian refugees arrived on Italy’s shores in the past two months. Many crossed the Mediterranean in small rickety boats because, he said, “when they’re desperate, they have to resort to desperate measures.”  Since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from public office in early July, Egypt imposed visa restrictions on Syrians and public rhetoric against Syrians has increased. Morsi supported the Syrian opposition, and Syrian refugees are often associated with the Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters, regardless of their actual political standing.

Egypt Works to Boost Tourism After Tumultuous Summer

The newly-extended national State of Emergency and curfew in Egypt is doing little to improve the country’s tourism sector, which suffered heavy losses over the summer due to ongoing political unrest and general uncertainty about the future. In reaction, Egypt’s government has developed an emergency plan, which includes new night-time events in Luxor and Aswan, opening previously-inaccessible historical sites, and reduced airfare to the Red Sea and South Sinai. The government also plans to launch a new marketing campaign to promote Egypt’s image around the world.

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