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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Constitutional Committee Wants to Exclude Religious Parties From the Political Process

Political parties “based on religious grounds” are to be banned, according to a spokesperson for the committee drafting Egypt’s new constitution. Mohamed Salmawy announced on Wednesday that the committee voted to exclude political parties that carry a religious message, or parties that are discriminative or secretive. After the 2011 revolution, the majority of spots in the Egyptian parliament were claimed by religious political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. The constitutional committee has been criticized for not representing the will of the Egyptian populace and for being “dominated by secularists and leftists that are attempting to impose their views on others.” The draft of the constitution is slated to be finished by October 14.

Experimental Video Festival Returns to Cairo

The Medrar Cairo Video Festival, which opened yesterday in the Garden City area of Cairo, will showcase experimental film and video art over the next two weeks. The festival, which began showcasing international video submissions in 2005, was canceled during the last two years because of political unrest. Many of the 800 submissions they received this year were filmed in Super 8 mm film, the festival director said in a recent interview. The festival specializes in showing low-budget and experimental videos and hopes to foster collaboration between local visual artists and filmmakers.

Union Warns of Third Revolution

The president of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Malek Bayoumi, warned that a “third revolution” might occur if the government continued to fail to address Egyptian workers’ needs. He also accused the Egyptian prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, of using a proposed minimum wage increase to distract unions. The minimum wage hike will only apply to public sector workers, and while it raises wages from 700 Egyptian pounds to 1200, it doesn’t take into account devaluation of the pound and reflects worker demands from 2008. Government officials, however, say the pledged deal is generous given the current economic crisis.

France to Investigate Death of French Citizen in Cairo Prison

France has declared that it will investigate the mysterious murder of one of its citizens in an Egyptian prison two weeks ago. Eric Lang, 49, a teacher and French citizen, was arrested on September 13 in the affluent Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek during curfew hours. According to  Egyptian prosecutors, Lang was arrested while intoxicated and was later beaten to death by inmates because he was foreign. Lang’s lawyer, however, disputes the official state account of the events and said that security forces arrested Lang during the day, before curfew had begun on September 6. One suspect said that he beat Lang to death because he was foreign, but five of the inmates denied attacking the victim.

Protests in Sudan over Fuel Prices Leave 29 Dead

The turmoil which began on Monday in Sudan due to the government’s recent decision to cancel gas subsidies has left 29 people dead. Recent austerity measures have almost doubled the price of fuel, which increased from $2.83 a gallon to $4.71. Sudan lost more than 75 percent of its oil reserves when South Sudan became independent in 2011. The protests are the largest Sudan has seen since President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989. Authorities closed public schools until the end of the month and cut internet access throughout the country. Activists have called for protests to continue today in Khartoum.

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