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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

 Cairo Airport on High Alert

Anyone planning to travel out of the country for the upcoming Eid al Adha holiday may have to navigate new challenges at Cairo’s international airport. Egyptian security forces have set up new checkpoints leading to the airport, and police have brought in trained dogs to search potential passengers for explosive devices and illegal substances. Departure and arrival gates will also be under new, tighter security measures. National security forces put the airport on high security alert following three attacks by unknown assailants in different locations around the country on Monday, and after a bloody weekend of clashes between protesters and army and police personnel.

“We Will Ride Bicycles” Campaign

Sexual harassment is a rampant problem in Egypt, according to many surveys and studies. Over 99 percent of women report experiencing sexual harassment, many on a daily basis. Several groups and coalitions like Harassmap and Operation Anti Sexual Assault have launched new initiatives to combat street harassment in recent months; in a similar vein, a group called “Girls Revolution” recently launched a new campaign urging women to take part in a group bicycle ride this Saturday, in defiance of societal pressures not to participate in the sport. The same group launched a similar campaign over the summer entitled “We Will Wear Dresses” to encourage women to express solidarity with each other and defy harassment on the streets and on public transportation.

Egypt’s President Visits Saudi Arabia, Jordan

Egypt’s interim president Adli Mansour embarked on his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, and met Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and Crown Prince Salman bin Abdel Aziz in Jeddah yesterday. He is scheduled to visit Amman to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah today. Both Saudi Arabia and Jordan have expressed warm support for the new interim government in Egypt, and Saudi Arabia has pledged billions to Egypt to help the new government jump start the economy. In an interview, Mansour said that thanks to Saudi Arabia and other countries’ help, “Egypt’s democracy train has taken off.” It’s worth mentioning that Saudi Arabia and Jordan are both monarchies.

Egypt’s New Olive Tree Initiative in Sinai

Egypt’s new agriculture minister Ayman Farid Abou-Hadid announced that he plans to plant one million new olive trees in the Sinai Peninsula to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel. Egypt is the top global producer of table olives and the olive production sector in Egypt employs around 30,000 people. A quarter of the land Egypt uses to grow olives is located in the restive Sinai peninsula, which has seen several attacks by unknown assailants in recent months.

Constitution Draft Deadline Approaching

The head of Egypt’s 50-person constitutional committee announced that the amendments to the constitution would be ready to review before Egypt’s national Eid al Adha holiday goes into effect next week. Islamic groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have boycotted the committee and expressed alarm about the direction the new constitution is heading in, in terms of the removal of articles that specifically address religion in Egypt as the basis of law. The committee is mostly made up of secularists, in contrast with the previous constitutional committee under President Morsi, which was dominated by Islamists. After the amendments are completed, the constitution will be put up for a national referendum for a period of 30 days.

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