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Friday, October 18, 2013

Leader of Islamist Group Calls for Dialogue After Eid

A leader of the Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya has declared that the time for negotiations and talks between the Egyptian government and supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi will come after the Eid al Adha religious holiday. Aboud El Zomor said that the groups need to engage in dialogue, and that he empathizes with the Egyptian army’s position. However, he clarified, the violent security crackdown targeting Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters was unwarranted. “Many Islamist currents feel it’s not a transition but a period for revenge,” he said of the current political climate in Egypt. Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyya is an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been participating in demonstrations against the current military-backed interim government.

Crackdown on Syrian Refugees

Amnesty International called for an end to the crackdown on Syrian refugees in Egypt in a report released yesterday, specifically demanding that the government stop “unlawfully detaining and deporting hundreds of Syrian refugees.” The group reported that 40 refugees are currently being detained indefinitely in a police station in Alexandria, including 10 children.  In the days following Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, Egyptian media and politicians accused Syrian refugees of infiltrating protests and perpetrating violence against the state. Egypt also put new visa restrictions on Syrians in July, which require them to receive a security clearance before entering the country. However, the Egyptian government denies that it has any policy targeting Syrian refugees. A spokesperson with the foreign ministry noted that some Syrians had been deported for participating in protests in a violent manner.

Egyptian Fishermen Detained in Tunisia

16 Egyptian fishermen who crossed over into Tunisian waters earlier this week were seized and detained by Tunisian authorities, but most are set to be released soon, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry. Tunisia will continue to detain the captain of the fishing boat and may charge him a fine for crossing into Tunisian territory without permission. Relations between Tunisia and Egypt are still tense; in late September, the Egyptian presidential office expressed dissatisfaction with comments made by Tunisia’s president Moncef Marzouki at a UN meeting. Marzouki called on the Egyptian government to release deposed President Morsi to solve the political problems in the country.

Saudi Arabia Receives, Rejects Security Council Seat at the UN

Within hours of being elected to the formidable 15-member Security Council Committee at the UN, Saudi Arabia rejected the position, saying that the body was ineffective and unable to solve crises like the current one in Syria. In a statement, the Saudi government elaborated, saying “allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment is clear proof and evidence of the UN Security Council’s inability to perform its duties and shoulder its responsibilities.” The UN estimates that over 100,000 Syrians have died in Syria since the conflict began.

Weekend Read

In Enduring Exile, Alia Malek writes about a family’s journey from Armenia to Syria and back again.

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