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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Draft Protest Law Draws Criticism, Condemnation

Egypt’s interim military-backed government drafted legislation this month that gives the military the power to proclaim protests illegal and to disperse them using lethal force. The legislation has drawn criticism from liberal factions in the coalition which currently backs the military road map. Ziad Bahaa al-Din, the Deputy Prime Minister, stated that the growing criticism would likely delay the process of turning the legislation into law. If the bill is signed into law by Adly Mansour, the interim president, the Interior Minister would have to grant permission to any group intending to stage demonstrations and protests.

Army Officers Call for Sisi to Run for President

Senior military officers in the Egyptian armed forces are encouraging General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for president in order “to maintain stability,” according to one army officer who wished to remain unnamed. Reuters also quoted the officer as saying “who else can run but him? There is no one else as popular as him.” A new campaign based on the campaign that collected signatures calling for the ouster of president Morsi has reportedly collected 15 million signatures calling for Sisi to undertake a presidential bid.

Soldier Killed in Checkpoint Attack in Sinai

Militants attacked a checkpoint Wednesday in the central part of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing a member of the Egyptian armed forces.  Ragab Saeed Ahmed was killed when unknown assailants opened fire on the checkpoint. He was taken to the Suez General Hospital Morgue. Gunmen also reportedly attacked a bus full of soldiers which was traveling on the Arish-Rafah road. The attack did not result in any casualties. Since former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power in July, the Sinai has witnessed an uptick in violent attacks by extremist groups.

 Bassem Youssef Returns

Tomorrow will be the first day that Bassem Youssef, the wildly popular Egyptian doctor-turned-comedian who is most famous for skewering former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood returns to television. In July,  he stopped broadcasting his satirical show El Barnamag after the former president was removed by the military.  Many have speculated about whether or not his political satire will have the same bite, now that his familiar targets are out of power. But according to his recent op-ed for Al-Shurooq, Youssef writes “Sisi supporters are using the same terms as Morsi supporters. They won’t accept a word against Sisi and their defense of freedom and democracy will stop the moment the joke bothers them.” In 2013, Youssef won the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom award. His show will be broadcast tomorrow at 9 pm Cairo time, on CBC.

Germany Outraged Over Alleged US Spying

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called US President Barack Obama on Wednesday to demand answers, when it was revealed that the US Secret Service may have spied on her cell phone calls.  A White House spokesperson did not deny the allegations but stated that the Secret Service is not currently recording her calls. The allegations have caused outrage in Germany and France. Merkel summoned the US ambassador to Berlin today and he is scheduled to meet with the Foreign Minister soon in order to discuss the allegations.

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