Morsi Trial Postponed
Former president Mohamed Morsi’s trial began today in Cairo, amid much anticipation of protests. Fearing violence, many businesses closed, foreign embassies sent out warnings to citizens to stay away from crowded places, and the American University in Cairo shuttered its doors. However, the judge presiding over the trial which was being held at a police academy in East Cairo (the same place where former president Hosni Mubarak is being tried) decided to postpone the proceedings until January 8. The decision was reportedly due to a dispute over the official prison uniform for defendants (Morsi was wearing a suit) and because other defendants were chanting during the trial. Morsi and other members of his party and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood are being tried on charges of murder and inciting violence. This is the first time Morsi has been seen in public since the military removed him from power on July 3 and detained him in a secret location.
Protests, Clashes Sweep Across Egypt
As Morsi was being transported to begin his trial in East Cairo this morning (which was later postponed), supporters of the deposed president and the Muslim Brotherhood staged demonstrations in different cities and governorates across the country. Protesters who supported Morsi clashed with opponents in Alexandria, and two people were injured. Also in Alexandria, an anti-Morsi march near the Corniche included calls for the former president to receive the death penalty. In Assiut, pro-Morsi protesters threw rocks at police, who used tear gas to quell the unrest. Morsi supporters also staged demonstrations outside of a courthouse in Mansoura and tried to block off a road. The city of Suez and the governorate of Sharqiyah witnessed protests and scuffles between security officers and protesters as well.
US Secretary of State Visits Egypt
US Secretary of State John Kerry made a quick trip to Cairo yesterday en route to visit eight other countries, and pressed Egyptian officials to stick to the military’s ‘road map.’ He met with both General Sisi (the Minister of Defense) and interim president Adly Mansour, in addition to human rights groups and other political actors. Kerry called for the current government to “enact constitutional protections” to build support in the US Congress for reinstating America’s suspended aid to Egypt. Regarding the military’s road map, Kerry said in a press conference: “I think it’s important for all of us, until proven otherwise, to accept that this is the track Egypt is on and to work to help it to be able to achieve that.”
After Criticism, CBC Suspends Bassem Youssef’s Show
The Egyptian news network CBC decided to suspend the popular satirical show El Bernameg, after a firestorm of criticism over comedian Bassem Youssef’s decision to criticize the widespread support in Egypt for General Sisi and the military. Right before the latest episode of the show was set to air on Friday, a CBC news anchor announced that the show had violated editorial policies and would be suspended. Earlier last week, CBC attempted to distance itself from the program, referencing Youssef’s “mocking of national sentiment and symbols of the state.”
Rights Groups Decry Detention of 21 Protesters in Alexandria
Two Egyptian human rights groups condemned the detention of 21 female protesters between the ages of 15-22 who were arrested last week. The protesters were part of a group called “7 am,” a youth movement which is based in Alexandria and which opposes the removal of former president Mohamed Morsi. The demonstrators had tried to form a human chain on the Corniche when they were arrested, and authorities said that they are to remain in detention for at least 15 days.