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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Constitutional Vote in January

Egypt’s interim Prime Minister Hazem El Beblawy has announced that Egyptians will have the opportunity to vote on the new constitution (which was drafted by a largely secular, 50-person committee) after mid-January, which is later than the originally proposed timetable. After the constitutional referendum, the military-backed interim government will hold parliamentary elections and presidential elections. There’s still no word yet on whether General Sisi, the current Minister of Defense and face of the Egyptian armed forces who is seen as responsible for deposing former President Morsi, will make a presidential bid.

Oil Workers Strike in Libya

Nine people were killed in clashes between the Libyan government’s forces and groups of Islamic militants in the port city of Benghazi yesterday, and as a result, more and more workers are going on strike. The security situation in Benghazi has gone from bad to worse lately as the two sides battle for control of the strategically-located city, and public servants, private sector employees and oil workers have all joined the labor strike. Oil companies are expected to be affected. Over half of Libya’s oil production comes from the Eastern part of the country, which is likely to be affected by the strikes.

Egyptian Police Disperse First Protests Under New Law

After Egypt’s interim government passed a controversial new law earlier this week restricting public protests, university students at Al Azhar University and Assiut University staged demonstrations. They chanted slogans against the military and the police, and security forces responded with tear gas. Also in response to the new law, lawyers and activists submitted requests to the interior ministry to stage protests later in the week and had their requests approved. Rights groups like Amnesty International have decried the new law, and  19 Egyptian human rights groups released a statement saying that the law “seeks to criminalise all forms of peaceful assembly, including demonstrations and public meetings, and gives the state free hand to disperse peaceful gatherings by use of force.”

German Writer Who Criticized Islamists Missing

Hamed Abdul Samed, a German writer living in Cairo who was working on a book about religious fascism, has been missing since Sunday. His family fears that he may have been kidnapped. Abdul Samed received death threats after publishing a book in 2009 called “My Farewell from Heaven” and also after giving a speech over the summer which criticized the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic radicals.  In June, an Egyptian cleric called for the author to be killed, and Abdel Samed contacted the German embassy to express his concerns about his personal safety. He reportedly said that he was being followed by a black car prior to disappearing this weekend.

Yosri Fouda Returns to the Airwaves

Yosri Fouda, a prominent and influential Egyptian investigative journalist, returned to television on Monday evening after a four-month break. Like Bassem Youssef, the wildly popular satirist and talk show host, and several other independent media voices, Fouda disappeared from public view over the summer when former President Morsi was deposed and the military cracked down on political dissent. Fouda featured a novelist and one of the founders of a new group called “No to Military Trials” on his show “Akher Kalam.”

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