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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Security Forces Disperse Protests Against Military Trials, New Law

Days after a controversial anti-protest law was passed in Egypt, demonstrators took to the streets of downtown Cairo in a show of defiance, and to demand the end to military trials of civilians. Police fired tear gas and water cannons at groups of protesters who were chanting anti-military slogans, including “the people demand the overthrow of the regime.” When the smoke cleared, more than 50 people were arrested for breaking the new law. The group “No to Military Trials” issued a statement yesterday blaming the Interior Ministry for the violence and arrests.

Arrest Warrant for Head of April 6th Youth Movement

One of the prominent leaders of the 2011 January uprising in Egypt which overthrew Hosni Mubarak is a wanted man. An Egyptian prosecutor order the arrest of Ahmed Maher, head of the progressive April 6th Youth Movement, for his involvement in planning demonstrations yesterday. The demonstrations (which were not authorized beforehand by security officials) violated a new law that restricts how and when people may protest.

US Criticizes New Law in Egypt

The US State Department condemned Egypt’s new protest law, which was ratified earlier this week. The law, which contains many articles pertaining to protests, has come under fire for banning political gatherings of more than 10 people without written permission from the state.  In a statement released earlier this week, the US Department of State said “demonstrators have the right the express their views peacefully.” United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also released a statement calling the new law “seriously flawed.” International human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, in addition to 19 Egyptian human rights organizations, have criticized the restrictive new law. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry fired back at the US, saying their criticism of the law is “unacceptable” and a “clear intervention” in local affairs.

Tamarod Splinters Over Military Trials

Two leaders of the political group Tamarod, Mahmoud Badr and Mohamed Abdel Aziz, have resigned from the 50-member constitutional draft committee over the mass arrests of protesters yesterday. The protesters were contesting a part of the draft constitution which allows for military trials of civilians. The remaining leadership of Tamarod, which organized the massive protests on June 30 which led to Morsi’s ouster, officially distanced themselves from the two members, saying they no longer represented the organization. Tamarod also added that they will be internally investigating others in the organization for making political decisions without consulting the group.

American Singer Causes a Stir on “Arabs Got Talent”

A 23-year-old American singer who doesn’t speak Arabic and has no ties to the Middle East has caused a stir recently with her covers of notoriously difficult songs by Egypt’s reigning queen of music, Um Kulthum. Jennifer Grout wowed audiences with her rendition of Um Kulthum’s Baeeed Anak on the popular television show this week. Grout will have the opportunity to win in the show finale in a few weeks time, where she will be competing with several contestants; among them, Mayam Mahmoud, an Egyptian singer who has received a lot of media attention lately for being the first veiled rapper to participate on the show.

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