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Monday, December 2, 2013

Constitution Draft Completed

After a long, controversial process, the committee charged with drafting Egypt’s new constitution has agreed on the last few articles, and will submit the final draft to the president tomorrow. The last-minute amendments changed Egypt’s political roadmap to allow for presidential elections before parliamentary elections. The committee also voted to do away with quotas in parliament for farmers, young people, Christians, and the disabled, and instead stipulated that each group should receive “proper representation.” Among the other articles that passed in the last stages was legislation saying that a president can serve for four terms and be re-elected once, and an article concerning military trials for civilians, which will be allowed under certain circumstances. This last article, which has proven to be the most controversial, passed 41 to 6 with one abstention.

Protests Across Cairo

Yesterday students and supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi snarled traffic as they demonstrated across Cairo and attempted to march to Tahrir Square. Those who reached the square were met with tear gas, as security forces dispersed the demonstrations. One reason for the resurgence in collective anger against the military-backed government was the death of an engineering student while police were dispersing a protest last Thursday at Cairo University. The details of Mohamed Reda’s death are still unclear, but early reports say that he was shot three times. Another reason why protesters are taking to the streets again is a recent court ruling in Alexandria which sentenced several female teenage protesters who were demonstrating in favor of the deposed president to eleven years in prison.

Teenage Prisoners to Appeal Their Verdict

14 teenage protesters who received harsh prison sentences from a court in Alexandria last week will appeal the verdict. The court accused the girls of being members of the Muslim Brotherhood and sentenced them to eleven years in prison, which sparked outrage and protests in Alexandria and Cairo, in addition to human rights groups. A presidential adviser said that the women would receive a “full pardon” from the government after the appeal process is completed.

No Improvement in Conditions for Qatar’s Migrant Workers

During a recent visit to Qatar, the International Trade Union Federation (ITUC) discovered that there has been no improvement in conditions for migrants workers in the small gulf state. Qatar has come under the international spotlight recently because of its selection as the location of the 2022 World Cup. As migrant workers from countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh labor to construct the infrastructure for the upcoming event, international rights groups have noted rising rates of death and disease among the workers, who are often forced to live in squalid conditions. The ITUC said that more than 4,000 migrant workers could die from such conditions before the World Cup.

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