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Monday, December 16, 2013

Constitution Banner Debacle

The interim Egyptian president Adli Mansour has set a definite date for the constitutional referendum – January 14-15  of next year – but the public unveiling of the new draft has already gotten off to a bad start. Constitutional Committee Head Amr Moussa presented the draft document to the public on Sunday under a banner proclaiming that the constitution was for “all Egyptians.” However, the banner spelled ‘Egyptians’ wrong and three of the five people depicted on the banner are not Egyptian, but appear to be taken from stock photos on American and Irish websites. Despite the rocky start, state television has started airing commercials telling Egyptian to vote yes on the referendum, and supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi are calling for a boycott.

Sisi Meets with US Congress Members

In a show of further support for Egypt’s interim military-backed government, a delegation from the US Congress met with the Minister of Defense General Abd el Fattah el Sisi yesterday. Among the US representatives in attendance were Steve King, a Republican from Iowa who heads the Rights and Civil Freedoms House subcommittee. The delegation discussed improving relations between the two countries, and a presidential spokesperson said that the group promised Egypt’s interim president that the US would back “the will of the Egyptian people” at this critical stage, both economically and in the form of military aid to support Egypt’s “war on terrorism.”

Group Calls for Million Person Rally on Tuesday

A pro-Morsi coalition called the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has asked university students to protest en masse tomorrow across the country, as part of “Students Ignite the Revolution” week. Students have been protesting to show their support for the deposed President Mohamed Morsi on various campuses for the past several weeks, though events escalated recently when police stepped up their tactics, and started using more tear gas and bird shot. Several students at Al Azhar and Cairo University have died in the clashes, leading to more outrage. Government security forces do not claim responsibility for some of these deaths, but instead blame the protesters.

15-Year-Old Student Jailed for ‘Subversive Ruler’; Father Being Questioned

A 15-year-old student was arrested recently for bringing a ruler to school which bore the four-fingered ‘Rabaa’ symbol which indicates affiliation with pro-Morsi protesters, and now his father is now being investigated as well. The symbol, which depicts a hand against a yellow background, is meant to show solidarity with the hundreds of protesters who died in mid-August when Egyptian security forces dispersed two large pro-Morsi protest encampments in Cairo. Khaled Bakara, the owner of the ruler, remains in jail, while his father and two of his teachers are being investigated.

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