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Monday, December 30, 2013

 Al Jazeera English Journalists Arrested

Four journalists affiliated with the Al Jazeera English news network – the AJE bureau chief, a correspondent, a producer and a cameraman – were arrested last night by Egyptian authorities. The government has accused the journalists of being “elements of the Muslim Brotherhood,” a group that was declared a terrorist organization last week. Police also took cameras and printed materials from among the journalists’ belongings. If they are convicted of being members of the Brotherhood or propagating the teachings of the group, the journalists could be imprisoned for five or more years. The Committee to Protect Journalists recently listed Egypt as one of the top worst countries in the world for jailing journalists.

Court Rules University Protests Illegal Amid Clashes

Clashes between students at Al Azhar and Cairo University and Egyptian police forces continued today for the third day in a row. Students protesting in favor of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi and in opposition to the military-backed interim government were enraged when authorities shot and killed one student protester on Saturday; the latest in a handful of student protester fatalities. Various departments in Al Azhar University were set on fire over the weekend, though it’s still unclear who was responsible. Authorities arrested 25 students on Sunday and used tear gas to disperse demonstrators, and today, a Cairo court ruled that it was illegal to protest on Egyptian university campuses without the permission of the University president.

Egypt’s First Smart Buses

Egypt’s interim government has introduced a new fleet of 24 ‘smart’ buses equipped with Wi-Fi in the governorate of Cairo – a first for the country. The buses are part of an larger attempt to focus on improving public transportation in Egypt, and the government hopes to eventually replace 200 of their buses with the new models. In addition to internet access, the new buses include on-board entertainment technology and an audio stop alert system. Fifty new buses will be added to the current fleet on a monthly basis until the target figure is reached.

 Uptick in Violent Attacks

Egypt has witnessed several violent attacks over the last two weeks, and this weekend was no exception. Following a recent trend of car bombs in Mansoura and Cairo, another car bomb exploded yesterday in Sharqiya governorate, apparently targeting a military intelligence building. Three people sustained injuries from the blast but no one was killed; a nearby building was also damaged. An explosive device was also found planted near a school in the North Sinai region, but it did not detonate. A militant group based in the Sinai claimed responsibility for the giant blast in Mansoura, but no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the other attacks as of yet. After the Mansoura bombing, which left 15 dead, the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group and froze the assets of hundreds of charities and organizations associated with the group.

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