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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Egypt’s Depressing Climate for Journalists

Another new study indicating that Egypt is one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist was released yesterday. According to the Press Emblem Campaign, Egypt is the seventh most dangerous country to work in as a journalist, as seven journalists were killed over the course of the last year. Syria and Iraq top the list of countries with the most journalist deaths. This recent study comes after the Committee to Protect Journalists declared Egypt one of the top ten worst countries in terms of jailing journalists. A recent high profile event – the arrest of four journalists working with the news network Al Jazeera English – has drawn international condemnation and disapproval. The Qatar-based news network has demanded the release of their employees, who the Egyptian government says are working with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Roadmap Shift?

Egypt’s roadmap, the government plan put forth by the Egyptian armed forces after former president Mohamed Morsi was overthrown, may be shifting in the near future. While Egyptians were supposed to vote for members of parliament first and then weigh in on their presidential choices, several government sources are reporting that the presidential election will occur first instead.  Opponents of this idea point out that this could create a presidency with unchecked power, while supporters say that Egypt needs a strong leader in place as soon as possible, on account of the economic and political crisis afflicting the country. General Abd el-Fattah el-Sisi, if he choses to run, is expected to sweep the election.

Churches Will Have Tightened Security on New Years Eve

As 2013 comes to an end, Egypt’s interim government has announced that they will take necessary precautions to improve security for all churches in Egypt this evening during New Year’s Eve celebrations. Security forces have a plan in place, government officials said, and cars and motorcycles will not be allowed to park near churches. The security precautions come after a bombing attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Years Eve in 2011 killed over 23 people and injured almost 100.

Protester Crackdown Continues

Egyptian authorities continued their crackdown on protesters, arresting 15 engineering students yesterday during protests at Cairo’s Al Azhar University. Three student protesters have died during clashes with Egyptian security forces in the past month. Also yesterday, an Egyptian court convicted 139 supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi to two-year sentences, for charges that include engaging in riots and sabotage.

Bassem Youssef to Return on New Channel

Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s much beloved and much criticized political satirist, will return to Egyptian television screens in February. Youssef’s show ‘El Bernameg’ (The Program) which is loosely based on Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ will be broadcast on MBC Misr channel. CBC (Youssef’s former channel) suspended the show after the first episode of the new season mocked the popular adulation of the Egyptian armed forces and General Sisi. CBC said that they had suspended the show because of a breached contract. Youssef is known for his sharp political criticism, and has spoken out against Egyptians who defended his freedom of speech under Morsi but remained silent when he was publicly condemned for mocking the military-backed interim government.

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