Archive for October 17, 2014

Fri Apr 18, 2014

Egyptian riot police backed by military troops have attacked massive rallies of anti-government protesters in the capital Cairo and the city of Suez.

Police backed by army units attacked al-Azhar University students protesting in Cairo’s Nasr City on Friday.

Security forces fired tear gas and birdshot to disperse anti-regime demonstrators.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Suez also came under a similar crackdown.

Reports say several people were arrested and injured in both cities.

Protests against the army and the military-backed authorities usually break out every week after Friday prayers.

Opponents of the former defense minister, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who is running for president, are right now holding rallies in many other Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Giza and Sharqiyah.

The latest developments come after Sisi officially submitted his bid to run for president.

Sisi led the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, suspended the constitution and dissolved the parliament in July last year. He is also accused of leading a severe crackdown against the supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian military-installed interim officials have mounted a heavy-handed crackdown on Morsi supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Figures show Egypt’s military-backed government has jailed nearly 16,000 people over the past few months.

Despite Cairo’s crackdown, the Brotherhood says the group remains committed to peaceful resistance against the interim government.

Several international bodies and the United Nations Human Rights Council have expressed concern over the Egyptian security forces’ crackdown and the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters.

Rights groups say at least 1,400 people have been killed in the violence since Morsi’s ouster, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”

Source: PressTV.


Cairo (XNA)

Apr 15, 2014

Egypt will launch a new satellite from Kazakhstan on Wednesday, official news agency MENA reported on Monday.

“Egypt will launch a new satellite, named ‘Egyptsat,’ from Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan to enhance modern scientific research,” Egyptian cabinet spokesperson Houssam Qawish was quoted as saying.

The satellite will also contribute to development in such fields as agriculture and oil and gas exploration, and pave the way for the formation of an Egyptian space agency, Qawish said.

The new satellite costs 300 million Egyptian pounds (nearly 43 million U.S. dollars).

Egypt currently owns two communication satellites, Nilesat 1 and Nilesat 2, which provide broadcasting services for the country.

Source: Space-Travel.


Mon Apr 7, 2014

Thousands of young Egyptians have called for the release of the prisoners arrested after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi last year, Press TV reports.

In a Sunday rally marking the foundation date of the April 6 Youth Movement, the protesters chanted slogans against the military-backed government and its heavy-handed treatment of peaceful demonstrators.

The protesters gathered outside the Journalists Syndicate in the capital, Cairo, after security forces closed all entrances to iconic Tahrir Square, where protests were born against former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The revolutionary Youth group played a key role in the 2011 revolution that ousted Mubarak.

Since the revolution, “nothing has changed, what is taking place now is even worse than what existed under ousted Mubarak,” a protester told Press TV.

The protesters also called on the government to release political activists, including Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma, the founding members of the movement.

The group has launched a campaign to collect online petitions calling for the release of all political prisoners.

Last month, an Egyptian court sentenced to death 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is sympathetic to Morsi.

Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting violence since Morsi was ousted on July 3, 2013.

In November, the military-backed authorities passed a law banning all but police-sanctioned protests. Since then, hundreds of anti-government protesters have been jailed for breaking the law.

Rights groups say at least 1,400 people have been killed in the violence since the ouster of Morsi, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”

Source: PressTV.


Thu Mar 27, 2014

Egyptian riot police have attacked anti-government protesters outside the Defense Ministry in Cairo, injuring several people.

Fresh protests were organized in Egypt in condemnation of military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s presidential nomination.Student protesters rallied in front of the defense ministry in the capital Cairo on Thursday.

Police moved in later and used tear gas and birdshot to break up the protest. Several injuries were reported in clashes there.

Similar demonstrations were held in several cities across Egypt the night before.

They came after Sisi announced his resignation as Egypt’s military chief to run for president.

State institutions and media are all geared toward Sisi’s candidacy, a situation which undermines the chances of a fair competition for any other candidate.

However, Egypt’s political parties and figures have repeatedly called on the country’s army to stay out of politics.

The field marshal helped overthrow the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi last year, following mass protests against his rule.

The UN Human Rights Council recently expressed concern over the Egyptian security forces’ heavy-handed crackdown and the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters.

Anti-government demonstrators have been holding rallies almost on a daily basis since the army toppled president Morsi. The demonstrators demand that Morsi be reinstated.

According to a UK-based rights group, Amnesty International, 1,400 people have been killed in the political violence since Morsi’s ouster in July last year, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”

Source: PressTV.


March 24, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court Monday sentenced to death nearly 530 suspected backers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi over a deadly attack on a police station, capping a swift, two-day mass trial in which defense attorneys were not allowed to present their case.

It was the largest single batch of death sentences in the world in recent years, Amnesty International said. The U.S. State Department said it “defies logic” that so many people could get a fair trial in just two sessions.

The verdicts by a court in the city of Minya are subject to appeal and are likely to be overturned. But the outcome stunned human rights activists and raised fears that the rule of law is being swept away in the crackdown waged by the military-backed interim government against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood since his overthrow last summer.

The government is conducting a series of mass trials of Brotherhood supporters, some with hundreds of defendants. “It turns the judiciary in Egypt from a tool for achieving justice into an instrument for taking revenge,” said Mohammed Zarie, a Cairo-based human rights lawyer.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry brushed off the criticism, saying in a statement that the judiciary is “entirely independent and is not influenced in any way by the executive branch of government.” The government has branded the Brotherhood a terrorist group, a claim it denies. Some 16,000 people have been arrested since Morsi’s ouster, including most of the group’s top leaders as well as large numbers swept up by police during pro-Morsi protests.

A judicial official involved in Monday’s case told The Associated Press that the swift and harsh verdicts were meant as a deterrent. “Now no one would dare to think to attack a police station or a state institution after they saw death penalties falling on their group’s heads,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case.

He defended the mass trial, saying, “We are in exceptional circumstances. We don’t have time to summon each and every defendant, prove their presence and confirm who are their lawyers.” He said he expected an appeals court to overturn the verdicts and order a retrial because defense lawyers were not given a chance to present their case — but he predicted a similar verdict.

The 545 defendants were charged with murder, attempted murder, joining an outlawed group aiming at toppling the regime and stealing government weapons in connection with the attack last August in the town of Matay, south of Cairo. The town’s deputy police chief, Mohammed al-Attar, was killed in the violence.

The bloodshed was part of nationwide rioting sparked when security forces stormed two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and killed over 600 people. The state news agency and the judicial official said 528 defendants were found guilty and handed death sentences, while the rest were acquitted, though some officials put the number at 529 convicted.

All but around 150 of the defendants were tried in absentia and will get retrials if captured. In the trial’s first session, on Saturday, the presiding judge, Said Youssef, angrily shouted down requests by defense lawyers for more time to review the prosecution’s case, Khaled el-Koumi, a lawyer representing 10 of the defendants, told the AP. Dozens of lawyers reacted by chanting slogans against the judge.

“We didn’t have the chance to say a word or to look at more than 3,000 pages of investigation to see what evidence they are talking about,” el-Koumi said. On Monday, police and special forces encircled the building and barred defense attorneys from attending, said one of the lawyers, Yasser Zidan. The judge ordered the measures because of the disruptions during the previous session, Minya police said.

When the judge read the verdict, around 150 defendants, held in a courtroom cage, as is customary in Egyptian trials, screamed, “You butcher!” a senior official involved in courtroom security said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The death sentences must first be approved by Egypt’s mufti, the country’s top Islamic official — a step that is usually a formality. Once that happens, expected on April 28, the defense lawyers can file an appeal with a court in Cairo.

The Egyptian judicial official said the court did not need to establish that all those convicted were directly involved in the police official’s killing — only that they were involved in the attack on the station.

He said the evidence included 20 video clips showing the crowd beating the deputy chief with iron poles and a doctor smashing his head with an oxygen canister. But one of those tried and sentenced in absentia, 21-year-old Sayyaf Gamal, said he was in Cairo at the time of the attack. Speaking by telephone from hiding, Gamal said the verdict is aimed at driving the Brotherhood into violence to justify an even heavier crackdown.

“They want to explode the situation,” he said. In a statement, the Brotherhood called the verdict “shocking” and an indication that “the corrupt judiciary is being utilized by the coup commanders … to install a brutal regime.”

On Tuesday, a group of 683 defendants is set to go on trial in Minya over an attack on another police station. Among the defendants are the top leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badei, and other senior figures.

“We are deeply concerned that the dozens of mass trials that are taking place … are similarly riddled with due process violations and will also result in outrageous sentences,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

But with authorities casting the arrests of Brotherhood supporters as part of a fight against terrorism, some members of the public strongly back the crackdown. On Monday, an announcer on state radio praised the latest verdicts for bringing “swift justice.”

Amin Fatouh, a Cairo resident, said: “Those who kill deserve death, just as the Quran says. These people have committed murder, and they must be killed in return.”

Associated Press Writer Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report from Cairo