Egypt Democracy Watch

Here are the recent news and developments concerning the political life, reform and democratic movement in Egypt gathered from the Egypt Monitor.

Previous "Egypt Democracy Watch" on Middle East Policy:

April 2007

December 2006

October 2006

July 2006

Egypt's Constitutional Amendments

Egypt Democracy Watch:
(Covers the latest two months)

Source: The Egypt Monitor

The Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth Elects its First Board

The newly created Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth (EULY) elected its first board of directors on June 1st, 2007. Thirteen candidates run for the ten board seats. EULY is an initiative to unite the efforts of Liberal Youth in Egypt regardless of their party or non-party affiliations.

Attempts at Imploding the Judges Club

Presidents of two Judges Clubs from the provinces made an attempt to split from the main Judge's Club headquartered in Cairo. The plan aimed at making creating a federation of Judges Clubs nation wide, hence diminishing the role of the main Club in Cairo. However, Judges from Asyut- one the the two rebel Clubs- challenged the Club's president to withdraw his project and stay loyal to Cairo's headquarters or else vote him out of office. The president of the Asuyt Club sent apologies to the Judges at the end of May.

Reformist Judges consider that this to be the regime's attempt to implode the Judge's Club because of the Judges's positions on independence of the Judiciary and democracy.

A Unified Law for the Buidling and Repair of Places of Worship

The speaker of the People's Assembly (PA) declared that the lower House will pass a new law concerning the building and repair of places of worship. The new law aims at creating a unified law for all places of worship of the three national religions of Egypt: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It is currently easier for Muslims to build places of worship. The PA is to base the new law on the recommendation of the National Council of Human Rights.

Muslim Brotherhood Leaders Trial Adjourned

The military tribunal trial for the 33 leaders of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was adjourned to July 15. The military court refused to release on bail Khairat Al-Shater, second deputy leader of the MB. Further, the authorities did not allow the media or international observers, including former US general attorney Ramsey Clark into the trial location.

Public Transport Workers on Strike

In early May hundreds of public transport workers went on strike to protest their poor remuneration. The workers complained that their salaries do not exceed LE 500 ( around US $ 90 ) a month after ten years in service. On May 2d they prevented 250 buses from resuming their duties.

Ayman Nour Suffers Injuries in Jail

The jailed leader of the Ghad- Tomorrow- Party suffered 16 injuries on May 12. Nour accused the authorities of inflicting these injuries as part of his generally poor treatment in jail. The authorities are investigating Nour's complaints. Pictures of the injuries were published in the Ghad party website.

The Wafd Party Boycots the Shura Elections

On May 7th, 2007 the Higher Committee of the Wafd Party decided that the party will not participate in the Shura Council- Upper House- elections due to start on June 11, 2007. The Wafd party refuses to participates the Upper House elections as long the House does not have real legislative powers. The party also raised concerns on the new laws on electoral supervision perceived as not being conducive to fair elections.

Clashes Between Muslim and Copts Over Church Building

Sectarian clashes erupted in the Giza village of Bamha on May 11, 2007 over the construction of a Church. A plot of land and rumor concerning the building of a Church without proper permit seems to be behind the clashes. On the Coptic side, there were 11 injured, 25 houses and 5 shops burned down. The village priest accused the Mosque's Imam of sparking this sedition- a first in the 6000 inhabitant village.

A controversial reconciliation session took place as it did not settle the issue of compensating for damaged properties. The Pope Shenouda III asked the Copts to accept reconcilation and reject compensation, which angered many Copts.

Leading Figures in the Jihad Organization to Review their Ideology

Dr Ahmed Hussein Egueza, who served a 15 year jail sentence, declared that he is joining the revisionists in the Egyptian Jihad Organization. He mentioned that the ideologue and founder of the Egyptian Jihad Organization, Dr Sayid Imam Al-Sherif, is leading this initiative. The Egyptian Jihad Organization was considered to be a model for groups such as al-Qaida, whose deputy chief- Dr Ayman Zawahri- was once a leading figure. Al-Zawahri opposes the revisionist trend in the Egyptian Jihad organization.

Parties Committee Agrees on a New Party

On May 24, the government controlled Parties Committee agreed on the creation of a new party, the Democratic Front (DF). The DF has a liberal ideology and is founded by former NDP reformers. It is the 24th political party in Egypt and the third liberal party after the Wafd and the Ghad- Tomorrow - Party.

More the 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members Arrested

The authorities arrested more than 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in order to prevent them from running and campaigning for the Shara Council elections- Upper House- due to start on June 11, 2007. The MB considers this to be a regime attempt to limit the success of the MB in the mid-term Shara elections.

Assistant Secretary General of the Wafd to Represent Egyptian Liberal Parties in the Arab Liberal Forum

Representatives of four parties, the National Democratic Party, the Ghad- Tomorrow- Party, the Democratic Front and the Wafd agreed to be represented by Sameh Ebeid, assistant secretary general of the Wafd party, to represent Egypt in the stirring committee of the Arab Liberal Forum (ALF). The previous ALF meeting took place in Casabalnca- Morocco- and the next meeting will take place in September in Cairo. The ALF is a pan-Arab initiative to promote liberalism.

Government Support for NDP Parliamentarians

An independent member of parliament, Gamal Zahran, accused the government of supporting the districts of MPs from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), while neglecting the district where the opposition won. The MP wanted to interview government officials on this matters as he maintains that he has copies of checks from the government to mosques, hospitals and schools of the districts controlled by the NDP, whereas no such donations are given in the districts that elected opposition MPs. The NDP MPs prevented the opposition from entering a motion to present the case to the Central Auditing Authority.

Journalist Syndicate Concerned about Anti-Terrorist Law

The board of the Journalist Syndicate expressed its concern over comments made by Fathy Sourour -- the speaker of the People's Assembly (PA)- Lower House -- who declared that the new Anti-Terrorist Law will also be used against media outlets that encourage terrorism. The Syndicate is concerned that the new law could be misused in a way to curb freedom of the press.

MB Deputy Leader Aquited by Civilian Court

The second deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Khairat al-Shater, was acquitted by Cairo Criminal Court -- a civilian court -- together with 11 other MB members. Brotherhood leaders are still concerned, however, because Shater and his companions are still being tried in a military court.

Military Courts to Begin Hearings on MB Cases

On April 26, the military court started hearing the cases of 33 Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of money laundering and threatening the security of the state. The military courts are appointed by president Mubarak; the emergency law enables him to use these courts without appeal in sensitive cases.

State Council to View Nour's Release for Health Reason

The State Council will consider releasing Ayman Nour -- leader of the Ghad party -- for health reasons on May 22, 2007. Nour's Lawyers are hoping that the highest court in Egypt will release Ayman Nour because of his poor health condition and aim to prove that the ministry of interior manipulated evidence in this case.

El Ghad Party Launches a Radio Station

The Al Ghad party recently launched a web-based radio station. The station started broadcasting every night from 8 pm to 2 am Cairo time at http://www.elghad.org/.

Wafd Party Launches a New Website

The Wafd party launched a new website (http://www.alwafdparty.com/) to highlight its activities, program and important officials. The new site is the second website owned and operated by the party.

New Conflict Between Government and the Judges

The government plans to extend the retirement age to 70 for judges, which many judges see as an attempt to keep pro-government judges in power.

Ministry of Interior Considering Releasing main Extremist Militants

The ministry of interior is considering the release of Abboud el-Zomor, who is currently serving 25 years in prison for his role in the assassination of the late president Anwar Sadat. The ministry is also considering the release of several members of the Jihad organization as well as their leader Sheikh Sayed Imam. All of these detainees have renounced violence.

Egyptian Expatriates Taking Legal Action against the Referendum

Egyptian expatriates decided to take legal action against the controversial referendum on the constitution, claming that Egyptian nationals living abroad were not invited to participate.


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