Egypt Democracy Watch

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

Previous "Egypt Democracy Watch" on Middle East Policy:

June 2007

April 2007

December 2006

October 2006

July 2006

Egypt's Constitutional Amendments

Egypt Democracy Watch:
(Covers the latest two months)

Source: The Egypt Monitor

Newspapers Protests

On October 7, 2007, Twenty-two independent and opposition party newspapers boycotted publishing their papers in protest of government violations of freedom of speech. The day has been declared an international solidarity day with Egyptian journalists. In September, five editors of major newspapers received two-year jail sentences for criticizing the Egyptian regime. The Journalists Syndicate issued a statement highlighting the message of solidarity from Egyptian NGOs and human rights activists.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Released

On October 4, 2007, the Cairo Criminal Court decided to release Issam al-Eryan- one of the leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Eryan was detained on grounds that he attended an illegal meeting, which he states was an innocent meal at a friend’s home.

Muslim Brotherhood Leader Released

On October 4, 2007, the Cairo Criminal Court decided to release Issam al-Eryan- one of the leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Eryan was detained on grounds that he attended an illegal meeting, which he states was an innocent meal at a friend’s home.

Governemnt Bans the Muslim Brotherhood Annual Gala Dinner

The Egyptian government banned the annual Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Gala dinner for the first time in twenty years. The MB holds an annual "iftar"- Ramadan dinner- in a five star hotel. The event is attended by Muslims and Christians, with 1500 guests representing various political forces, intellectuals, artists and many public figures.

Workers Go on Strike in Major Industrial Sector

In the Nile Delta industrial city of Mahalla-al-Kubra, 27,000 workers of the public sector Mahalla Spinning and Weaving Company went on strike on September 23 after the management denied them up to 150 days pay in dividends, incentives, and target-meeting bonuses. The strike lasted for one week, and is considered to be the largest strike in the last two decades. The government was forced to accept some of the workers demands to end the crisis. The city of Mahalla was under tight security for a week as solidarity strikes and rallies spread across the country. Mahalla is known as the bastion of the textile industry in Egypt.

Wafd Party Newspaper Editor Sentenced To Two Years in Jail

On September 24, 2007, Anwar al-Hawari, the editor of the Wafd Newspaper, and two other Wafd journalists were sentenced to two years in jail. The journalists were accused of tarnishing the reputation of the Minister of Justice. The Wafd Newspaper is owned by the liberal Wafd party, and is the largest opposition daily in Egypt.

Several Syndicates Creates "Opinion Front" to Defend Freedom of the Press

On September 20, the Journalists Syndicate, the Lawyers Syndicate and the Union of Writers joined forces to create an "Opinion Front" to defend freedom of speech in Egypt.

Journalists Syndicate Discuss Protest

The Journalists Syndicate (JS) met on September 16, 2007 to express opposition to the regime’s persecution of journalists. The JS aims to start a wave of protests, beginning with one day of intentionally not publishing independent and party newspapers. The protests were prompted by two-year jail sentences of four independent newspaper editors accused of "humiliating the symbols" of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Jail Sentences for Four Editors of Independent Papers

On September 13, 2007 a surprise verdict condemned four editors of political tabloids to two years in jails for "humiliating the symbols of the ruling National Democratic Party". The four editors are Ibrahim Eissa, editor of al-Destour; Adel Hammouda, editor of al-Fagr; Wael Al-Ebrashi, editor of Sawt al-Umma; and Abdel-Halim Kandil, editor of al-Karama, all of whom have been critical of the regime. The editors will appeal this verdict.

Muslim Brotherhood Sends a Political Program to Thinkers and Intellectuals

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) drafted a political program in what might be a step to apply for the creation of a political party. The program was sent to intellectuals and thinkers for review and feedback before it is as adopted as the official political program of the MB.

5000 Employees of "Real Estate Taxes" Demonstrate Over Bonuses

Five thousand employees of the "Real Estate Taxes" demonstrated on September 10, 2007 and threatened to start a general strike. The "Real Estate Taxes" employees are currently under the authority of local council and wish to be put under the authority of the ministry of finance like other tax authorities. The move would increase their bonuses for up to nine months of salary.

Sinai Bedouins Ends a Two Days Protest

Thousands of Sinai Bedouins ended two days of protests after the release of two Sinai Bedouin detainees. The relationship between the state and the Bedouins has been tense in the last few months. Bedouins complain of poor living conditions and land ownership issues.

Ayman Nour's Accomplice Found Hanged in Prison Cell

On September 6, 2007 Ayman Ismail was found hanged in his prison cell. Ismail was serving a five-year jail sentence for being an accomplice of Ayman Nour, the former Ghad-Tomorrow- party leader, after presumably forging signatures of party founders. Ismail was sharing the cell with three other inmates who discovered the corpse in the morning. The Ministry of Interior issued a statement stated that Ayman Ismail was suffering from depression, which probably led him to suicide. Ismail's family denies that he committed suicide and believes that he was murdered.

Security Forces Prevent Meeting at the Engineers Club

More than 500 engineers were prevented by the security forces from holding a meeting at the Engineers Club. The meeting was meant to discuss a strategy on how to end the government control of the Engineer Syndicate (ES). The ES has been managed by state appointed conservators for the last 15 years. Engineers hope to regain control of their syndicate.

Tagammu Party Harshly Criticizes the Regime

The leftist Tagammu party issued a statement in early August criticizing the Egyptian regime. The party claims that Egyptis going through the worst phase of its modern history due to poor public services, human right abuses, and the deterioration of living standards. The statement invited all opposition forces to join forces to save the nation.


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