Students in Egypt face civil war
BRACE FOR TROUBLE: They must reconsider decision to stay, says ambassador
SINTOK: MALAYSIAN students in Egypt have to seriously reconsider their decision to remain in the country as there is a clear risk that the current turbulence may escalate into a full-scale civil war.
Malaysian ambassador to Egypt Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Fakhrudin Abdul Mukti, who returned to Kuala Lumpur early this month, urged those studying there and those planning to do so to evaluate the situation wisely.
He said this was crucial so that they could be well prepared to face whatever eventuality.
However, Fakhrudin said Malaysians were not directly exposed to threats at present, as long as they stayed away from trouble spots such as Tahrir Square.
“The other areas are okay and life goes on as usual, but it is advisable for our students to do in-depth research on the latest situation so that they are prepared to face the political turbulence there."
Fakhrudin was speaking at a forum at Universiti Utara Malaysia on Monday. The forum, organised by UUM’s School of International Studies, was entitled “What happened in Egypt".
He said 11,000 Malaysian students were studying in various universities in Egypt, with 5,000 pursuing Islamic studies and the rest studying medicine.
At least 30 per cent of the medical students are government scholarship holders.
Egypt was dragged into political turmoil yet again when its first elected president Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by the military early this month.
This resulted in daily protests by supporters of Morsi and his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of the Malaysian students, Mohd Radzi Ismail, who returned home recently, said to survive there, students needed to be “street smart". He said it was advisable to stay at home in the evenings to avoid exposure to danger.
Radzi, who studies Arabic Language at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, presented UUM students a slide show on the life of Malaysian students in Egypt.
Flares are fired as Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi clash with anti-Morsi protesters at Qasr Al Nil bridge, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, on Monday. Reuters pic
July 19, 2013
Egypt’s Mansour Gives Warning Ahead of Protests
by VOA News
In a televised speech late Thursday, Mansour said Egypt is at a “decisive moment" and must be protected against those who are looking to bring “violence and bloodshed."
“I reaffirm to you all my commitment and the government’s commitment to restore security and stability in our country," Mansour said. “We will not be scared or alarmed, and we will not go easy on those who kill the innocent. We will fight a battle of security to the end, we will protect the revolution, we will build the nation and we will move forward without hesitation."
The speech came ahead of mass protests planned Friday by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who remains in secret military detention over two weeks after his removal. Anti-Morsi activists have also called for protests.
The army on Thursday warned the protesters to remain peaceful. A spokesman said those whoever resorts to violence will “endanger his life and will be treated with utmost decisiveness, within legal bounds."
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Mansour as president. It has refused to participate in a transition government or compete in upcoming elections to decide a new constitution, president and parliament.
Instead, the Islamist group hopes to keep up the pressure with constant sit-ins and protests against what it considers a military coup against Morsi, the country’s first freely elected leader.
Although most of the protests have remained peaceful, dozens of people have died during clashes between groups of protesters and with police.
Earlier this month, more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters and three security officers died during an incident outside a compound where the ousted president was believed to be held.
Human Rights Watch has told VOA that the general sense of lawlessness across Egypt has led to a sharp increase in sectarian attacks and human rights abuses across the country.
|2013/07/14 – 16:15||source: FNA|
Muslim Brotherhood Warns to Form Free Egyptian Army
The following is an appeal from Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, director of Voice of the Copts, to the international community, in particular fellow Christians, to prevent the promised coming bloodshed in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood has made repeated public statements that on July 19th it will begin attacks against Egypt’s military compounds, military personnel, government buildings, and soft targets (houses, stores, and churches) in order to recover and secure their power over Egypt — then reinstate Mohammed Morsi as President.
Muslim Brotherhood official Al Baltaghy announced a few days ago from the Al Adawiya podium where supporters are still gathered demanding Morsi’s return, that Friday, Ramadan the 10th, will be the day to take back Egypt — exactly like the attempt made to liberate Sinai from Jewish occupation on this same Ramadan date back in 1973.
From the same stage, Mohammed Hassan Hamaad, communications director of the Muslim Brotherhood, used the metaphor “second legitimate crossing,” referring to the West-East crossing of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian army on Ramadan decades earlier. Evoking history, Hamaad advocates aggression for success in returning Morsi to office. Al Baltaghy insisted, “We will not accept any kind of negotiation.”
Pathological lies from the Muslim Brotherhood leadership
Avoiding the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood leadership is entirely responsible for Egypt’s deterioration in the past year, which in turn led to their overthrow, Al Baltaghy stated, “Whoever created the mess [overthrow] will suffer the consequences.”
Foreign terrorists in Egypt ready to aid the Muslim Brotherhood
Right now, Egyptian military and police have taken custody of terrorists coming from Libya, Syria and Gaza — members of Hamas and Hezbollah arrested in many cities throughout Egypt, mostly in Cairo. Army personnel and police have confiscated their weaponry — machine guns, RPG anti-tank weapon systems, hand grenades and rockets — and Egyptian military uniforms for infiltration and to allow imposters to commit crimes and blame the army.
These facts are the substance to the statements made by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, showing their intentions are real and imminent.
Voice of the Copts appeals to world leaders
Please support the genuine cry of Egyptian people for democracy and freedom. Do not remain silent and watch Egypt become a bloody civil war like Libya and Syria. Send a strong message to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood that the free world will not tolerate religious supremacy and the violence it brings.
The collective will of Egypt’s outspoken population — free thinkers from all facets of Egyptian society — is the only avenue for Egypt. If 13 million voters chose Sharia by electing Morsi, many more stand in the streets today as proponents of Western freedoms.
Egypt enters ‘stage similar to that of war’
Interim Prime Minister appeals for end to nation’s divisions, says tough measures might be needed to revive economy.
Middle East Online
CAIRO – Experts begin work Sunday to amend a divisive constitution rammed through by ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, while his supporters called for intensified rallies in Cairo demanding his reinstatement.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem Al Beblawi appealed on Saturday for an end to the nation’s divisions and said tough measures might be needed to revive the economy.
Beblawi, an international liberal economist, called for dialogue between political parties, adding that security had to be restored to Egypt’s streets after weeks of mass protests."
“We are entering a stage similar to that of a war, to stop the bloodshed, restore economic activity and return security to the streets," Beblawi said.
“Egypt is more important to the world than we think and deserves more from us. The coming stage needs more harmony and reconciliation," he added.
Egypt’s caretaker cabinet has sought to forge ahead with an army “roadmap" for a political transition amid heightened tensions as Morsi’s Islamist supporters press on with the protests that have sparked bloody violence.
Foreign minister Nabil Fahmy launched a public relations campaign to boost the cabinet’s credibility abroad on Saturday, nearly three weeks after the military toppled Morsi.
On the domestic front, interim president Adly Mansour named a committee of four university professors and six judges to come up with a new constitution.
In the wake of the July 3 ouster of Morsi, Egypt’s new army-backed administration suspended the constitution that had been drawn up by an Islamist-dominated panel and adopted by referendum in December with a majority of 64 percent, but with a voter turnout of just 33 percent.
The experts will have 30 days to complete their task, after which their amendments will be brought before a 50-strong body representing different groups in Egyptian society, which will submit final changes to Mansour.
The caretaker president will then have 30 days to call a referendum on the new charter, paving the way for new elections.
Work also began in earnest at the weekend on boosting the new regime’s foreign relations.
Fahmy said on Saturday he would prioritise “defending the revolution abroad".
The ministry would “form a committee to follow what is published about the revolution abroad and to provide sound information," he told a news conference.
Morsi’s overthrow has received a mixed reception abroad.
The African Union has suspended Egypt’s membership, but some Gulf countries that distrusted Morsi have pledged billions of dollars in aid.
Britain has said it was revoking export licences for equipment used by Egypt’s military and police amid concerns it could be used against protesters.
Fahmy also took a more cautious tone towards the conflict in Syria than Morsi’s government did, saying Morsi’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with the war-torn country would be “re-examined".
Morsi had repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
“There is no intention of jihad in Syria," the former Egyptian ambassador to Washington said, in reference to calls for a holy war in Syria under Morsi’s presidency.
Fahmy was due to meet the new leader of Syria’s main opposition coalition, Ahmad Assi Jarba, on Sunday.
In a boost to the new administration, King Abdullah II of Jordan became the first foreign head of state to visit since the army ousted and detained Morsi.
King Abdullah pledged his support “for Egyptian national choices", a presidential statement said.
But Morsi’s supporters have flatly rejected the legitimacy of the interim cabinet.
They called for fresh rallies in the capital on Sunday to demand the reinstatement of Morsi, planning marches to several foreign embassies in Cairo, including that of the United States.
Supporters of Morsi, who was ousted after a single year of turbulent rule, have pressed demonstrations against the new cabinet, holding marches and protests across the country since his fall.
Thousands of Morsi loyalists have massed in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square for about three weeks, calling for his reinstatement and denouncing General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief behind his overthrow.
They believe a sustained campaign of protests could persuade the military to restore him briefly ahead of any elections.
Although mostly peaceful, the pro-Morsi protests have resulted in deadly clashes, with the unrest claiming more than 100 lives in all, according to a tally.
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Egypt risks being engulfed in a civil war unless its newly installed interim government is expanded to include Islamists, the African Union warned on Thursday.
The bloc, headquartered in Addis Ababa, suspended Egypt this month after the military ousted President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 following huge street protests against his rule.
Alpha Oumar Konare, a former president of Mali appointed by the AU to lead a panel on Egypt, said the transitional authorities had not met what he said were their objectives of setting up a government that included all parties.
“The first risk (of excluding Islamists) … is making instability more acute. This instability can lead to a greater … risk of civil war, the risk of deepening violence on a daily basis," Konare told a news conference in the Ethiopian capital.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that Egypt may have avoided a civil war this month, saying this was one factor to weigh as Washington decides whether to cut most U.S. aid to Cairo, which it would be legally bound to do if it classified Mursi’s removal as a military coup.
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president cleared the way for this week’s installation of a new interim cabinet charged with restoring civilian rule and reviving the economy. It included no Islamists.
Thousands of Mursi’s supporters demonstrated outside the prime minister’s office and marched through Cairo on Wednesday to denounce the new military-backed administration and show that they had no intention of bowing to army dictates.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
Doing the bloody math in emerging civil war in Egypt
The math? This is why I have continued to point GetReligion readers toward that 2011 poll of Egyptian voters by the Pew Research Center.
You do the math and it’s hard to escape the fact that civil war, or a military government, will be impossible to avoid in this escalating conflict. In other words, the secular, Western-friendly Cairo elites who are so close to the major Western newsrooms do not represent the vast majority of the Egyptian people.
Yes, religious beliefs and practices are the key. Yes, conflicting versions of Sharia and Islam and the rights of religious minorities are at the heart of this. The other day, I stated the equation this way:
As is his style, the Canadian provocateur Mark Steyn bluntly raised the same issue, in the kind of language that used to considered liberal, but now is considered conservative:
So what does this look like in print in a major American newspaper?
I have been paying close attention to The Los Angeles Times, in recent weeks, so let’s hit the latest daily report in those cyber pages. Is anyone surprised that the military is firing live bullets and it is hard to figure out who attacked who first?
And here comes the hint at the hard numbers:
So 25 percent plus the majority Muslim Brotherhood equals?
So what should journalists be doing at this point? My advice is to think like human-rights liberals.
Of course, the military abuses against the Islamist majority must be covered. That is the breaking story, one front in what could be a civil war or, at the very least, a rising tide of suicide bombings.
But there may be other breaking stories linked to the other side of the equation — which is the treatment of oppressed religious minorities. If you know anything about modern Egypt, you know that when the military attacks radical Islamists, the radicals often attack Coptic Christians, Protestants, Jews, Westerners, etc.
So remember this name of a new minority-faith martyr — Father Mina Aloud Sharween (photo). Journalists need to think like classical liberals and look for the human-rights violations that are so often linked to life under military governments.
But in this case, there will be violations against religious minorities as well as the outraged majority. The military hits the Islamists, the Islamists hit the minorities that are linked — in the minds of many outraged Egyptians — with the West.
Let me state my question again:
Cover both sides of that equation.
Egypt bombing injured twelve, a step ahead into bloody civil war
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Unknown assailants threw a bomb early Wednesday from a passing car in Mansoura, the capital of Dakhalia province, after a day of clashes between opponents and Islamist supporters of Egypt’s deposed president, Mohamed Mursi, killed nine people in Cairo.
At least 5 Egyptian police officers were among those injured, two security sources told Reuters. Muslim Brotherhood accuses the army of orchestrating a coup that has exposed deep political divisions in the Arab world’s most populous and influential nation. The Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing at the Muslim Brotherhood which has been at odds with Egypt’s leadership since the ouster of then President Mohamed Morsy, issued a state early Wednesday critical of the bombing.
“The Freedom and Justice Party condemns violence in all its forms including the bombing in Mansoura. Our agenda is peaceful and we do not accept any attacks," the party said in a statement.
Police officials exchanged gunfire with unidentified people inside a nearby abandoned building afterward. No further details were immediately available. Presidential spokesman Ahmad al-Muslimani released a statement calling the incident an act of terrorism.
“The Mansoura terrorist incident will not waver Egypt’s resolve," he said. “Egypt has triumphed in the war against terrorism before and will win again today."
The violence is the latest to hit the volatile Middle Eastern nation in recent months, said CNN, which began with mass protests opposing Morsy and then took a turn when military leaders forced him out of power. Dozens have been reported killed and thousands injured since his ouster, some of them in confrontations with authorities and others in clashes with those on the other side of the political spectrum.
Running street battles that began before dawn on Tuesday were among the most intense since the crisis began on July 3. Security officials said the fighting turned deadly after masked gunmen appeared and started shooting at the Morsi supporters with live ammunition and birdshot. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, had no word on the identity of the gunmen.
Previous attacks in Sinai and Suez Canal by unidentified militants after what the Brotherhood calls “military coup" had led to a state of “high alert" earlier this week declared by General Osama Askar, the Commander of the Third Field Army based in Suez.
Friday, 12 Jul, 2013
Egypt: Sinai unrest spiraling out of control
Army spokesman says terrorist attacks seek to undermine Egyptian national unit
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—The security situation in the Sinai Peninsula has deteriorated even further following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, with a series of terrorist attacks being carried out by suspected Islamist militants.
Egyptian army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali stressed that “terrorists have escalated their planned operations against the police and armed forces in the Sinai over the last few days. Their aim is to spread chaos and undermine Egyptian national security.”
Unknown gunmen in northern Sinai attempted to assassinate the commander of the Second Field Army, Gen. Ahmed Wasfy, late Wednesday. A bystander was killed in an exchange of fire between the gunmen and the convoy guarding the senior military official. One of the assailants was reportedly captured, while the others escaped. Wasfy was not hurt in the clashes.
While Egyptian security officials reported on Friday that suspected Islamist militants attacked a police checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, killing one officer. The attack happened south of the city of El-Arish, and saw militants reportedly firing a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at an armored car at the checkpoint, killing a 40-year-old Lieutenant Colonel. The attack also wounded a policeman who was taken to hospital and is reported to be in critical condition.
An Egyptian Central Security Forces (CSF) soldier was killed on Thursday, reportedly by smugglers. A security source in North Sinai revealed that the soldier was killed after smugglers shot him when he attempted to stop them south of the Rafah land crossing and Karm Abu Salem crossing.
Elsewhere, an Egyptian border guard and five soldiers were injured when a jeep they were riding in overturned while they were chasing a group of armed militants in central Sinai.
Egyptian authorities abruptly shut down the Rafah border crossing—the only border crossing not controlled by Israel—on July 5 in response to the intensification of unrest on the Sinai Peninsula following Mursi’s ouster. Egypt reopened the border crossing on Wednesday, July 10.
The Sinai Peninsula, near Egypt’s border with Israel, has suffered from a lack of security since the January 25 revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Criminal elements and others have sought to take advantage of the security vacuum on the strategically important peninsula to attack police stations and security convoys, and to escalate smuggling operations. Unrest on the Sinai Peninsula only intensified following Mursi’s ouster.
As soon as the military announced the Islamist president’s ouster and the transitional roadmap, Islamists took to the streets across the Sinai Peninsula to protest the “coup.” Armed Islamists also appeared on the scene to guard the protesters, some of whom were reportedly waving the black flags of the Tawhid wal Jihad group, which claims to be an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the assassination attempt targeting Egypt’s Sinai military commander and rejected all acts of terrorism. In a statement released Thursday, the group said that the Muslim Brotherhood “does not depart from its principles, especially peaceful principles. This is not a matter of politics or activism, but is based on the principles of religion and legitimacy.”
The statement called for “the continuation of peaceful resistance against the bloody military coup” on the grounds of “constitutional legitimacy,” in reference to the ousted president Mohamed Mursi. “We are confident that the peaceful will of the people will prevail over force, oppression and injustice, attempts to obscure the facts, lies and fabrications, and military dictatorship,” the statement added.
Hussein Ibrahim, the general secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party—the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood—stressed that “The [Freedom and Justice] party strongly and categorically rejects any use of violence to express the rejection of the military coup.”
“Our peaceful resistance of the military coup . . . will be victorious in restoring freedom,” Ibrahim added.
23 July 2013
Egypt: Security forces abandon Coptic Christians during deadly attack in Luxor
On 5 July 2013, four Coptic Christian men were killed by local residents in the Nagah Hassan district of Dab’iya village, some 18 kilometres west of Luxor.
© Amnesty International
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme
Security forces stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today. During the sectarian violence, security forces left six besieged men –four of whom were then killed and one hospitalized – to the mercy of an angry crowd.
In an attack lasting 18 hours on 5 July, four Coptic Christian men were killed and four others were seriously injured. An angry mob armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers attacked Christian homes and businesses in Nagah Hassan, 18 km west of Luxor, after the dead body of a Muslim man was discovered near the homes of Christian families. Despite local residents’ and religious leaders’ repeated calls for help, security forces on the scene made only half-hearted attempts to end the violence and sufficient reinforcements failed to arrive.
“It is outrageous that this attack was left to escalate unhindered in this way. Amnesty International has documented a series of cases in the past where Egypt’s security forces used unnecessary force or live fire during demonstrations, yet in this case they held back even though people’s lives were threatened,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“A thorough, impartial and independent investigation must be conducted into the events in Luxor and the grossly inadequate response of the security forces to the attack.”
The violence began at 3am, shortly after the Muslim man was found dead in the vicinity of Christian homes. His family blamed the death on a local Coptic Christian. By mid-day more than 100 Christian homes had been attacked, with scores of them looted or torched. Local residents reported calling the police and army’s hotlines throughout the day in vain. Local religious leaders also approached other security officials.
“The attack went on for 18 hours, and there was not a door on which I did not knock: police, army, local leaders, the Central Security Forces, the Governorate. Nothing was done,” said Father Barsilious, a local priest from Dab’iya.
In one incident, security forces evacuated women and children trapped inside a house surrounded by an angry mob but left six men behind, apparently following demands from the crowd that the men remain. Four of the abandoned men were later stabbed and/or beaten to death and another required hospital treatment. Three other Christian men were hospitalized in separate violent incidents. One woman said she had begged police officers to save her sons who were left behind, but they ignored her pleas:
“I kissed the police officer’s hands and legs and begged him to protect my two sons and take them out… he completely ignored me and said he would only take women and children…. I buried my two sons in one day,” she said.
Other female relatives said they had given men their abayas (gowns) to try to disguise them as women so that they could escape.
Discrimination against Coptic Christians has been prevalent in Egypt for decades. Under President Hosni Mubarak at least 15 major attacks on Copts were documented. Sectarian violence continued under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces and following the election of President Mohamed Morsi. At least six attacks on Coptic churches or buildings took place in 2013 during the final months of deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s administration.
Investigations by the Luxor prosecution are ongoing. At least 18 men remain detained on charges of murder, attempted murder, destruction of property and ‘thuggery’, amid reports that some were beaten by security forces upon arrest.
“The continued sectarian violence in Egypt is an irremovable stain on the record of successive governments which have repeatedly failed to end attacks on minorities. Immediate steps must be taken to ensure the safety of Coptic Christians and other minorities,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“The latest attacks will test the new Egyptian authorities’ political will and their ability to break the pattern of inaction and injustice once and for all.”
Egypt Christians Under Attack After Mursi Ouster, HRW Say
By Ben Holland – Jul 23, 2013 5:10 PM GMT+0800
The worst incident occurred on July 5 when four Christians were beaten to death by a mob in a village near Luxor in southern Egypt, while police failed to intervene during 17 hours of violence, the New York-based group said in a report published today. It cited at least six attacks on Christians across the country since the military’s July 3 intervention.
“Authorities in Egypt should ensure that prosecutors promptly and impartially investigate allegations of sectarian violence,” HRW said. “Police officers who fail to act appropriately should be held to account.”
Christian and secular groups joined a wave of street protests that led up to Mursi’s overthrow by the army, calling for his removal on the grounds he was seeking to consolidate Islamist control of the country. Leading Christian clerics endorsed the army’s action.
Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood has refused to join the interim government installed by the military, and has held daily protests to demand his restoration. They have frequently escalated into violent clashes with Brotherhood opponents or security forces.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Holland in Istanbul at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at firstname.lastname@example.org
Divided Egypt Putting Christians in the Crosshairs
Protests and rallies are taking place in Egypt almost daily now, weeks after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was removed from office.
Morsi supporters have taken to the streets, demanding the Muslim Brotherhood leader be reinstated to the presidency.
“I’m saying to Major General Sissi, you betrayed us and carried out the coup. But God will punish you if you are not implementing his rules," Morsi supporter Mohammed Abdul Mageed said.
Meanwhile, even larger numbers of anti-Muslim Brotherhood protestors also held rallies.
For more insight on Islam, check out Ibrahim’s blog on CBN News,Ibrahim: Islam Unveiled.
“I am representing the majority of the Egyptians," anti-Brotherhood demonstrator Manal Helmy said. “I am proving to the world that this is not a coup; it’s a real revolution and the military is doing what we asked them to do."
Newly appointed President Adli Mansour says all Egyptians must work together for peace. He issued a warning to those who threaten stability.
“We will firmly punish those who kill innocents," he warned.
As the death and injury tolls continue to rise, many wonder if rival factions are headed for a showdown.
“I foresee based on precedent, civil war," author Raymond Ibrahim predicted last April.
Ibrahim talks more about his book and why Morsi’s ouster could prove perilous for Christians. on “The 700 Club," July 24. Check your local listings or check CBNNews.com after 10 a.m. ET for the interview.
Egypt militant attacks kill 5 in main northern Sinai city
Protesters in Cairo take to the streets to protest the deaths of 3 women
The Associated Press
Posted: Jul 21, 2013 9:47 PM ET
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2013 10:25 AM ET
A supporter of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi chants slogans during a demonstration outside the Defence Ministry in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday. (Hassan Ammar/Associated Press)
Co-ordinated day and nighttime attacks Sunday by emboldened militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula targeted different areas in the main city of el-Arish and a border town, killing one civilian and four security officers, according to officials.
The pace of attacks on the police and military in northern Sinai has intensified since the July 3 ouster of president Mohammed Morsi from power, but assaults have largely been confined to desolate desert areas of the region.
Sunday’s assault was significant in that it struck in the heart of el-Arish and killed a 32-year-old man driving his car in the most populated city in northern Sinai, which is also its provincial capital. The city is home to about 150,000 people.
For militants in Sinai, however, restoring Morsi is not the priority — they have said their goal is to drive out the military and the authority of the central government in order to create an “Islamic Emirate." Morsi’s ouster by the military, though, took away a leader seen as reining in security crackdowns.
The attacks Sunday highlighted the security crisis Egypt’s military-backed interim leaders face in restoring stability after more than two years of turmoil since the popular uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The northern part of Sinai has been the most lawless corner of the country since then. Police stations have been torched and security forces kicked out of tribal areas, where they were notorious for abuses against the powerful tribes of the region.
Gun battle at police station
In the nighttime attacks Sunday, security officials said militants fired automatic weapons at a police club, a police station and a security post outside a bank in the centre of el-Arish.
A 25-year-old woman walking in the street near the bank was struck by a bullet and seriously wounded. A soldier outside the bank was killed in the clash, officials said. The bank is on a main square in el-Arish.
Officials said a gun battle raged for several minutes between militants and security forces at the police station. A male driver was killed outside the station when a bullet hit him.
Also at night, a police camp in the city of Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza border came under attack by militants, who fired rocket-propelled grenades at the building, wounding four civilians and six soldiers protecting the site.
Earlier in the day, three policemen were killed by sniper fire in another co-ordinated attack while guarding an administrative building, a TV station and the police station in el-Arish, according to a security official. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
Sunday’s deaths push to 14 the number of policemen and soldiers killed in Sinai since Morsi’s ouster. At least four civilians have been killed, including one woman and two Christians.
Also, a Christian ambulance worker was stabbed and wounded Sunday in northern Sinai when a man spotted a tattoo of a cross on his wrist, a trademark of many Coptic Christians in Egypt, security officials said.
In Cairo, military-backed civilian leaders forged ahead with a fast-track transition plan aimed at bringing the country back to democratic rule.
A panel tasked with amending Egypt’s constitution began its work Sunday in the face of opposition from Morsi’s supporters who denounce the military coup that overthrew the Islamist leader and reject the new political order that has replaced him.
The new 10-member-panel of legal experts and senior judges met for the first time to begin drawing up proposed amendments to the constitution. The panel has 30 days to do so. A second 50-member committee then will have 60 days to review those amendments before citizens vote on the new constitution in a referendum.
The drafting of the constitution that will be amended was one of the most divisive issues of Morsi’s one and only year in office.
His Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies have vowed to stage daily rallies until he is reinstated, saying his ouster was unconstitutional. They rallied outside military buildings in Cairo and the southern cities of Luxor and Assiut on Sunday.
U.S. meddling in affairs
Protesters in Cairo took to the streets to also protest the deaths of three women killed by unidentified assailants at a Brotherhood rally in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura Friday. Egypt’s prosecutor general opened an investigation and top figures of the new leadership have condemned the killings.
“What happened in Mansoura will happen again in the future," said 35-year-old housewife Nagah Thabit, who was among the protesters out on the streets in support of Morsi on Sunday. “Anybody who will take to the streets in the future, the army will unleash their thugs against them."
Members of all political factions in Egypt accuse the United States of meddling in the country’s affairs, usually on behalf of their rivals.
Since overthrowing Morsi, security forces have launched a crackdown against the Brotherhood and some of their staunchest supporters. Prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for the group’s leaders for allegedly instigating violence. Morsi himself has been held incommunicado since July 3.
The prosecutor general’s office said he has not yet been charged, according to a state TV broadcast Sunday evening.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood scoffs at reconciliation
The Muslim Brotherhood remains defiant, convening parliamentary bodies dissolved by the Egyptian military weeks ago.
By Kristen Chick, Correspondent / July 23, 2013
Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
Behind the mosque that has become the focal point of the Muslim Brotherhood’s protests, members of a dissolved parliamentary body convened yesterday to do business.
The speaker sat at a table covered with blue cloth, next to an Egyptian flag and underneath a banner reading “Shura Council,” the name of the upper house of parliament that held legislative power under formerPresident Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the military on July 3. Former legislators crammed into crowded rows and adopted resolutions rejectingEgypt‘s military coup and the decisions of the interim government.
The symbolic session took place as the new interim government forged ahead. The Ministry of Supply is importing wheat to shore up Egypt’s dwindling supply for subsidized bread and the committee formed by the interim president to draft amendments to the constitution began its work Sunday.
RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about Egypt? Take this quiz.
As the military and Muslim Brotherhood square off, violence is rising. Nine people died overnight in clashes, most in Cairo. About 100 people have died since Morsi was ousted on July 3.
Brotherhood leaders say they will continue to protest until Morsi is reinstated – even if only long enough to call early presidential elections. Until then, they will not recognize or participate in the political process, they insist.
“Our long term strategy is patience. We are not in a hurry,” says Amr Darrag, a senior Brotherhood member and a minister in Morsi’s government. “What else can we do? Do we wait till we are all put in jail and our parties are shut down and we are completely removed from political life?”
Clinging to Morsi
Egypt’s military – the force behind all presidents since 1952 except Morsi – stepped in to remove Egypt’s first freely-elected leader after millions, frustrated over Morsi’s autocratic ruling style and failure to solve Egypt’s many crises, took to the streets on June 30 to call for early presidential elections.
Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suspended the constitution and appointed the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim president. Mr. Mansour formed a cabinet and released a constitutional declaration laying out a timeline for a transition back to elected leaders, stipulating that after the constitution is amended, parliamentary and presidential elections will be held.
Meanwhile, authorities arrested top leaders of the Brotherhood and issued arrest warrants for others. Hundreds of low-level Brotherhood members have also been arrested, though some have been released. On July 8, military and police fired on a crowd of pro-Morsi demonstrators, killing 54.
Brotherhood leaders have remained defiant, staging large protests throughout Egypt and maintaining a sit-in at Rabaa El Adawiya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City neighborhood. Publicly, they say they refuse any negotiations to end the standoff until the military agrees to reinstate Morsi, at which point, they say, “everything” will be up for negotiation.
“The solution has to abide by the democratic standards, has to restore legitimacy, and after that we will be open to discuss anything and we can accept anything that would save the country, but under the umbrella of legitimacy not under the umbrella of a military coup,” says Dr. Darrag, the Brotherhood member and former government minister.
“We are not saying that the president should come and should finish his term. We are saying that he should come back as a symbol of legitimacy and then anything can be discussed.” The Brothers also insist that their movement is growing, as more Egyptians join the protests against the military’s coup d’etat. “There are millions in the streets and they are increasing. And everyone has to acknowledge this,” says Darrag.
Any hope for reconciliation?
Yet outside Rabaa el Adawiya square many Egyptians in Cairo refer to Brotherhood members as “terrorists” and say there is no need for the group to participate in public life.
Khalil Al Anani, an expert on the Brotherhood at Durham University in Britain who is currently in Cairo, says a negotiated solution to bring Egypt’s most organized group back into political life would be possible if there was an incentive, but that Brotherhood leaders only feel threatened so far.
“If they found that the military is really genuine in offering them assurances about their future, they would accept to negotiate,” says Anani. “However, they believe the military is intending to uproot them, and eradicate them. .. that’s why the MB doesn’t trust the military so far. If the Brotherhood feels that there are genuine guarantees about their future, they would negotiate even if Morsi would not be reinstated.”
Brotherhood leaders are now under growing pressure from members to hold firm. Many of the protesters at the sit-in say they will not leave until Morsi is restored to the presidency and say they are prepared to sacrifice their lives for that goal.
Morsi himself has been detained and incommunicado since July 3. His family decried the illegal detention yesterday in a press conference, saying he had not been heard from since the military took him into custody along with this top aides. The military says he is being held for his own safety and refuses to disclose his location.
In a speech delivered last night, interim president Mansour called for reconciliation and an end to hate and division. “Now is the time to build our nation,” he said.
Presidential advisor Mostafa Higazy said Mansour would begin a process of reconciliation and transitional justice on Wednesday, and that the president had invited Brotherhood leaders to participate, but also said Brotherhood leaders must be held accountable for their crimes.
He said some, including Brotherhood leaders, have incited violence from the protest in Rabaa El Adawia.
“People calling for killing, people calling for terror, people calling for intimidating and maybe attacking military establishments — and at the end of the day you can’t say those are not legally punishable actions,” he said.