LATEST: Egypt Picture — Anti-Morsi Protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Tonight
PHOTO: Supporters of former President Morsi at a vigil for a colleague killed on Wednesday (Hassan Ammar/AP)
An Egyptian court has ordered the detention of ousted President Mohamed Morsi for 15 days, pending an investigation “over suspected collaboration with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas”.
Morsi will be interrogated about whether he collaborated with Hamas in attacks on police stations and prison breaks during the uprising against the Mubarak regime in January-February 2011.
Charges against Morsi also include espionage. He is also accused of escaping from Wadi El Natron prison and destroying the prison’s official records, as well as involvement in the killing and abduction of police officers and prisoners.
Officials have updated the casualty figures from Friday’s clashes between supporters and opponents of President Morsi:
— Rawya Rageh (@RawyaRageh) July 26, 2013
Abdulsalam Musmari, a lawyer and political activist who was one the founders of the 17 February Coalition that challenged the Qaddafi regime, was assassinated on Friday in Benghazi.
Musmari was shot in the heart at around 1.45 pm as he walked home from the Abu Ghoula Mosque in the Birkah district.
In 2011, he claimed to have received a death threat after criticising the role of Islamists in the National Transitional Council and the Union of Revolutionary Fighters. He reacted, “Please deliver this message to those who want to kill me: ‘Let’s talk’.”
The teenager was stabbed with a bladed weapon in the stomach amid fighting in Mahatet Al-Raml district in Egypt’s second-largest city. Fifteen people were injured.
The skirmish began after anti-Morsi protesters passed near a demonstration by supporters of the former President. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse crowds.
Egypt Pictures (1600 GMT): Anti-Morsi Protest in Tahrir v. Main Pro-Morsi Rally in Rabaa El-Adewaya Square
— Robbie Wright (@RobbieWrightOff) July 26, 2013
— ارون Aaron T. Rose (@Aaron_T_Rose) July 26, 2013
Back from a break to catch up with developments in protests for and deposed President Morsi….
Pro-Morsi marchers have been converging on the main sit-in at Rabaa El-Adewaya Square in a Cairo suburb — the march from Mostafa Mahmoud Square in Mohandeseen:
Meanwhile, State outlet Ahram Online is emphasizing the “tens of thousands” of anti-Morsi protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square vs. “thousands of supporters” of Morsi:
A number of high-ranking police officers have joined the pro-military protesters in Tahrir. The officers were welcomed with cheers and chants of “the army, the police and the people are one hand”. Protesters held posters of army chief and defence minister Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and pictures showing the Islamic crescent and the Christian cross.
“It’s a wonderful day. We lost a year of Egypt under Mohamed Morsi who only brought us injustice; he destroyed tourism, the media, and the economy,” protester Khaled Mostafa, an employee in the justice ministry, told Ahram Online.
“We were pleased with the announcement this morning that Morsi was being detained. We believe all the Brotherhood cronies should be locked up forever including El-Beltagy, Essam El-Erian, Hafez, all of them.”
Marchers for and against former President Morsi are beginning to assemble after Friday Prayers in Cairo and across Egypt.
Army presence at entrance to Tahrir Square, where anti-Morsi demonstrators are gathering, near Egyptian Museum:
— AJELive (@AJELive) July 26, 2013
Publicity from the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood:
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) July 26, 2013
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) July 26, 2013
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) July 26, 2013
— Gehad El-Haddad (@gelhaddad) July 26, 2013
Egypt – Muslim Brotherhood Denounces Former President Morsi’s Detention by Regime
The Muslim Brotherhood has denounced the court order to detain former president Mohamed Morsi for suspected collaboration with Palestinian militant group Hamas during the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Brotherhood spokesman, Ahmed Aref, responded to the decision by asking, “Is there a lawyer attending the investigations with Dr. Morsi? Was Dr. Morsi given a chance to defend himself? Where is Dr. Morsi in the first place? And was he transferred to the investigating judge or did the judge go to him?”
Gehad El-Haddad, the Brotherhood’s official spokesperson for foreign media, told AFP “The accusations read as if they’re a retaliating against the old regime, signalling ‘We’re back in full force.'”
Leading Brotherhood member Essam El-Erian denounced the action as showing the true nature of the army’s “fascist military regime.”
El-Erian posted a message on his Facebook page, stating “Announcing a decision to detain a legitimate president who has immunity, who should not stand a trial except under specific constitutional procedures, under very suspicious timing in the absence of the simplest concepts of the state of law as well in the absence of his lawyer, shows the nature of the current struggling fascist military regime.”
He added, “The answer to this will be peaceful million man protests in the squares. Our strength is in our peacefulness and our unity as a people against fascism, oppression and corruption… This is the fate of those who participated in January revolution at the hands of Mubarak’s men who returned back to get revenge on the people.”
Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, also criticised Morsi’s detention, declaring “This is a dangerous development, which confirms that the current powers in Egypt are giving up on national causes and even using these issues to deal with other parties — first among them the Palestinian cause.”
An Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham video praises the attack on Taji and Abu Ghraib prisons in Iraq earlier this week as a fulfillment of a promise by the group’s leader, Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to free prisoners.
In a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, ISIS claimed that they had freed at least 500 detainees.
A year before the attacks on the prisons, ISIS threatened that it would target the justice system.
An audio message released in July 2012, allegedly recorded by al-Baghdadi, said thatL “The first priority in this is releasing Muslim prisoners everywhere, and chasing and eliminating judges and investigators and their guards.”
The video is a compilation of footage from TV news reports of the prison attacks, and footage of ISIS insurgents posing with weapons and the group’s flag.
Government officials have reacted angrily to an open letter, signed by a number of famous actors, criticising the crackdown on recent anti-government protests published in the London Times on Wednesday.
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik said “The answers that need to be given will be given. This is extremely arrogant and out of place behavior. We strongly refute and condemn it.”
Prime Minister Erdoğan’s chief political advisor, Yalçın Akdoğan, added “The fact that such an ad that was filled with political polemics and deliriums was published by The Times not only damages the respectability of that newspaper, but also damages the reputation of those who signed under such inappropriate descriptions of the Turkish government and prime minister.”
The letter, signed by Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley, movie director David Lynch, and other internationally known artists and scholars, condemned the government’s “dictatorial rule” and violent handling of the Gezi Park protests.
A Tel Aviv based company has developed a TV channel with programming specifically targeted to dogs, a Lebanese news outlet reported in a lengthy article on Friday.
DOGTV, a 24/7 channel designed to appeal to dogs of all breeds, is set to air next month on the U.S. satellite operator DirecTV.
“It is the first and only television channel that is dedicated to our four-legged friends and not to their parents,” Gilad Neumann, DOGTV CEO, said.
The channel shows a variety of programs “scientifically designed” to appeal to dogs, including this:
A second Syrian man was arrested yesterday by Lebanese military intelligence services and accused of planting a roadside bomb that struck a Hezbollah convoy near the Syrian border on 9 July.
The attack is presumed to have been retaliation against Hezbollah for its involvement in the Syrian conflict and support for President Bashar Assad.
The first man arrested in connection with the attack is alleged to be linked to several other attacks carried out by a group known as Liwa 313. The group is believed to be founded by the Syrian rebel umbrella group, the Supreme Military Council.
The leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), based in northern Syria, arrived in Istanbul yesterday evening for two days of talks with the Turkish government.
The talks follow a three-hour emergency meeting held by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the latest developments in north Syria, in particular the creation of a de facto autonomous region by the PYD. The meeting included oreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, Hakan Fidan.
The PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Defense Units (YPG), has been fighting rebel Syrian groups, including the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, for control of the area.
The government is also finalising a democratisation plan to bolster the Kurdish peace process, which will allegedly include amendements to the anti-terror code that has been used to arrest members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK). Both the KCK and the PYD are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Seven Egyptian human rights organisations have issued a statement expressing their deep concern about the army’s call for mass demonstrations granting it a “mandate” to crack down on domestic terrorism.
The groups claim that current laws allow for the criminalisation of freedom of expression under the umbrella of terrorism.
The statement reads, “Flawed laws do not necessitate granting to the army or police a popular mandate to act against the law, but rather require the consolidation of the sovereignty of law through introducing necessary amendments by the president, his aides, lawmakers and rights campaigners.”
The groups, which include the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, and the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, questioned the “selective absence” of police from certain scenes of violence.
“Such selective absence does not require a mandate outside the context of law, but rather obliges the police – in accordance with law – to perform their duty against violence and terrorism,” the statement added.
The statement also suggests that the rising militancy in the Sinai Peninsula is a result of years of marginalisation and persecution.
The Obama Administration has concluded that it is not legally required to determine whether the Egyptian military carried out a coup when it ousted President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, a senior official said Thursday.
The finding means the US can continue to send $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt each year.
The senior official did not describe the legal reasoning behind the finding, saying only, “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”
He concluded, “We will not say it was a coup, we will not say it was not a coup, we will just not say.”
Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns — who held talks in Cairo last week — briefed House and Senate members in closed-door sessions.
The White House said it will continue to use financial aid as a lever to pressure Egypt’s new government to move swiftly with a democratic transition. On Wednesday, the Pentagon delayed the shipment of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian Air Force to signal the Administration’s displeasure, as tension built to a possible confrontation of protests on Friday.
Such case-by-case decisions, the official said, would be the model for how the US disbursed aid in the coming months.
Mohammed Brahmi, the leader of a leftist Tunisian opposition party, was killed by gunmen on Thursday morning, the second political assassination of a prominent figure this year.
Crowds protesting after news of Brahmi’s death:
Mass protests for and against deposed President Morsi could collide on Friday, after the head of the armed forces, Abdel Fattah El-Sissi, called on State TV for Egyptians to support the July 3 coup and back the armed forces in stopping “violence and terrorism”.
Since the overthrow of Morsi, rallies attended by hundreds of thousands have been held by both sides. The former President’s supporters have maintained a sit-in at Rabaa El-Adewaya Square, in front of a large mosque in a Cairo suburb, while opponents have continued to gather in the capital’s Tahrir Square.
Deadly confrontations have already occurred — on July 8, security forces killed about 50 pro-Morsi demonstrators in front of the Republican Guards Headquarters, where the former President has reportedly been held under house arrest since the coup.
On Thursday, as the rival sit-ins continued, army helicopters dropped flyers on the pro-Morsi vigil calling on people to refrain from violence.
The Ministry of Interior said it will take “unprecedented measures to protect citizens and their property”.
General El-Sissi raised the political temperature on Wednesday in a televised speech when he called for people to take to the streets on Friday to support the takeover of power and — without naming Morsi’s supporters or the Muslim Brotherhood — the main force behind the Morsi Government — back the military against “terrorism and violence”.
The army issued a statement on Thursday, “The Final Chance,” giving Morsi supporters 48-hours to “join the nation in preparation to launch into the future”.
The National Salvation Front, formed last November to challenge Morsi, and the Tamarod movement, which organized mass protests last month against the Government, backed the military’s declarations.
”Millions of Egyptians will take to the street to stress their unyielding rejection of bloodshed and terrorism from members of a political current [the Muslim Brotherhood] who continue to reject reconciliation,” the NSF said in a statement.
The Brotherhood has responded to El-Sissi’s announcement by accusing him of issuing an “explicit call for civil war”:
“This speech is an incitement and a clear evidence of the state of confusion and loss of mind experienced by the bloody Putschists. It resembles [Syrian President] Bashar Al-Assad’s speech that preceded his war against the Syrian people where he requested a similar mandate.”