Tag Archive | "Egypt"

Critical Analysis: Egypt’s Pending Referendum: A step forward or back?

Egyptians headed to the polls on Tuesday to vote on a constitutional referendum for the first day of a two day voting period.  This will be the first vote in Egypt since the military disposed of President Mohamed Mursi, the only president to be voted into office through a democratic election.  It is also the third referendum for Egyptians in three years.  As a result of the unrest in Egypt since the removal of Mursi, this latest referendum has been eagerly anticipated.  Not only has the pending vote brought hope and unrest, but it also will have lasting impacts to the country’s stability and the rights of Egyptian citizens.

Egyptian voters headed to the polls this week in hopes of gaining a stable government. Image Source: alhayat.com/JerusalemWorldNews.com

Egyptian voters headed to the polls this week in hopes of gaining a stable government. Image Source: alhayat.com/JerusalemWorldNews.com

The anticipation of the vote brought both financial growth and death to the country.  The hope of a more stable government, after a potential Presidential election, if the referendum passes, brought the stock market to the highest levels since January 2011.  It is expected that if citizens vote to accept the agreement there will be a new Presidential election as early as April.  Not only is there expected to be an election, but one of the most promising candidates, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who was instrumental in bringing down Mursi, has indicated that he will rule if Egypt would support him.  Many citizens look at this referendum as a step in stabilizing the government by stopping the political upheaval and reinstating stability through el-Sisi’s impending election.

However, this referendum has brought unrest in addition to hope because the Muslim Brotherhood has fought the referendum.  The Brotherhood fought the referendum by trying to put up posters opposing the referendum, largely because they see the referendum as an attempt to legitimize the forced removal of Mursi. The Muslim Brotherhood, who support Mursi, has also vowed to boycott the vote and consequently clashed with the security forces instructed to protect the voters and the election process.  These clashes include security forces firing tear gas at Mursi supporters in Giza and bomb explosion in a poor neighborhood in Giza two hours before the balloting started.  Although no one died in that bombing, interior ministry officials have said that at least five civilians have been killed in clashes leading up to Tuesday, and an additional eleven people died on the Tuesday, the first day of voting.

Not only has the referendum created unrest through the voting process, but also has a significant impact on the rights of the Egyptian citizens.   One key effect of the referendum passing is the return of a president that is a member of the military, and accountable to both Egyptian citizens and the Egyptian military.  This effect conflicts the responses Egyptians made when polled by CNN about the type of government they would prefer; eighty percent of people believe democracy is a good political system whereas five percent believe that it is good to have a strong leader, indicating that citizens are willing to sacrifice their ideal government for immediate peace.  In addition to the probable reinstatement of a military leader, it also gives the military a special status to select their own candidates for positions and bring civilians before tribunals without oversight.  Other changes would include banning political parties based on their religion, giving women equal rights, and protecting Christians as a minority.

Ultimately this referendum, which does have some good provisions such as banning all forms of slavery and sex trade, is a flawed document which has brought about more unrest than usual in recent days.   The question that remains to be seen is whether the likely passage of the referendum improves conditions in Egypt.  Those voting for it hope that the killing and violence will stop and that the country will stabilize, but the price of reinstating a military leadership may ultimately be a high price to pay: giving up many of the rights earned during the Arab Spring.

Katelin Wheeler is 3L student and Sutton Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

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Critical Analysis: Egyptians Protest Christian’s Death in Libyan Prison

Protestors burn a flag belonging to the Libyan Embassy to protest the death of an Egyptian Christian suspected of proselytizing in Libya. (Ahramonline)

Protestors burn a flag belonging to the Libyan Embassy to protest the death of an Egyptian Christian suspected of proselytizing in Libya. (Ahram Online)

On March 11, Egyptian protestors burned a flag belonging to the Libyan Embassy in Cairo to protest the death of an Egyptian Christian suspected of proselytizing in Libya. The Egyptian Christian, Ezzat Atallah, died in prison where he was detained in Libya with four other Egyptians – all charged with spreading Christianity.  While the Egyptian Foreign Ministry claimed that Ezzat Atallah died of natural causes, protestors suspected that poor prison conditions and possible torture contributed to Atallah’s death in Libyan prison.  The Coptic Christian protestors, which numbered around 100, chanted “the killing of Copts is illegal,” while some masked the Libyan flag with an Egyptian one. In response, Libyan nationals inside the embassy attempted to burn the Egyptian flag and raise two more Libyan flags.

Last week, fifty-five Egyptians suspected of spreading Christianity, the same crime for which Ezzat Atallah was detained, were released from Libya. Thirty-five of the released prisoners were deported for illegal entry into Libya, while the remaining twenty were allowed to stay.  The protests come amid reports that one hundred Coptic Christians are being held by the “ultraconservative” Islamist Libyan militia.  Currently, four foreigners are still being held in Libyan prison for espionage and proselytizing including a Swedish-American, South Korean, South African and an Egyptian.

The Coptic Youth Front began the protest when it announced that it would start its sit-in by the embassy. The Youth Front simultaneously demanded that Atallah’s family be appropriately compensated for his death and that the other prisoners arrested on the same charges be released and returned back to Egypt. The Youth Front stated that they would not move until this had occurred. The previous day, Atallah’s brother spoke to the media stating that his brother had been tortured after moving from Benghazi.  Protestors were outspoken about Libya’s actions.  “Egyptians should not be arrested arbitrarily (in Libya) just because they are Christian,” Sameh Saad, a lawyer, told one media source.  “Atallah had a business there and his wife and children.  Why would he jeopardize his life?”  Others protested to stand up for the rights of Christians globally, especially in strict Islamic nations where Christian animosity is the greatest.  “I joined the vigil here to call for the release of Christians detained for simply possessing Bibles and portraits (of Jesus),” Mina Karas, a university student, told the media.  Karas went on to claim that Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi must do more to help those detained in Libya.

The Egyptian church is in charge of wrapping up the legal ties of Atallah’s death.  Bishop Pachomius, a leading pope of the patriarchic Coptic Church, has been in touch with officials in Egypt, the Egyptian Embassy in Libya, and the ministry of foreign affairs.  He recommended that the victim’s family contact the Egyptian embassy in Libya to complete the legal affairs of Atallah’s death and to discuss logistics of transporting his body from Libya to Egypt.  As more attention is drawn to Libya for detaining Christians for “proselytizing,” hopefully the ultra-conservative Libyan government will be deterred from such harsh punishment against Christians who simply possess Bibles.

Dan Warhola is a 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Executive Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: Death Sentences Announced in Egyptian Soccer Riots—Justice, or Continued Injustice?

Families of the victims react in court with joy after the issuance of the death penalty for 21 accused in last years Port Said football violence (NY Daily News)

Families of the victims rejoice after the issuance of the death penalty for 21 accused in last years Port Said football violence (NY Daily News)

On January 26, an Egyptian judge sentenced 21 people to death for their participation in a soccer game riot in February 2012. Dubbed the “massacre at Port Said,” the riot last year broke out after the Port Said-based Al-Masry team defeated Cairo’s Al-Ahly team. The riot left 74 dead, and 1,000 injured.  Intended to bring justice to those responsible for these riots, the ruling has only led to more death and destruction in Egypt as it sparked deadly clashes between security forces and relatives of the convicted.

In the courtroom in Cairo, “families of victims danced, applauded, and some broke down in tears of joy when they heard Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid declare that the 21 men would be ‘referred to the Mufti,’ a phrase used to denote execution, as all death sentences must be reviewed by Egypt’s top religious authority.” In total, 73 defendants stood trial. Those not sentenced yet will be on March 9.

With more than 30 dead and nearly 300 injured in the days after the ruling, it is clear that residents of Port Said do not believe that the ruling was warranted. While fans in Cairo cheered as verdict was announced, rampaging fans in Port Said attacked the city’s jail where the defendants were being held and cut off access to the all roads leading in and out of the city. Police responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition aimed at the crowds. President Mohamed Morsi met with the National Defense Council, which includes the nation’s top military leaders, canceling a foreign trip in light of the crisis. Security forces could not control the violence.

Egypt’s football fans also demonstrated that they do not believe that justice has been served.  In a country obsessed with its premier sport, Egypt’s football season began this Saturday without a single fan in the stands. The players took the field “to the relative silence of secure military stadiums,” a stark contrast to the normally rambunctious crowds.

The sentencing of those responsible for the riots was intended to bring justice to the victims’ families.  In less than one week, however, the judgment has brought continued death and chaos to Egypt and moreover, has failed to uncover the truth of what caused the Port Said soccer massacre.  Journalists are forbidden from reporting on the case, and the state has issued no official report on the massacre.  Many believe that unchecked police practices were the root cause of the riots—as police failed to check fans for weapons upon their entrance to the stadium and the gates to the stadium were locked once the riots started.  Until the violence is checked, and truth uncovered, there will continue to be a failure of true and lasting justice for those of Port Said.

Brianna Evans is a 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Editor in Chief of the Denver Journal of International Law & Policy.

 

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Constitutional Crisis: The Similarities Between Egypt’s Past and Present

Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi receives the draft constitution from the Constituent Assembly. (Al Arabiya)

On November 22, 2012, President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt gave himself broad new powers related to the writing and ratification of Egypt’s constitution.  The most controversial of these powers, which led to mass protests in Egypt, stated that “Morsi’s decisions could not be revoked by any authority, including the judiciary, until the new constitution had been ratified and a fresh parliamentary election is held.”  Although Morsi said that those powers would last only until the new constitution is ratified, many Egyptians perceived this action as a power grab.

This added to the already controversial nature of the draft constitution, which “has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and…restricting freedom of expression.”  Another concern is that the charter apparently favors Islamists, both by giving clerics influence over legislation and by taking power away from other groups.  The perceived enhancement of Islamist power has divided the country; the Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood (of which Morsi is a member) support the draft constitution, while youth groups, Coptic Christians, and other more liberal groups oppose it.

A referendum on the draft constitution is supposed to be held on December 15, and protesters have already demonstrated in opposition to the event taking place. Morsi stated that he still intends to hold the referendum in the wake of the protests.  On December 6, Morsi offered to engage in a dialogue with opposition members, but many groups, including the prominent National Salvation Front, declined.  Instead of being perceived as an attempt to negotiate, opposition parties saw the proposed dialogue as Morsi’s willful ignorance of the Egyptian people’s demands.

Morsi’s supreme powers evoke memories of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, and many of the protests against Morsi echo those from early 2011 when Mubarak’s regime fell.  Like those protests, the recent demonstrations have also turned violent.  Indeed, the protests represent “the first time supporters of rival camps have fought each other” since the protests against Mubarak.  Although the violence alone is reminiscent of the Mubarak protests, the similarities run deeper than that.  Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei noted the danger “that Morsi’s rule was ‘no different’ than Mubarak’s…[and] ‘is perhaps even worse.’”  ElBaradei particularly noted that Morsi’s supporters had violently attacked peaceful protesters near the presidential palace, and he called on Morsi to “[c]ancel the constitutional declarations, postpone the referendum, stop the bloodshed, and enter a direct dialogue with the national forces.” 

Today, the protests face additional uncertainty.  Morsi approved a decree authorizing the use of martial law in order to quell the demonstrations.  This runs contrary to any proposed discussions between Morsi and liberal parties.  Some changes have taken place during the past few chaotic days; among other things, Morsi “has sought to redefine his initial decree so it fits within judicial precedents instead of stepping over the courts…[and] has said that the decree would be canceled after the referendum…, even if the constitution is rejected.”  Other government officials said they would permit additional constitutional amendments by opposing parties.  However, the proposed martial law decree undermines the force of these apparent concessions.

Tanya Sevy is a 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and the Survey Editor of the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: Cease-Fire Stops Fight Over Gaza: Is This The End?

 

Schoolchildren walk in debris by a damaged school in Gaza City. (Huffington Post)

On November 22, 2012, after eight days of fighting, the Palestine militant group, Hamas, and Israel called a cease-fire. The violence resulted in over 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead, while many more were injured. Israel’s casualties were less extensive thanks in large part to its Iron Dome defense system, which was able to intercept many of the rockets fired from Gaza. While the 1.7 million inhabitants of Gaza were severely “outgunned” by Israel, it was also the first time that Israel had experienced an attack on two of its main cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy negotiated the crease-fire with a helping hand from the United States, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived in the wake of negotiations. While there is much discussion about the winners and losers of this fight, it seems that both sides feel they have won something.

The battle for Gaza Strip has been a bitter one, spanning decades, with stalled negotiations and violence setting the scene over the years. Little progress has been made over the decades and the same question remains: will this cease-fire finally result in a lasting change? In June of 2008, Egypt had successfully negotiated a six-month long cease-fire but during the truce, attacks had continued. Once the cease-fire officially ended in December of 2008, air strikes and ground offensives continued. In January of 2009, a week long cease-fire took place after a three-week long conflict, which resulted in 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead. The attempted cease-fire, however, did not last as more violence and failed negotiations continued to stir the conflict.

The present cease-fire called for a “total cessation of hostile activity from Gaza,” and while the truce still stands, there is much confusion regarding its status.  Israeli Military reportedly fired shots at the feet of Palestine’s who were attempting to cross the border resulting in at least one death and several injuries. Some analysts argue the new dynamic in the Middle East will make this time different but it still remains to be seen whether any successful and lasting negotiation will result.

To complicate matters, the body of former Palestine Liberation Organization leader, Yasser Arafat was recently exhumed to test for poisoning in connection with his 2004 death. After finding high amounts of radioactive material on his belongings, the body was tested for poisoning by the element polonium. The Palestine authority of West Bank stated it believes Israel to be behind the poisoning. While this conflict is between West Bank and Israel, West Bank expressed its full solidarity with Gaza during the recent attacks and this additional event could stir up more trouble in an already troubled region.

Lina Jasinskaite is a 3L at the University of Denver School of Law and a staff editor at the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: Coptic Church Elects New Pope During Times of Uncertainty

Bishop Tawadros, 60, soon to be Pope Tawadros II (The Telegraph)

On Sunday, November 4, 2012, Bishop Tawadros became the Pope-designate of the Coptic Church after a blindfolded six-year-old boy drew a slip of paper bearing Tawadros’ name from a glass bowl.  The Bishop succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who passed away in March and who served as Pope for over forty years.  Copts believe this ancient election process ensures that the selection of the Pope is in God’s hands.  To the pleasure of many Copts, the selection of Bishop Tawadros was free of politicization and favoritism, as the finalists for the Papacy were chosen from Bishops without a diocese.

Christianity was introduced to Egypt in the 1st century, and in 451 A.D. the Egyptian Christian Church, known as the “Coptic Orthodox Church,” began in earnest after it broke away from the Catholic Church.  Today, the Copts comprise approximately ten percent of the Egyptian population.  Bishop Tawadros will be the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The election of the new church leader comes at a time of great uncertainty for Copts as the country transitions from the heavy handed, secular Mubarak state towards a country where Islam will play a dominant role in politics.  Under Hosni Mubarak, Copts were excluded from high positions of government, were rarely protected from religiously motivated violence, and were prohibited from building new churches or modifying existing ones without presidential approval.  Copts, however, were not enthusiastic about the Egyptian revolution.  A deterioration of security and law enforcement since the uprising has left Copts vulnerable to violent attacks by Muslim extremists, and they remain very apprehensive about the future.

Since early 2011, human rights groups have reported over forty incidents of religiously motivated acts of violence resulting in nearly 100 deaths of Coptic Christians, surpassing the death toll of the previous ten years combined.  Over the past year, extremist mobs have attacked and burned churches and beaten Coptic Christians after attending Mass. Last week, a young Coptic girl was abducted in a Salafist bookstore, a common occurrence in Egypt where extremists seek to convert minor girls to Islam by force.  Egypt’s parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, has expressed its commitment to ensuring the new constitution prioritizes Islamic Shariah law as the main source of all legislation.  While in theory incorporating Islam as a constitutional source of law is not problematic, countries that have such constitutional provisions often do respect the rights of religious minorities.

The new Pope is unlikely to make substantial change in the dynamic currently unfolding in Egypt.  Nonetheless, shortly after his election, Bishop Tawadros spoke of Coptic Christians’ duty to integrate into Egyptian society.  Bishop Tawadros will be inaugurated on November 18.

Bryan Neihart is a 2L and a staff editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: Mubarak Sentenced to Life in Prison as Egyptians Take to the Streets

President Mubarak (Arabian Business)

On June 2nd, an Egyptian court sentenced deposed leader Hosni Mubarak to life in prison over the killing of innocent protesters in the Egyptian uprising of 2011.  Mubarak is the first former leader in the region to be tried in person in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, marking an ignominious end to a thirty-year reign.  Mr. Mubarak faced a potential death sentence for the failure of the state to stop the killing of almost 850 demonstrators.  Instead both Mubarak and his ex-Interior Minister, Habib el-Adly, face a life behind bars.

The Mubarak verdict was initially greeted with great celebration, especially among the families of the victims.  “I am so happy – this is the greatest happiness I have ever felt,” said Rada Mohamed Mabrouk, a 60-year-old Egyptian.  “The martyrs are all of our children.”  Sentencing Judge Ahmed Refaat described the end of “thirty years of darkness.”

But the mood quickly turned angry, with scuffles even breaking out right in the courtroom.  Many denounced the court’s failure to render a death sentence, while others decried the acquittal of several high level leaders more closely linked to the killings, and the acquittal of Mubarak’s two sons on corruption charges.  “It’s all an act.  It is a show.  It is a provocation,” said Alaa Hamam, one of thousands of protestors who took to Tahrir Square.  “The verdict means that the head of the regime and the minister of interior are the only ones who have fallen, but the rest of the entire regime remains,” added the Muslim Brotherhood in a prepared statement.

The Mubarak verdict comes on the eve of presidential elections in Egypt after over a year of military rule following Mubarak’s ouster.  Judging by the public reaction, the former leader’s conviction has not ushered in stability in the lead-up to the June 16-17 election, which pits Mubarak’s former prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, against Mubarak’s rival, Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The widespread anger and chaos may not bode well for Shafiq because of his close previous ties to Mubarak.

In addition to Egypt’s uncertain political future, many fear that the verdict is subject to reversal.  Critics of the trial have described the investigations as “hasty and sloppy,” resulting in suspect “patchwork” evidence.  Additionally, because prosecutors made no showing that Mubarak directly ordered any killings, the Egyptian court convicted Mubarak of “accessory to murder” for his failure to stop the killing of protestors while in power.  Lawyers and political leaders have noted that such a rationale likely cannot support a murder conviction under international law and may be “doomed to reversal.”

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News Post: 10 of the 23 Candidates Disqualified from Egyptian Presidential Election

The presidential election, the final stage in Egypt’s turbulent transition, will begin May 23. With elections just around the corner, Egypt’s Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) shocked many on Saturday by announcing that it had disqualified 10 of the 23 candidates running for Office.

Farouk Sultan, head of the Supreme Presidential Election Committee

On Tuesday, the committee overseeing the Egyptian presidential election upheld the HPEC’s decision, finding that the hopeful candidates offered no new evidence to overturn the decision. As Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna reported from Cairo, “On examining the appeals of each of these candidates, the commission has announced that there is no reason to alter the initial decision.” Hanna also went on to explain that the “presidential election commission is the final arbiter in this particular case.” In short, the candidates cannot go to court over this decision, and the campaigns for these ten candidates are over.

The candidates were disqualified for a variety of proffered reasons, as is evident in evaluating the disqualifications applied to the three candidates who many considered to be among the top contenders: ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman, Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater, and ultraconservative Salafist, Hazem Abu Ismail. Mr. Suleiman was disqualified because he fell short of the required number of public endorsements. In contrast, Mr. al-Shater was disqualified for a previous conviction. Mr. Abu Ismail was meanwhile disqualified because his late mother held US citizenship, a fact he vigorously denied. Under a new Egyptian law passed after the uprising, candidates, their parents and spouses, must hold only Egyptian citizenship.

The disqualifications of these candidates will likely fuel speculation over the independence of the HPEC. Farouk Sultan, the head of the commission, is a former army officer and judge in the military court system. Some speculate that he and his fellow judges on the HPEC “are sympathizers with the old regime” and thus impartial decision makers. The Muslim Brotherhood also reported that other judges on the HPEC are holdovers from the Mubarak era and were appointed to the panel by the country’s military rulers.

With the candidate pool vastly reduced, the new top contenders are likely former foreign minister Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and the Brotherhood’s backup candidate, Mohammed Mursi. However, Jon Leyne, an analyst for the BBC News, stated that this decision completely reshapes the prospects for the presidential election. Moreover, Leyne also explained that the Muslim Brotherhood must decide whether to endorse their back-up candidate, Mr. Mursi. A final list of candidates will be published on April 26, when the election campaign officially kicks off. 

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News Post: Muslim Brotherhood on Ballot in Egypt

Khairat al-Shater

, the deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood has added his name to the list of candidates in Egypt’s presidential elections scheduled for May 23rd.  The announcement came after nearly a year of statements by the Muslim Brotherhood that the party would not contest the presidential elections. Khairat al-Shater is a wealthy businessman who has made his money from textiles and furniture.  Throughout the years he has used his personal wealth to help finance the Brotherhood.

In 2007, al-Shater was convicted of money laundering for funding and managing the finances of the Muslim Brotherhood, while the organization was officially banned under former President Mubarak.  Al-Shater was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released last March after Mubarak was forced from power.   Prior to his 2007 conviction, al-Shater spent five years in prison for a 1995 conviction for reviving the banned organization.  Al-Shater was arrested along with 48 other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood following a meeting of the  Shura Council on January 2, 1995.  Under Egyptian law, the prior convictions could bar al-Shater from running for President, unless the military pardons him.  Earlier this week, SCAF pardoned Ayman Nour, who was convicted of forging petitions to register his political party in the 2005 elections, thus allowing him to also run for office.  By announcing his candidacy, the Muslim Brotherhood is forcing the military to either pardon al-Shater or confront the popular organization.

The decision to field a candidate comes after frustration over the lack of power that the Brotherhood has in Parliament.  Even though the Muslim Brotherhood won nearly 50 percent of the seats in the Parliament, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) continues to control the government.

Mahmoud Hussein did not explicitly cite the SCAF as the determinative factor in the Brotherhood’s decision to field a candidate, but he said that “threats to the revolution” motivated the party to nominate al-Shater.  It his statements, Hussein specifically cited the SCAF’s threats to dismantle the parliament and refusal to dismiss the military-appointed cabinet.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to run al-Shater as a candidate has raised concerns both within the organization and among secularists.  The Brotherhood acknowledged the concerns of the military and liberals that the party could potentially claim political power in all branches of Egypt’s new government, including the parliament, the presidency, and the body charged with writing Egypt’s new constitution.  The divide within the party is further evidence of the potentially risky decision to nominate a candidate.  The decision to field a candidate was narrowly supported by the Brotherhood’s leadership.  The Shura Council voted 56-52 in support of al-Shater’s nomination.

Furthermore, the party’s reversal on its statements not to field a candidate could cause political challenges for the Brotherhood.  Officially the Brotherhood accepted the resignation of al-Shater, and thus the Brotherhood is not officially fielding a candidate, but given al-Shater’s history with the party few, if any, will see the distinction. This is also not the first time that the Brotherhood has gone back on its word to limit its role in elections.  The Brotherhood made a similar claim earlier during the parliamentary elections.  The Brotherhood pledged that it would only support a limited number of constituents in parliamentary elections, but the group ended up supporting candidates in nearly all of Egypt’s parliamentary constituencies.

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Sources: BBC, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times

News Post: Violence and Protests Again Pervade Egypt’s Capital

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times

Sources: BBC, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times

Four days of violent clashes between protesters and government officials in Tahrir Square have left at least 29 people dead and more than one thousand injured.  At least 100,000 protesters fill the Square due to their lack of confidence in Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military council that took over following the fall of former President Mubarak.  The protesters fear that the military will not willingly cede power to a democratically elected president.

On Tuesday, Field Marshal Tantawi announced that Presidential elections will be held sooner than previously planned and no later than July 2012.  He further confirmed that the Parliamentary elections, scheduled to start this Monday, would proceed.  In addition, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his Cabinet offered their resignation to SCAF on Monday; many citing the violent treatment of protesters as the impetus behind their resignations.  Although there are differing reports, it seems Tantawi also reported that the resignations have been accepted, “but the current government will remain as a caretaker government until a new prime minister is named to form a new government.” Finally, Tantawi stated that the military is willing to hold a referendum on immediately transferring power to a civilian authority if that is what the Egyptian people demand.

From the outside, it may seem that these responses are appropriate and that the current government is attempting to address many of the protesters’ demands.  However, protesters are still shouting that they will not leave Tahrir Square until Tantawi leaves power.  According to a report from Amnesty International released earlier this month, the Supreme Council, “in the name of ensuring security and stability . . . [has] committed numerous human rights violations, ignoring the very demands for social justice and fundamental freedoms that triggered the uprising.” Sometimes the violence and brutality employed has exceeded that of  applied by Mubarak’s own regime.

Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, stated that, “No one is going to accept another civilian government micromanaged” by the military commanders.  Therefore, the questions remain as to what credible civilian leader is willing to step into the role of Prime Minister if, as Tantawi says, SCAF will remain in control until the new government is fully formed, and whether the upcoming Parliamentary elections will really have much of an affect on the current state of Egyptian affairs?  Amr Hamzawy, a liberal parliamentary candidate, recently declared that if turnout is above 50% and the elections are genuinely free and fair, then the whole of Egypt can consider itself victorious. This may be true; but it may also turn out to be a disappointingly small victory.

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