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Egypt imposes curfew in Cairo as at least 25 killed in clashes

News4u-News Desk-Egypt’s military ruler has imposed a curfew on Cairo’s Tahrir area as at least 25 people, including three soldiers, were killed and 170 injured after Coptic Christians protesting over an attack on a church clashed with security forces in the capital.

 

Central Cairo witnessed a demonstration by activists against the military rule while police augmented by special forces deployed in the area called on protesters to leave before the curfew because they have been ordered to treat people breaking the curfew with firmness.

The curfew is to last from 2 am to 7 am Cairo Local Time.

Despite the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi issuing a decree to halt presenting civilians to military courts except in cases stated by the military law, people arrested in Sunday’s events might face military trials as they have attacked army members.

Other protests in Egyptian cities have peacefully ended and in particular in Alexandira where thousands of Copts had surrounded a military area and torched cars nearby.

Copts had arranged for a rally in Cairo in objection to recent clashes last week in the area of Idfu in Aswan, Egypts furthest governorate south. Muslims had attacked a building they claimed Copts were turning into a church accusing them of not having the needed permits.

Nothing was done to prevent the issue from escalating as the governor confirmed the permits were not requested from the official bodies. To reply the Copts published copies of the permits in newspapers signed by the governor himself.

The governor did not apologise but noted “he was suffering fatigue when he signed the papers and hence cannot remember.”

Copts have been organizing rallies all through the week. The rallies started from the area of Shubra where a large number of Copts live to the Egyptian Radio and TV building.

Sunday’s rally was no different but Copts abroad were expected to organize concurrent rallies in foreign countries.

It is not clear which side started the violence but a few hours later the official TV announced three army soldiers dead and several injured after the presenter claimed the Copts attacked the Egyptian army.

Hundreds of Egyptians were reported to have headed to down town Cairo chanting “Muslims and Copts, we are all Egyptians.”

Prime Minister Esam Sharaf was said to be closely watching developments and holding a meeting with a crisis management team of the cabinet.


Egypt Map

Egypt Map

NCW criticizes Council of State’s decision on women in Egypt

News4u-News Desk-Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) has condemned the decision of the Council of State against appointing female judges.

The NCW Thursday held an emergency meeting to discuss the decision of the Council of State, an influential court which advises the government.

“I am happy with the NGOs’ protest in support of women’s rights,” head of the NCW Furkhandah Hasan said.

The Council of State’s association voted against appointing women as judges in the council. The move was slammed by human rights activists.

As many as 380 judges took part in the general assembly and voted, with 334 rejecting the appointment of females to judicial posts and 42 agreeing, with four abstentions.

The State Council is an administrative court system with jurisdiction over cases involving the state.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has voluntarily entered the face-veil controversy saying it wipes out a woman’s personality.

He said the niqab was a matter of personal freedom but that it should not trespass on other people’s rights, warning that some students used it to cheat in exams.

An Egyptian court last month ruled against a ban on the niqab in female schools affiliated with the Islamic Al-Azhar University. It also ruled against an education ministry ban on the niqab in university residences and examination halls, saying it violated the women’s constitutional liberties.

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Violence in Egypt, 42 held for arson

News4u-News Desk-Egyptian police arrested 42 people for allegedly indulging in arson and sectarian violence as communal clashes continued in the Nagaa Hammadi town.

“We have arrested 28 Coptic Christians and 14 Muslims, considered as troublemakers, from Bahgura village after Friday’s incident when eleven ships and eight houses owned by Copts were burnt in the village,” provincial police chief Mahmud Gohar said.

Authorities did not differentiate between majority and minority communities, he said yesterday.

Tensions began after a Muslim policeman was killed in a shooting in Nagaa Hammadi on Coptic Christmas Eve, considered the deadliest since 2000 when 20 Copts were killed.

On Friday, unidentified assailants set afire Christian-owned property in Bahgura.
“Three Muslims were arrested yesterday and have been charged with premeditated murder of Coptic Christians emerging from Christmas mass in Nagaa Hammadi. They have previous run-ins with police,” Gohar said.

Copts comprise 10 per cent of the Muslim dominated country and allege facing discrimination in job opportunities and other areas.

Religious clashes occur in south Egypt which is of late moving towards the capital and coastal cities in the north.

Security analysts said regional powers, mainly Iran, may have a hand in Friday’s clash to distract attention from the events at Egypt’s eastern borders.

“The violence against Christians in certain countries has caused indignation among many people, among other reasons because it has manifested itself during the holiest days of the Christian tradition,” Pope Benedict XVI had said condemning the shooting in Nagaa Hammadi.

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Christian villagers furious after Egypt arson attacks

News4u-News Desk-In Bahgura (Egypt), (AFP) - Residents of a southern Egypt village were furious today after houses and shops owned by Coptic Christians were burnt as sectarian tensions flared in the wake of a deadly drive-by shooting.

Muslim gunmen shot dead six Copts in the nearby town of Nagaa Hammadi on Wednesday night as worshippers emerged from Christmas Eve mass, one of Egypt’s deadliest sectarian attacks in years in which a policeman was also killed.

Today, men in traditional flowing robes and with crosses tattooed on their arms surveyed the damage in Bahgura, where shopfronts that were once blue and green were now charred black after overnight arson attacks.

They charged that Muslim “thugs” who live in the town went on the rampage on Friday night, lobbing fireballs into Christian-owned shops and some houses.

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Egyptians building Gaza barrier come under fire

News4u-News Desk-Gaza City, (AP) Security officials say shots have been fired from Gaza at Egyptians installing an underground metal barrier meant to seal border smuggling tunnels.

Palestinian and Egyptian officials say the shots were fired this morning, but that no one was hurt. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t allowed to speak to reporters.

This is the fourth shooting incident since workers began building the barrier several weeks ago. The construction tightens a blockade imposed on Gaza after the militant group Hamas seized power in 2007.

The barrier has also worsened relations between Egypt and Hamas, which relies on the tunnels to haul in most commercial goods, as well as weapons.

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Talks between rival Palestinian factions delayed

News4u-News Desk-Cairo, The reconciliatory talks between rival Palestinian factions, scheduled to be held next week in Egypt, have been postponed for one month, official MENA news agency said today.

The talks are now set to take place in late September after Eid al-Fitr, the celebration following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which started on Saturday, an unnamed official was quoted as saying by MENA news agency.

It was supposed to be held on the 25th of August.

However, the official said that Egyptian efforts to solve the differences between Fatah and Hamas movements will continue.

He said the postponement came amid a flurry of Egyptian diplomatic activity and visits that started last Monday to Ramallah and Damascus in addition to meetings with the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.



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Egypt nabs 26 suspected al-Qaeda planning Suez attacks

News4u-News Desk-Egyptian authorities have arrested 26 people, mostly engineers and technicians allegedly with links to al-Qaida, who were plotting attacks on oil pipelines and ships in the busy Suez Canal.

The group, which was being tracked by the Egyptian security for months, comprised 25 Egyptians and one Palestinian. They were also reportedly promoting ideologies of takfir and jihad.


The group had been communicating with terror outfits linked with Al-Qaeda via the Internet and was planning to attack vital sectors in the country, such as the Suez Canal and oil pipelines, Egyptian security sources said.


The arrest comes at a time when Egypt is working hard to foil attempts by foreign terror outfits to deploy extremists inside the country or dispatch elements from outside.


Some of the group members being engineers and technicians were able to develop electronic circuits for explosion using infrared rays, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.


They also used Global Positioning System devices for navigation purposes, and received online donations collected for supporting Islamic charity, the security sources said.


All the 26 members of the group have confessed they intended to conduct terror operations in the country.

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