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Egyptians protest against ‘light’ sentence given to Mubarak

News4u - News Desk :  Thousands of Egyptians hit the streets in Cairo and occupied the iconic Tahrir Square overnight against the “light” sentence given to ousted President Hosni Mubarak for complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 mass uprising and acquittal of his two sons.

84-year-old ailing former dictator was handed down life imprisonment along with his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly on Saturday by a Cairo court which, however, acquitted six former police commanders.

The court also dropped the separate corruption charges against Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal. But his sons will remain in detention as they are to be charged with stock-market manipulation.

A huge crowd of up to 20,000 people gathered in Cairo’sTahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, on Saturday night in protest against the verdict. Many protesters remained there overnight.

Similar protests were reported from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Suez on the Red Sea and other parts ofEgypt. More than 100 people have been wounded in nationwide protests, officials were quoted as saying by BBC.

In Alexandria, over 500 people, including kin of those killed in last year’s uprising against Mubarak’s 30-year rule, protested on the stairs of the High Court in al-Mansheya district against the sentence given to the toppled leader.

The protesters chanted: “We don’t want much talk, we want a death sentence” for Mubarak, according to ‘Egypt Independent’.

The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling saying it was not enough in the wake of the heinous crimes the defendants committed against protesters.

Around 850 protesters had been killed during the 18-day revolt following which Mubarak was ousted on 11th February 2011.

In Aswan in southern Egypt, hundreds of members of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition and political parties staged marches to condemn the verdict.

They called for reviving the revolution, holding revolutionary trials of Mubarak and his former deputies and purging the judiciary of “corruption”.

Wael Refaat, a lawyer and spokesperson for the Coalition of Revolution Youth, criticised the verdict, saying the ruling opens the door for the exoneration of Mubarak and Adly if their sentences are appealed.

Mostafa Mandour, Secretary for Salafi-oriented Assala Party in Aswan, was quoted as saying, “The people are dissatisfied with the light sentences. The people are capable of returning to the streets.”

The verdict against Mubarak, the only dictator toppled in the Arab Spring to be tried in person, came ahead of the June 16-17 presidential runoff between his last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Mursi of Muslim Brotherhood, a party which was legalised after the former President’s fall.

After the verdict was announced, Mursi declared the revolution must continue.

“All of us, my brothers, must realise in this period that the continuation of the revolution, and the revolutionaries’ staying put in their positions in the squares, is the only guarantee to achieve the goals,” he was quoted as saying before he joined the crowds in Tahrir Square for a brief period.

In a separate development, protesters stormed Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in south of Cairo.

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Egypt: Islamists press generals to fire government

News4u-News Desk-Cairo, (PTI) Egypt has ruled out any additional nuke commitments unless Israel signs NPT, even as it asked for making the West Asia a nuclear free zone.
Egypt rejects calls for additional commitments on the shoulders of non-nuclear Arab countries before Israel signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit was quoted by the ministry’s spokesman as saying during a meeting with International Commission on NPT and Disarmament (ICNND) co-chairs Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi.
The minister called upon the ICNND to include Arab demands to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the West Asia, stressing the importance of pressuring Israel to join the treaty.
He also stressed the importance of preserving NPT member states’ right to develop national nuclear programs for peaceful use. Israel is the only country in the Middle East so far to own nuclear heads.

News4u-News Desk-Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood -led parliament has begun drawing up a no-confidence motion against the military-appointed govt, further escalating the Islamists’ increasingly public power struggle with the country’s ruling generals.

The Islamists were also squabbling with liberal and secular groups over the commission that is to draw up the nation’s new constitution.

After the Brotherhood took a clear majority on the 100-member body for itself, 25 other members resigned.

The latest was the representative of Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent institute of Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world.

Yesterday, a meeting between the Islamists and liberals chaired by military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi produced no compromises.

Liberals fear the Islamists plan to impose their religious agenda on the constitution.

Islamists say liberals are a minority who have no popular support.

Relations between the military and the Brotherhood have deteriorated in recent weeks, as the fundamentalist group has pushed for the army to fire the Cabinet for alleged incompetence.

The Brotherhood wants to form a new government, a task it claims is urgent because of Egypt’s deteriorating security and economic situation.

During a heated session in parliament yesterday, lawmakers lambasted Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri’s government for its performance, accusing it of wasting billions of dollars of public funds.

Six Cabinet ministers stormed out in protest.

Lawmakers also started drafting a motion for a vote of no confidence in the government, said parliamentarian Hussein Ibrahim.

He said that parliament, where the Brotherhood and other Islamists hold nearly 75 per cent of the seats, will vote on the measure within two weeks.

“No one can give a kiss of life to a dead government,” lawmaker Osama Yassin said.

While Egypt’s interim constitution does not give parliament the power to dismiss the Cabinet, a no-confidence vote would be a sharp blow to the ruling generals and make it difficult for them to continue backing el-Ganzouri’s government.

 

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Clashes erupt as Bahrain warns against protests

News4u - News Desk : Bahraini police clashed with protesters on Monday, witnesses said, as the kingdom’s security chief warned citizens not to heed calls by activists to mark the first anniversary of a Shiite-led uprising.
Police fired tear gas and sound grenades at hundreds of demonstrators in what some described as “violent” clashes in Shiite neighbourhoods that lasted throughout the night yesterday and into today morning, the witnesses said.

One witness told the news agency that “many” protesters were wounded but gave no further details.

Shiite protesters often seek medical treatment in private homes for fear of retaliation or arrest by government security forces if they check in to a public hospital.

Meanwhile, public security chief Major General Tariq al-Hassan cautioned Bahrainis “not to respond to the inciting calls on (online) social networks to demonstrate,” in a statement published on the official news agency early today.

Hassan warned that security forces would not hesitate to respond to “those that want to take advantage … to carry out unlawful, irresponsible acts that threaten public order.”

He said the government “will prevent” such actions, but also appealed to citizens not to “escalate tensions.”

Activists called for demonstrations on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at Manama’s former Pearl Square, the focal point of the Shiite-dominated protests that erupted last February 14 and was crushed a month later.

Hassan said that Bahraini forces have already taken the necessary measures to bolster security in anticipation of demonstrations.

Witnesses have reported a heavy security presence at main junctions in Manama since yesterday morning, with a concentration of forces at the Al-Farook interchange what was built on Pearl Square after it was razed, a day after the protests were crushed last year.

Last year’s crackdown by the Sunni-ruled nation led to the deaths of 35 people, including five security personnel and five detainees who were tortured to death, an independent commission of enquiry appointed by King Hamad found.

 


 

Clashes erupt as Bahrain warns against protests

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Soccer clashes kill 68 in Egypt

News4u-News Desk- At least 68 people have been reported to be killed in shocking violence following a soccer match between two popular clubs in Egypt’s Port Said city.

 

Without giving specific figures, Deputy Health Minister Hesham Shiha said in a statement that hundreds were injured.

However, sources among the medics, who had received the bodies said at least 68 people were slain in Wednesday’s violence.

A security official and a medic said fans of the home team, Masry, swarmed the field after a rare 3-1 win against Ahly,Egypt’s top team.

They threw stones, fireworks, and bottles at the fans and injured some players.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a medic at a morgue in Port Said said some of the dead were security officers.
The exact causes of the deaths were not immediately known.

The security official said fans chased players and cornered their supporters on the field, throwing stones and bottles at them.

The players were later taken to the locker room for protection, Sayed Hamdi, a player, told state TV.

“One of the fans died in the dressing room,” Ahmed Nagi, an Ahly goalkeeping coach, said on Egyptian state television.

“And there are thousands of wounded lying in the hallways,” Nagi said.

In another incident, Egyptian state TV footage showed protesters setting fire to the Cairo Stadium after a football match between the Zamalek and Ismailia team.

Zamalek coach decided not to continue the second half of the match after the violent clashes which erupted simultaneously in the Port Said Stadium.

Soccer clashes kill 68 in Egypt

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Egyptians converge on Tahrir Square for 4th day

News4u-News Desk- CAIRO: Egyptians responding to a call for a mass rally began flowing onto Cairo’s centralTahrir Square on Tuesday as protests demanding the country’s military rulers to step down entered a fourth day despite a crackdown by police that has killed at least 29 people.

Activists are hoping to increase the number of protesters in the square, which was the epicenter of the revolt that ousted Hosni Mubarak in mid-February, with a demonstration to bolster popular support for a “second revolution.”

Violence also continued, with black-clad security forces backed by military troops firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to block protesters, who responded by hurling stones and fire bombs. The two sides have been engaged in intense clashes since the unrest began on Saturday.

Egypt’s state-TV reported that three people were killed overnight in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, east of Cairo, raising the overall death toll from the protests to 29.

Hundreds of protesters arrived early Tuesday to join several thousand who have been camping on Tahrir Square, sleeping in tents or on the grass rolled up in blankets despite efforts by police to clear the area. The crowds hoisted a giant Egyptian flag and chanted slogans demanding the generals immediately step down in favor of a presidential civilian council.

One man held a sign reading “ministry of thuggery” with photos of Mubarak, the senior military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and others. A few hundred young men nearby chanted “say it, don’t fear, the council must go” and “the people want to execute the field marshal.”

The rally, dubbed “Egypt’s Salvation,” came a day after the civilian Cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf submitted its resignation to the military council, a move that had been widely expected given the government’s perceived inefficiency and its almost complete subordination to the generals. The ruling military council gave no word if the offer had been accepted, but regardless, it failed to satisfy the protesters.

“That was a game, like playing the joker in a game of cards. We want the military council to resign,” said 60-year-old protester Mustafa Mursi, who wore a pair of goggles on his forehead with a gas mask and a laminated picture of his slain son around his neck.

Mursi, who has been at the square since the latest protests began on Saturday, said that his son Mohammed was shot in head on Jan. 28 during clashes with security forces in the earlier uprising.

“I’ll stay until military rule ends and there is civilian rule,” he said.

The clashes came few days before the country’s first parliamentary elections since Mubarak was forced to step down. Fears were high that the turmoil would disrupt elections due to begin on Nov. 28.

Amnesty International harshly criticized the military rulers in a new report, saying they have “completely failed to live up their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights.”

The London-based group documented steps by the military that have fallen short of increasing human rights and in some cases have made matters worse than under Mubarak.

“The euphoria of the uprising has been replaced by fears that one repressive rule has simply been replaced with another,” according to the report, issued early Tuesday.

The report called for repeal of the Mubarak-era “emergency laws,” expanded to cover “thuggery” and criticizing the military. It said the army has placed arbitrary restrictions on media and other outlets.

Egyptian security forces have continued to use torture against demonstrators, the report said, and some 12,000 civilians have been tried in military trials, which it called “unfair.”

A military spokesman, meanwhile, told The Associated Press that the military has set up barbed wire and barricades around the security headquarters to prevent protesters from storming the building. “We are only here to protect the interior ministry,” he said.

The spokesman, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to release the information, also said army officers and soldiers had been forbidden to enter Tahrir Square.

The unrest had immediate impact of Egypt’s benchmark stock index which plunged for a third day. The EGX30 index fell by over 3 percent within minutes of the market’s opening on Tuesday, building on the previous day’s 4 percent decline.AP

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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.


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Israeli envoy leaves Cairo after embassy attack

News4u-News Desk-Cairo, (AFP)Israel flew its ambassador home from Cairoon Saturday after protesters stormed its embassy building, plunging Egypt’s military rulers into their worst diplomatic crisis since they took over from Hosni Mubarak.

Three people were killed and 1,049 wounded in clashes between protesters and police, the Health Ministry said.

The United States, which has poured billions of dollars of military aid into Egypt since it made peace with Israel in 1979, urged Cairo to protect the embassy after protesters hurled embassy documents and the Israeli flag from windows.

“Our dignity has been restored,” said Mohi Alaa, 24, a protester who was speaking near the site of overnight clashes with police around the building that houses the Israeli embassy. Bits of concrete and bullet casings were strewn over the street.

“We don’t want the Americans’ money,” he said, reflecting a growing readiness among many Egyptians to express anger at Israel and the United States over Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, after decades of pragmatic official relations.

Police had fired shots in the air and teargas to disperse the crowd. Protesters had lit tires in the street and at least two vehicles were set alight near the embassy, located on the upper floors of a residential block overlooking the Nile.

One of the three who died was in the nearby Agouza hospital, where a Reuters reporter saw a corpse with a punctured chest.

Some 500 protesters stayed after dawn and a few threw stones at police, who gradually pushed them away and secured the area.

It was the second big eruption of violence at the embassy since five Egyptian border guards were killed last month when Israel repelled cross-border raiders it said were Palestinians. Egypt then briefly threatened to withdraw its envoy to Israel.

Israel has stopped short of apologizing, saying it is still investigating the Egyptian deaths, which occurred during an operation against gunmen who had killed eight Israelis.

AMBASSADOR EVACUATED

Israeli ambassador Yitzhak Levanon, staff and family members arrived home on Saturday, but one diplomat stayed in Egypt to maintain the embassy, an Israeli official said.

State television said Prime Minister Essam Sharaf headed an emergency ministerial crisis meeting and then went to see Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the military council that has ruled Egypt since Mubarak resigned on February 11.

Israel is finding itself increasingly at odds with formerly sympathetic states in the region. It is already embroiled in a feud with Turkey, once the closest of its few Muslim allies, over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Egypt’s generals, under pressure to hand power to civilians more swiftly, must balance public calls for a more assertive foreign policy toward Israel with maintaining ties that bring cash and top-notch U.S. military equipment.

Under Mubarak, Egyptians could never show such hostility to Israel without a crushing security response.

Egypt’s ties with Israel, though never warm, were a pillar of Mubarak’s foreign policy and buttressed his claim to be a regional mediator. Mubarak regularly met Israeli officials.

US President Barack Obama called on Egypt to “honor its international obligations” and protect the Israeli mission. He told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington was taking steps to resolve the situation.

An Israeli official said the ambassador, staff and family members had left in one plane and a second one had brought home six Israeli security personnel who had been left guarding the embassy, protected from the crowd only by a reinforced door until Egyptian troops extracted them.

“The fact that Egyptian authorities ultimately acted with determination is laudable. With that said, Egypt cannot let slide this harsh blow to the fabric of relations with Israel and the gross violation of international norms,” Netanyahu said in a statement. He also thanked Washington for its role.

“SERIOUS STANCE”

Before attacking the embassy, protesters had tried to storm a local police compound, hurled stones at the police and set at least four vehicles and a public building ablaze.

The April 6 movement, which helped to lead the anti-Mubarak uprising, said those behind the violence were trying to “distort the image of the revolution.” It blamed supporters of Mubarak.

Some politicians and activists criticized the violence, even if they backed the anti-Israel demonstration.

Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy called for the army to take a “serious stance matching the public anger” toward Israel, but said violence sullied the image of Egypt’s uprising.

Last month, a man scaled the embassy building, took down Israel’s flag and replaced it with Egypt’s. Protests continued daily but did not turn violent until the latest flare-up.

In response to the protests, the authorities had erected a wall around the building, which was quickly defaced with anti-Israel slogans and then painted in Egypt’s national colors.

On Friday, the wall was torn down after a demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling for speedier reforms and a deeper purge of officials who worked for Mubarak, the former president on trial on charges including conspiring to kill protesters.

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Egypt, Israel ties plung to new low; Cairo recalls envoy

News4u - News Desk : The relations between Egypt and Israel plunged to a new low with Cairo announcing recall of its envoy from Tel Aviv to protest the killing of its five soldiers in a shootout between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in Sinai.

 

The step escalated tensions between the two neighbours and threatened the 1979 peace treaty.

Egypt’s interim government accused Israel of violating the treaty and said its envoy in Tel Aviv would be withdrawn until Israel apologises for the incident.

“Egypt has decided to withdraw its ambassador to Israel until there is an official apology,” state television said.

A statement issued after a rare meeting of the ministerial group of the crises-management committee said that Egypt has asked Israel to officially apologise for the attack.

“Egypt will never give up the rights of its sons.”

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Ali el-Selmi and the ministers of international cooperation and planning, justice, interior, information, foreign affairs, information and health along with the head of the Egyptian intelligence service and Armed Forces commanders.

The meeting discussed clashes in Sinai that left an Egyptian army officer and four soldiers dead and several others injured.

They were deployed at the border area inside the Egyptian territories, said Egyptian Information Minister Osama Heikal.

They were killed and wounded in the shoot-out between the Israeli forces and the armed groups inside the Israeli territories, he added.

The meeting also entrusted the foreign minister to summon the Israeli envoy in Cairo.

Egypt is calling for an official probe into the incidents.

 

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Bloody clashes in Egypt despite democracy pledge

News4u - News Desk : CAIRO: Bloody clashes erupted in Cairo today between protesters demanding political change and loyalists of the ruling military council, hours after the military ruler pledged democracy.

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters who were being pelted with rocks and bottles by loyalists in the Abasseya district near the headquarters of theSupreme Council of the Armed Forces which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February.

One petrol bomb landed near a protester, setting his clothes on fire, and dozens of injured were treated by ambulance crews on the scene, an AFP correspondent said.

The health ministry, in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency, said 55 people were injured in the clashes, including six who needed hospital treatment.

There were chaotic scenes as army loyalists, all civilians, climbed onto the roofs of buildings and threw rocks at the protesters.

Soldiers and riot police lined a main street in Abasseya while army loyalists blocked other streets in the area, trapping protesters in the middle.

“We have asked them to let us go — they’ve refused,” long-time activist and blogger Wael Abbas told AFP.

One protester used the microphone in a nearby mosque to urge the army through the building’s loudspeakers to “protect the protesters.”

The clashes came after the ruling military accused protesters camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, singling out the pro-democracy April 6 movement which helped launch the uprising that toppled Mubarak, of sowing instability. AFP

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Egypt’s new cabinet to be sworn in after protests

News4u -News Desk : CAIRO: Egypt’s new cabinet will be sworn in on Monday after a reshuffle that protesters said had partially satisfied their demands for deeper political and economic reforms.

A core of protesters, who have camped out in Cairo’sTahrir Square since July 8, said they wanted further measures, including a quicker trial of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted as president on Feb. 11 in a popular uprising.

Mubarak’s lawyer said the former president, who has been in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, had slipped into coma, but hospital officials and the deputy health minister denied the report.

Protesters in Tahrir, the centre of uprising, unfurled a huge banner on Sunday that read: “Mubarak must stand trial.”

He is due to appear in court on Aug. 3 charged with abuse of power and killing of protesters. Many Egyptians think the military wants to find ways to avoid humiliating their former commander in public.

The new ministers would take the oath of office on Monday in front of Field Marshal MohamedHussein Tantawi, leader of the military council that took control of Egypt after Mubarak’s resignation, the state news agency MENA said.

Tantawi was defence minister under Mubarak for two decades. The military council has promised a parliamentary election in September with a presidential vote to follow.

At least 15 ministers, or more than half the cabinet, are being replaced, including those for foreign affairs, finance, military production and trade and industry.

State media said the interior minister, Mansour el-Essawy, was expected to remain. He announced an unprecedented shake-up of top police officers last week in response to criticism of the way police handled the uprising.

“Our problem is with the way the police force works, not with the personalities,” said Ahmed Maherof the April 6 movement, one of the groups driving the protests.

Among the new ministers are Mohamed Kamel Amr, who replaces foreign minister Mohammed el-Orabi, and Hazem el-Beblawi, a 74-year-old adviser at the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund, who replaces finance minister Samir Radwan. Orabi had held his post for less than a month.

Radwan told Reuters the policy-making situation had become “confused” and he believed it best to “leave the way for somebody to handle it in a consistent and coherent manner”.

“People don’t know what they want. Do they want increased expenditure and no borrowing from abroad? Everybody has suddenly become an expert on financial policy. That is not an atmosphere conducive to efficient work,” Radwan said.

He had negotiated a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help cope with a spiralling budget deficit. But after he signed the deal, the military council scrapped it. REUTERS

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