Egypt’s newly-appointed cabinet on Thursday approved a law aimed at regulating the country’s upcoming presidential polls. The controversial 59-article piece of legislation has to be ratified by interim President Adly Mansour before it goes into effect and sets preparations for presidential polls into motion. Mansour may send the draft back for further amendments if he chooses.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the current Prime Minister of Turkey, said he would “withdraw from political life” if his Justice and Development party failed to win majority seats in Turkey’s upcoming elections scheduled to be held on March 30.
On March 6 he told reporters, “If my party does not achieve first place in the municipal elections, I would be ready to withdraw from political life.”
Qatar will not bow to demands from three Gulf states to alter its foreign policy, sources close to its government said, suggesting Doha is unlikely to abandon support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian Islamists.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar. It is an unprecedented step taken by GCC states towards a member state, and an escalation that was unexpected. But it does not come completely out of the blue. The question now is, how should this rift be dealt with.
A group of Christian youth activists that came together in the tumultuous aftermath of the Egyptian revolution, is looking to the future and hoping to build on the gains wrought in Tahrir Square by mobilizing young people to better advocate for themselves.
“One of the main things is that people started to speak,” said Mina Elkess, a 28-year-old ophthalmologist and one of the group’s leaders.
Egyptian Military Attacks and Kills Peaceful Coptic Demonstrators
Coptic Solidarity strongly and unequivocally condemns the Egyptian army’s unprovoked attack and massacre of unarmed Copts that occurred on Sunday, October 09, 2011—an attack which reflects the deeply disturbing actions by Egypt’s military rulers to prevent the establishment of a free and democratic Egypt, and to avoid its duty to protect Egyptians, including the Coptic Christians.
The demonstration itself, in which Copts and other Egyptians participated, was a direct result of repeated attacks over the past months, especially the recent destruction of yet another church in Edfu, in which Copts were repeatedly attacked by Islamists without any perpetrator being brought to justice, a pattern that suggests complicity by the ruling Junta.
The unwarranted use of force by the military included opening live fire on demonstrators and even chasing after and intentionally running over Copts with armored vehicles and tanks (military equipment that was most likely provided by the U.S. military aid). Authorities put the death toll of protesters at 25, though other sources offer significantly higher numbers. The wounded are reportedly in the hundreds. Scores of Copts have been randomly arrested.
Dr Emad Gad, a senior political analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, and an eyewitness of the events, said on El-Nile government TV station that the peaceful demonstrators were attacked by unprovoked military in such a way that amounts to “war crime” and “crime against humanity” putting the responsibility squarely on Tantawi’s shoulders. He was quickly shut up by the anchor.
Dr Mohamed Mounir Megahed, a well respected activist and participant in the demonstration, attested that it was, similar to previous demonstrations, very peaceful with no sign that demonstrators had the means or intention to use violence.
Nawara Nigm, a Muslim activist and a first hand witness, confirmed that the demonstration which included many women was peaceful, and that security forces shot live ammunition on unarmed people. She saw a soldier beating a young man after seeing that his arm was tattooed with a cross.
The Alliance of Revolutionary Youth accused the SCAF and the government of utter failure in handling the situation and the state-run TV of inciting sedition between the country’s communities.
During the events, military officials shut down two independent media, including US-funded Alhurra TV, apparently to prevent them from providing live coverage of the protests.
Such brutality comes days after nearly 20 members of the army’s military police were clandestinely videotaped beating, dragging, and kicking a Coptic protester—all while shouting anti-Christian slogans, such as “You infidel son of a bitch.”
Coptic Solidarity demands that, in the same way Mubarak is being tried for his responsibility in ordering attacks against civilians before his ouster, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chief of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and Lt. General Hamdy Badeen, commander of the Military Police, be investigated to determine their responsibility for committing crimes against humanity and against the Egyptian people.
Coptic Solidarity strongly urges that the international community, through the United Nations, lead an independent international investigation in the attack similar to what the UN ordered after an Israeli attack on Gaza.
Coptic Solidarity (www.copticsolidarity.org)
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Europe Adel Guindy (+33-1-4701-2600), Helmy Guirguis (+44-7775-800-929),
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Australia Ayad Grace (+61-2-9899-5740)
Coptic Solidarity is a U.S. public charity organization under section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are deductible under Section 170 of the Code.