November 14, 2014

In Blog News

Two protesters die as crackdown on Islamists continues in Egypt

 Published Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two protesters succumbed to injuries sustained during the forcible dispersal by police of an opposition rally west of Cairo, two protest groups announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the April 6 Youth movement said that member Khaled al-Rasheedi died after being shot in the head by police, who stormed Nahia village in the Giza province on Wednesday to disperse an opposition rally.

“Security forces were using live ammunition, birdshot and teargas in an attempt to clear roads in the village when Rasheedi was shot in the head,” April 6 said in a statement.

The activist succumbed to the injury hours later.

Meanwhile, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), an ally of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohammed Mursi, said a pro-Mursi protester – identified as Hamada al-Saidi – had died on Thursday from complications caused by the inhalation of tear gas.

Health Ministry official Ahmed al-Ansari confirmed Rasheedi’s death, yet refrained from saying who was behind the shooting.

“Rasheedi succumbed to his wounds this morning at a Cairo hospital,” he said.

April 6, which is mainly made up of young political activists, took part of the mass protests against Mursi but later turned against the military-installed government when the authorities violently cracked down on dissidents.

April 6 founder Ahmed Maher is currently serving a three-year jail term for staging an unlicensed protest in November of last year.

The authorities have relentlessly repressed all kinds of opposition – Islamist as well as secular – since Mursi’s ouster last July.

Crackdown on Islamists continue

Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces raided early Thursday the home of Mursi’s support bloc’s spokesman in an attempt to arrest him, a source from NASL said.

A joint army/police force raided the home of alliance spokesman Khaled Said in the Nile Delta’s Mansoura city, but he was not at home at the time, the source told Anadolu news agency.

According to the source, there is an expectation of more arrests targeting leading members of the alliance, which recently called for fresh protests against Egypt’s government both on the streets and inside the nation’s prisons.

Said is also the spokesman for the Salafist Front, a subcomponent of the pro-Mursi alliance that has separately called for an “Islamic revolution” against the government on November 28.

The pro-Mursi alliance’s former spokesman, Magdi Qurqur, was arrested in July on an array of charges, including “attempting to overthrow the government” and “belonging to a terrorist organization.”

Moreover on Wednesday, two courts in southern Egypt and in the Nile Delta handed jail sentences ranging between one and 25 years to 69 backers of Mursi, nine of them minors.

Of the 69, 34 defendants were convicted with staging unlicensed protests on the anniversary of the January 25 uprising and resorting to violence against state authorities, which they denied.

The other 35 defendants were accused of inciting violence, joining the Muslim Brotherhood and engaging in terrorist activities after the bloody dispersal of two pro-Mursi sit-ins in August last year.

The crackdown on Mursi’s supporters has left at least 1,400 people dead and more than 15,000 others behind bars, including 200 who were sentenced to death for allegedly taking part in deadly riots in August 2013.

Mursi himself is standing several trials on charges ranging from espionage to militancy, and could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Sisi decrees law on repatriating foreign prisoners

State media reported on Wednesday that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree allowing him to repatriate foreign prisoners in Egypt – a move that could enable the release of an al-Jazeera journalist now serving a seven-year jail term.

Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, was sentenced in June along with Canadian-Egyptian national Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed, all from the Qatar-based television network.

They were detained in December and convicted six months later of spreading lies to help a “terrorist organization” – an allusion to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Late October, Sisi approved of a military decree, similar to Mubarak’s martial law, to expand military power under the title of “ensuring stability.”

The military decree is one of the many moves to clamp down on dissent by a government that has jailed thousands of political opponents, curbed protests, and forced NGOs to register with the government, a move that forced some of the organizations to shutdown to avoid abiding by “repressive law.”

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)