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Entries in Cairo (93)

Friday
Jul052013

Egypt's Future Uncertain, Fear of Civil War Growing

STR/AFP/GettyImages(CAIRO) -- The supreme justice of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court was sworn in as interim president early Thursday after President Mohammed Morsi was ousted from power by the military.

Egypt's chief justice, Adly Mansour, assumed power in a ceremony broadcast live on state television less than 24 hours after the military placed Morsi under house arrest. Morsi denounced the military's decision and called the action a "full coup."

Gehad el-Haddad, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood party, said Morsi was under house arrest at a presidential guard facility where he had been residing, and 12 presidential aides were also under house arrest.

Mansour was appointed to the court by President Hosni Mubarak but elevated to the chief justice post by Morsi. Mansour will serve until new elections are held. No date has been given on the elections.

Mansour takes over as Cairo has turned into a tale of two deeply divided cities, which could set the stage for a violent civil war between Morsi's supporters and anti-Morsi protesters.

The anti-Morsi protesters celebrated into the early morning hours with fireworks in Tahrir Square after the announcement came that Morsi was ousted Wednesday night. Fearing a violent reaction by Morsi's Islamist supporters, troops and armored vehicles deployed in the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, surrounding Islamist rallies.

A major question now is whether the Muslim Brotherhood, which strongly supports Morsi, and other Islamists will push back against the new, military-installed regime. The ouster of Morsi throws Egypt on an uncertain course, with a danger of further confrontation.

The Muslim Brotherhood had worked in the shadows for more than 80 years before gaining power. Now Morsi and his backers have been ousted after only one year in office by the same kind of Arab Spring uprising that brought the Islamist leader to power.

"There's been a lot of very angry rhetoric, talk about the Brotherhood martyring themselves for the sake of democratic legitimacy. And so I think there is a real fear about violent opposition to this military takeover," said Tamara Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

Some of Morsi's Islamist backers, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets in recent days, have vowed to fight to the end.

"The Muslim Brotherhood did not want this outcome at all. They feel they won fair and square through the ballot box and they should have been allowed to rule," said Wittes. "It's quite possible that they're going to rely on that sense of democratic legitimacy and try to oppose this military decree in the streets."

Deadly clashes in Cairo have left 40 people dead since Monday when the military gave Morsi an ultimatum to find a solution to meet the demands of anti-government demonstrators in 48 hours.

Stabilization in Egypt - the largest Arab country - is of vital concern to the U.S. and the rest of the Middle East.

One in every four Arabs lives in Egypt. It sits on top of the Suez Canal, which is how U.S. naval forces get in and out of the Persian Gulf and the world's oil gets to global markets.

The region has been in constant turmoil with Syria's deadly civil war, the nuclear threat from Iran and a still unstable Libya and Iraq. What happens next in Egypt is of grave concern to the U.S. and the rest of the region.

The U.S. is watching the events in Cairo closely and forcing the government to do a careful diplomatic dance around calling Morsi's ouster a coup. The U.S. gives Egypt $1.3 billion in military aid annually. United States foreign aid law states that, in general, the U.S. cannot give direct military funding to any country that is being run by a military government, particularly after a coup has overthrown a democratically elected leader.

President Obama said in a statement the U.S. is "monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people."

Obama also said that the U.S. supports non-violence and protecting human rights, but was careful not to take sides. The president called on the Egyptian military to quickly hold elections and restore a democratically elected Egyptian government.

After the ultimatum deadline expired Wednesday at 5 p.m. local time, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the country's top military commander, went on state TV and said Mansour would step in as interim president until new elections were held.

The office of the presidency tweeted defiance in his name.

"Measures announced by Armed Forces leadership represent a full coup categorically rejected by all the free men of our nation," read one of a series of tweets in Morsi's name.

"Morsi urges civilians and military members to uphold the law and the constitution not to accept that coup which turns Egypt backwards," the tweets stated.

"President Morsi urges everyone to adhere to peacefulness and avoid shedding blood of fellow countrymen," he concluded.

El-Sissi warned the Egyptian people to protest peacefully and said the authorities would not tolerate any violence.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

US Braces for Further Protests in Cairo over Anti-Muslim Film

Ed Giles/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- The U.S. government is bracing itself for the fourth straight day of protests in Cairo and other parts of the Middle East as anger over a U.S.-produced film mocking the Prophet Mohammed continues to grow.

Many protesters have begun to take to the streets in Cairo and more protesters are expected to gather in Tahrir Square following Friday's prayers.

The Muslim Brotherhood has announced that it has canceled their nationwide protests.  The group had previously called for peaceful protests after Friday prayers in front of Mosques in all cities across Egypt "in response to the insults to the religious beliefs and the Prophet."

Overnight, police in riot gear launched tear gas canisters into the sea of violent protesters, who were lighting fireworks, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in return.

Many angry demonstrators are blaming the U.S. government for the film, Innocence of Muslims, and they want an official apology from President Obama.

A U.S. intelligence bulletin warned Thursday that the violent outrage aimed at U.S. embassies spawned by the movie could be spread to America by extremist groups eager to "exploit anger."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep132012

Protests Erupt at US Embassies in Yemen and Egypt

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages(SANAA, Yemen) -- Outrage over the anti-Muslim film Innocence of Muslims spread across the Middle East on Thursday as protesters rushed the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, while further demonstrations began outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.

Protesters in Sana'a managed to breach the area past the main gate at the U.S. Embassy, but were stopped at the security perimeter.

"Smoke is rising, they just flooded the security barriers.  [There are] no casualties.  [There is] shooting.  It's crazy," a Yemeni official told ABC News.

Tear gas was being thrown by Yemeni forces as protesters were seen scrambling over fences and over the main gate.  Gunshots were fired into the air by Yemeni forces to stop the demonstrators.

According to a U.S. embassy spokesman in Yemen, all personnel are safe.

"Initial reports are that all Embassy personnel are safe and accounted for," the spokesman said early Thursday.

A senior official on the Obama administration said that the Yemeni government has aided the U.S. in maintaining order.

"We are doing everything we can to support our mission in Yemen.  We've had good cooperation from the Yemeni government which is working with us to maintain order and protect our facilities and people.  These protests appear to be motivated by the film," the official said.

The Embassy of the Republic of Yemen in Washington, D.C., released a statement condemning the attacks.

"The Government of Yemen condemns any and all acts of violence against diplomatic personnel and facilities.  We strongly urge all those that would wish to incite others to violence to cease immediately," the embassy said, adding that order had been restored.

In Egypt, the protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo turned violent again Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.  Security forces had to fight off the protesters with tear gas and warning shots, which managed to push the crowds back more than 600 feet to Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, U.S. Navy forces have moved two missile destroyers off the coast of Libya as an extra precaution for increased security from Libyan extremists after the attacks that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday.

All U.S. interests across the region are in a heightened state of alert, particularly now that the government believes the assault in Benghazi was a coordinated terrorist attack planned specifically for the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and not the result of anger over the anti-Muslim film that is being blamed for sparking the protest in Cairo.

It is still unclear exactly who the attackers in Benghazi were, but President Obama said Wednesday night at a campaign rally in Las Vegas that he is committed to justice and working with the Libyan government to track down the attackers responsible for the consulate deaths.

"I want to assure you we will bring their killers to justice and we want to send us a message all around the world to anyone who wants to do us harm.  No act of terror will dim the light and the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America," Obama said.

The Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, is now at emergency staffing levels.  All non-essential employees have been ordered to leave.

The attack on the consulate in Benghazi Tuesday came shortly after protesters in Cairo scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down the American flag in an angry demonstration against the film Innocence of Muslims, which depicts the founder of Islam, Muhammad, as a fraud and a womanizer.

Obama addressed the United States' relationship with Egypt on Wednesday night in an interview with Telemundo.  "I don't think that we would consider them [Egypt] an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama said.

Obama instead characterized the relationship with Egypt as a "work in progress," expressing hope that the fledgling Egyptian government would be "responsive" to U.S. security concerns.

Egypt's embassy, along with embassies located in Armenia, Burundi, Kuwait, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia, all issued warnings on Wednesday, advising Americans to be particularly vigilant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep122012

Obama Administration Distances Self from Statement Issued by US Embassy in Cairo

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Tuesday distanced itself from a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

In a statement online, the Embassy of the United States in Cairo said that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

The statement was issued before the attacks on the compound, but given the subsequent attack -- and the interpretation that the statement was somehow apologizing for free speech in regards to an anti-Muslim film that caused the uproar -- the Obama administration itself took issue with it.

An administration official tells ABC News that “no one in Washington approved that statement before it was released and it doesn’t reflect the views of the U.S. government.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep112012

Egyptians Flood US Embassy to Protest Film

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Hundreds of protesters marched on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo Tuesday.

Some climbed the walls into the courtyard and brought down the U.S. flag. They were enraged over an apparently U.S.-produced anti-Islamic video that's on YouTube.

Almost all the embassy staff had left before this. There’s no word of anyone being hurt.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun142012

Egypt: Women Sexually Assaulted at March Against Sexual Harassment

Egyptian protesters shout slogans at a protest in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 8, 2012. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)(CAIRO) -- Egyptian activists held a daylong blogging and tweeting campaign to end sexual harassment on Wednesday in response to a violent attack by mobs of men on a march against harassment in central Cairo on June 8. The men had groped and sexually assaulted a small group of women in Tahrir Square who had assembled to protest widespread sexual harassment.

Though sexual harassment has been an issue in Egypt for years, activists say it has been used, over the past year, as a political tool by the old guard in order to counter the revolution that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

"Since March 2011 there has been an increased trend of sexual assault and harassment, especially by the military and police," alleged Mozn Hassan, executive director of Nazra, a feminist group.

During the early days of Egypt's revolution in 2011, prior to Mubarak's departure, activists said that protests were remarkably free of the groping and harassment that has long marked public gatherings in Egypt. But since Mubarak stepped down, incidents of sexual harassment and assault against female activists have made international headlines. Military-administered "virginity tests" of detained female protestors were followed by a brutal assault on female protestors by policemen in November 2011 and the internationally circulated photos, in December 2011, of a veiled woman beaten to the ground by soldiers, ripping off her clothes to expose her blue bra.

While the attack on June 8 was not carried out by members of the armed forces, activists say it was the same kind of group assault in which a mob of men, sometimes as many as 50 at a time, surrounded a woman, groped and stripped her, and inserted their fingers into her private parts. One female activist who said she was assaulted recounted on her blog, "The moment I fell, hands were reaching to my pants unfastening them, instinctively I fought to refasten as I was trying to get up […] the mob was all over me with seemingly no one able or willing to help out."

Some activists believe the attack was a premeditated attempt to discourage women from taking part in political life. "The men were very determined, they were moving in groups, they all knew each other and it just felt organized, reminiscent of the Baltagiya during the revolution," said Shady Khalil, a protestor who participated in the June 8 march. The "baltagiya" refers to mobs of men believed to have been paid by the Mubarak regime to attack the protestors in Tahrir Square, famously carrying out one raid on camelback.

@jazkhalifa, a tweeter participating in Wednesday's online campaign, expressed a feeling widely echoed online. "Sexual harassment," wrote @jazkhalifa, is a tool to keep women out of the public spaces (streets) and forcing them into the private spaces (homes)."

Activists concede that they cannot prove that the attack was a coordinated effort, though they claim it is consistent with what they allege has been a concerted effort by the ruling military regime to discredit the revolution and discourage women from taking part in protests.

Despite the many reported incidents and promises of investigations, activists say there is a culture of impunity that surrounds sexual harassment. "There is no political will to punish anybody, whether civilians or members of the armed forces who are supposed to protect people," said Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch. "This signals that the state doesn't prioritize combating violence against women and that it is acceptable". The "virginity tests" of 2011 were the only alleged incidents of abuse to have been investigated and the alleged perpetrators were officially exonerated.

Yet while accountability is lacking, activists note that the revolution has made people more likely to speak up and report incidents. But Engy Ghozlan, who co-founded HarassMap, a website that uses crowdsourcing to map incidents of sexual harassment in Cairo, acknowledges that they are fighting entrenched behavior. "In our society," said Ghozland, "men [need to] understand that my presence as a woman is acceptable and not an attack on them. This cannot be achieved by a president or one person. It is a very long-term process."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

Egypt Ends State of Emergency After Three Decades

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- After 31 years, Egypt has finally ended its notorious state of emergency.

The set of sweeping powers that had given security forces a free hand to detain and even torture Egyptian citizens was put to rest on Thursday.

It's a historic shift for Egypt, shaking off the residue of Hosni Mubarak's regime and its legacy of brutal crackdowns on dissent.

The end of emergency rule also points to the changing role of Egypt's military, which has been practically in complete control of the country since the revolution last year.  A council of military leaders, longtime loyalists of Mubarak, has resisted giving up its powers.

But with Egypt set to pick its first freely elected president, civilian democracy is taking over from military autocracy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan272012

Egypt Preventing US Human Rights Workers from Leaving Country

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of a U.S. NGO in Cairo on Dec. 29, 2011. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Four weeks after their offices where raided by Egyptian soldiers, 10 or more American and European human rights workers have been forbidden from leaving the country.

One of the "virtual" captives is Sam LaHood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

At the time it happened, a spokesman for Egypt's general prosecutor's office said the 17 raids on at least 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were in response to accusations that they were allegedly operating without licenses and had taken foreign money illegally.

However, critics contend that the military regime that replaced ousted President Hosni Mubarak one year ago is simply trying to exert its authority over independent groups monitoring its activities.

The three U.S.-based entities were Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

Besides causing an international incident, Egypt is jeopardizing the $1 billion in annual aid that it receives from the U.S.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son was informed by his attorney he is under investigation on suspicion of managing an unregistered NGO and receiving "funds" from an unregistered NGO.

After the President Obama-supported ouster of longtime U.S. ally Mubarak, hard-line Islamists have swept into power in Egypt and elsewhere as part of the so-called "Arab Spring" democratic movement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Dec032011

Two Islamist Parties Lead in Egypt's Parliamentary Elections

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- Early results in Egypt’s first election since ex-President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February indicated on Saturday that Islamist parties have a strong foothold in the new parliament.

BBC News reports that the Muslim Brotherhood and a more conservative Salafist Islamist party are leading, with secular liberals trailing behind.

"We call upon everyone, and all those who associate themselves with democracy, to respect the will of the people and accept their choice," the Brotherhood said in a statement.

The first-round vote in Egypt's first post-Mubarak elections drew an official turnout of 62 percent on Monday and Tuesday, the highest in Egyptian history, according to the head of the elections.

Nearly 8.5 million votes were cast in the first of three rounds of voting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov282011

Egypt Holds First Parliamentary Elections Since Mubarak's Ouster

ABC News(CAIRO) -- Egyptians are taking to the polls on Monday to vote in the first parliamentary elections since their longtime leader Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February.

The elections will be divided into three stages, the first of which will run until January.  The final stage is expected to wrap up by the end of March 2012.

Those casting their votes in Cairo Monday told ABC News they were very excited about doing so; two young women said they were so nervous they couldn't sleep.

The voting comes amid a renewed presence in Tahrir Square -- the epicenter of this year's anti-government uprising that led to Mubarak's ouster -- where protesters in recent days have been calling for the end of the country's interim military leadership.

Last week, in an effort to defuse the anger of the protesters, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military government, said he would move up presidential elections to June 2012 and would hold a referendum on having the military relinquish power immediately if necessary.  Currently, the transfer of power to civilian rule is scheduled for late 2012 or 2013.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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