SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will stay in detention despite a judge ordering his release on bail pending a retrial over charges in complicity in the murder of protesters because he still faces other charges, court officials said on Monday.
Mubarak, 84, has spent the maximum legal time of two years in detention since being charged with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli for their involvement in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that unseated him.
Mubarak’s case is facing an indefinite delay after a retrial was aborted on Saturday when the presiding judge withdrew from the case.
Mubarak and Adli were sentenced to life terms at their first trial in June, but the highest appeal court ordered a retrial after accepting appeals from the defense and prosecution.
On Monday, a judge ordered Mubarak’s release on bail for charges over his complicity in killing of protesters, but the decision did not cancel his detention due to ongoing separate charges, the officials said.
Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for almost 30 years before being toppled by 18 days of unrest, is also facing an investigation over financial corruption charges, Egyptian media has reported.
He has been staying in a military hospital from where he was flown by helicopter to the court on Saturday.
The prosecutor general’s office on Saturday ordered an urgent medical report on the former president to determine whether he was now fit enough to be sent to prison where he had stayed before.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – With the Islamist president by his side, Egypt’s army chief warned against slandering the military, denying in remarks broadcast Friday that the military committed any abuses against protesters during the turbulent transition of the past two years.
The joint appearance by President Mohammed Mursi and the top general seemed to have been prompted by media leaks from a report commissioned by the president himself that found the army unlawfully detained protesters and possibly killed some during and after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Mursi created the fact-finding mission soon after he took office in June to investigate all abuses against protesters during the uprising and the nearly 17 months of military rule that followed, after promising in his campaign to bring justice in the nearly 1,000 people killed over that time.
The mission’s report was finalized in late December but has yet to be made public.
The British newspaper The Guardian quoted parts of the report that it obtained, describing the military’s torturing of detained protesters, its role in the forced disappearance of others, and its possible responsibility for a number of killings of some who went missing and then turned up dead with signs of torture and beatings during the 18-day protests against Mubarak.
The leaked findings are consistent with previous allegations against the military by international and local rights groups. But the leaks provide specific testimonies and details of abuses, which the military has always denied.
Such findings would be potentially embarrassing for the military, which has presented itself as a supporter of the anti-Mubarak uprising. The findings would also be sensitive for Mursi, who himself commissioned the report but also has sought to maintain good ties with the powerful military.
Any attempt to prosecute members of the military would likely bring a backlash from the generals. At any rate, newly adopted, Islamist-backed constitution protects much of the independence and privileges of the military and introduced new clauses that ensure only the military can prosecute its own members.
On Friday, Human Rights Watch urged Mursi to release the report, saying it would be an acknowledgement of two years of military and police abuse, and a way to stem a culture of impunity.
Heba Morayef, Egypt’s director at Human Rights Watch, said the fact that a formal government commission documented such abuses and recommended questioning senior military officers is a “very serious fact” that can’t be underestimated.
Prosecutions not likely after report
The report is not likely lead to prosecutions since the military’s own judiciary has never brought “real accountability” over previous allegations, Morayef said. But she said it should be published at least for people to know what happened.
“It will be a long battle for the amendment of the constitution and the military code of justice,” she said. But the findings are “not something they can contain anymore.”
But the comments by army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Mursi appeared to rebuff such calls, though they did not directly mention the fact-finding mission’s report or the media leaks.
“You must understand the armed forces is a very, very honorable institution, and very loyal and very careful of its nation,” el-Sissi said, standing next to Mursi and a line of the country's top brass after they met late Thursday.
“I swear by God the armed forces since January 25 (2011), and I swear by God, didn’t kill or order any killing, didn’t cheat and didn’t order any treachery, didn’t betray and didn’t order any betrayal.”
“I want to tell all those who listen to me that they must really watch out before defaming the military and its forces,” el-Sissi said. “It is honorable, nationalist and loyal and is very affected by any defamation it is subjected to.”
Mursi came to the defense of the military, saying, “I will not ever allow slanders in any way, shape or form or ... any means to attack any member of the armed forces starting from its leaders ... to its smallest member.”
“This is something I tell the whole society. Any slandering of any member of the armed forces is a slandering for us all,” he said.
Mursi said Egyptians appreciate the role of the military.
“I tell the world about the great role the armed forces played in protecting the security and safety of this nation inside and outside from any aggression, and its role during a period we all know for in protecting its internal security and it still does,” he said.
Mursi also announced the promotion of the heads of Egypt’s air force, air defense forces and navy to the rank of lieutenant-general during the meeting with the generals.
Trying military officers, as well as police, for alleged abuses during and after the uprising remains a top demand by many revolutionary groups. During the uprising, the military declared it was neutral and it refrained from widely cracking down on the protesters demanding Mubarak’s ouster. Since then, it has touted its role protecting the uprising.
When the fact-finding mission first handed its report over to Mursi’s office in late December, a member of the panel that drafted it told The Associated Press that it included details of killings and torture of protesters by the military. The leaked parts of the report also had testimonies of abuses by the military during its rule, before it handed over power to Mursi, following presidential elections in June 2012.
The elected leader’s relations with the military have been a subject for much speculation, because it is the first time Egypt is ran by a civilian president. Mursi’s office and military have repeatedly denied reports of strained relations between the two sides.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement has planned mass rallies on Saturday to mark its fifth anniversary and protest against President Mohammed Mursi, Egyptian media has reported.
Despite supporting Mursi during elections last June, the group said Saturday’s protests, dubbed the “Day of Rage,” are to express “dissent” against the president’s latest moves rather than celebrating, reported Ahram Online.
“We supported President Mursi when he ran for presidency. Now, after he issued his constitutional declaration, rammed through a new constitution and failed to meet the goals of the revolution we have joined the ranks of the opposition,” said Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, as quoted by the website.
Maher said in a conference last week the opposition will continue its efforts to overthrow the regime, which he believes “has not fallen on 25 January 2011,” the website said.
Maher added that the interior ministry under Mursi’s reign is “more brutal” when compared to ousted the period of president Hosni Mubarak, Ahram Online reported.
The group said on its Facebook page that Saturday’s protest will call for the “release of its detained members, removal of the country’s prosecutor-general, dignity for citizens, and downfall of the regime,” as quoted by Ahram Online.
Four major marches are scheduled to kick off at 4pm local time from Cairo’s Mohandeseen, Shubra, Imbaba districts and Sayyeda Zeinab mosque central Cairo, the website reported. Other rallies are also expected in Alexandria, Port Said, Mahalla and Minya governorates.
The April 6 movement was established following a strike by textile workers on April 6, 2008 in Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra, a large industrial and agricultural city in Egypt. The group is considered to be among the first youth movements who stood against Mubarak, the website said.
Founders of the group were among the main callers for the Mahalla strike, which later turned into nationwide protests. The strike is considered the first mass public uproar against Mubarak and a step towards the uprising that toppled him in 2011. -www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It is “game over” for Islamist rule in Egypt, former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview on Monday.
“Religious rule is no longer viable in Egypt,” he said. “It’s not even religious rule. What’s happening has no ties with religion. This is a mask.”
Islamist rule will last “two years max” from now, said Shafiq, who narrowly lost to Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi in the country’s first democratic presidential elections last year.
“The country can’t afford more than two years in such conditions, as far as the situation stands now,” he added.
“The Brotherhood doesn’t have the capacity to continue for any longer. They’re in their position now by support coming from abroad,” he said, without elaborating.
The Brotherhood saw strong political gains from the downfall of the former regime, in which Shafiq had held the position of prime minister in its dying days.
“The whole world is concerned with Egypt’s current situation. Even the United States, which had supported the Brotherhood’s rise to power, is now considering other options,” he said, referring to different presidential and parliamentary scenarios.
The country’s road to stability should include cancelling the current constitution, and installing a new one overseen by a different constituent assembly “selected on a logical basis,” Shafiq said.
Egyptian opposition parties have widely criticized the current charter, drafted by an Islamist-dominated panel and approved by a referendum in December.
“How can 100 Muslim Brotherhood panellists draft a charter for a country of 80 million people?” he asked, referring to Egypt’s wide spectrum of political and religious ideologies.
‘No more rigging’
The former presidential candidate, who lost with 48.2 percent of the vote and is adamant that the result was rigged by interference from “foreign powers in support of the Brotherhood,” drew out an exit roadmap for the country’s political quagmire.
“After a new constitution is drawn up, there should be new presidential and parliamentary elections, monitored by the United Nations to ensure no vote rigging,” Shafiq said.
When asked to compare today’s Egypt – experiencing civil disobedience, enduring protests and surging crime rates – to the period of former President Hosni Mubarak’s rule, Shafiq replied: “We can’t deny that the (Mubarak) regime made heavy mistakes, but after less than two years with the new regime (under Mursi), we discovered that there can be no comparison with the mistakes coming from the other side.
“We’re suffering now. The people are protesting because they’re unhappy with the state of the country.
“I have video footage of protesters outside the Republican Palace last week being shot at by snipers … of course these attacks are from the Brotherhood,” he added, saying he has verified his sources.
As an example of the ‘Brotherhood-ization’ of the state, as described by many analysts, Shafiq said when Mursi came to power, the presidency replaced a number of governors across the country with pro-Brotherhood officials, because those provinces did not vote for Mursi.
During the constitutional vote, those who voted against the charter were targeted, suffering from electricity blackouts at home, Shafiq said.
In January, eight new governors were appointed across Egypt, with some coming from the Salafi-oriented Nour Party and the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
In the president’s shoes
When asked how he would react towards the escalating protests if he was in power, Shafiq said he would “work in favor of the public,” adding: “If the people were satisfied and their situations were better, they wouldn’t continue protesting.
“This is resistance to the suffering we’re living in. Everything has stopped now in Egypt,” he said, referring to the economy.
“If the government was doing enough for (the protesters), the situation would never be like that …You can’t imagine how much the Brotherhood are lacking in experience.”
Would Shafiq ever run for president again? “Yes, if the Egyptian people want me to run again, I will,” he replied.
Last September, Shafiq announced that he was launching the Egyptian Patriotic Movement.
The aim of the new party “seeks to create a balanced community that accepts diversity, is open to the world, protects Egypt, aspires to peace, and believes Egypt is for everybody,” Shafiq had said via Twitter.
However, the former prime minister told Al Arabiya that he is “not keen on running the movement,” adding: “Frankly speaking, I don’t want to lead a movement. I have joint positions with my colleagues, stabilizing the movement, but I’m just a member.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday called parliamentary elections to start April 27 and finish in late June, a four-stage vote that the Islamist leader hopes will conclude Egypt’s turbulent transition to democracy.
The election comes at a time when Egypt is gripped by unrest, insecurity and a crippling economic crisis and the country is deeply divided between Mursi’s mainly Islamist supporters and a liberal-led opposition.
According to a presidential decree, the first stage of voting will take place in five provinces including Cairo on April 27 and 28, with a run-off scheduled for May 4 and 5.
The second stage will see eight provinces going to the polls-- including Giza and Alexandria-- on May 15 and 16, with a run-off a week later.
Another eight provinces will vote on June 2 and 3, with a run-off scheduled for June 9 and 10.
The final stage of the parliamentary election will see six provinces voting on June 19 and 20, with a run-off on June 26 and 27.
The election comes after the adoption in December of an Islamist-backed constitution, widely criticized by the opposition and international rights groups for failing to protect key rights.
Earlier on Thursday, the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament that currently holds legislative power, adopted an electoral law that was amended by the Constitutional Court and sent it up to Mursi for ratification.
The law bans members of parliament from changing their political affiliations once elected. It also states that one-third of the seats should be reserved for independents.
Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, independents who won seats often joined the president’s National Democratic Party following their election, widening the ruling party’s monopoly on power.
The lower house was elected early last year, with Islamists winning an overwhelming majority. But in June the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled it invalid, saying there were irregularities in the electoral law.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which Mursi headed before his election, said it expected to win more seats in the next election than in the previous vote, in which it clinched about 40 percent of vote.
But the Brotherhood has faced hostility from a wide-ranging opposition, including conservative Islamists, which accuses the group of monopolizing power.
The Islamist-led administration hopes the election of the new parliament will help stabilize Egypt so an economy in deep crisis can start to recover from spasms of unrest and violence that have punctuated the transition.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Egypt’s main opposition, the National Salvation Front, said on Thursday that it is willing to engage in a national dialogue with President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood if a number of conditions were met.
The front said that the dialogue over controversial constitutional laws should have a clear agenda and that its results should be announced to the people, adding that there must be a will to abide by agreements made during dialogue sessions, according to Egyptian media reports.
The front called for the formation of a committee that would “amend the contentious articles of the Constitution,” including legal experts and members from both the front and Mursi’s supporters, reported the Egypt Independent.
Mursi began a series of dialogue sessions last month, in which he invited political notables and legal experts to discuss a road map for the country which is highly divided over the newly adopted constitution.
The front rejected the president’s earlier invitations after he refused to postpone a divisive referendum on the new charter, saying that it would be “pointless” to participate in a dialogue over the constitution if Mursi insists on his stance.
Critics of the new charter say it uses vague language, fails to enshrine the rights of women and minorities and does little to champion the rights of Egyptians who rose up last year to overthrow army-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Divisions over the new constitution resulted in bloody clashes throughout the past month, as the country underwent one of its worst political crises since President Mursi came into power.
A probe was initiated in December against the Front’s main leaders, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy, over charges that the three had incited supporters to rise up and overthrow Mursi, the country’s first elected leader.
The opposition saw the step as an attempt to intimidate them and vowed to continue protests.
Supporters of the new constitution said it protects personal rights that were often trampled upon during the Mubarak era and the subsequent spell of army rule.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A controversial referendum on a new constitution in Egypt due to start Saturday looks set to further split the country after the opposition called for a ‘no’ vote and imposed conditions that could yet result in its boycott.
Egypt’s powerful army called off a national “unity” meeting between President Mohamed Mursi and opposition leaders that was supposed to happen Wednesday because responses from both sides “were not at the level wished for.”
The dialogue has been pushed back to an unspecified “later date,” according to a statement on the military’s official Facebook page.
Mursi has brushed aside all opposition demands to halt the referendum on the constitution, which was drafted by a panel dominated by his Islamist allies and rushed through under near-absolute powers he gave up only last weekend after big protests.
But many judges are refusing to oversee the vote, forcing Mursi to order the plebiscite to be split over two days, on Saturday and a week later, on December 22, to meet voting rules.
Saturday will see voters in 10 governorates called to polling stations, including in the two biggest cities of Cairo and Alexandria. On December 22 it will be the turn of Giza, Port Said, Luxor and 14 other regions.
Egypt’s main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, called Wednesday on the Egyptian people to vote “no” against a controversial draft constitution in a two-stage referendum on Dec. 15 and 22, Al Arabiya TV reported.
“We call on citizens to vote ‘no’ in the referendum on the constitution,” the Front said in a statement read out by a spokesman at a Cairo news conference.
Hamdeen Sabahi, head of the Dignity Party and one of the opposition leaders, said the Egyptian people have the “opportunity” to foil the constitution project when voting.
The announcement also came after Egypt’s armed forces chief and defense minister, General Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, said that the unity talks called by his ministry for the country’s divided political forces to meet was postponed.
The televised appeal by al-Sissi came late Tuesday, as rival camps of President Mohammed Mursi supporters and opponents brought tens of thousands of people out for separate mass rallies in Cairo.
The Egyptian army called on Mursi and oppositional groups, including youth movements, judges and journalists, to hold unity talks on Wednesday to stop a crisis over an imminent constitutional referendum from tearing the country apart.
The military has said it fears the Arab world’s most populous country is headed for a disastrous “dark tunnel” unless the two sides talk. It has warned it will not allow the situation to worsen.
Troops have orders to use police powers to protect state institutions until results are announced from the referendum, which is scheduled for Saturday.
The unity talks scheduled for 14:30 GMT were called in response to a wave of protests since President Mursi awarded himself sweeping powers on Nov. 22 to push through a new constitution shaped by his Islamist allies, which is due to go to a referendum on Saturday.
“We will not speak about politics nor about the referendum. Tomorrow we will sit together as Egyptians,” Sissi said at the gathering of army and police officials.
The United States has urged Egypt’s military -- which it provides with billions of dollars each year -- “to exercise restraint, to respect the right of peaceful protest.”
Washington said there were “real and legitimate questions” about the referendum process.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said there were fears for “public order surrounding the polling”, but urged Egypt’s military to show restraint.
The prolonged crisis, the worst since a popular uprising overthrew autocratic president Hosni Mubarak early last year, is intensifying uncertainty over Egypt’s economy.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday put on hold a $4.8-billion loan Egypt has sought to fill budget gaps it will face in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The IMF had been expected to review the loan, which would have come with budget-cutting requirements attached, this month for final approval.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Mursi, urged the United States late Saturday to change its approach to the Arab world to be able to repair relations and revitalize an alliance with Egypt.
Mursi will travel to New York on Sunday to take part in a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
“Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region,” the president told The New York Times in an interview.
According to the paper, he was referring to U.S. backing of dictatorial governments in the region and Washington’s unconditional support for Israel.
The remarks followed days of violent anti-American protests in Cairo sparked by an amateur anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube. During these events Mursi called on demonstrators to show restraint while condemning the film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed.
Mursi praised U.S. President Barack Obama for moving “decisively and quickly” to support the Arab Spring revolutions, arguing that the United States supported “the right of the people of the region to enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have.”
But he also expressed concern about the plight of Palestinians, who still don’t have their own state, the paper said.
Americans, he pointed out, “have a special responsibility” for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the 1978 Camp David accord, which called for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza to allow for full Palestinian self-rule.
“As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled,” he said.
According to The Times, Mursi was evasive when asked if he considered the United States an ally.
“That depends on your definition of ally,” he said, adding that he considered the two nations “real friends.”
The issue was thrust to the forefront of bilateral relations earlier this month, when President Obama suggested that Cairo was neither an ally nor a foe.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and other top administration officials then tried to distance from Obama’s comment by acknowledging that officially Egypt was still “major non-NATO ally.”
Egypt was granted such status under U.S. law in 1989, allowing it to enjoy a close relationship with the U.S. military, along with other allies including Australia, Japan, Jordan, Israel and Thailand.
In his interview, Mursi also reaffirmed his links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious organization viewed by many in the United States with suspicion.
“I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood,” the president said. “I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He also pointed out that the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules as the West, underscoring a cultural divide between the two nations.
“If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment,” he said. “When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt.”
Mursi initially sought to meet with President Obama at the White House, The Times said, but he received a cool reception, and the idea was dropped.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The decision by a French weekly’s publication of cartoons of a naked Prophet Mohammed, was condemned by Egypt’s al-Azhar on Wednesday while the region still reeled from an anti-Islam film that sparked deadly protests.
Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam highest Muslim authority, expressed “its and all Muslims’ utmost rejection of the insistence of a French publication in printing caricatures offensive to Islam and its Prophet, the prophet of humanity,” Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb said in a statement.
He said that such acts “that fuel hatred in the name of freedom are completely rejected... Freedom should stop (where it affects) other people’s freedoms,” in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
The new controversy triggered by the pictures in satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo comes as tempers are already running high over an anti-Islam film made in California and posted on the Internet, with at least 30 people killed in unrest.
On Saturday, Tayyeb had called for an international ban on all forms of attacks against Islam after the airing the film “Innocence of Muslims.”
He underlined “the need for an international resolution (banning) any attack on Muslim religious symbols,” in a statement addressed to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The resolution should “criminalize attacks on Islamic symbols and on those of other religions, after the violence against those who provoked challenges to world peace and international security,” said Tayyeb.
Meanwhile, Yemeni authorities on Wednesday beefed up security around the French embassy in Sana’a after a French weekly published cartoons of a naked Prophet Mohammed, a security official told AFP.
“Security reinforcements were deployed today (Wednesday) around the French embassy in Sana’a,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These measures were taken based on the embassy’s request.”
Wednesday’s publication of the controversial images by the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo comes against a background of violent protests across the Muslim world, which first erupted early last week, over an anti-Islam film made in California and posted on the Internet.
The film sparked violent protests also in Yemen.
On September 13, an angry mob of protesters tried to storm the U.S. embassy grounds and clashed with Yemeni security forces, leaving four dead. The embassy has since suspended all consular services for two weeks.
The United States also deployed a 50-strong Marine counter-terrorism unit to Yemen to help protect the embassy in the face of the protests.
Earlier the French foreign ministry in Paris said France would close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries on Friday because of fears of being targeted by angry Muslim protesters after the publication of the cartoons.
Meanwhile, Yemeni cleric Abdul Majid al-Zendani, who is suspected by Washington of financing terrorism, called for legal action against the producers of the anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims.”
Zendani, at a news conference, insisted that the Yemeni government “demand Washington’s embassy file a complaint against the producers of the film.”
He also called on Washington “to officially apologize to Muslims” for the film and for withdrawing “foreign forces” from Yemen.
The U.S. ambassador in Sana’a Gerald Feierstein insisted Tuesday that the Marine reinforcements deployed to Yemen were on a temporary mission with limited duties.
In Tunisia, French schools announced they will close from Wednesday until Monday, the embassy said, adding that it has requested extra security.
“The French school network and Tunisia’s French Institute will be closed from midday on Wednesday... until Monday morning,” the embassy said.
“The embassy has asked the relevant Tunisian authorities to strengthen security around its sites,” it said, adding that the mission would stay closed on Friday, when Islamist protests following weekly prayers are common.
Unlike most Arab countries, Tunisia follows the Western weekend, meaning that Thursday and Friday are normal working days.
“It’s a preventative measure. We have not received any direct threats,” an embassy source told AFP.
There are an estimated 30,000 French citizens living in Tunisia, a former colony with close ties to France, and around 3,000 French children enrolled in Tunisian schools.
Police were deployed outside the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which printed a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday.
The left-wing, libertarian publication’s offices were firebombed last year after it published an edition “guest-edited by Mohammed” that it called Sharia Hebdo.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Arabiya
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Egypt's Islamist president sacked the country's top generals on Sunday night in a dramatic attempt to stamp civilian control over an institution that has run the country for almost six decades.
Mohammad Morsi dismissed Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi as defence minister and head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body that removed the former dictator Hosni Mubarak from power after the popular uprising last year.
In a clear signal that the balance of power was shifting away from the generals, Mr Morsi also issued a decree cancelling an army declaration that restricted the powers of the presidency.
Mr Morsi, who was elected in June and is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, appointed Mahmoud Mekki, a judge with an independent reputation, as vice-president and promoted Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sissi to the post of defence minister.
Field Marshal Tantawi, 76, acted as Egypt's de facto head of state for 17 months after Mubarak was ousted in response to the Arab Spring demonstrations in Cairo. Before that he had headed the defence ministry for 20 years.
"Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has been transferred into retirement from today," said Yasser Ali, a presidential spokesman. "The decision was sovereign by the president to pump new blood into the military establishment for the sake of developing the new, modern state."
Egypt president Mohammed Morsi sacks intelligence chief 08 Aug 2012
Islamists sidelined in new Egypt cabinet 02 Aug 2012
Muslim Brotherhood makes overture to Israel 31 Jul 2012
The elected leadership believes Egypt has been in limbo after military decrees left the presidential role weakened and a constitutional convention failed to agree on an alternative system.
In his decree yesterday, Mr Morsi changed the interim constitution to exclude the military from public policy, budgetary decisions and the assembly that is drafting a permanent constitution. Officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, which has contested the army's role in Egypt for decades, said Mr Morsi had to show the authority of the presidency. "Given the circumstances, this is the right time to make changes in the military institution," said Mourad Ali, a senior official with the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. "He is a strong president, and he is exercising his authority."
Islamists scored a crushing victory in Egyptian parliamentary elections last year, with the Muslim Brotherhood dominating the legislative assembly.
It has had to overcome a determined rearguard by the military and its allies in the judiciary, including an attempt to dissolve the parliament.
The Brotherhood was quick to mobilise its supporters last night for a show of popular backing in Cairo's Tahrir Square, but there were signs that the army leadership had accepted the presidential orders. "The decision was based on consultation with the field marshal and the rest of the military council," said Gen Mohamed el-Assar, the new deputy defence minister.
While some of the more ebullient followers of the Muslim Brotherhood hailed the moves as "soft coup" by Mr Morsi, more sober commentators said the developments could represent the start of a controlled exit for the military.
"It is safe to assume Morsi couldn't have done this without support from within the army," said Abdel-Rahman Hussein, an analyst. "There's always been talk that Tantawi is not popular within the ranks."
Increasing violence on the Sinai Peninsula helped to give Mr Morsi the impetus to act against the army, which is involved in its largest operation in the area since the Yom Kippur war in 1973.
Despite the urgings of Israel and others, it had allowed Islamist insurgents to expand in the area. It was only when 16 border guards were killed eight days ago that the military finally took action.
Insurgents' camps have since been raided just 10 miles from the Israeli border and fighting yesterday was reported to have killed another six.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: The Telegaph