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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Activist Wael Abbas

Egypt’s human rights record is black in the spotlight for the foreign press after the arrest yesterday of blogger and activist Wael Abbas. Rights groups are saying that move is part of a campaign to silence government critics, Reuters reports. “The roundup appeared to be one of the most far-reaching since the government clampdown that took place in 2013 … The current crackdown reflects the government’s concern about political instability as a painful economic overhaul is rolled out and voices critical of the state are suppressed,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “Egyptians who hoped that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s thumping victory in the March presidential election … would encourage the authoritarian government to soften its crackdown on dissent have been disappointed,” adds the New York Times.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces condemned yesterday a Human Rights Watch report accusing Egyptian forces of destroying homes in North Sinai as they move against terrorist groups and operatives in the area, Asharq Al-Awsat reports. Military spokesperson Tamer Refai said the report was based on “undocumented” evidence and stressed that the military has been taking every precaution protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in North Sinai during the anti-terror campaign.

Drivers working for ride-hailing services are worried about new fees set out by the Ride-Hailing Apps Act despite the support for the bill shown by Uber and Careem, notes the Saudi Gazette. “It is too much for an Egyptian,” says one drivers. “As soon as the law is implemented, I will leave Uber,” says another. The laws will require drivers to pay EGP 3,000 for a special license, which is more than many can pay, the newspaper says.

Other headlines worth noting in brief this morning:

  • Daesh offshoots in Egypt, Yemen,and Afghanistan are vital to the group’s continued existence as they provide it with “propaganda presence to maintain its transitional brand after its losses in Syria and Iraq,” says the National.
  • Hundreds of Palestinians rushed to the Rafah border crossing as soon as Egypt opened it last week, hoping to use the rare occasion to exit the besieged enclave, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Egyptian sports academy Children Without Shelter hopes to improve the lives of orphans and street children through football, Reuters reports.

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