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Sunday, 30 September 2018

Egypt’s rights and freedoms take another beating in the foreign press

Egypt’s rights and freedoms records took yet another beating in the foreign press over the weekend, with the case of Amal Fathy — an activist who was penalized after posting a video on social media speaking against [redacted] harassment — at center stage. Amnesty International called on authorities to “immediately and unconditionally release Fathy,” who received a suspended two-year sentence on charges of “spreading false news,” says Reuters. The story was widely picked up by news outlets including the AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Fathy’s sentencing came one day after a group of UN human rights experts issued a statement criticizing Egypt for using its anti-terrorism law as a “pretext” for detaining rights defenders. Also on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) held a panel discussion at the UN General Assembly where they singled out countries, including Egypt, for imprisoning journalists. All of that comes as the Economist cited the recent arrests of retired diplomat Masoum Marzouk and a geology professor, as signs that authorities have grown “even more intolerant of dissent.”

In policy shift, military said to be arming Bedouins: The Armed Forces appear to be arming Bedouin tribes in Sinai for Operation Sinai, in a shift of a longstanding policy of solely relying on them for intelligence, writes Brian Rohan for the AP. The change in tactic signals a positive shift in the relationship between Bedouins and the army. “At the very least, the cooperation shows local residents expect the army to win eventually,” blogger Greenfly told the newswire. At the same time, the shift also highlights the success of the operation, which has driven Daesh out of coastal cities and into the interior of the Peninsula, requiring a greater role for the Bedouin.

Other headlines worth noting in brief include:

  • Governor kicks Mickey Mouse out of school: The governor of Qaliubiya apparently ordered replacing paintings of Disney figures in Egyptian pre-schools with images of martyrs killed fighting militants, the Associated Press reports. The idea has (of course) caused a ruckus on social media.
  • Theology wars claim another monk? An autopsy on a Coptic monk revealed signs of poisoning, the AP reports. The monk had been posted to a monastery at which an abbot was killed over ecclesiastical disputes.
  • Trans rights in Egypt: Many Egyptian women believe transgender women should have the same rights, despite trans women having a difficult time living openly in Cairo, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll carried by Reuters. “A significant number” of the respondents initially did not know what a transgender woman is.
  • Giza Plateau overhaul back on the menu: Egypt’s Giza Plateau development project was revived when tourism began its recovery from its post-2011 slump, Los Angeles Times says.
  • Another Brit gets food poisoning: Another British tourist was hospitalized in Egypt after allegedly contracting food poisoning at a Hurghada resort, Daily Mirror says.
  • Israeli tourism: Biblical vistas meet modern-day security as Israelis visit Sinai for the Sukkot holiday celebrations, Reuters.

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