New York solidarity protest for Egypt

There will be a solidarity protest in New York on 25 May:

Protest at the Egyptian consulate in New York

Date: May, 25th 2006
Place: 1110 Second Avenue, Suite # 201, New York, NY, 10022 (6 train to 59th Street stop)
Time: 12:30 pm

A protest demanding freeing Egyptian activists from jail and in support of the independence of Egyptian judiciary. Similar protests will be also held in London, Paris, Seoul, Chicago and of course Cairo. The protest in the US are organized by International Campaign of Solidarity with Egyptian Judges (http://www.icsej.org/) and the International Socialist Organization.

As you may know there has been some serious setbacks to democratic reforms in Egypt in the last month. Disciplinary measures have been taken against two judges (Mekki and Bastawissi) for calling for an investigation into vote rigging that took place during last year's parliamentary and presidential elections. After a serious of protests in support of the judges, one judge was acquitted while the other was "reprimanded". Yet the Egyptian judiciary is still a long way from independence. The struggle for the independence of the Egyptian judiciary, a corner stone of any thriving democracy, is being actively hindered by the Mubarak regime.

Emergency laws, which have been in effect since the assassination of Anwar el Sadat, were renewed for two more years. Under emergency laws people could be detained for indefinite periods of time for protesting peacefully. Despite promises that these laws will be used only to fight back terrorism, their chief function is to repress all voices calling for democratic reforms.

During the last month about 700 activists have been arrested and detained during protests in support of the Egyptian judges and calling to abolish emergency laws.

The Mubarak regime is sending clear and heavy handed signals that peaceful protests, a constitutional right, will not be tolerated. Thugs and security police have applied exceptional violence in dispersing and detaining protesters. See photos of last Thursday at http://www.misrdigital.tk/

May 25th is the first anniversary of "black Wednesday". This was the day of referendum concerning amendments to the article 76 allowing presidential elections from more than one candidate for the first time in Egypt. The day was marred by violence against demonstrators by security police and government thugs. As with the events of the last month, journalists as well as protesters have been beaten up and women protesters have been harassed.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.