Emergency law renewed

It kind of snuck up on us, but today PM Nazif asked parliament to extend the emergency law for another two years, using the Dahab bombings as a justification. I received a SMS on my phone around 3:30pm saying it has already been passed. That's a fast turnaround for a parliament that usually leaves things to the last minute. Update: Reuters has coverage of the parliamentary vote -- 378 MPs in attendance, out of 454, 91 opposed renewal. Most of these are Muslim Brotherhood MPs (88 total). If all members of the opposition and independents had been there, the 'no' vote would have been no more than 120. I would like to see whether all NDP members voted for the renewal -- which is likely, although some independents-turned-NDP could have abstained or opposed the vote (but at what cost?) 378 MPs present actually seems high to me, especially as, as far as I know, this was unexpected. Were they told to rush back to Cairo for the vote? Probably. Already there was about a 25% no vote, which isn't bad, but it could have easily been 35% or higher (assuming the opposition was also able to quickly rally MPs for the vote.) The whole thing being passed so fast is also strange. I wonder if legal scholars would say that, procedurally, this was given the appropriate amount of time? Here a reminder -- if we need one -- of what the emergency law entails is probably in order (italics mine):
The emergency law grants to the authority the following :
Broad power to impose restrictions on the freedoms of assembly, move or residence; the power to arrest and detain suspects or those deemed dangerous, and the power to search individuals and places without the need to follow the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (by virtue of article 3 of the emergency law). Certainly, these powers constitute gross violations of the rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution, which provides for personal freedom in article 41, the inviolability of private homes in article 44, freedom of movement and residence in article 54. These powers also disregard many rights and safeguards stipulated in the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights ( ICCPR ) such as article 9 on personal freedom, article 12 on freedom of movement and article 21 on the right of peaceful assembly. The right to establish exceptional courts such as the state security courts and the Supreme State Security Court of Emergency to hear cases related to crimes committed in violation of rulings made by the President of the Republic or his deputy (by virtue of article 7/1 of the Emergency Law), and the right to include members of the military in the formation of the courts (article 7/4). These powers clearly violate constitutional and international principles relevant to the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and the immunity of judges (articles 165-173 of the Constitution and article 14 of the ICCPR). [note: the emergency courts were abolished a few years ago.] Article 3 of the emergency law gives the military ruler or his deputy the power to monitor the newspapers, booklets and other publications of expressing opinion. He has the power to confiscate and stop circulating these publications. In this regard, this law clearly violates the right to privacy and to confidentiality of correspondence and telephone calls as well as the freedom of opinion, expression and research stated in article 45 and 49 of the Egyptian Constitution, and articles 17-19 of the ICCPR. · Article 9 of the emergency law confers to the President of the Republic the right to refer to the State Security Courts of Emergency those accused of crimes that are punishable under the common law. This is a clear violation of article 40/9 of the Constitution, which states that all citizens are equal and are entitled to be tried by a competent judge and have the right to get fair and impartial trial as asserted by article 14 of the ICCPR. If the Niyaba (office of the Public prosecutor) decides to bring a criminal case, a trial is held before an Egyptian court. Most cases are heard in permanent criminal courts. However, under the state of emergency, if the President or the Prime Minister (acting under the authority of the President) decides to do so, they can move a case to either an Emergency State Security Court or a Military Court. Most politically sensitive criminal cases end up in one of these latter types of courts.
Another interesting thing is that, according to reports, the emergency law was renewed for only two years rather than the standard three. This could be in line with Mubarak's statements a few weeks ago that the new anti-terror law would take at least 18 months to be ready for parliament. One theory behind the delay is that security services want to enshrine most of their current privileges under the emergency law not only into a new anti-terror law, but into the constitution itself. These might range from the ability to keep someone in jail without charging them with a crime to phonetapping without a warrant to making some forms of assembly illegal. But, under this theory, there is an argument inside the regime between the security folks and others (what others, I would ask?) Even if this is not the case, a new anti-terror law is likely to put the extraordinary privileges of the emergency law into the ordinary penal code. It will be interesting to see how this plays out into the ongoing political upheaval, notably the judges. There are already about 1000-1500 judges who have sided with the "rebels" in the showdown between the state and police. Mubarak has thus far avoided getting overtly involved, simply stating over the weekend that he urges judges to solve the differences they have among themselves "for the national interest." The judges may well adopting the emergency law into their cause. Since it already is the central issue of all the opposition, gaining the support of the rebel judges on this issue would turn them into even more opposition figures than they already are. And since the judges are the most respected, high-profile voice of discontent in the country these days, that could help carry the message of the opposition to a bigger audience. The judges' protest has political traction. It could cause the situation escalate to a new level. In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood is coming under continuing attack, with another batch of its members arrested yesterday. As the de facto leader of the opposition, what will it do? Probably nothing -- at least not unless it sees others leading the way. There is no reason to believe that this time will be any different than the last few times the emergency law was renewed and there were a few protests and then resignation. And this despite nearly 18 months of regular street protests against them and a now universal agreement (Mubarak promised he would get rid of it, remember?) that it must go. But there is a small potential -- very small -- that things could go otherwise.
Read More

NY Sun on Lewis

So I'd heard about this new publication called the New York Sun as (in a Jewish New Yorker's own words) a paper founded, funded and aimed at New York neo-con Jews. (What, there aren't enough of those kind of rags?) I've been following their foreign coverage lately, which seems very Middle East heavy, and it generally confirms this view. But this ode to Bernard Lewis takes the cherry.
Read More

Judges' words

Strong words from the judges in this NYT story:
"It is enough that for the past 52 years, we have been carrying the liability of rigging the elections in this country," Zakariya Ahmed Abdel Aziz, chairman of the Judges Club, said at a meeting in August.
And this WaPo one:
"We're insisting that the elections were flawed. The government can't stand that because people will believe us and not them," said Bastawisi, a 29-year court veteran and currently an appeals court judge.
I'm just glad this is getting attention after the bombings.
Read More

Nour defense team and other Ghad members arrested

Gameela Ismail, Ayman Nour's wife, writes:
Unfortunately this regime is going madly nervous. Amid the judges reform movement crisis and the support given to it by civil society movements and parties, and amid the demonstrations for the last couple of weeks, Yesterday, the two main lawyers for Nour, Mr Amir Salem and Mr Ehab el Kholy, were taken and interrogated by state security prosecution for inciting masses and insulting the president. This would mean an introduction of getting imprisoned very soon, 3 weeks prior to the date set for Nour's appeal. 8 other Ghad members were imprisoned this week. All young energetic ones on the same charges and will stay for the next 15 days in prison. Mr Salem,53, is the head of the Egyptian national organisation for Human rights and one of the founders of human rights in Egypt, He is also establishing a new party which carries the name of" justice and freedom", He has been very active in support of Nour's case previously and of judges reforms recently and backing them in their current requests, He is the head of "Lawyers for change movement" and finally, he is the head of Nour's defense team. Ehab Kholy,43, is a liberal opposition political activist, head of the organisation committee at El Ghad party, Nour's lawyer and was also in charge of mobilizing members in support for judges and for Nour. Emad Farid, executive director of El Ghad information and media center was also arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for 15 days. I definitely can't go to European parliament, nor to Washington. unfortunately.due to all the serious developments. I'm also under theats of being detained. Regards,G
Read More

Roberts on the Sinai bombing

Hugh Roberts, the International Crisis Group's North Africa director, has an interesting op-ed on the questions raised by the Dahab bombings:
The authorities’ reluctance to accept that Al-Qa‘eda may have been behind these events is understandable given the effect this admission could have on the tourist trade and may even be valid, but only underlines the mystery. The fact that most of the victims have been Egyptians, not foreign tourists, tends not to support the Al-Qaeda thesis. But the comparative sophistication of the terrorist organisation and its ability to survive security crackdowns is hard to square with the notion that disgruntled locals are behind these incidents. However, there is no doubt that these repeated attacks are symptomatic of two factors specific to the Sinai. The first is the fact that, under the 1979 Camp David Agreement which secured the return of the peninsula to Egypt, the Egyptian state has less than full sovereignty over the region and its security forces are accordingly constrained in their attempts to control it or pursue terrorists within it, especially on the eastern side of the peninsula. The second is that the region’s population remains to be properly integrated into the Egyptian national community. Its longstanding marginality, aggravated by Israel’s 15 year occupation, has not been overcome since 1982. In particular, Egypt’s political parties have little presence among or appeal to the region’s population. The problem is that, at present, the Egyptian state is badly placed to address either of these factors underlying Sinai’s current propensity to generate or host the latest brand of terrorism to plague the country.
These are interesting points, but one issue is what Al Qaeda really means: a direct operation ordered by its leaders (bin Laden, Zawahri, etc.) or simply a local group inspired by Al Qaeda's ideas and perhaps helped by sympathetic groups abroad?
Read More

The "Coptic question"

I have a new piece on the recent Coptic clashes at MERIP:
For years, the Egyptian government and state-run media have brushed off acts of hostility toward minority Coptic Christians, or periodic Coptic-Muslim clashes, as exceptions to a rule of "national unity" and inter-communal brotherhood. But the sectarian street battles in Alexandria in mid-April, set off by knife attacks on Coptic worshippers, have lifted the lid on the sensitive "Coptic question." The newly vigorous public debate is very much rooted in the political ferment of 2005, including increased sectarian tensions, but also the vocal dissent from the regime and the gains of the Muslim Brotherhood in December's legislative elections. Issandr El Amrani chronicles "The Emergence of a 'Coptic Question' in Egypt" in Middle East Report Online: http://www.merip.org/mero/mero042806.html
Let me know what you think.
Read More

Golia on the emergency law

Maria Golia says what I want to say, but more nicely put than I could:
Egypt's political lassitude and social anomie suggests that rather than ensuring public peace, the Emergency Law has undermined it by discouraging people's natural impulse to help themselves and one another. The suspension of due process has eroded the fabric of society and the civil rights on which it is based. This was evident during last year's parliamentary elections when demonstrators and voters were beaten and detained. Vociferous criticism of the Emergency Law at that time roused Mubarak to declare that "Only Islamists demand abolishment of this law. But I will never let chaos prevail!" But what do you get when you deny people their constitutional rights, if not chaos then jungle law? A fine example was offered earlier this month by Naaman Gomaa, the former leader of Egypt's Wafd Party. He stormed party headquarters with armed thugs to unseat his successor, while police stood by and 28 people were injured. If the leader of a moribund party is capable of such hubris, to what lengths would the ruling one go to protect its privileges? The Emergency Law allows high officials to flaunt the justice they are meant to uphold. Of the millions of un-enforced court rulings (five million is the figure quoted in the local press), most are against some division of the executive branch.
You've read the column. Now buy the book.
Read More

"The Muslims' turn"

Take a noble idea, a tragic event, a grave issue and pervert it with bad analogies and facile rhetoric. You'll get something like this. Putting Algeria, Sudan and Iraq in the same basket is insane. It's the sign of a mind without historical context, or indeed much knowlede of what it talks about. But he saves the best for the end:
Many of those in academic and even official circles here view the events in the Islamic world through politically-correct glasses. Hamas and Iran are judged by the actual, physical threat that they pose and not by their murderous ideology. Everyone is focusing on Iran's nuclear program, but Israel has accepted the chilling, poisoned clouds emerging from the mouth of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iranian religious leaders, which are visible even without expensive, sophisticated satellites. At most, Israel puts its "public relations" machine into operation. After all, the Israeli denial machine goes, what can demonic propaganda do when we have the means - according to remarks made by the president and the prime minister on Holocaust Remembrance Day - to destroy anyone who comes to kill us.
Judging groups by their actual capabilities rather than their ideology? God forbid. But then again I must just be politically correct. I think I will have to re-read this article many times to understand what it means, or what it is trying to imply.
Read More

Al Jaz Cairo correspondent charged

Hussein Abdel Ghani, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Cairo, has been charged with "spreading false news" two days after he was arrested. I had heard that he had been arrested because Al Jazeera helped spread the rumor that Interior Minister Habib Al Adly would soon be sacked. Instead there was this lame excuse:
The interior ministry said Mr Abdel Ghani's arrest concerned the false reporting of an explosion in Sharkia on Wednesday. The reporter has denied the charges against him A spokesman said: "[Hussein Abdel Ghani] said there were incidents in Sharkia and nothing happened. He's spreading confusion. "When he said there was an explosion in Sharkia, leading everyone to ask about it, about something that didn't happen, where did he get that from?" Before his release, Mr Abdel Ghani called the channel, saying he was speaking from the chief prosecutor's office in Cairo. He denied the charge of "propagating false news".
Right. See also that three other journalists (all of them well-known activists) were also arrested in this CPJ statement.
Read More

Moral: Don't play a terrorist on film

The Guardian on United 93, the first feature film about 9/11:
The film is a documentary-style re-creation of what Mr Greengrass calls a "believable truth" about what might have happened on the plane and in air-traffic control centres - from the moment a controller hears the first indications of the hijacks to when the Flight 93 passengers storm the cockpit and try to seize control. It elapses in real time and is based on dialogue derived from improvisation, giving it a claustrophobic and believable feel. Further blurring the distinction between documentary and drama, several of the characters appear as themselves. Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl is played by JJ Johnson, a United pilot in real life. Many of the actors were at the premiere, but Lewis Alsamari, the British-based Iraqi actor who plays hijacker Saeed al-Ghamdi, was refused a visa to enter the US. The American embassy in London gave no reason for its decision. He will see the film for the first time at a private screening in the UK in the next few days.
Read More

Statement: many more arrested in judges' revolt

Below is a statement about the clashes that took place today, including more arrests and beatings. Names of activists who were arrested are cited.
The Judges' march forces police to turn back Dozens detained in clashes between police and demonstrators Despite the presence of dozens of thugs and members of the police, hundreds of demonstrators in support of the judges managed to gather in front of the judges syndicate at 10.30 this morning. They were quickly cordonned off by police and surrounded by riot police carrying truncheons, as police was gearing up to sweep away the demonstrators. Downtown Cairo was since the early hours of this morning transformed into a chase between hundreds of demonstrators and Mubarak’s henchmen. Nonetheless, hundreds of demonstrators managed to gather in front of the Ministry of Justice around the judges’ march. The most significant was a protest by about 10 people which turned into hundreds, in front of the Ministry. Those gathered were quickly surrounded by police which proceeded to beat them up. The same thing happened with another group on 26 July street. But everytime the police broke up the crowd, demonstrators regrouped in other locations. At 9.30 am this morning, more than two hundred judges took to the streets to in protest of the brutality of Mubarak’s regime and of his henchmen. They forced the police and the thugs to move back. The judges had arrived early at the club, despite the atmosphere of terror in downtown. Dozens entered the journalists syndicate, as members of the security services and their henchmen targetted known activits to search them in a humiliating manner, confiscated their belongings and arrested others. Among them were Mohamed Abdel, member of the journalists syndicate, and syndicate members Hamdy Kandil and Ashraf Ibrahim (Engineers for Democracy), activists Wael Khalil, Ali Al Fil, Mohamed al Sherif, Mohamed Abdel Moneim, Aziz Ragih, Ahmed Shuaib. More than fifty people have been detained since last night. The ministry of Justice was this morning the scene of the disciplinary hearing of two pro-reform judges Hisham Bastawisi and Mahmoud Mekki, who have risen as symbols of the judges revolt against fraud and call for independence. Members of State security have, since 9 this morning, chased cameramen of satellite channels in front of the journalists syndicte, harrassing them and threatening them with breaking their cameras. The Al Jazeera camera team was rounded up thrown out of the area. The original press release can be found in Arabic at: http://harakamasria.org/node/5899 Last night, police had already arrested dozens of activists who had gathered in front of the Judges Club to express their solidarity. They are : Kamal Khalil (Socialist Studies Center), Ibrahim El Sahari (Socialist Studies Center), Islam Hanafi, Akram El Irani, Bahaa Saber, Hussein Mohamed Ali (Al Ghad Party), Khaled Ali, Saher Gad (journalist), Seif Abdallah (al Karama party), Tarek Hassan, Karim Mohamed, Malek Mostafa, Mohamed al Agami, Mohamed Daridir, Mohamed Adel (wounded), Mohamed Abdel Rahman, Mohamed Fawzi Imam, Yasser Badran, Gamal Abdel Fattah, Sameh Mohamed Said, Sami Diab. Almost a dozen activists have also been detained since April 24, also in front of the Judges Club. They were placed in detention for 15 days. They are : Karim al Shair, Ahmed Maher, Mohamed al Sharkawi, Emad Farid, Hamada Faysal, Mohamed Roshdi, Ahmed Yasser al Droubi, Ahmed Salah. What you can you do ? 1- Hand out information, either to the press or to people you know 2- Send protest letters to the prosecutor General, Maher Abdel Wahid. Fax: + 202 577 4716, or to the Egyptian embassy in your country 3 – Organize protests in front of Egyptian diplomatic missions in your country.
Read More

Red Prince to the rescue

I've mentioned before the shameful verdict against Le Journal Hebdo, a French-language Moroccan weekly, which forced it to pay the highest-ever damages for a libel suit in Morocco. Abu Aardvark had a post about it too, and The Lounsbury over at Aqoul had a response to it. Ustaz Lounsbury is, methinks, too tough on Le Journal. Yes, it is sensationalistic. But it has also broken many taboos in the Moroccan press and provides a useful service. I think the problem with Le Journal is that it is too bent on being political for a news-magazine: you can see that by how, after having literally created its own genre in Morocco, it is losing ground to the better-produced, more "fun", less politicized Tel Quel (which nonetheless is still a quite critical publication and has had some great scoops). This is why Le Journal sells only 17,000 compared to Tel Quel's 26,500 (for comparison Le Journal sells a little bit more weekly than the biggest French-language women's monthly). It is too political to cast a wide net. Essentially, it thinks of itself as an opposition group rather than a publication. I actually think it's good for the country, which needs an avant-garde to push reform even if occasionally does so irresponsibly (in a way, Le Journal is the Kifaya of Morocco...) This is particularly true when political parties are not very active. But, as someone who has started and run ailing liberal publications, I can tell you that you also need to reach for an audience beyond political junkies. Tel Quel does that well. Le Journal does not. But calling it second-rate is unfair, particularly in a Moroccan context (I grew up with Le Matin du Sahara). Also, The Lounsbury mentions the upcoming liberalization of the broadcast media. We'll have to wait and see (licenses are about to be announced any time now) but (having met with the people running the royal commission that is organizing all this and talking to people in the sector) I would be ready to bet we're likely to see commercial projects that won't push the political boundaries. A lot of them will be big Moroccan money, multinationals like Meditel (a mobile phone company that is apparently interested in expanding into media) and of course the obligatory Gulf money (there's talk of Walid bin Talal being involved in some project). Anyway, the real point I wanted to make was about this Le Monde piece by Jean Pierre Tuquoi [reg] that claims Moulay Hisham, the supposedly progressive "red prince" shunned by King Muhammad since his ascension to the throne, has offered to bail out Le Journal "in order to preserve its freedom." My jaw hit the floor when I read this. First, Le Journal is already frequently alleged to be doing Moulay Hisham's work, which I don't think is true -- or perhaps just hope is not true. It is true that Abou Bakr Jamai has a good relationship with Moulay Hisham, but he did not seem, when I met with him, to be at his service and had independent opinions about Hisham's policy. But this issue is more important than Le Journal: it's about the stability of the Moroccan throne. Moulay Hisham -- genial, highly educated, liberal -- seems on paper like he would be a better, more progressive king than Muhammad VI. That may be true. The problem is that he says it out loud, or at least hints at it. This is not something that the third-in-line for the crown should be bragging about, for instance in a conference when he declared that the monarchy should reconsider the way power is inherited a few years ago. And it's not only that Moulay Hisham has a claim to the throne, but also that he has characteristics that would make him appealing to Westerners (and neo-cons especially) and that he is super-connected: he is related to the Saudi royal family (and hence Lebanon's Sunni political dynasties) and a very good friend of his cousin Walid bin Talal, one of the richest men in the world. In other words, he is a somebody (although I'm not sure on much of a somebody he is considered inside Morocco.) Paying Le Journal's bills, while commendable, is a dangerous move -- particularly if the libel fine was essentially a palace plot as Le Journal claims, since Moulay Hisham would be directly going against the palace. I am torn about it because I want Le Journal to keep on publishing. But this price may be a little too high. It's no good when a publication has to rely on the kindness of someone as controversial as he is. Moulay Hisham might be able to be a force for good in the country, but having princelings fight out for their vision of what Morocco should be like just isn't good enough. There needs to be politicians rather than princes and the rule of law rather than the rule of billionaires. Enlightened emirs need not apply.
Read More

ICG on Mauritania

It's in French only for now, but there's a new ICG report out on Mauritania:
Mauritanians wish to break with the way power has been concentrated in the hands of a few tribal groupings, a syndrome that reached unprecedented levels under Ould Taya. However, the country’s new strongman and some of his colleagues are pillars of the old power structure and almost certainly will want to turn the page rather than examine it, redress past injustices and shed light on the practices of the previous regime. That Ould Mohamed Vall and Ould Abdel Aziz belong to the same tribal group, one which was highly privileged under the old regime, raises the question whether they truly intend to change its clientelist patterns and could fuel political tensions before long. The Military Council has promised to organise a return to legitimate institutions within a reasonable timetable: a constitutional referendum is scheduled for 26 June 2006, municipal and legislative elections for 19 November 2006, and senatorial and presidential elections for 11 March 2007. Over its first months, the regime has taken welcome steps. Political parties are consulted; the electoral calendar is neither too short (which would have prevented parties from organising) nor too long. An electoral commission whose independence is widely acknowledged has been established. Still, more is needed...
More when I get time to read the full report. Hope to be able to go there in June, inch'allah.
Read More

Account of last night's demo crackdown

Matthew Carrington was at the judges' demo that was squashed last night -- he sent in this account of what he saw:
I stumbled on this demo. It’s the first one I’ve been to in a while now. And what struck me immediately about it was the immense disparity—the farcical dis-proportionality—between the numbers of protestors and the security forces ranged against them. At 7.30 I counted about 70 protestors on the steps of the Journalist’s Syndicate. Not a threatening looking bunch: middle aged mostly, and many middle heavy as well. Dressed casually but tidily—as though they had come here from desk jobs. Half a dozen women and a few journos. In front of them was a line of riot police three deep and about 52 wide. Lined up against the Judges Club building across the street there were another 200 or so, and then blocking the street in direction of Ramsis there were two more thick lines of them. In the direction of the Talat Harb at least two more wide, thick lines of riot police blocking the street side to side. And this is Abdel Khaliq Sarwat, a wide street. Several of these lines of riot police—the usual slightly sad crowd of underfed boys in badly fitting gear—was backed up the plain-clothes thugs. The grinning, grain-fed muscle brought in to beat people, smash cameras and generally give a little edge to the otherwise lackluster efforts of the recruits. Beyond this cordon, on Champollion Street, there were more thugs. Drawn up in loose groups of 25 they lounged in the dark, sitting on cars and joking. Waiting for a chance to go five on one with some protestor. Going in at around 7.00, I met groups of them coming out. Knots of them dragging away some young Kefaya guys from the Judges’ Club. Dazed, they were shoved into a blue plated minivan that pushed its way up the street through the Wednesday crowds around the Odeon Cinema. They left behind a torn sign supporting the judges’ and a bright yellow Kefaya banner. I left around 9.30, having had my fill of slogans and tubby, unpleasant men in funny hats and gold braid. A few more people had been picked off by the packs of thugs who roamed between the lines of the cordon waiting for someone to stray from the safety of the crowd, but the half-expected assault ala May 25, never happened. The only laugh in the evening came when someone down front started yelling about the contrast between the security around the Syndicate and in the Sinai. It seemed pretty similar to me, however, and it minded me of a large, badly coordinated man trying to swat a mosquito with a cricket bat I sat for a while next to a lawyer friend of mine, looking over at the darkened Judge’s Club. There was an open window there and we could see the red glow from a video camera—State Security getting yet more footage of people whom they seem to fear. After a while he shrugged. “We’re used to it. I’m just very disappointed.”
For more details, here's a press release from the human rights groups. There's another demo planned for today at noon in front of the General Prosecutor's office to call for the release of those arrested in the recent protests. Update: More testimonies at The Skeptic.
Read More

More violence against judges, democracy protesters

I just got back from a trip to the Western Desert and have missed out on the tragic events of the last few days -- a judge being hospitalized, dozens of demonstrators being beaten up, at least 25 dead and many more wounded in two series of bombings in the Sinai. Now, just as I write, another demo has been brutally squashed by Central Security and hired goons. About an hour ago, Central Security troops cordoned protesters outside the Judge's Syndicate in Downtown Cairo in massive numbers. Then they brought in the plainclothes thugs used to beat up activists while keeping the interior ministry's uniforms clean. According to some SMSs I've been receiving, many judges and activists have been beaten, and some arrested -- including socialist leaders Kamal Khalil and Ibrahim Sahary. More details later tonight, if available. Update: There are reports of something nasty also happening in the Alexandria Judges' Club.
Read More

More attacks in Sinai

About an hour ago and two days after the terrorist attack in Dahab, news broke that the multinational force on Sinai has come under attack, probably by a suicide bomber. There seem to be few casualties, but this has already happened before, once in August 2005. The force has recently increased protective measures. Here is some background on its mission.
Read More