Egyptian pro-democracy blogger jailed


This 21 April 2014 video from the USA says about itself:

Exclusive Egyptian Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on Prison, Regime’s War on a Whole Generation 1/3.

And these videos are the sequels.

When the Egyptian military dictatorship are not busy killing women for laying flowers in commemoration of anti-Mubarak dictatorship people killed in 2011; and are not busy killing civilians in Libya; and are not busy being friends with Tony Blair; then they do other things.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Outspoken activist jailed for five years

Tuesday 24th February 2015

WELL-KNOWN Egyptian activist and outspoken blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah was sentenced to five years in prison in a retrial yesterday, reducing his earlier 15-year tariff.

Mr Abdel-Fattah, who came to prominence during the 2011 national uprising against the Mubarak dictatorship, had been charged with organising an unauthorised protest and assaulting a police officer.

The verdict was condemned by defence lawyers and supporters who said that he should have been set free.

The retrial began in October and involved 25 defendants, five of whom are fugitives. Besides Mr Abdel-Fattah, only one other defendant, Ahmed Adel-Rahman, received a five-year prison sentence. The rest were sentenced to three years.

Judge Hassan Farid also ruled that all the defendants be placed under surveillance for a period similar to their prison terms after their release, requiring them to report daily to the police.

The courtroom erupted after the verdict, with relatives and friends in the gallery shouting: “Down with oppression!”

Police ultimately ordered everyone to clear the courtroom.

Defence lawyer Mohammed Abdel-Aziz decried the verdict as “harsh and oppressive,” saying that the court “didn’t take into consideration any of the evidence that showed the defendants’ innocence.”

Human-rights lawyer Taher Abou el-Nasr commented: “Regrettably, the verdict was expected. We no longer expect acquittals.”

Defence lawyers said that they will take an appeal to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court.

In a brief address before he delivered the verdict, Judge Farid insisted that the ruling was “free of any interference or caprices.”

Save British seagrass meadows


This video from the Red Sea in Egypt is called Green seahorse in sea grass.

From Wildlife Extra:

Government urged to consider important UK seagrass areas

A newly formed NGO has responded in the consultation process to establish the next tranche of Marina Conservation Zones (MCZs).

Project Seagrass is comprised of internationally recognised experts in seagrass ecology and management.

There is an expanding body of literature illustrating how UK seagrass meadows play a significant role in supporting coastal biodiversity and fisheries productivity.

Seagrass meadows cycle nutrients, provide nursery habitat for young fish, are key foraging grounds for adult fish, prevent beach erosion, support human wellbeing, and harbour culturally significant species, such as seahorses.

Fish growing up in a seagrass meadow will have higher chances of reaching maturity and spawning a new generation than those in an alternative low quality nursery habitat such as bare sand.

However, the group says that UK seagrass meadows are under extreme pressure.

As primary producers living in sheltered coastal waters they are subjected to the problems associated with poor water quality and limited catchment management.

Anything that reduces light availability within the water column will result in stress to these plants.

This is compounded by other physical stressors such as anchor and mooring damage, destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling, raking and bait digging, and coastal development eroding the long-term resilience of the seagrass systems.

Project Seagrass maintains that providing appropriate and widespread protection for these habitats has never been more urgent.

In a 2013 Swansea University survey throughout the British Isles only two important seagrass sites were found not to have been impacted by poor water quality.

Additional studies utilising GoogleEarth and site visits have revealed the extent of the threats imposed by the impact of inappropriate mooring damage on seagrass meadows throughout the UK.

Examples of the degradation that current mooring practice causes can be seen at Studland Bay, Poole Harbour, Salcombe and around the Isle of Wight.

In the new round of proposed MCZs, the seagrass meadows at Nettle and Mount Bay are included but, the group says, neither is extensive nor particularly threatened.

Adding protection to both of these sites may help in the long-term but is unlikely to have any immediate effect on their management or conservation; effectively these sites are ‘easy wins’ for MCZ creation as neither spots have particular value for alternative uses.

By contrast, seagrass meadows surrounding the North and East of the Isle of Wight and throughout the Solent are under extreme pressure, says the Project, and these have not been included.

The pressure is due to the cumulative impacts of poor water quality, boat use (anchor and mooring damage) and destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, raking, bait digging).

In addition, seagrass meadows in many other areas of the south English coast, for example Studland Bay, are also under pressure from boat use (moorings and anchors) and, again, not included in the current MCZ proposals.

Project Seagrass says there exists sufficient scientific evidence for the long term protection of all seagrass meadows in the UK.

It has requested as part of its submission that DEFRA reconsider its exclusion of Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes from the 2nd tranche of MCZs.

Meadows in need of immediate action such as Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, Studland, and Yarmouth to Cowes must be included as MCZs, it says.

For more information visit www.projectseagrass.org.

Washington summit ‘against extremism’, with ‘extremist’ regimes


This 16 November video from the USA says about itself:

Jon Stewart: Turkey Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane

From Mashable in the USA:

Accused human rights abusers attend White House’s extremism summit

By Colin Daileda

10 hours ago

The White House is hosting representatives from more than 60 nations this week for a summit on countering extremism, but some of the attendees have been called extremists in their own right.

The conference focuses on using community outreach to thwart extremist tendencies before they begin, but several nations represented have records of using anti-radicalization laws as a way of shutting off all forms of dissent, including peaceful protesters.

See also: Satirical app helps Muslims ‘condemn’ Islamic extremism

A complete roll call of those in attendance is not publicly available, but we’ve listed some of the known attendees who represent nations with human rights records that show they have not been shy about committing abuses in the name of pursuing extremists.

Egypt

The Egyptian military recently bombed Islamic State targets in Libya after an ISIS affiliate in Libya beheaded 21 Egyptian citizens. The show of force displayed Egypt’s willingness to fight extremists. But then, Egypt’s security forces under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have hardly been shy about using force.

After Sisi‘s military deposed President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, they killed more than 1,000 Morsi supporters over the next several months. Sisi’s military has also thrown thousands of other Morsi supporters in jail using broad anti-extremism laws.

Countries such as Egypt are also “using the guise of countering terrorism and the need for security as an umbrella term to throw dissenters in jail and keep them there on bogus charges,” Sarah Margon, the Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable. She called it a “troubling sign” that governments of nations such as Egypt could participate in a conference meant to counter extremism but then not implement reforms that would ease potentially deadly tensions at home.

Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will attend the White House summit.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE Minister of States for Foreign Affairs, will speak at the conference about effective strategies to counter extremism, according to a senior White House administration official.

The UAE’s Center for Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism is the first international center of its kind. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it “an important step,” for countering radicals in 2012. The U.S. has continued to acknowledge the UAE’s role in fighting radicals, but it has done little to acknowledge the nation’s potential human rights abuses.

“In the UAE’s case, they’re certainly deeply repressive and their rights record is very poor,” Nicholas McGeehan, a Human Rights Watch researcher on the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar, told Mashable.

The UAE recently passed legislation it labeled as “counterterrorism” that, McGeehan said allows the death penalty for anyone with material that might be interpreted to oppose fundamental Islamic principles.

“The UAE’s new law could be used to class anyone who criticizes them in public a terrorist,” McGeehan said. “So the U.S. and others should really be taking a look at their ally’s credentials.”

Bahrain

Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa will also be at the conference, and McGeehan said the case for caution when dealing with Bahrain might be even stronger than the UAE.

In 2012, Bahrain’s government cracked down on a citizen uprising criticizing its Sunni monarchy. Officials violently suppressed many Shiite citizens who wanted reforms such as a new constitution and a parliament elected by the people. Now, McGeehan said there is evidence that Bahraini authorities have allowed anti-Shia sentiment to fester in its armed forces.

“I think it’s important we keep our eye on the big picture, and not lose sight of the fact that repressive autocrats played a role in the emergence of groups like the [Islamic State],” McGeehan said. “What will be the longterm benefits of fighting symptom with cause?”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, which will be represented at the conference by Vice Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is another example of a nation that uses broad laws to ensnare extremists and peaceful dissidents alike, Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Mashable.

“There’s never really been a concerted effort to make human rights sort of part of that picture,” Coogle said of the Saudi-U.S. relationship.

The Saudi Arabian minister of the interior, he said, essentially has the power to jail whoever he likes.

The nation has used sweeping “anti-terrorism” laws to jail those willing to express an opinion other than the government’s viewpoint.

Recently, a prominent blogger and another well-known lawyer have made headlines from Saudi courts and prisons. They were both convicted of charges that human rights groups say amount to expressing views contrary to the government.

The blogger is serving a sentence of 10 years in prison and is to receive 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam,” while the lawyer is set to be jailed for 15 years for “inciting public opinion against the government.”

United States

The U.S. doesn’t exactly have a squeaky-clean human rights record, either, in the minds of human rights groups.

Abuses detailed in the recently released CIA torture report shed new light on the possible human rights crimes that U.S. agents may have committed. Six years after U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year, it remains open. Inside are many prisoners who have not been charged with a crime.

“There are a number of stains on the U.S. that need to be addressed in ways that show a commitment to reverse bad policy and make sure it never happens again,” Margon said.

The U.S. also needs to make a commitment to halt invasive surveillance of Muslim communities that sows distrust, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, told Mashable.

The president gave some assurance on that subject to Muslim families while speaking at the summit Wednesday.

“We have to make sure that abuses stop…that we do not stigmatize entire communities,” Obama said, referring to U.S. law enforcement engaging with Muslim Americans. “Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance.”

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre: here.

ISIS terrorists make Egyptian workers prisoners in ‘new’ Libya


ISIS militants claim to have taken 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage in Libya. (Dabiq)

From the International Business Times:

Isis magazine Dabiq: Cairo ‘plans to evacuate Egyptians from Libya‘ after abduction of Christians

By Umberto Bacchi

February 13, 2015 12:03 GMT

Egypt is planning to evacuate its nationals from Libya after a jihadi group affiliated to the Islamic State (Isis) claimed the abduction of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians there, it has been reported.

Pictures showing about a dozen prisoners wearing orange jumpsuits marching on a beach and then forced to kneel at knifepoint in front of by black-clad militants were published by IS mouthpiece magazine Dabiq, earlier this week.

In it the terror group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the 21 Coptic Egyptians who were taken hostage in two separate incidents between the end of December and early January.

The images mirrored those of summary executions carried out and filmed for propaganda purposes by IS in Syria.

The government in Cairo was assessing the authenticity of pictures

According to Dutch NOS TV, the photos are very probably authentic.

and laying out an emergency plan to repatriate its nationals stuck in the neighbouring country, Al Arabiya reported, citing local media.

Libya has been is engulfed in fighting since the overthrow of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with Islamist militia groups and pro-government forces currently battling for control of country.

The Egyptian hostages were abducted in Sirte, a coastal city that was Gaddafi’s hometown and has fallen in the hands of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadi movement that pledged its alliance to IS and is designated a terrorist organisation by the UN.

Thirteen were kidnapped from a residential compound that was stormed by masked men who went room to room checking identification papers to separate Christians from Muslims on 3 January.

“They had a list of full names of Christians in the building. While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed,” Hanna Aziz, a witness, told AP.

Another seven were abducted a week earlier at a checkpoint while trying to leave the city, according to the BBC.

Egyptian woman, killed for laying flowers, buried


This video says about itself:

Egyptian Female Activist Shaima al-Sabbagh Killed By Police In Tahrir Square Protest

24 January 2015

Shocking moment: female socialist activist is gunned down by police during demonstrations on 4th anniversary of Arab Spring against Hosni Mubarak

A woman was killed on Saturday in Cairo after the police fired shotgun pellets at a handful of socialist activists marching to Tahrir Square with flowers to commemorate the hundreds of demonstrators killed there during the revolution that began on Jan 25 2011 witnesses said.

A health ministry spokesman said Shaima al-Sabbagh died of birdshot wounds, which fellow protesters said were fired by police to disperse the march. Al Sabbagh who was said to be … with a five year old son, was shot while she peacefully marched towards the Tahrir Square to lay a commemorative wreath of roses.

Egyptian activists shared graphic images of Ms. Sabbagh’s last moments on social networks Photographs and video recorded before the police moved in seemed to show the protesters, including Ms Sabbagh, standing peacefully outside the Air France KLM office in Talaat Harb Square near Tahrir. As officers charged at the protesters guns drawn shots rang out and Ms. Sabbagh fell to the pavement. Al-Sabbagh was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Cairo protests: 15 killed in Egypt in clashes with police as more than a thousand protesters mourn young mother Shaima al-Sabbagh

Officials confirm the 32-year-old was shot in the face and back

Adam Withnall

Sunday 25 January 2015

A young mother is among four activists who have been killed in clashes with police in two days of protesting in Egypt to mark the four-year anniversary of the Arab Spring.

Officials have confirmed that 32-year-old Shaima al-Sabbagh was shot dead on Saturday as she joined a march to lay flowers in Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the 2011 revolt that overthrew the dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Ms Sabbagh was hit in the face and back by birdshot pellets, designed as a “non-lethal” crowd control tool to scatter from a single pellet when fired using a shotgun.

Her death has been met with outrage across Egypt, and about 1,000 people marched in her funeral procession early on Sunday. She leaves behind a five-year-old son.

“Shaima was killed in cold blood,” said Medhat al-Zahid, vice president of the Socialist Popular Alliance party of which Ms Sabbagh was a member.

Interior Ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said an investigation into her death had begun, adding: “No one is above the law.”

Three more protesters were killed on Sunday as anger flared in response to Saturday’s killing, with security sources also attributing the deaths to birdshot pellets.

Officials told Reuters a 52-year-old man was shot in Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city, while two protesters were killed in the Cairo suburb of Matariya.

A crackdown on all forms of public assembly has made protesting much harder this year, in keeping with the harsh laws against dissent enacted by former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Today’s anniversary represented a test as to whether liberal activists and Islamists alike would have the resolve to challenge the new US-backed government once again.

Egyptian security forces killed at least 18 demonstrators and wounded at least 80 more Sunday as protests rocked Cairo, Giza, Kafr al-Sheikh and Menya: here.

Women protested in Cairo yesterday at the killing of Shaimaa Sabbagh and the alleged killing of around 25 other activists by security forces at recent rallies: here.

An Egyptian court confirmed death sentences against 183 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Monday, marking the culmination of yet another historic mass show trial by the US-backed military regime: here.

THE Sinai Peninsula has moved from the margins of the Egyptian body politic to the uncontested center, as Egypt’s strong man President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi finds himself greatly undercut by the rise of an insurgency that seems to be growing stronger with time. Another series of deadly and co-ordinated attacks, on Saturday, shattered the Egyptian army’s confidence, pushing it further into a deadly course of a war that can only be won by political sagacity, not bigger guns: here.

On February 12, returning from talks in Minsk over the civil war in east Ukraine, French President François Hollande announced the sale of 24 Rafale fighter jets to the bloody regime of Egyptian dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Along with other prospective sales, it will make the Egyptian dictatorship France’s biggest arms client in 2015: here.