Egyptian papers suspend publication to protest 'tyranny'

Updated 05 December 2012
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Egyptian papers suspend publication to protest 'tyranny'

CAIRO: Several independent Egyptian newspapers suspended publication Tuesday as protesters prepared for marches amid mounting anger over the hurried drafting of the country’s new constitution adopted by an Islamist-led panel.
The media protest involved at least eight influential dailies and was part of a planned campaign of civil disobedience that could bring in other industries and build on an ongoing strike by Egypt’s judges.
Meanwhile, opponents of President Muhammad Mursi planned a massive rally outside the presidential palace in Cairo later Tuesday — the latest against the draft constitution and decrees by the Islamist leader giving him nearly unrestricted powers. Mursi called for a nationwide referendum on the draft on Dec. 15.
The draft constitution has been criticized for not protecting the rights of women and minority groups, and many journalists see it as restricting freedom of expression. Critics also say it empowers Islamic religious clerics by giving them a say over legislation, while some articles were seen as tailored to get rid of Islamists’ enemies.
The country’s privately owned TV networks are planning their own protest Wednesday, when they will blacken their screens all day.
The controversy over the draft has widened Egypt’s political crisis and deeply divided the Arab nation nearly two years after the ouster of authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak.
The country’s judges have already gone on strike over Mursi’s Nov. 22 decrees that placed him above oversight of any kind, including the courts. Following those decrees, the constitutional panel rushed through a draft constitution without the participation of representatives of liberals and Christians. Only four women, all Islamists, attended the marathon, all-night session.
The crisis has divided the country into two camps: Mursi and his Islamic fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, as well as another ultraconservative Islamist group, the Salafis, versus youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.
The opposition brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Nov. 27 and a comparable number on Nov. 30, demanding that Mursi’s decrees be rescinded. Protesters have camped out in the square for close to two weeks.
The Islamists responded by sending hundreds of thousands of supporters into Cairo’s twin city of Giza on Saturday and across much of the country. Thousands also imposed a siege on Egypt’s highest court, the Supreme Constitutional Court.
The court had been widely expected Sunday to declare the constitutional assembly that passed the draft charter to be illegitimate and to disband parliament’s upper house, the Shoura Council. Instead, the judges went on strike after they found their building under siege by protesters.


Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

Updated 6 min 9 sec ago
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Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

  • Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
  • Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority.

RAMALLAH: Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an AFP reporter said.
Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority, organized by civil society groups.
The Ramallah-based administration has introduced a series of measures against Gaza over the past year.
Tens of thousands of its civil servants in the coastal enclave, separated from the West Bank by a strip of Israeli territory, have gone without full pay for months.
Critics say such moves by the PA, dominated by the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, further exacerbate the split between the two parts of the Palestinian territories.
The rally passed peacefully, unlike a protest on June 13 during which Palestinian security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
On Saturday, policemen were seen handing out Palestinian flags to the protesters.
Hamas has run Gaza since seizing it from the Palestinian Authority amid deadly clashes in 2007.
Since that year, Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza which it argues is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Rights groups say the siege amounts to collective punishment.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the territory since 2008.
Neighbouring Egypt has also largely sealed its land border with Gaza in recent years, citing security threats.
The United Nations has said Gaza, which is home to two million people, will be uninhabitable by 2020.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last October, but it has since collapsed.