Egypt court orders release of pro-government TV host

Khairi Ramadan was detained for four more days pending the completion of the investigation.
Updated 05 March 2018
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Egypt court orders release of pro-government TV host

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the release of a pro-government talk show host accused of insulting the police and disseminating false news on his state TV program, his lawyer said.
Khairi Ramadan was released on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds, about $570, according to his lawyer, Taher el-Khouly. The case has not been dropped, and prosecutors can appeal his release.
Ramadan was detained Saturday after a segment about police salaries. He said the wife of an unnamed police colonel had told him she was considering working as a housekeeper to supplement their meager income.
Egypt has regularly detained and prosecuted journalists since the military overthrow of an elected president from the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, part of a wider crackdown on dissent. Authorities have stepped up pressure on the media ahead of this month’s presidential election, in which President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi faces no serious challenge.
Authorities are especially sensitive to any perceived criticism of the police or military.
The head of Egypt’s media regulatory agency said in comments published Monday in the independent Al-Shorouk newspaper that Ramadan should be released after he offered an apology.
Makram Mohammed Ahmed said Ramadan’s continuing detention hurts Egypt’s image.
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer who went missing days ago resurfaced before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo, his group said late Sunday.
Ezzat Ghoneim, of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, was the first to confirm the arrest on Wednesday of a woman who was interviewed by the BBC for a report about forced disappearances that angered Egyptian authorities. The woman had said police were behind her daughter’s disappearance a year ago and that her daughter had been tortured in prison during an earlier detention, allegations denied by authorities.
The statement said Ghoneim’s whereabouts have been unknown even to his family since his arrest last Thursday, and that prosecutors have barred his lawyers from the proceedings.


Popular hashtags take sides on Egypt president’s leadership

Updated 23 June 2018
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Popular hashtags take sides on Egypt president’s leadership

  • Tens of thousands of Egyptians have set social media alight with tweets on opposing hashtags, one calling on President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to resign and another praising his leadership
  • Frustration deepened last week after Egypt’s national soccer team, competing in the World Cup for the first time since 1990, failed to advance after only two matches

CAIRO: Tens of thousands of Egyptians have set social media alight with tweets on opposing hashtags, one calling on President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to resign and another praising his leadership.
The hashtags surfaced after a recent wave of steep price hikes for fuel, drinking water and electricity was introduced by the government as part of austerity measures designed to overhaul the economy, which is still recovering from a costly 2011 popular uprising. The hikes were announced as Egyptians were celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a move believed to be designed to minimize chances of protests.
Frustration deepened last week after Egypt’s national soccer team, competing in the World Cup for the first time since 1990, failed to advance after only two matches. The hashtags have picked up since, making it Twitter’s top trending list in Egypt for days. But by Saturday, the one calling on El-Sisi to leave office carried over 279,000 tweets. The opposing hashtag had a much lower figure of more than 48,000.
“No freedom, no justice, no education, no country, no humanity ... it’s the time to go away!!!,” one user posted on the hashtag asking El-Sisi to leave, which is translated from Arabic as #El-Sisi_leave.
Meanwhile, other users flooded the hashtag praising the president (#myleaderisEl-Sisiandproud) with flattery and adulation.
Economic reforms and tough austerity measures started shortly after El-Sisi took office in 2014 but have been accelerating recently and have hit poor and middle-class Egyptians especially hard. El-Sisi, who led the 2013 military overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President Muhammad Mursi, has urged Egyptians to be patient as the reforms take effect.
“If we want to become a real nation, we must suffer pain and endure hardships,” El-Sisi said. “We have to pay the price together.”
Ahead of the recent price hikes, Egyptian authorities arrested several critics, including a well-known blogger and a socialist activist. The arrests, which came after El-Sisi’s re-election in a March vote in which he faced no serious challengers, are part of a wider crackdown on dissent since Mursi’s overthrow amid mass protests against his yearlong rule. Thousands of people have been jailed, including several prominent secular activists who defied the protest ban.
Those measures have virtually eliminated street activism in Egypt, where the 2011 uprising ended former President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule. The government has also cracked down on online organizing by blocking hundreds of websites, including many run by independent journalists and rights groups.