Greater Middle East
Egyptian blogger Ahmed Douma, who had been sentenced to six months in prison for insulting ousted president Mohammed Morsi, was released on July 6, according to state news agency MENA. The prosecution requested Douma's release in June, dropping the charges against him. Despite the release order, Douma remained in custody for another trial on a separate charge. Douma was charged along with 11 others with inciting violence during protests in March in which at least 160 people were injured. The Cairo Criminal Court acquitted all 12 defendants because the evidence against them was deemed void.
Some 40 supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi were injured as soldiers opened fire on protesters outside a government office in El Arish, a town in the northern Sinai Peninsula July 6. (Euronews, July 6) That same day, a Coptic Christian priest, Mina Aboud Sharween, was shot dead while walking on a street in El Arish—apparently the first sectarian killing since the power transfer. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood had criticized Pope Tawadros, spiritual leader of Egypt's 8 million Copts, for giving his blessing to the removal of the president and attending the announcement by army chief Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, suspending the constitution. (The Guardian, July 6)
Numerous were killed in street-fighting in Egypt July 5, two days after the military deposed President Mohamed Morsi, with CNN putting the number at nearly 30. Several were slain as they protested in front of the Republican Guard headquarters, where Morsi is believed to be detained. AFP portrays the incident as a gunfight between the Republican Guards and armed Brotherhood militants. Dozens of Brotherhood leaders and their staff have been arrested, including the group's supreme executive, Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat el-Shater. After Morsi's removal, Egypt's Foreign Minister Kamel Amr (a holdover from the period of military rule before Morsi's election) called US Secretary of State John Kerry to insist that the ousting was not a military coup. But his overstatement revealed the obvious sensitivity of the topic (especially as concerns keeping US military aid going): "There is no role, no political role whatsoever, for the military... This is the total opposite of a military coup." (Huffington Post)
Egyptian authorities on July 4 shut down four Islamist-run television stations viewed as sympathetic to ousted President Mohamed Morsi. This crackdown occurred only a day after the Egyptian military removed Morsi from office and installed an interim government headed by High Constitutional Court judge Adly Mansour. The military also raided the offices of Al Jazeera's Egyptian news channel and detained at least five of its staff members, four of whom were later released. Another station run by the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from the air as it was showing pro-Morsi protesters chanting "down with military rule" following the announcement that Morsi had been removed from power.
A United Arab Emirates (UAE) court on July 2 gave sentences of up to 15 years in prison to 69 out of 94 people on trial for planning an Islamist coup. The group of defendants includes unnamed doctors, academics, lawyers and other professionals arrested over the past year for allegedly forming a secret network with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The court found that the defendants planned to raise money to stage a coup against the Emirati ruling families. Most of the defendants are members of the conservative Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a nonviolent Islamist political association advocating greater adherence to Islamic precepts. According to media sources eight suspects received prison terms of 15 years after being tried in absentia. The court gave 10-year sentences to 56 of the suspects, seven-year terms to five others and acquitted 25. The trial began in March. The UAE tolerates no political opposition within its borders.
Joshua Stephens of Waging Nonviolence ran an interview July 2 with Mohammed Hassan Aazab, a member of the Egyptian anarchist bloc that has been participating in the anti-Morsi protests—but with its own dissident perspective. In the following excerpt, Azab speaks on why the anarchists have not joined the anti-Morsi coalition dubbed Tamarod (Rebel), the role of the feloul (Mubarak-nostalgist) forces, and risks of both civil war and a new dictatorship...
The Egyptian military on July 3 deposed President Mohamed Morsi, suspended the nation's constitution, and installed an interim government headed by High Constitutional Court judge Adly Mansour. Protests had erupted throughout Egypt over the weekend calling for Morsi's resignation for his alleged failure to address economic and security issues during his one-year tenure as president. The military announced its plans to overthrow Morsi early in the day, and by the late afternoon soldiers and tanks surrounded the presidential palace where thousands of Morsi's supporters had gathered. Thereafter, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi officially declared Morsi's removal from office. Morsi condemned the military's actions as an unjustified and illegitimate coup that he rejects. An aide in the Office of Assistant to the President of Egypt on Foreign Relations responded to the military's actions as they occurred:
A Bahraini high criminal court on July 1 acquitted two police officers on trial for the torture of six Shi'iite doctors during the uprising against the Sunni regime in 2011. The Grand Criminal Court's Third Chamber acquitted the two officers of all charges due to the lack of adequate evidence that the officers engaged in the torture of two female and four male doctors in March 2011. Both officers, one being Bahraini princess Noura Bint Ebrahim al-Khalifa who serves in Bahrain's Drugs Control Unit, denied the charges. Prosecutor Nawaf Hamza will appeal the decision if they find error in the court's reasoning.