Egypt widens crackdown; detains blogger

December 04, 2013 - 6:32:09 am
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour (right) receives a finalised draft constitution from Constituent Assembly Chairman Amr Moussa, during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Cairo yesterday. 
CAIRO: Prominent Egyptian youth leader Ahmed Duma was arrested yesterday for participating in a protest, his wife said, the third pro-democracy activist to be detained within a week.

Egyptian authorities have widened their crackdown on protesters since interim president Adly Mansour passed a law on November 24 that bans all unauthorised demonstrations.

“He has been arrested for participating in a violent protest outside a court. He is now being interrogated by the prosecution,” Duma’s wife Nurhan Hefzy said.

Duma also wrote about his arrest on his Twitter account.

“I am now in Basateen police station. I don’t know what I am accused of and what is the reason for my arrest,” he tweeted.

An Egyptian judicial source said Duma was being questioned for participating in a violent protest outside a Cairo court on Saturday when another prominent activist Ahmed Maher turned himself in after he was ordered arrested by the general prosecution.

The source said that the general prosecution is also investigating a separate complaint filed against Duma and another activist Asma Mahfouz for allegedly “insulting” army chief General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who is seen as the real power behind the nation’s interim rulers.

In June, Duma was sentenced to six months in jail for insulting ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a television broadcast as “a criminal and murderer”.

He was released on July 6, three days after the army ousted Morsi.

Duma is the third pro-democracy activist to be arrested within a week after Maher and Alaa Abdel Fattah, who have been detained for taking part in unauthorised protests.

Abdel Fattah has been sent to 15 days detention. Maher was ordered free Sunday in one case after he had turned himself in at a Cairo court, but on Monday he was detained again for four days.

The new law stipulates that permission to hold gatherings can be denied if a planned protest is deemed a threat to national security.

Meanwhile, the text of a new constitution that would consolidate the power of the army was handed over to Egypt’s interim president yesterday giving him a month to hold a referendum.

The text was given to president Adly Mansour by former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who headed the 50-member drafting committee which completed its work on Sunday. Speaking at a news conference after the handover, Moussa called on “all Egyptians to take part in the referendum and to vote ‘yes’.”

“Egypt faces dangerous acts of sedition that we must bring to an end,” he said. The vote on the draft charter has been billed as the first stage in a “democratic transition” promised by the military-installed authorities following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July. The text would allow the military to prosecute civilians in some cases, appoint the defence minister and keep its budget beyond any civilian scrutiny — powers held by the legislature, executive and judiciary of most democracies.

The most controversial article states that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.” Secular activists and rights groups have severely criticised the provision, fearing it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents.AFP
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