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|Egyptian students opposed to the July 3 coup have clashed with police at a university campus in Cairo and set two buildings on fire, state television reported.
A student activist was killed after being hit in the face with a birdshot, and four others were injured, during the violence on Saturday at the Al-Azhar University campus, according to the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Interior said that at least 60 students have been arrested.
State-run newspaper Al-Ahram said the clashes began when security forces fired tear gas to disperse pro-Brotherhood students who were preventing their colleagues from entering university buildings to take exams. Protesters threw rocks at the police and set tyres on fire to counter tear gas attacks.
State TV broadcast footage of black smoke billowing from the faculty of commerce building, and reported that protesters also set the agriculture faculty building on fire.
Al-Azhar, a centre of Sunni Islamic learning, has for months been the scene of protests against what the Brotherhood calls a “military coup” that deposed former President Mohamed Morsi after a year in office.
Youssof Salheen, a spokesman of the pro-Brotherhood “Students Against the Coup” movement, told Al Jazeera that Khaled El-Haddad, a student at Al-Azhar’s School of Commerce died at campus, but did not clarify the cause of death.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the student’s account, and a security source denied there had been any deaths.
The violence followed a day of clashes across the country that left five people dead.
Supporters of the Brotherhood took to the streets on Friday after the government designated the group a terrorist organisation – a move that increases the penalties for dissent against the military-led government installed after Morsi was overthrown.
Morsi was the country’s first elected president who took the power after the toppling of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011
|Egypt’s interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, a move that gives authorities greater freedom to crack down on the group.Hossam Eissa, a deputy prime minister, announced the decision on Wednesday night after a lengthy cabinet meeting.
“The cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood and its organisation as a terrorist organisation,” he said.
The cabinet’s announcement came one day after a deadly car bombing outside a police headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura. Fourteen people were killed in the blast, most of them officers, and more than 150 others were wounded.
A Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement published online on Wednesday.
But the government blamed the Brotherhood for the attack, though it provided no evidence connecting the group to the attack.
The Brotherhood’s London press office issued a statement on Tuesday that “strongly condemned” the bombing.
“Egypt suffered an ugly crime committed by the Muslim Brotherhood,” Eissa said. “It is a clear declaration from [the group], which has not known anything but violence since its beginning.”
The Brotherhood has staged near-daily protests since President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the army in July following widespread popular protests. Thousands of its members have been killed and jailed since then, and the group has faced mounting legal problems.
In September, a court ordered the Brotherhood banned and its assets seized, a decision that was upheld on appeal in November.
Wednesday’s decision takes the ban a step further: Under the Egyptian penal code, members of the Brotherhood could now face up to five years in prison simply for belonging to the group.
Morsi himself is already in prison, facing charges that include espionage and terrorism. Most of the Brotherhood’s leadership has also been jailed since the coup.
Ahmed el-Borai, the minister of social solidarity, said that the cabinet also would notify other Arab states which are signatories to international conventions against terrorism.
The Brotherhood has sister organisations, and extensive fundraising operations, in many countries around the region.
A powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb ripped through a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city north of Cairo early on Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding more than 100, leaving scores buried under the rubble.
The country’s interim government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, branding it a “terrorist organization.” But the Islamist group condemned the bombing, describing it in a statement as a “direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people” and demanding that the perpetrators be found and brought to justice.
It was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, spreading the carnage that has marked Egypt’s turmoil over the past months to a new area and bringing it closer to Cairo. Previous deadly violence has mostly taken place in the volatile Sinai Peninsula and in Suez Canal-area cities east of the Egyptian capital.
The blast at 1:10 a.m. local time struck at the security headquarters in the city of Mansoura, 110 kilometres north of Cairo in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya, collapsing an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building, incinerating dozens of cars outside and damaging several nearby buildings.
8 police officers killed
The state news agency MENA said 12 people were killed, including eight police officers, and that 134 were wounded, among them the city’s security chief and his assistant. Most of the victims were policemen, many of whom were buried beneath the debris.
Associated Press video from the scene showed bulldozers clearing the rubble outside the security headquarters, as charred and wrecked cars littered the street.
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim toured the scene of the explosion at daybreak, pledging that the police will “continue their battle against the dark terrorist forces that tried to tamper with the country’s security,” then went to hospital to visit the wounded.
MENA quoted Cabinet spokesman Sherif Shawki as saying that the Brotherhood showed its “ugly face as a terrorist organization, shedding blood and messing with Egypt’s security.”
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi described the attack as a “terrorist incident,” expressed condolences to the families of the victims and vowed that the perpetrators “will not escape justice.”
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the preliminary investigation indicated a car bomb caused the explosion, which also damaged a nearby bank and a theatre.
Security forces cordoned off the whole area around the bombing site, closed major entrances and exits to Mansoura and set up checkpoints to search for perpetrators. State TV called on residents to rush to hospitals to donate blood.
No one claims responsibility
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which came a day after an al-Qaeda-inspired group called on police and army personnel to desert or face death at the hands of its fighters.
The militant group based in Sinai and several others have claimed responsibility for a surge of attacks on security forces since a popularly-backed coup in July toppled the country’s former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
In response, Egypt’s armed forces launched an offensive against militants in the northern part of Sinai in August. Coupled with the offensive and with Morsi ousted and imprisoned, Egyptian investigators have moved to put him on trial for links to militants, accusing him and the Brotherhood of being behind the wave of violence in Sinai.
Tuesday’s bombing was not the first time that the security headquarters in Mansoura was targeted. Weeks ago, an explosion went off in front of the building but caused no casualties. Since the summer coup that ousted Morsi, militant Islamists have attacked several security headquarters with car bombs or by suicide bombers.
The Mansoura attack came shortly after the Islamic militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, threatened more attacks on the military and police, saying it considers Egyptian troops to be infidels because they answer to the secular-leaning military-backed government.
The group — which gained notoriety after expanding its operations outside of the restive northern Sinai province — has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide car bombings and deadly attacks, including a failed assassination attempt on Egypt’s Interior Minister in September. The minister escaped unharmed.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis is believed to have ties with Palestinian militants in the neighbouring Gaza Strip, and officials have said other foreign militants have found refuge in Sinai during the ongoing turmoil.
In its message, which appeared on militant websites Monday, the group said it “will be more determined to fight” the military and police if its warning is ignored. It urged them to “repent” from participating in “this infidel bastion that is at war with God and his Prophet, and stop serving in its ranks.”
But MENA quoted Shawki, the Cabinet spokesman as saying that “such terrorist operations will not prevent us from moving forward with the road map.”
He was referring to the upcoming referendum on a draft constitution Jan. 14-15, a key step in a military-backed transition plan aimed at holding presidential and parliamentarian elections later next year.
Mohamed Adel (right) and Ahmed Maher (left) were sentenced with protesting without permission [Reuters]
|A Cairo court has sentenced three leading activists to three years in prison for organising an illegal protest, the latest move in a widening crackdown on critics of the interim government.Two of the three activists, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, are leading members of the April 6 movement. The third is Ahmed Douma, a longtime activist who has been arrested under each of Egypt’s three post-revolutionary governments.
The court on Sunday also handed down fines of 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($7,200).
The defendants were charged with organising a protest last month outside Abdeen Court in downtown Cairo. Maher was at the court to turn himself in on charges connected with another illegal protest, also in November, outside the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament.
A restrictive law approved last month requires demonstrators to seek advance approval from the interior ministry.
The defendants were also charged with obstructing traffic, “thuggery,” and damaging private property: Security forces and protesters briefly scuffled with batons and plastic furniture from a nearby cafe. Officers said the defendants attacked them first. April 6 has denied this, and called the charges “political.”
Douma was arrested at his home several days after Maher turned himself in. Adel remained free until early Thursday morning, when he was detained during a raid on a local human rights organisation.
Thousands of people have been arrested since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July, most of them supporters of the president and his Muslim Brotherhood. But the crackdown has recently widened to include liberal and secular activists.
Morsi supporters protested outside the court where the deposed president faced the initial charges [EPA]
|Egypt’s deposed President Mohamed Morsi will stand trial on charges of “conspiring with foreign groups” to commit “terrorist acts.”Morsi, toppled by the military in July and already on trial for alleged involvement in the killings of opposition protesters, was also accused on Wednesday of divulging “secrets of defence to foreign countries” and “funding terrorism for militant training to fulfil the goals of the International Organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood”, according to a prosecutor document seen by Al Jazeera sources.
Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered Morsi and 35 co-accused to stand trial on charges including conspiring with foreign organisations to commit terrorist acts in Egypt and divulging military secrets to a foreign state.
In a statement, the prosecutor said that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had committed acts of violence and terrorism in Egypt and prepared a “terrorist plan” that included an alliance with the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Some defendants, including Essam Haddad, Morsi’s second in command when president, were also accused of betraying state secrets to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
The prosecution also alleged Muslim Brotherhood involvement in a surge of attacks on soldiers and police following Morsi’s overthrow, centred mostly in the restive Sinai Peninsula.
Prosecutors say the intention of the attacks was to “bring back the deposed president and to bring Egypt back into the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip”.
Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste, reporting from Cairo, said the charges were tantamount to a series of very serious treason charges, which carry the death penalty in Egypt.
“I suspect a lot of Morsi’s supporters will see these as outlandish charges designed to try to sideline the opposition once and for all,” he said.
Mohamed Al Damaty, the spokesman of Morsi’s defence team told Al Jazeera that they had not seen the court documents relating to the case.
“We did not receive the court documents to this case,” he said.
“We don’t know further details and there is a gag order on this case by the prosecutor banning media from publishing its details for what they call endangering national security. No date for the trial has been set yet.”
The trial appears to stem from an investigation into prison breaks during a 2011 uprising against strongman Hosni Mubarak, when Morsi and other prisoners escaped, AFP reports.
Prosecutors have alleged the jailbreaks were carried out by Palestinian and Lebanese armed groups, who had members imprisoned under Mubarak.
Al Jazeera sources said that prosecutor copy labelled the trial as the “biggest case in Egypt’s history of conspiring against Egypt.”
According to the text, the Muslim Brotherhood had been involved in smuggling weapons and allowing its members to enter Gaza through tunnels in the Sinai to receive training from factions of Hezbollah and Iranians.
It also said members had received training on communication and dealing with media through communication with the West through Qatar and Turkey.
A new law allows police to clamp down on all but interior ministry-sanctioned demonstrations [AFP]
|Police have arrested 144 protesters over violent clashes at a university in Cairo that left five students injured, one critically, Egypt’s ministry of interior has said.
The ministry said that the critically injured student was in intensive care with a bullet wound to the chest after the clashes at Al-Azhar University on Monday.
Riot police fired tear gas at protesters at Al-Azhar University and a security official said several police cars were set on fire and petrol bombs thrown at officers in fresh clashes.
The students, supporters of ousted former president Mohamed Morsi, have held persistent protests since the start of the academic year in September.
The clashes came as Mohamed Badie, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared in court for the first time since he was arrested in a state crackdown on the group following the army overthrow of Morsi.
Mahmoud Subeiha, the head of university security, told Egypt’s private CBC TV that he asked the police to enter the campus Monday to put down the protests, which have frequently descended into clashes with police.
The students had rallied on Sunday against the referral of 21 of their colleagues to trial for earlier protests.
Meanwhile, Brotherhood General Guide Badie, 70, denied his group had perpetrated any violence, speaking from the cage reserved for defendants where he appeared with other prominent Islamists, including Mohamed el-Beltagi and Essam el-Erian.
Badie murder probe call
“Why aren’t you investigating the murder of my son, and the burning of my house and the groups’ offices?” said Badie, referring to his 38-year old son killed in August 17 protests ignited by the violent dispersal of Brotherhood
The case being heard on Monday relates to violence that flared in mid-July near a Brotherhood protest camp at Cairo University. Badie faces charges including inciting the violence.
Morsi’s downfall triggered the worst bout of internal strife in Egypt’s modern history.
The security forces killed hundreds of Morsi’s supporters during protests and some 200 soldiers and policemen have been killed. The army deposed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against his rule.
Most of the Brotherhood’s leadership has been arrested since then.
Morsi is himself standing trial on charges of inciting the killing of protesters during violence outside the presidential palace a year ago. His trial began on November 4.
The defendants interrupted Monday’s session with chanting against generals whom the Brotherhood says have stolen power from the country’s first freely elected head of state.
“Down with military rule,” shouted Beltagi, leading the other defendants in chants.
The men on trial in the case include Bassem Ouda, the former minister of supplies.
No-confidence vote at parliament breaks into shouting and shoving match between members of rival political parties.
Last updated: 03 Dec 2013
Thousands gather outiside parliament in Kiev as lawmakers debate a no confidence vote against the government [AFP]
|Ukraine’s Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has warned that the anti-government demonstrations in the capital Kiev are becoming “out of control” and could turn into a coup.
Azarov issued the statement as the parliament votes on Tuesday on a no confidence motion against his government.
Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Kiev, said that the ongoing debate inside the parliament has broken into “shouting and shoving” between administration and opposition politicians.
“There’s a fair amount of chaos inside the parliament,” Challands said.
Opposition members shouted “shame” and “revolution” as pro-government lawmakers spoke, while opposition speakers drew boos and jeer.
Outside, demonstrations are continuing and crowds are now blockading the main government buildings, in an ongoing standoff after President Viktor Yanukovych failed to sign a key EU pact.
“Blocking the work of state institutions is not a peaceful demonstration. This has all the signs of a coup,” Azarov told ambassadors from the European Union, Canada, and the United States. “That is very serious.”
Over the weekend, police forced the protesters off the square, causing injuries to nearly 200 people, including journalists.
The crackdown led to a horrified reaction in the West and the demand by current EU chair Lithuania to launch a probe.
Azarov said Ukraine’s authorities were “ready for dialogue” with the protesters and promised that violence would not be used against peaceful demonstrators.
“The authorities are guaranteeing non-use of force against peaceful protesters,” he said.
As the demonstration rages, Yanukovych is set to travel to China, leaving the country plunged into crisis by his decision to spurn a landmark EU deal, and boost ties with Ukraine’s Soviet ally Russia.
Our correspondent said Yanukovych’s decision to leave for China is seen as “running away from the country at a time when he should be here.”
Egyptian protests have brought down the governments of Mubarak and Morsi [Gregg Carlstrom]
|Cairo – Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has signed a restrictive new “protest law” that would require Egyptians to seek approval days in advance before organising demonstrations.
The law will take effect later this week once the final text is published in the official state register. It gives police wide latitude to use force against demonstrators, which could give the government a pretext for a widespread crackdown.
The law has gone through numerous revisions, but rights groups say the latest version requires protesters to seek approval from police three days in advance, and allows the interior ministry to block rallies that could “pose a serious threat to security or peace”.
Election campaign events are subject to a 24-hour notification period in some drafts, and “processions” of more than 10 people are only allowed for “non-political” purposes. Violators could face fines of up to $4,360.
“They could have stuck to earlier versions, where if the interior ministry wants to ban a protest, the onus is on them to go to court and seek a ban,” said Heba Morayef, the Egypt director for Human Rights Watch. “Instead they’ve done the opposite. The end result is that we could see an increase in violent crackdowns on peaceful protests.”
More laws on way
Egypt’s interim cabinet is also debating a slate of other restrictive laws. One would criminalise “abusive graffiti”; another, a vaguely-worded “anti-terrorism” law, could be used to further clamp down on peaceful political activism.
The cabinet says the laws are needed to regulate near-daily protests in Cairo and across the country, some of which turn violent.
Authorities last week lifted a three-month state of emergency and night-time curfew imposed after security forces cleared two Cairo sit-ins filled with supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in July.
More than a thousand people were killed in the clearings and several days of unrest that followed.
Many of the ongoing protests have taken place on university campuses, which have become a hotbed of political unrest.
One person was killed late Wednesday night in clashes at Al-Azhar University between police and student supporters of Morsi. Protesters accused security forces of firing live ammunition at them; the interior ministry said students threw petrol bombs at police. Daily rallies have occurred since at Al-Azhar, Cairo University, and other schools.
Students at al-Azhar have been demonstrating in support of Morsi for weeks [AFP]
|Egyptian police fired teargas at students protesting at Cairo’s al-Azhar university hours after authorities announced the detention of Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian, part of a crackdown against the Islamist movement
Students at the country’s top institution for Islamic teachings have been demonstrating for weeks in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who the army toppled in July after mass protests against his rule.
At al-Azhar’s main campus, students smashed windows, hurled chairs and covered the walls of an administrative building with graffiti.
“Sisi is a dog. Down, down with the lord of the army,” one protester scribbled, refering to army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of Morsi.
One police officer yelled: “Arrest anyone you see. Bring me those kids. If you see anyone just arrest them right away.”
Mustafa el-Agrawi, al-Azhar’s legal adviser, told the ONTV private channel that the students besieged the administrative building, locking up the university chief and several other administrators.
Ahmed Hosni, deputy head of al-Azhar, said the students stormed the offices, trashed documents and computers to “sabotage and destroy the university”. The head of al-Azhar university had called on the police to enter campus grounds to “protect souls and properties”, according to an interior ministry statement.
Erian, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, was taken into custody early on Wednesday from a residence in New Cairo where he had been in hiding.
“He’s been arrested and details will soon be released,” an Interior Ministry source told Reuters news agency.
Local media circulated a photo of what they described as the moment he was arrested, showing a smiling Erian standing next to a bed with two packed duffle bags.
Many Brotherhood leaders have been detained since the army deposed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, and declared a road map leading to elections.
- Egypt police dispel student protest (bbc.co.uk)
- Malaysian Al-Azhar students return to Egypt (worldbulletin.net)
- Azhar students besiege university’s administrative building (worldbulletin.net)
- 55 Arrested in Riot at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University (israelnationalnews.com)
- Several killed outside church in Cairo (aljazeera.com)
Egyptian security forces have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of students protesting against military rule at Cairo’s al-Azhar university and, according to the Interior Ministry, arrested 55 students.
Clashes between protesters and security forces erupted when the students tried to move their protest out of campus on Sunday. Protesters were seen throwing rocks at security forces and a number of students were arrested.
The group organising the march was responding to a call by the Anti-Coup Alliance for a national uprising against the military-backed leadership that took power after President Mohamed Morsi was ousted on July 3.
Follow our ongoing coverage of the political crisis in Egypt
Protesters were also demanding the release of political detainees.
Similar demonstrations were held at Cairo University and in the district of Abu Hamad in el-Sharqiyah province.
A witness told Reuters news agency that police fired bird shot and tear gas to prevent protesters from marching to the site of a protest camp that was destroyed two months ago.
Al-Azhar is in the same Cairo suburb as the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, the scene of a former pro-Morsi sit-in where hundreds of protesters were killed as security forces broke up the sit-in.
“Rabaa Square is completely off-limits,” a security source said. “Protesters are not allowed to move inside it.”
Al-Azhar university has long been regarded as the foremost institution in the Islamic world for religious studies, and many students there are supporters of Morsi.
The Interior Ministry told Al Jazeera that 55 students were arrested
Ahead of the new term starting on Saturday, the university warned students not to engage in political activity or they would risk classes being suspended indefinitely.
Since the start of the academic year in September Egyptian university campuses have witnessed a number of protests, mostly by supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood.
Protests for and against military rule have been held almost daily in various Egyptian cities since Morsi was overthrown and detained.
Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes as security forces have cracked down on Islamist-dominated sit-ins and scores of Brotherhood members have been detained.
Morsi will stand trial on November 4 with 14 other defendants over the killings of protesters outside his presidential palace in December 2012, when demonstrators took to the streets against a decree the president issued to shield his decisions from judicial oversight and a highly disputed draft constitution.
- Islamists clash with riot police (independent.ie)
- Egypt Police, Protesters Clash in Cairo (ivoter.com)