Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicia...

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicia...: http://english.ahram.org.eg/UI/Front/ Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicial Authority Law - Po...

Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicial Authority Law - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicial Authority Law - Politics - Egypt - Ahram Online

Egypt Judges Club head El-Zend slams draft Judicial Authority Law
Judges Club head Ahmed El-Zend says judges will stand against proposed Judicial Authority Law, holds Muslim Brotherhood responsible for perceived 'insults' to Egypt's judiciary

Ahram Online, Monday 22 Apr 2013


Egyptian Judges Club head Ahmed El-Zend voiced his rejection of a recently proposed Judicial Authority Law, asserting that the draft legislation targeted judges and Egypt's judiciary.

"All judges will stand against the Brotherhoodisation of the judiciary and against those who aim to lower the retirement age for judges," El-Zend declared at a Monday press conference.

El-Zend's statements come as Egypt's Shura Council prepares to discuss a draft Judicial Authority Law that would effectively retire over 3,000 judges.

The Shura Council, currently endowed with legislative authority, is the upper house of Egypt's parliament.

El-Zend also blasted recent calls for a "purge" of Egypt's judiciary, saying such calls aimed at "Egypt's destruction."

The proposed Judicial Authority Law, he added, "faces numerous appeals. Legally, the Shura Council shouldn't even consider it."

El-Zend urged Egyptian political parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafist Nour Party and the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party – the latter of which initially tabled the legislation – not to consider the law, "so as not to become a tool for the destruction of the state."

"This attack [on the judiciary], which is sanctioned by the ruling party, should be resisted," he said, asserting that the Brotherhood had stood behind recent demonstrations that he described as "insults" to Egypt's judiciary.

Frequent accusations of judicial corruption, El-Zend added, were part of a "futile plan to destroy Egypt." He went on to say that he planned to file legal complaints against anyone who aimed to tarnish the judiciary's image.

On Friday, thousands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies demonstrated at the High Court in Cairo to demand a "purge" of Egypt's "corrupt judiciary." The protest turned violent when the rally was attacked by anti-Brotherhood demonstrators.

On Sunday, Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki announced his resignation to protest Brotherhood allegations of judicial corruption.

On Monday morning, President Mohamed Morsi – who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood – met with members of Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council and Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah to discuss the ongoing crisis with the judiciary. 

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Family pleads for jailed Saudi blogger - CNN.com

Family pleads for jailed Saudi blogger

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN) -- The message the brother and sister read aloud is one addressed to a missing father: 9-year-old Najwa and 8-year-old Tirad reciting the words in unison, "Our mother's starting to worry about you."

Their mom, Ensaf Haidar, is indeed worried, but she's also pained. She knows how much her children yearn to see their dad, but she just doesn't know what to tell them.

How can she begin to explain that their dad has languished in a Saudi prison for almost a year? How can she expose her kids to a brutal reality she feels they're not ready to face?

"They're always asking me, 'When is Dad coming home?' " Haidar said. "Telling me, 'Mom, I miss Dad so much.' "

Haidar struggles with the dilemma every day.

"It often feels like the world is against me," she said. "When I see how the children are deprived of their father, this is what bothers me the most."

Her three children, including 5-year-old Myriam, think their father's just delayed by work. But Raif Badawi, 30, has been imprisoned since being arrested in June. He is accused of, among other things, breaking Sharia law and starting a website that infringed on religious values.

Raif Badawi has been in prison since June. He is accused of starting a website that infringed on religious values.
Raif Badawi has been in prison since June. He is accused of starting a website that infringed on religious values.

According to Haidar, her husband just wanted to encourage discussion about religion in his homeland. But starting a liberal Internet forum in conservative Saudi Arabia can be a dangerous pursuit.

"No one wanted to take his case," said Waleed Abualkhair, Badawi's attorney. "Because they believed that anyone who'd take this kind of case, that means he destroys his (own) reputation. But I don't believe in that. I believe that everyone has his right to have a lawyer. And I believe that Raif is innocent."

Abualkhair is more than just Badawi's attorney. He's also his brother-in-law and a fellow human-rights activist also on trial in Saudi Arabia.

Talking over Skype because he's been banned from traveling outside Saudi Arabia, Abualkhair describes how he's been accused of "speaking to the foreign media with the intention of harming the country's reputation." He said any activist who calls for reform there is in danger of being arrested.

Rights groups agree, accusing Saudi authorities of targeting activists through the courts and travel bans. Many were outraged when two of the country's most prominent reform advocates, Mohammed Al-Qahtani and Abdullah Al-Hamid, were recently sentenced to 10 years in prison apiece.

Amnesty International called that trial "just one of a troubling string of court cases aimed at silencing the kingdom's human-rights activists."

"Here's the thing," Abualkhair said. "The government of Saudi Arabia, they want to show themselves outside Saudi Arabia that they are modern, that they are open-minded, that they want to change, they want to reform, that the problem is coming from the society, and that the society moves slowly. They keep saying that for the foreign media.

"But actually inside, when we act with our society, when we want to reform, when we want to do something with our society, they keep punishing us."

CNN has made several attempts to reach Saudi Arabia's Justice and Interior ministries for comment but received no response.

Asked in January about accusations that Saudi Arabia is cracking down on dissent, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, told CNN, "At the Interior Ministry, our area of responsibility is security."

He added, "My understanding is that these cases are being looked at by the courts now. Nobody will comment on cases being looked at by the courts."

Badawi's legal troubles started shortly after he started the Free Saudi Liberals website in 2008. He was detained for one day and questioned about the site. Some clerics even branded him an unbeliever and apostate.

According to Badawi\'s wife, he started his website to encourage discussion about religion in his homeland.
According to Badawi's wife, he started his website to encourage discussion about religion in his homeland.

According to Haidar, she and Badawi began receiving death threats. Fearing for their and their children's lives, they planned to move the family out of Saudi Arabia in 2009. That was before they discovered Badawi had been placed under a travel ban and that his business interests had been frozen, depriving them of a source of income.

In July, Human Rights Watch released a statement urging Saudi authorities to free Badawi.

"Saudi authorities should drop charges and release the editor of the Free Saudi Liberals website for violating his right to freedom of expression on matters of religion and religious figures," a statement from the group said.

Today, Haidar lives in Lebanon with the kids. She feels safer, but life's become a lot lonelier. Estranged from her family, Haidar said it would be impossible to take her children back to Saudi Arabia. The stigma is too strong there.

"You feel like everybody's accusing you," she said, close to tears. "Like everybody's against you, at war with you."

According to Abualkhair, the Saudi Arabian government has little tolerance for activists who speak out.

"They didn't punish just (Badawi)," Abualkhair said, describing how Badawi and those closest to him have effectively been ostracized. "They punish his family. Actually, they punish their future."

Abualkhair said that even if Badawi is eventually released from prison, his future has been ruined.

"They destroyed his image in our society (by saying) that he's against our Islam," Abualkhair said.

Abualkhair said Badawi fears he'll be kept in prison indefinitely.

"What he's afraid of," he said, "is that they just want to keep him in prison without judgment for a long time, like what's happened now. Ten months without any judgment. They just moved his case from a court to another court to keep him in jail for a long time."

Haidar misses her husband more with each passing day, but she said all she can do is wait. Her children's questions become ever more pressing as she grows more desperate.

"At the end of the day, you find there's nobody to give you hope," she said. "Everybody is silent about the case. Nothing is moving forward."

READ: Reported Saudi paralysis sentence 'outrageous,' rights group says

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READ: Saudi Islamist preacher on trial in daughter's slaying

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: BBC News - Egypt court rejects bid to ban Bassem Y...

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: BBC News - Egypt court rejects bid to ban Bassem Y...: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22052275 Egypt court rejects bid to ban Bassem Youssef TV show ...

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: BBC News - Saudi paralysis sentencing 'grotesque' ...

Egyptian Corporate Lawyer: BBC News - Saudi paralysis sentencing 'grotesque' ...: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22029881 Saudi paralysis sentencing 'grotesque' - UK ...

BBC News - Saudi paralysis sentencing 'grotesque' - UK

Saudi paralysis sentencing 'grotesque' - UK

4 April 2013 Last updated at 12:50 GMT
A syringe, stock image The law of retribution means the victim can demand his attacker suffers the same punishment as he caused

The UK has urged Saudi Arabia not to carry out a reported sentencing of paralysis for a Saudi man as punishment for paralysing another man.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said London was "deeply concerned" by the sentence, describing it as "grotesque".

Such punishment was "prohibited under international law", the official added.

Saudi media reports earlier said the 24-year-old man could be paralysed from the waist down if he could not pay his victim £250,000 in compensation.

Ali al-Khawahir was 14 when he stabbed a friend in the back in the Eastern Province town of al-Ahsa. He has been in prison for 10 years.

The judge in the case has reportedly interpreted the Islamic law of qisas, or retribution, that Saudi Arabia follows as meaning that he in turn could face being paralysed.

Amnesty International has described this as tantamount to torture.

The sentencing is the latest example of Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law attracting international criticism.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's comments mark an unusually strong plea to the Saudi authorities in what is, by any standards an unusual and disturbing case.

Successive British governments have struggled at times to harmonise their concerns about human rights in Saudi Arabia with the fact that the Kingdom remains a key ally and a major customer for British weaponry, he adds.

BBC News - Egypt court rejects bid to ban Bassem Youssef TV show

Egypt court rejects bid to ban Bassem Youssef TV show

6 April 2013 Last updated at 20:21 GMT
Bassem Youssef's show on CBC, 5 April Bassem Youssef's show aired once more on Friday

A court in Egypt has rejected a lawsuit calling for a ban on the TV programme of popular satirist Bassem Youssef.

The court said the Muslim Brotherhood lawyer who filed the suit, which also demanded the channel lose its licence, did not have an interest in the case.

Mr Youssef has been questioned over allegations of insulting President Mohammed Morsi and Islam, raising concerns about freedom of speech.

His weekly show went out again on Friday, poking fun at his situation.

The chief lawyer for the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, Abdel-Moneim Maqsoud, told the Associated Press news agency that the lawyer who brought the lawsuit, Mahmoud Abul-Enein, had acted individually and not for the organisation.

'Corrupted morals'

Mr Youssef has faced several complaints over his show El Bernameg (The Programme), which satirises many public figures.

In some sketches, he has portrayed Mr Morsi as a pharaoh, calling him "Super Morsi" for holding on to executive and legislative powers.

The satirist was questioned by prosecutors on 31 March and released on bail pending further investigation into allegations of insulting the president, Islam and "spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order".

The president's office insists it is not involved in the legal case.

Mr Abul-Enein had argued that the show "corrupted morals" and violated "religious principles" and that the private satellite TV channel that broadcast it, the Capital Broadcasting Center (CBC), should have its licence suspended.

Mr Youssef is a doctor who shot to fame with his witty lampooning of public figures in amateur videos posted on the internet following the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's rule in February 2011.

He became a household name when his satirical show - likened to Jon Stewart's The Daily Show in the US - began to be broadcast on CBC.

Mr Youssef's show aired again on Friday.

He joked that he would not talk about Mr Morsi, only the attorney general.