Friday, November 21, 2014

Egyptian government continues repression and suppression of dissent.

Egypt under President Abdul al-Sisi is repressing dissent of all kinds. In the latest move Egyptian State Radio banned a popular singer Hamza Namira from broadcasting since some of his songs criticize authorities.



Namira gained fame during the uprising in Tahrir square with songs of hope and freedom three years ago. Protesters managed to oust the regime of Hosni Mubarak with the help of the army. Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was eventually elected president but after large demonstrations against his government was overthrown in a move led by Al-Sisi who was then army chief. Almost a year later Al-Sisi was elected president with strong support even from many who had been part of the original revolution. Al-Sisi rode a wave of anti-Islamist feeling and was able to successfully and brutally repress protesters supporting Morsi, killing hundreds or more in a bloody crackdown. Now even protest songs are not allowed.
 Human rights activists claim that the move to ban Namira is part of a campaign by the government to stop any dissent. Everyone is to sing the praises of President Al-Sisi according to human rights activists. State radio's chairman, Abdel Rahman Rashad, told the BBC that a review had found the performer was not approved for broadcast. .Rashad said that any performer who criticizes authorities should not be allowed to broadcast. All performers require approval before being allowed to broadcast.
 Another performer, actor Khaled Naga has been accused of treason for criticising Al-Sisi. He is being prosecuted by a lawyer for "disturbing national security". In another move, the police briefly detained human rights activist Mahienour el-Masry in Alexandria along with 4 other people including her lawyer. They were picked up long after a protest had ended. El-Masry had just recently been released from prison. After questioning about the protest, they were released.
In Cairo, police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting in memory of a clash in November 2011 the Mohammed Mahmoud Battle that resulted in the death of almost 50 demonstrators. In this demonstration mostly by non-Islamists there were no deaths but at least 43 protesters were arrested. All protests are banned without prior police approval and El-Masry was convicted under the ban and sentenced to six months in prison but was released this September pending appeal of her conviction. El-Masry and dozens of other prisoners mounted a hunger strike to protest their poor treatment and the lack of due process.
 The Egyptian state news agency reports that prosecutors are asking for the death sentence for former president Mohammed Morsi. He along with Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 34 others are being tried on espionage charges. Morsi has not recognized the jurisdiction of the court but has asked to defend himself. The case resumes on November 26.