Dozens of LGBT Egyptians have been arrested , including raids on cafés and detentions following a concert by Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila (fronted by a gay man).
As citizens continue to be subjected to invasive medical examinations and entrapment via social media and mobile apps, Egypt’s media regulatory body issued a statement condemning homosexuality as a “sickness” and barring the presence or representation of gay people in the media.
In addition to political and law enforcement assaults, LGBT Egyptians have recently been the targets of cultural campaigns by the media and conservative religious and academic leaders.
New NGO law severely curtails capabilities of rights organizations and charities in Egypt
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law limiting NGO work to developmental and social work activities and subjecting them to government regulation, with violators facing to up to five years of jail time.
NGOs will have one year to come into compliance with the law or be dissolved.
Human rights organizations accused the government of attempting to quell dissent, with officials long having accused NGOs of taking foreign money to destabilize national security.
At least three dozen killed in church bombings in Egypt
At least 25 were killed and 78 injured at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, while a second targeted St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Pope in Alexandra, killing at least 11 and wounding 35.
The bombings, claimed by the Islamic State, came during Palm Sunday observances, a week before Easter and ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis.
The attacks are the latest in a series committed by fundamentalist Islamic militants, with the Islamic State having shifted its strategy in Egypt to targeting the country’s Coptic Christian minority.
One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas→
IS claims responsibility on Cairo church bombing that left dozens dead
The attack on St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral killed at least 25 people and injured nearly 50, most of them women, in Egypt’s deadliest mass killing driven by sectarian conflict since 2011.
The cathedral was the seat of the Egyptian Orthodox Church and a prominent symbol for Egyptian Copts, who comprise around 10% of the country’s population and who have been subject to systemic discrimination.
Following the attack, the Islamic State threatened to escalate its “war on polytheism,” leading members of the Christian community and government officials to suspect more large-scale attacks are on the way.
Travel bans trap Egyptian activists in “giant prison”
Two prominent human rights advocates—Aida Seif al-Dawla and Azza Soliman—recently discovered they were barred from traveling in and out of Egypt as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues targeting civil society and human rights organizations.
Human rights monitors report that 217 people have been subject to travel bans between 2014 and 2016, 115 of whom are critics of the Sisi-led government.
Activists and journalists reported being met with deferral or radio silence when inquiring about the cause or origin of their bans, with the government denying a crackdown.
Egyptian government limiting movement rights of critics
Nearly 500 journalists, activists, and advocates have been deported from Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s inauguration in 2013 for having criticized the government, according to one civil rights group.
Critics of Sisi, the judiciary, and other government powers have been subjected to travel restrictions, limiting their movement in and out of the country.
Those subject to travel bans often don’t find out about their status until at airports, with the requirement of a judicial order only infrequently being met.
Like the color it purports to name, the social label black absorbs, integrates, and obscures distinct but interrelated phenomena: a skin tone of context-dependent shade, a racial classification from bygone times, an ethnic designation, a class marker, an immigration status, an ancestry, a cultural heritage, and an index of historical wrongs still fresh in memory. Black has often served as shorthand for of African descent, but perhaps nowhere most complicates that substitution than a region on the continent itself: North Africa. Continue reading Citations: Black in North Africa→
One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:
Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.
In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.
Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.
From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.
In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.
Middle East & Africa
Police in Egyptblocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.
South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.
Italian student found dead in Cairo after writing article critical of government
Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old graduate student at the University of Cambridge, was found dead alongside a road outside Cairo with cigarette burns and other signs of torture on his body.
Regeni had been conducting research on Egyptian labor rights and had written an article criticizing the Egyptian government’s anti-union stance and lack of press freedom for Il Manifesto, a left-wing newspaper in Rome,.
Italy summoned its Egyptian ambassador to discuss the situation, requesting a joint investigation to determine the cause of the student’s murder, which Egyptian authorities have ruled an accident.
More than a dozen Sudanese refugees killed by Egyptian security forces
At least 15 Sudanese refugees were killed and eight wounded attempting to enter Israel from the Sinai peninsula.
Egyptian officials first said the refugees were shot attempting to reach the southern border of Israel, but later revised their account to say they were caught in the crossfire between security forces and smugglers.
The incident is one of the most violent involving Sudanese refugees since 2005 and comes as the refugees face crackdowns by Egyptian police, exploitation and abuse by smugglers, and detention and deportation in Israel.
Egypt muzzles journalists during investigation of killing of Mexican tourists
Eight Mexican tourists and their Egyptian guides were killed by Egyptian security forces after allegedly being mistaken for insurgents.
International and domestic journalists have been banned from covering the investigation into the incident, leading to criticisms of a lack of transparency.
Human rights organizations have condemned Egypt’s military operations in the Western Sahara and Sinai Peninsula, arguing that civilian deaths have been endemic.
“Usually when there is such a ban on publication it has do with very tough cases where one could find evidence or embarrassing information about the involvement of some government high officials or military strongmen.”