Egyptian police arrested 12 "Black Bloc" protesters in clashes outside Cairo's presidential palace April 27. Protesters hurled rocks and fire bombs at the walls of the presidential palace in the Heliopolis suburb, and torched a police vehicle. The clashes come days after the detainment of 22 suspected Black Bloc members on court order. On May 1, a court refused an appeal to release the young men, who have been ordered to remain in custody for a second 15-day period. On their Facebook page, the Blac Bloc say they are a "generation born of the blood of the martyrs" from the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Prosecutor general Talaat Abdallah has accused the group of "terrorism."
Italian president Giorgio Napolitano on April 5 pardoned US Air Force Colonel Joseph Romano of his conviction related to the US Central Intelligence Agency's abduction and "extraordinary rendition" of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr AKA Abu Omar. Joseph Romano was security chief of northern Italy's Aviano air base where Nasr was abducted prior to being flown to Egypt. Nasr was seized on the streets of Milan in 2003 by CIA agents with the help of Italian operatives, then allegedly transferred to Egypt and tortured by Egypt's State Security Intelligence before being released in February 2007. The US Department of Defense welcomed the news of Napolitano's pardon.
What are we to make of this? The Atlantic boasts photos of an April 4 international protest called by Ukrainian feminist group Femen in support of young Tunisian activist Amina Tyler, who received death threats after posting topless pictures of herself online in defiance of the growing hegemony of political Islam in her country. Femen's followers waged a "topless jihad," baring their breasts in cities across Europe—including in front of the Great Mosque in Paris. The Kiev protest was also in front of a mosque. Some of the targets were more appropriate, such as the Tunisian consulate in Milan and the embassy in Stockholm. The women scrawled slogans on their bared torsos, like "FREE AMINA." Somewhat disturbingly, some also appropriated the Islamic crescent in a sexualized way, using it to accentuate their breasts. This irreverent image actually appears on the logo of the Femen wesbite, which also touts its own movement as one of "Titslamism."
Ahmed Qaddaf al-Dam, cousin of Moammar Qaddafi, was arrested at his home March 19 in central Cairo by Libyan forces. The arrest of Qaddaf al-Dam coincides with the second anniversary start of the air campaign in Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that assisted rebels in toppling Qaddafi's regime. Qaddaf al-Dam, who is said to have beeb a trusted accomplice of the former leader, has said he plans on filing a complaint with the Egyptian public prosecutor and Libyan authorities. The Egyptian-controlled Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported that Libyan authorities will gain control of al-Dam and plan on prosecuting him. The specific charges faced by Qaddaf al-Dam are still unknown.
Spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, on Feb. 19 criticized Egypt's draft law on demonstrations for failure to adequately protect freedom of assembly as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and two international rights treaties ratified by Egypt. The draft law requires that organizers inform authorities about protest plans in advance and allows the interior ministry the right to reject demonstrations. Governors will restrict protests to a particular location in each province. Additionally, the draft prohibits using platforms for speakers or the use of tents during sit-ins and bars carrying banners or chanting slogans found to be defamatory or insulting to religious or state institutions. The draft law imposes criminal sanctions on organizers who fail to comply with these legal requirements. The Egyptian government argues that the intent of the legislation is to prevent peaceful and violent protests from mixing. In recommending that the draft law be revised to conform with international treaties, Colville commented that: "No one should be criminalized or subjected to any threats or acts of violence, harassment or persecution for addressing human rights issues through peaceful protests."
The Milan Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 convicted three US nationals for their roles in the 2003 "rendition" kidnapping of Egyptian cleric and terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr AKA Abu Omar. Due to diplomatic immunity, all three men had been acquitted in the previous trial where the Milan court convicted 23 former CIA agents. Vacating the acquittals, the court now sentenced former CIA station chief Jeff Castelli to seven years, and the two other Americans, Betnie Madero and Ralph Russomando, to six years. The appeals process has been separated for Castelli and the other two men for technical reasons, and the appellate court's reasoning is expected to be released this month.
An Egyptian court on Jan. 29 upheld the in absentia death sentences of seven Coptic Christians and an American preacher on charges stemming from the amateur anti-Muslim "film" Innocence of Muslims, which sparked violent protests in the Middle East last year. A criminal court in Cairo sentenced the convicted defendants in November, pending the final verdict just announced. The death sentences are primarily symbolic, as all of the defendants live outside of Egypt. The eight defendants include Mark Basseley Youssef, the California man who produced the film, as well as Florida pastor Terry Jones, who aroused controversy last year by publicly burning a Koran. The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer. The court found the defendants guilty of subverting national unity, spreading false information and insulting Islam, charges that carry the death penalty.
Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior aide to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi responsible for appointing the editors of all state-run newspapers, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day in his own charming way. Fox News of course trumpeted his comments with undisguised glee: "The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented. US intelligence agencies in cooperation with their counterparts in allied nations during World War II created [the Holocaust] to destroy the image of their opponents in Germany, and to justify war and massive destruction against military and civilian facilities of the Axis powers, and especially to hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the atomic bomb." The standard right-wing, Islamohpbic and Zionist websites waste no time in jumping all over it: Answering Muslims, Breitbart, Homeland Security Newswire, Human Events, Washington Times, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, Algemeiner (mysteriously misplacing the date of the comments by three years), etc. The usual leftist and anti-Zionist sites, meanwhile, are completely silent. What is wrong with this picture? Quite a lot.