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Sunday
Jan022011

Egypt LiveBlog: Latest on the Alexandria Bomb and Protests

2240 GMT: Youm7 is claiming that four security officers and 38 enlisted personnel were injured today during protests.

2215 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm has a brief account of today's protest in Alexandria:

Hundreds of Copts on Sunday staged demonstrations in Alexandria outside the St. Mark and St. Peter Church after security forces prevented them from entering the church.

Eyewitnesses said demonstrators blocked the corniche for ten minutes before security forces managed to disperse them.

They broke storefronts belonging to Muslims, and the police managed to foil their attempts to clash with passersby.

Eyewitnesses added that the authorities places a tight security cordon around the church, as well as concrete barricades to keep traffic from the surrounding area.

Video: Today's Protests in Cairo

Special Analysis: The Lessons and Challenges Behind the Alexandria Bombing
Video and Pictures: The Alexandria Bombing and Demonstrations
EARLIER: "Up to 50" Killed in Bombing of Alexandria Church
EARLIER: Egypt Breaking: 21 Killed in Car Bomb Attack on Christian Church 

2005 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm has a report on this afternoon's protests in Cairo, describing hundreds of Coptic demonstrators who chanted, “I will keep on praying, whatever happens.”

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan022011

The Latest from Iran (2 January): Sedition, Politics, and Propaganda

2000 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish poet Rahim Loughmani, his wife Kolsoum Naghshbandi, and her brother Naseh Naghshbandi have been released from detention.

1820 GMT: Parliament v. President. After a protracted dispute with the Majlis, President Ahmadinejad's supervision of the Central Bank has been re-affirmed.

The Majlis has passed a measure on the Board of the Bank, taking oversight away from Ahmadinejad, but this was rejected by the Guardian Council.

1755 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Labour activist Behnam Ebrahimzadeh has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Afhin Keshtkari, the secretary of Shiraz Sanati University's Islamic Association, has been released on bail.

Student activist Mohammad Hossein Mozafari has been arrested.

Student activist Faoud Khanjani, a Baha'i member, has been sentenced to four years in prison.

1645 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Kurdish political activist Ghadrieh Ghaderi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan022011

Iran Snapshot: Using Sakineh (Again) for Regime Propaganda

Once again, Iranian officials have tried to use the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman condemned to death for adultery and complicity in her husband's murder, to tarnish the bigger targets of activists and journalists.

First, Ashtiani's son Sajad Ghaderzadeh, detained since early October, was allowed to leave prison on $40,000 bail. He then gave a press conference in Tabriz on Saturday, in which he accepted his mother's guilt but pleaded for the commutation of her death sentence.

That statement is far from surprising, but there were a couple of twists in the interview. First, Ghaderzadeh said he had been freed on 12 December, a release that no one seems to have noticed. Then there was this: "Local officials had originally told journalists they would meet his mother...as well, but then they said the proper procedures had not been followed to give her leave from prison."

The curiosity is resolved this morning, for Press TV proudly brings out Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani:

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Saturday
Jan012011

Egypt Video and Pictures: The Alexandria Bombing and Demonstrations

Video from inside the church as the car bomb explodes just outside:

Last night's protests in the Shubra neighbourhood of Cairo:

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Saturday
Jan012011

Egypt Exclusive: "Up to 50" Killed in Bombing of Alexandria Church

UPDATE 1950 GMT: Protests and clashes with police are continuing in Alexandria.

UPDATE 1940 GMT: President Mubarak sent Mufeed Shehab, the head of the Alexandria Council, and the Minister of Development to the funerals, and a couple of other ministers reportedly were present.

Bishop Youanis, the secretary of the Copt leader Pope Shenouda III, said, "We thank the President." The audience responded with shouts of "No, no, no", and waved their hands. They also reportedly shouted, "We want our rights", and sang, "Kyrie, Eleison" ("Lord Have Mercy").

UPDATE 1855 GMT: A source reports that doctors at St Mark's Hospital are "livid" over the official accounts minimising the casualties. They say there are definitely, and one doctor says there are more to be processed.

There are reports of graffiti on church walls saying "Watch out" and "You're Next".

Ten Christians have reportedly been detained for questioning.

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Saturday
Jan012011

Iran Breaking: Will You Make the Million-Dollar Bid for Mahmoud's Car?

Last month, EA's never-sleep journalists broke the story that President Ahmadinejad's 1977 Peugeot 504 was being auctioned to help raise money for a housing project. 

Well, here is your chance to be a part of history as well as to pick up a 33-year-old car. The Ahmadinejad folks have launched a website to sell off the Chariot of Iranian Fire.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan012011

Belarus Updates: OSCE Supervision Office Shut Down; Poland and Germany Make a Move

Belarussian authorities have shut down the local office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which was monitoring the Presidential election.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said, without referring to the election, that there were "no objective reasons for retaining" the OSCE's mission.

The OSCE had said that many counts in the balloting had been "very bad". The European Union had warned Belarus that billions in economic aid rested on a positive report by the OSCE on the vote. 

Meanwhile, the heads of the Polish and German Parlaiment's Foreign Affairs Committees have issued a joint declaration that the presidential elections in Belarus showed a “complete lack of respect for European values and standards".

The declaration appeals to other foreign ministers in the European Union to hold a meeting of the European Council to decide on a response.

The head of the Polish Foreign Affairs Committee, Andrzej Halicki, said  a meeting is planned with the head of the International Affairs Committee in the Russian Duma, Konstantin Kosachev.

Saturday
Jan012011

Iran Feature: Assessing the Threat To Arrest Mousavi and Karroubi (Yeranian)

"On the one hand the regime has consistently said since the last presidential election that the protesters, that the Green movement, are a bunch of street hooligans, they're small in number, they're insignificant, we've crushed them, it's over," said Hashemi. "But, on the other hand, seemingly, every single week, a high member of the Iranian regime is speaking out and condemning and raising new charges against the Green Movement. So, if the Green movement is insignificant, is dead, is crushed, why do you constantly speak about them?"

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Saturday
Jan012011

Bolivia: Amidst Protests, Government Withdraws Subsidy Cuts on Fuel

Photo: David Mercado (Reuters)Faced with spreading civil unrest, the Bolivian president has scrapped a government decree that significantly raised fuel prices and provoked violent protests.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, presided over back-to-back government meetings on Friday aimed at crafting a strategy for quelling civil unrest in La Paz, Cochabamba and other major cities sparked by the decision to remove price controls.

Alvaro Garcia, the Bolivian vice president, filling in for Morales, had issued the decree on Sunday removing subsidies that keep fuel prices artificially low but cost the Bolivian government an estimated $380m per year.

As a result fuel prices went up by as much as 83 per cent in the sharpest increases since 1991.

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Saturday
Jan012011

Tunisia Opinion: "An Inspiring Revolt" (Malik)

There are few moments in the political atmosphere of the Middle East that fill me with genuine pride. While eyes have long been fixed on opposition movements in Iran and Egypt, suddenly Tunisia has provided one of the most inspiring episodes of indigenous revolt against a repressive regime.

Despite distressing reports of security forces shooting demonstrators dead, the events are heartening, not necessarily as a harbinger of transformation in the region, but as an indication that it is possible. Change is sometimes more likely to happen when people know what it looks like, when the first person dares to points to the emperor and say that he is naked.

Click to read more ...