Archive | May 28th, 2014


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Syrians determined to national unity ahead of Presidential elections


Sana News

With only a week left before the presidential elections are held in Syria, the Syrian people continue to take to the streets and organize activities to express support for this momentous event.

The Trade Union in Hama organized a festival to voice support for the elections and the Syrian Arab Army which is fighting terrorism, affirming their adherence to building the democratic state and strengthening the concepts of citizenship and rule of law.

Participants voiced support for presidential candidate Dr. Bashar al-Assad and his political, economic and social projects, saying that he has a clear vision of Syria’s future.

The areas of al-Mukharam, al-Na’em, Dibeen, al-Joubanyeh, al-Houz, al-Qarnyeh, al-Samaqyat, al-Aqrabyeh, Hiet, Sheen and Homs Workers and Journalists Union in Homs witnessed national events in support of the Syrian Arab Army and holding the presidential elections on time.

The participants stressed their adherence to national unity and appreciation of the sacrifices made by the army.

They also voiced support to candidate Dr. Bashar al-Assad for his ability to face pressures and confront challenges.

Many events were held in Aleppo Province in which the participants stressed their support to the presidential elections and rejection of terrorism and the countries backing it.

They said the people of Aleppo will participate heavily in the upcoming elections as the elections represent the Syrians’ willingness to preserve the sovereignty of their homeland.

They hailed the efforts made by the Syrian Army in the face of the armed terrorist groups across the country.

People of al-Marqab area and the Lawyers Union in Tartous Province carried out two stands in support of the presidential elections and the Syrian Arab Army.

The participants stressed their support to candidate al-Assad, expressing appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices made by the Syrian Army in defending the homeland and preserving its unity and sovereignty.

Meanwhile, 250 youths of the National Union for Syria Students in Tartous formed a great picture on the corniche of the coastal city to express their support to candidate  Dr. Bashar al-Assad.

The participants stressed that the country is going to achieve victory over terrorism thanks to its citizens, Army and leadership.

They hailed the role of the Army in confronting  terrorism to which the country is exposed.

The area of al-Qardaha in Lattakia witnessed a national event in which the participants expressed support to candidate al-Assad and the Syrian army in its operations against terrorism across the country.


The participants said the Syrians are united in facing plots and challenges, adding that the elections embody the will of the Syrians.

They stressed that the Syrians have foiled all plots and conspiracies targeting Syria, adding that Syria, with its army and leadership, will remain firm in the face of all enemies.

The Revolutionary Youth Union in Idleb carried out a stand in the city in support of the elections and the Syrian Army.

The participants stressed that the Syrians have proved their ability to confront and overcome all challenges.


In Deir Ezzor, a rally in support of elections was organized at Euphrates University, with participants expressing their support for the Army and candidate al-Assad, making an oath of fealty to Syria and its people.

On a relevant note, the Damascus branch of the National Union of Iraqi Students organized an oratorical festival at Damascus University on occasion of the upcoming elections and in support of Syria against the conspiracy targeting it.


Participants said the Iraqi people stand alongside their Syrian brethren in the battle against terrorism, asserting that Syria will remain a beacon of knowledge, heroism, courage, and sacrifice.




Deir Ezzor



Damascus University


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Foreign Ministry: UAE followed suit and decided to prevent Syrian presidential vote



Sana News

Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said the United Arab Emirates has joined the club of the countries conspiring against Syria and followed suit by deciding to prevent a Syrian presidential vote from taking place on its land.

“It is little wonder that the rage and conspiring of this club would have swollen over the victories of the Syrian people and the achievements of the armed forces,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“We were not surprised by this Emirati decision given that the UAE is member of the ‘Enemies of Syria’ group,” it added, referring to the anti-Syria so-called “Friends of Syria” group that also includes Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

The statement lambasted the UAE for its people not having at any point in their history practiced democracy through the ballot boxes.

The Ministry dismissed as “denounced” the UAE’s decision to deprive over 30,000 Syrian nationals who have registered their names in the electors’ lists of their natural right to elect who is going to lead them in the future.

This decision, which came a few hours before balloting at the Syrian embassies abroad starts, the Ministry reiterated, is “condemned and reflects those countries’ dismay and anxiety over the results of these elections”.

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Syria Chemical Weapons Team ‘Safe And Well’


Sky News

Eleven members of a chemical weapons watchdog team thought to have been kidnapped are now safe and well.

The team consisting of five Syrian drivers and six members of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were travelling to a site of an alleged chlorine gas attack in Syria when they came under attack.

However, the OPCW later said all team members are safe and well and were heading back to their operating base.

OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, expressed his personal concern for the OPCW and UN staff members and repeated his call to all parties for co-operation with the mission.

“Our inspectors are in Syria to establish the facts in relation to persistent allegations of chlorine gas attacks,” he said.

“Their safety is our primary concern, and it is imperative that all parties to the conflict grant them safe and secure access.”

An earlier report from the Syrian foreign ministry suggested the 11 individuals had been abducted by rebels fighting President Bashar al Assad’s government for the kidnapping, accusing them of “terrorist crimes”.

The OPCW team is investigating claims that Syrian government forces last month used the industrial chemical chlorine on a rebel-held village in Hama last month.

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Farzana Parveen, Pakistani Woman, Stoned To Death For Marrying The Man She Loves


LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A pregnant woman was stoned to death Tuesday by her own family outside a courthouse in the Pakistani city of Lahore for marrying the man she loved.

The woman was killed while on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband. Her father was promptly arrested on murder charges, police investigator Rana Mujahid said, adding that police were working to apprehend all those who participated in this “heinous crime.”

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.

Stonings in public settings, however, are extremely rare. Tuesday’s attack took place in front of a crowd of onlookers in broad daylight. The courthouse is located on a main downtown thoroughfare.

A police officer, Naseem Butt, identified the slain woman as Farzana Parveen, 25, and said she had married Mohammad Iqbal, 45, against her family’s wishes after being engaged to him for years.

Her father, Mohammad Azeem, had filed an abduction case against Iqbal, which the couple was contesting, said her lawyer, Mustafa Kharal. He said she was three months pregnant.

Nearly 20 members of Parveen’s extended family, including her father and brothers, had waited outside the building that houses the high court of Lahore. As the couple walked up to the main gate, the relatives fired shots in the air and tried to snatch her from Iqbal, her lawyer said.

When she resisted, her father, brothers and other relatives started beating her, eventually pelting her with bricks from a nearby construction site, according to Mujahid and Iqbal, the slain woman’s husband.

Iqbal said he started seeing Parveen after the death of his first wife, with whom he had five children.

“We were in love,” he told The Associated Press. He alleged that the woman’s family wanted to fleece money from him before marrying her off.

“I simply took her to court and registered a marriage,” infuriating the family, he said.

Parveen’s father surrendered after the attack and called his daughter’s murder an “honor killing,” Butt said.

“I killed my daughter as she had insulted all of our family by marrying a man without our consent, and I have no regret over it,” Mujahid, the police investigator, quoted the father as saying.

Mujahid said the woman’s body was handed over to her husband for burial.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in honor killings in 2013.

But even Pakistanis who have tracked violence against women expressed shock at the brutal and public nature of Tuesday’s slaying.

“I have not heard of any such case in which a woman was stoned to death, and the most shameful and worrying thing is that this woman was killed outside a courthouse,” said Zia Awan, a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.

He said Pakistanis who commit violence against women are often acquitted or handed light sentences because of poor police work and faulty prosecutions.

“Either the family does not pursue such cases or police don’t properly investigate. As a result, the courts either award light sentences to the attackers, or they are acquitted,” he said.

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To Many Egyptians, Presidential Elections Only Mean A New Dictator

 A sense of celebration permeated the scene outside many polling stations here on Monday. People lining up to cast ballots for yet another president chanted and sang songs in support of former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, as military helicopters hovered low in the sky and heavily-armed masked soldiers guarded the lines.

El-Sissi, who has been leading the country since ousting democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last July, is expected to win the two-day elections in a landslide. But many people here are boycotting the election entirely or expressing deep apathy for a vote they say is all too predictable. In addition to fierce Morsi supporters, many secular Egyptians also say they’ve lost faith in the ballot box.

“I just don’t see why I should bother,” said Dalia Shoukry, a 29-year-old who protested during the 2011 revolution to topple longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. “[The state is] puppeteering everything and making it seem like it’s a democracy. Everyone is believing it.”

While Shoukry is no supporter of Morsi — she is quick to slam his rule as entirely ineffective — she said she has no tolerance for el-Sissi, who many say will become the country’s next dictator. It’s exactly the kind of leadership she demonstrated against in Tahrir Square more than three years ago.

Shoukry’s husband, a 31-year-old doctor named Mohamed Wahhaby, said that most of his friends are choosing not to vote. “We need a whole restructuring of the government hierarchy,” he said. “El-Sissi got handed the country on a silver platter.”

Since Morsi’s ousting last summer, tens of thousands of people — including journalists, academics and high-powered revolutionary activists — have been sent to jail and thousands have been killed. The very act of protesting is now illegal without a permit from the government. But el-Sissi’s large support base says that a strict rule of law is exactly what Egypt needs to fix the crumbling economy and energy crisis and curb the near-daily attacks on security buildings and personnel.

El-Sissi did not appear at any of his official rallies leading up to the election. But posters and banners bearing his face are plastered all over the capital city. El-Sissi mugs, hats, pins, flags and chocolates are sold everywhere, whereas paraphernalia for his leftist opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, is few and far between.

Still, many feel the country is just backtracking to the type of leadership that helped spark the Arab Spring. Activist Ahmad Badawy, who works at the Egyptian Democratic Academy, a Cairo-based NGO, said el-Sissi resembles nothing short of a fascist ruler. When Egyptians went to the polls in January in a constitutional referendum supported by the military-backed government, Badawy was arrested and beaten for passing out fliers urging Egyptians to vote ‘no.’ He said he has no interest in voting this week.

“I don’t see any elections; I only see the crowning of a new dictator,” he said. Even if he wanted to vote, he added, his Egyptian ID was taken during his detainment and he hasn’t been able to get a new one yet.

Egypt’s media has largely taken a nationalistic tone in portraying el-Sissi as Egypt’s savior. Newspaper columns have poeticized his masculinity and television stations have branded election boycotters as traitors.

“He’s a father figure, a savior, a knight in shining armor,” a woman named Sara, who works in the development sector, remarked sarcastically. She agreed to speak about her decision to boycott the election, but declined to give her last name out of fear for her security. “El-Sissi doesn’t need to explain his position on issues. People worship him. It’s not going to make a difference if I vote.”

Instead, Sara said she is putting her energy toward making a difference after the election, getting involved with grassroots campaigns to try to change the country’s long-entrenched oppression.

People should not be “focused on a magic bullet or just one person who will make everything better,” she said. “There is a need for security, but that is precisely the problem with the last 30 or more years. There was always this prioritization over people’s rights. We haven’t learned that lesson yet.”

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Egypt Makes Last-Minute Push To Drive People To Polls


Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the former military chief expected to win this week’s presidential elections in a landslide, recently voiced his hope that at least 40 million out of the country’s 54 million voters would cast ballots.

“The significance of the ballot box is that there is a consensus on a national level that reflects the strength of the will to depart to the future,” he said in a televised message late last week.

But as the second day of voting comes to a close on Tuesday, election monitoring groups have reported low voter turnout. While some polling stations were bustling with eager voters chanting el-Sissi’s name, others were nearly empty. Some critics of the government are boycotting the elections because they say it manufactured el-Sissi’s rise to power, and many say they have lost faith that their vote would have any impact on the outcome.

In an attempt to drive people to the polls, the Presidential Election Commission made a last-minute announcement here on Tuesday evening that elections would be extended for a third day. The move comes after Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced that Tuesday would be a national holiday so public workers would have the day off to vote. Egyptians who don’t cast ballots will reportedly face a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds, or roughly $70.

It is widely expected that el-Sissi will win the election by a landslide over his leftist opponent, Hamdeen Sabahi, but he was banking on an overwhelming show of support at the polls. Last July, after ousting Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and becoming Egypt’s de facto ruler, el-Sissi called on the Egyptian people to fill the streets and give him a mandate to fight terrorism. The leader has expressed hope that this week’s election would be a similar mandate for him to assume the presidency.

“A low voter turnout strikes at the heart of the carefully constructed narrative that the army’s removal of Morsi was due to popular pressure,” said Yasser El-Shimy, a Boston University teaching fellow with a focus on Egyptian politics who formerly served as the International Crisis Group’s Egypt analyst. “Sisi needs to at least match Morsi’s number to have any claim of legitimacy to rule Egypt.”

Much of el-Sissi’s support stems from his promise to restore security after years of unrest following the 2011 revolution. But many Egyptians fear he will become the country’s next dictator, pointing to the thousands who have been killed and tens of thousands who have been jailed after being deemed a threat to the state.

After the first day of voting on Monday, several high-profile media figures on popular television shows attacked Egyptians who didn’t vote. Some stations have characterized election boycotters as traitors.

“I’m willing to cut my veins for the country,” one television anchor said angrily on the talk show Al Qahera Al Youm. “Right now on air for people to go down and vote.”

Television anchor Tawfiq Okasha, infamous for his often-heated rants on the political commentary channel Faraeen, slammed those who didn’t vote and called them lazy.

To the woman who took the day off from work and went shopping or cooked instead of voting, Okasha had simple advice: “She should shoot herself!”

Election results are expected on June 5.

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Voting continues for third day

 Egypt Independent
Polling stations opened at 9am on Wednesday for the third consecutive day for voters to cast their ballots in presidential elections.
Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) decided on Tuesday evening to extend the voting process until Wednesday due to the low turnout, which was blamed on the high temperature and problems of voters who live in places other than those recorded in their ID cards.
Number of eligible voters reach 53,909,306 who have the right to vote at 14,000 polling stations.
PEC will declare final results of the elections after challenges are filed and ballots are counted by 5 June maximum.
Electoral campaigns of the two presidential hopefuls Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi refused on Tuesday the extension of the voting. Members of Sabbahi’s campaign threatened to withdraw before Sabbahi himself declares intentions to resume the competition. “These moments that the country lives witnesses a real threat by forces of extremism and terrorism. We do not accept to take stance that could be used to serve their purposes at the expense of the country,” Sabbahi said explaining his stance.
PEC gave Tuesday off to lure voters and threatened to enforce a LE500 fine for eligible voters who failed to sh

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Nour Party members defy their leaders, boycott elections

 .Egypt Independent

Sources within the Nour Party, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the members dfied the instructions of the party leaders to vote for Sisi and boycotted the presidential elections.

Ihab Shiha, head of the Salafi Asala Party, said Borhamy has very limited influence within the Nour Party. “He cannot mobilize more than 100 people,” he said. “He and Bakar and Makhyoun are only interested in their own personal gains.”
Khaled Saeed, spokesperson for the Salafi Front, said the Nour Party can no longer speak on behalf of the Salafis, which Yousry Hammad, vice president of the Salafi Al-Watan Party agreed with. “What is posted on the Internet is but by a handful of Borhamy followers,” he said.
For his part, Borhamy said the party and the Salafi Dawah did all they could to support Sisi. “We organized a door-knocking campaign,” he said.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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Hamzawy interview: ‘We are returning to the old regime’

Egypt Independent
Amr Hamzawy is a political professor at the Polical Science Department of Cairo University and the American University of Cairo. He recently kicked off a new political party called “Free Egypt” aiming to reinforce the concept of a civil country and promote developmental national activities.
Hamzawy sat down with Egypt Independent to speak about politics and human rights under Egyptian state following President Mohamed Morsy’s ouster on 3 July 2013.
Where is Amr Hamzawy from the media and why did you disappear after the 3 July 2013?
I am in Egypt more than I should be; I have not disappeared or travelled, however I’m under a travel ban, but even though I had no intention to leave the country nor to turn my back or let anyone force me to, I will be in Egypt defending the values, principles and the dream of the democratic state and just society regardless any pressures imposed on me.
I thank God that in many pivotal moments I never gave up my beliefs and I have advocated my principles before and after 3 July 2013. Moreover, I have not been a person of double standards before or after the overthrow of Morsy, speaking against violations of human rights like the suspension of the Isalmists satellite channels though they were harshly attacking me during Morsy’s rule.
I also criticized all the violations that happened to the peaceful Muslim Brotherhood and their loyalists, who have not been involved in or incited violence, along with the violations presented in the protests dispersal.
I have a clear reaction towards 3 July 2013 which I have declared on the same day at night on the talk show of the well-known presenter Yousri Fouda and from this moment until today there are many things we should do.
However, I was one of the people who took to street on 30 June 2013 demanding an “early presidential election” according to true democratic values, not the storming of the democratic path or the suspension and deviation of all democratic procedures.
Moreover I was not supporting the interference of the armed forces into the political life; the army has a normal role which is to guarantee the security of borders and country, the army safeguards but not rule.
I think my current modest appearance in TV shows is relevant to the sweeping and dominant media wave which is characterized by the monotone and single-opinion, and I turned along with few people who persisted on their opinions and their standards to Twitter activists outside the swarm.
In any region have a public stream people do not usually like to hear to Twitter activists dissentients, especially if the stream has fascist attributes, like what was happening during the former president Mohammed Morsy’s rule, the public Islamists stream attacked the dissidents and named them “atheists,” and now the current stream names the dissentients betrayers, MB latent cells.
The second thing now there is truth monopoly. It has been monopolized under the name of the “islam” and MB supporters alleged that they know everything because they understand well the Shariaa. Currently the same trend is taking place alleging that they know everything under the name of “patriotism” and its false patriotism.
There are fascism traits that hail one institution to lead the nation and praise the heroic acts of the military and ignore the other people. There is a fascism dismisses any human rights organizations feedback claiming that they want the country’s dissociation and they are funded by foreign countries.
What is the difference between 25 Janauary, 30 June and 3 July 2013?
The masses talk to street on 25 January 2013 for 18 days demanding a better democratic country and just society that could fight corruption and guarantee equal opportunities for the people without any kind of discrimination.
25 January was a mobility of voluntary masses, I deeply feel painful towards the revolution and the attempts to its distortion in the minds of the Egyptians using the untenable talks which lacks the content about the plots and the foreign funds.
I believe the protesters of 25 January hold the better morals ever. There were no ideologies of the liberal and the MB or the salafis. All people were demanding better nation and good country.
On 11 February the popular pressure caused a real “change” which forced the military to political face-off, and the changes have not made by the SCAF but by the wide peaceful protesters who had “clear targets”.
The SCAF have many failures and mistakes accumulated until the 2012 presidential elections, especially on 19 March 2011 the MB stormed all the democratic compatibly and power monopoly took place.
The current political crisis is because MB has drifted the democratic path since 19 marches 2011 and disorderly dragged the religion into politics. No democratic transition could happen in a country without partnership between the effective national political parties, and if this partnership discarded the old regime will return and that is exactly what is happening in Egypt.
The one year of Muslim Brotherhood’s rule was a “replacement” era. I found the majority In Shura council and the parliament was trying to dominate and rule with the same way of the former dissolved National Democratic Party to be the center of making allies.
Since 19 March 2012 MB were coordinating with SCAF along with the executive organizations in Egypt, the economic and financial interest networks to take into the rule.
During the rule of Morsy, all the dissentients were suppressed, and the constitutional legitimacy was deviated in the constitutional declaration on 12 November 2012 and Morsy badly violated the law sovereignty and broke the national reconciliation. Which was a big reason for me to demand early presidential elections on 30 June 2013.
But there were allegations said that early presidential elections may lead to civil war, what do you think about that?
That is not true, if you remember the same allegations happened during 25 January revolutions ahead of the ouster of Mubarak, when people said that there were no alternatives , the same thing happened in 30 June people said there was no possibly for early presidential elections especially there were few who demanded these early presidential election.
The 30 June mass protesst were a good chance to be used to get out of the “democratic map” on 3 July, let both camps face off.
What is your comment on “MB” as a terrorist organization?
According to the contemporary history if a country faced terrorism or violence, it should put security solutions saved by the sovereignty of law and human rights. If the country did not take these steps it will fall into violence and counter-violence spiral downward and the geography of injustice will expand in the society.
The security resolution is not enough; there should be other political, economic and social solutions to fight terrorism.
The terrorism liability has two parts, political and criminal. The criminal one relates to the litigation bodies which are responsible for investigation, verification and accountability. But the political part based on the “political speeches” if these speeches incites violence and terrorism or not. And I am sure that the MB speeches have many grey areas. So, anyone violates human rights and involved or incites violence should be sent to court.
If anyone proved that not involved in any violations should be allowed to participate in the political scene with “restrictions” peaceful participation, never be against the democracy, mixing politics with religion.
How do you consider some political parties which used to ride the regime wave in Egypt?
Unfortunately, there are some parties in the political scene seek “narrow interests” which fight for some opinions according to the each time regime. These groups believe that the Egyptians have limited smartness and short-memory and could be tempted by cooking oil or sugar, and this is completely a wrong concept.
With arrogance, some parties and politicians believe that to be a loyalist to the “regime” could substitute any failures in your political role, which means their affiliations could be contradictory or changeable in return they could guarantee the “regime immunity”.
The future of these parties will catch up those which were appearing before the 25 janaury revolution and changed to “domestic opposition” after that.
How do you rate the report of National Council of Human Rights about the dispersal of Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins on 14 August 2013?
Following the dispersal many organizations exerted valuable effort to issue reports on the dispersal, and actually there were many reports documented the human rights violations happened like wikithawra and others.
Actually, the report raised many question marks, as it is far from the reality and mixed the places of the accountant and the tyrannized moreover, the report speech justified the acts done by the official institutions.
In a wider perspective currently there is a common case deals with the “human right organizations” with double standards, so the report is the outcome of this case.
What are the differences between the 2013 and 2014 constitutions?
Both acknowledged the exceptional situation of the military institution, did not construct transition justice or accountability to corruption. Both constitutions did not establish a balanced political system including its security, military and civil bodies.
The 2013 constitution acknowledged good articles about rights and social and individual freedom, but still this one along with the 2014 accepted the military’s trials to civilians
Are you with or against the candidacy of the Field Marshal Abdel Fatah El-Sisi?
Not for personal reasons, but I am totally against any presidential candidate has military’s background. I do respect the military in its normal rule to safeguard the country but not to rule, especially in Egypt the constitution put exceptional situation to the army and there is military dominance. The army has power on legislations, budget, economic and financial activity and the ministry of defense is immunized.
So far I did not settle on my situation about who I will vote for, I will disclose in the suitable time. But during this period I’m watching and following up the current circumstances and wondering if there will be real presidential battle with guaranteed by transparency and integrity.
Is Egypt far from being a “civil country”?
Under the concept of the “civil country” many failures have happened. There are some figures known by their loyalty to whoever rules sought to appear as civil country supporters, and others who showed their opposition only to the “Islamists rule fascism” apart from the “military’s rule fascism”.
There are many figures alleaged their support to the concept of the civil country to strengthen the cohesion between the government and public owned networks. Others trivialized the “civil country “by accepting to get off the democratic path in 3 July 2013.
All these figures implicated the concept of civil country in a deadlock.
There is hope in building a public trend for democracy, development, rights and freedom learn from the mistakes of those who misused the concept of a civil country.
Build a new civil trend that does not depend only on civil country grand meaning, but shed light on the social and economic rights. As part of a civil country is its respect to citizen’s rights.
The civil trend should combat the “authority swap” to avoid the failures one more time, as we have been involved in a political agenda including former presidential and parliamentary elections and we did fail in both. We should leave the political struggle and to build social capital that might extend eight or more years to construct popular acceptance and knowledge.

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