Chronology: Egypt

The Middle East Journal, Autumn 2012 | Go to article overview

Chronology: Egypt


See also Arab-Israeli Conflict, Saudi Arabia, Sudan

Apr. 23: Egypt ended a 20-year natural gas deal with Israel following disputes over payments between private companies. Since the uprising in early 2011, the gas pipeline, which delivered 40% of Israel's natural gas, was repeatedly attacked in the restive Sinai region, heightening diplomatic tensions between the two allies. The Egyptian public perceived the original gas deal as an unfair transaction and claimed that the gas was sold to Israel at below-market prices. [The Guardian, 4/23]

Apr. 24: Hundreds of Egyptian protesters convened outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, demanding the release of the Egyptian human rights lawyer, Ahmed al-Gezawi, who was charged with insulting the kingdom's monarch. Al-Gezawi was on his way to perform a minor pilgrimage to holy shrines in Mecca and Medina when he was arrested at the Jeddah airport on April 17. The arrest appeared to be politically motivated, since al-Gezawi previously filed a lawsuit against King 'Abdullah over the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia. [The Guardian, 4/24]

Apr. 25: An Egyptian court found the iconic actor, Adel Imam, guilty in absentia for insulting Islam in his films and plays. Imam was sentenced to three months in prison and fined $170. The case was one of many that concerned the freedom of expression in Egypt, as other high-profile Egyptian figures, including Coptic telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris, were brought to court on charges of blasphemy. [BBC, 4/25]

Apr. 25: Egypt's election commission reinstated the candidacy of Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister under Husni Mubarak, a day after the Islamist-dominated parliament disqualified his candidacy. The Political Isolation Law, passed on April 24, barred former senior officials from Husni Mubarak's regime from competing in the upcoming presidential election scheduled on May 23. The electoral commission referred the law to Egypt's Constitutional Court to determine its constitutionality. [The Guardian, 4/25]

Apr. 28: Mohammed ElBaradei, a former head of the IAEA and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, launched the Constitutional Party. The new party was expected to compete in elections in four years. Though ElBaradei claimed that the party had no ideology and sought only to unite all Egyptians, the launch of the Constitutional Party signaled his intention to challenge the Islamists, who had come to dominate Egyptian politics since the parliamentary elections. [BBC, 4/28]

May 2: Violence broke out on the fourth day of a peaceful demonstration outside the Ministry of Defense when unknown armed assailants killed at least 11 protesters. More than 100 people were injured as protesters continued to voice their anger at the disqualification of Islamist candidate Hazem Abu Ismael from the election. Ten of the 23 presidential candidates were disqualified by the Presidential Electoral Commission, and Abu Ismael was removed from the race on the grounds that his late mother had US citizenship. [CNN, 5/2]

May 5: The Egyptian military arrested 300 protesters, including a number of journalists, after violent clashes outside the defense ministry on May 4 turned deadly. One soldier was killed and hundreds of protesters were wounded as demonstrators expressed their anger at the military leadership for their failure to protect demonstrators on May 2, when at least 20 people died. The military instituted a curfew and announced that all the women detained would be released. [NYT, 5/5]

May 5: A diplomatic crisis was averted between Saudi Arabia and Egypt as the Saudi ambassador returned to Cairo after a week of negotiations between officials from the two countries. The Saudi embassy closed on April 28 in response to days of violent protests outside the embassy over the arrest of Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed al-Gezawi by Saudi authorities. To signal an end to the diplomatic dispute, Saudi finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf renewed his commitment to deliver an economic aid package to Egypt worth $3.

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