Egypt detains Aljazeera crew

Egyptian security authorities have arrested eight Aljazeera employees preparing to cover a meeting of the General Assembly of Cairo's Judges Club.

    The Aljazeera team was going to cover a judges' meeting in Cairo

    Aljazeera's correspondent Samir Omar and producer Ahmad Nour are among those arrested on Friday.

    An Arab journalist group called on the Egyptian government to free the crew and condemned the arrests.

    The Arab Committee for the Defense of Journalists in a statement described the arrests as repressive and urged to government to recognise growing demands for freedoms.

    The Judges Club meeting was aimed at pressing the demand that judges be allowed to fully monitor the presidential elections.

    The judges have threatened not to supervise the elections at all if they are not given full control over each step of the election process.

    They have also demanded the approval of a law on the independence of judicial authorities.

    Tight restrictions

    The amendment was passed
    on Tuesday amid a walkout

    On Tuesday, Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment allowing multi-candidate elections and it will be put to a public referendum on 25 May.

    However, critics charge that the restrictions are so tight that only members of President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party would be able to run.
     
    Previously, Mubarak was repeatedly re-elected in yes-no referendums in which he was the only candidate.

    Cairo rallies

    Also on Friday, supporters and opponents of Mubarak held rival demonstrations, facing off against each other amid a heavy ring of anti-riot police in a downtown Cairo square.

    About 500 demonstrators carried banners reading "Yes to Mubarak" and chanted, "Traitors, get out of here!" to the anti-government protesters who had gathered metres (yards) away inside the journalists' union building.

    "I came here because I want Mubarak to serve for another term"

    Qadri Sabah,
    Cairo food-delivery worker

    "I came here because I want Mubarak to serve for another term," Qadri Sabah, a food delivery worker who joined the rally also attended by a number of ruling National Democratic Party members, said.
     
    Some threw stones at the union building, where an equal number of demonstrators of the Kifaya, or Enough, movement had gathered, shouting, "Down, down with Hosni Mubarak!"

    "Our goal is to express our solidarity with the judges without clashing with the Mubarak supporters," George Ishak, a leading member of Kifaya, said.

    Solidarity

    Ishak was referring to the judges' meeting that later began under a tent outside the nearby Judges' Club.

    Near the pro-Mubarak crowd, another group of about 150 people, mostly lawyers, gathered in support of the judges. "We do not want to put pressure on the judges," activist Hamadi Sabahi said.

    "The ones who are pressing them are those poor people standing outside the (union) and shouting for Mubarak in return for money."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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