CAIRO – Nearly two dozen Islamist women and girls were handed heavy prison sentences Wednesday for protesting in a court ruling that came a day after police beat and terrorized prominent female activists in a crackdown on secular demonstrators under a tough new anti-protest law.
The harshness of the sentences was a new sign that the military-backed government is becoming bolder in silencing dissent, turning to abuses reminiscent of the Hosni Mubarak era.
In a Mediterranean city of Alexandria courtroom, the 21 young female defendants flashed defiant smiles to the media, standing handcuffed in white head scarves and white prison uniforms in the defendants cage. They were convicted on charges related to holding an Oct. 31 protest in the city demanding the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
Among them were seven teenagers ages 15 and 16, who were sentenced to prison terms until they turn 18. The rest – most ages 18 to 22 – were sentenced to 11 years in prison. Six other Brotherhood members were sentenced to 15 years in prison for inciting the demonstrations.
Parties craft bloc to govern Germany
Berlin – More than two months after voters cast their ballots, Germany took a major step toward finally forming a government Wednesday after leaders of the main political parties agreed on a common agenda that Chancellor Angela Merkel said would solidify her country’s sound financial position and promote social welfare.
The deal paves the way for Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, and its archrival, the center-left Social Democrats, to unite in a “grand coalition” overseeing Europe’s strongest economy.
Literacy workers killed in ambush
Kabul, Afghanistan – Six Afghan men working for a private, French-run literacy group were ambushed and killed Wednesday by what a local official said were Taliban insurgents.
The attack was noteworthy because it targeted a type of independent relief agency not routinely attacked by Taliban forces, who have regularly killed Afghans working for or on behalf of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
The six victims worked for the French aid group ACTED, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development.