Egypt. An Egyptian administrative court will hear arguments this week on the legality of the committee charged with writing the new constitution. The hearing had been scheduled for September but was moved up, fueling speculation that the ruling will be politicized as a part of the ongoing power struggle between the military and President Mohammed Morsi’s nascent government. Field Marshal Tantawi’s statement yesterday that the military would not allow a “certain group” to dominate Egypt indicates the military has no plans to back down.
Saudi Arabia. The head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi government arm that enforces adherence to its interpretation of Islam, announced on Sunday that his organization’s officers would no longer chase down perceived offenders. The commission has been criticized for aggressively pursuing Saudi citizens in streets, malls, and other public places. Meanwhile, the Saudi government is considering implementing stricter laws against “insulting Islam,” to include insults against the prophet Mohammed, early Muslim leaders, and clerics.
Syria. UN peace envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow today for talks on Russia’s role in Syria’s internal conflict. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, has accused the West of “blackmail” in its attempt to push Russia to support more stringent sanctions against the Syrian government. Violence is escalating further in Syria, with heavy fighting in Damascus and an alleged massacre of civilians in the village of Tremseh over the weekend. The International Committee of the Red Cross has now officially labeled the conflict a civil war.
The holy month of Ramadan begins this Friday for Muslims worldwide.