The rise of Greece’s Golden Dawn party

Austerity measures are biting harder than ever in Greece, with people losing their homes and jobs and becoming more and more desperate.

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And they’re turning in increasing numbers to the far right Golden Dawn party, which lays the country’s troubles firmly at the feet of immigrants and Greek politicians.

On tonight’s Dateline at 9.30pm on SBS ONE, Evan Williams reports from Athens on the party’s rise to become the third biggest force in Greek politics, but also the stark similarities with the German Nazis.

As well as winning seats in parliament, they’ve also started handing out food aid and donating blood… but only to people who can prove their Greek citizenship.

“The life of the Greeks has changed drastically,” Golden Dawn deputy commander Ilias Panagiotaros tells Dateline. “More than two million illegal immigrants in a population of ten million people – which is an enormous number – they literally do whatever they want and they remain unpunished.

But what some find more disturbing than the rhetoric is their vigilante action on the streets… Evan looks at evidence of supporters taking the law into their own hands to attack and persecute immigrants.

Golden Dawn members have even entered hospitals demanding that staff prove they’re Greek.

“I am afraid to stay in Greece,” says migrant Patrice, who fled civil war in Congo and was victim of a brutal attack in Greece. “The next time maybe they can kill me.”

Now, the party says its international support is growing and it even wants to open an office in Australia, even though the party’s already been told it won’t receive a warm welcome.

“We could tell [Julia Gillard] to look back a couple hundred years to see what they did to the Aboriginals, and not lecturing us about racism and rights,” says Panagiotaros. “You’ll see us in Australia – summer or a bit later, but you’ll definitely find us there.”

See Dateline’s insight into the rise of the far right tonight at 9.30pm on SBS ONE, and read more now on the Dateline website.

LISTEN: The rise of Golden Dawn in Greece

Britain vs Australia in Olympic cycling: is there a hometown advantage?

There is perhaps no greater sporting rivalry than that between Great Britain and Australia – it’s like the little brother trying to knock off his older sibling in any pursuit possible, simply for the glory of bragging rights.

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And track cycling is one of the most hotly contested of those pursuits.

In sport psychology literature, several researchers have tried to determine whether a home advantage exists when it comes to elite-level sports.

The answer, put simply, is yes, there does seem to be an advantage, particularly when you look at home winning percentage – the combination of games won at home versus games lost at home. The figure provides a quantitative measure for level of success at home based on winning and losing.

Researchers have studied sports such as basketball, baseball, ice hockey and soccer. Most have found evidence that the home team wins more often. But most of the focus was on using winning percentage as the indicator for advantage, and some researchers have called for investigation into other factors that might contribute to the findings.

Home winning percentage explains how well a team plays at home, but it doesn’t always account for whether a team plays and wins well when on the road. (For example, what does it mean if you have seven wins and no losses at home versus 11 wins and two losses away? Is home really an advantage here?).

The other variable that has rarely been mentioned is the type of event being studied. Little – if any – attention has been given to international events such as the Olympics.

Before we cry foul at the apparent home advantage our British friends may have, perhaps we should consider the whole picture. Specifically, let’s look at what being at home might mean for the might of the British cycling machine when hosting the strength of the Australian cycling program.

The research mentioned previously looked at teams that have won championships such as the NBA (National Basketball Association) and the NHL (National Hockey League). These sports are played nationally, across some 80 or more games and multiple championship games.

The Olympics is quite different: it’s an international mega-event. How do findings on hometown advantage relate to an event that occurs across only a few races (or even one race) and happens only once every four years?

An Olympic cyclist isn’t just competing for his or her country: he or she is also competing for something that won’t come around again the following season.

Some NBA players have won five championships, and played in several other championship games, yet few Olympians return more than twice. There are (potentially) fewer opportunities to win. With this simple idea in mind, it’s perhaps little wonder this historic event carries such prestige. But with prestige often come increased expectations.

Perhaps most relevant to cycling enthusiasts is the research on World Cup soccer and home advantage. This looked at the mechanisms that may lead to advantage, and argued that travel (across time zones), cultural differences in food and language, and familiarity with the playing facility all play a part.

Focusing on these variables could help us get a fuller picture when we try to figure out whether Britain’s cycling team will have a home advantage.

Will travel, and being in an unfamiliar stadium, affect the Australian cycling team? Teams will have been in Europe for more than a month before the games. In fact, in professional road cycling many of our Aussie cyclists are even based in Europe during the northern summer season. Travel doesn’t seem to be a major disadvantage.

Language, culture and food are unlikely to be an issue. I think the eating options of a developed country, and the kitchen in an Olympic village (coupled with team dietitians) mean foreign riders won’t fear being starved of their typical dishes.

Research is important but it isn’t everything. We should also look at anecdotal evidence, given the lack of empirical research on home advantage for the Olympics. The previous two Olympic campaigns and events in between are perhaps a good starting point.

The might of the British cycling machine was at its best on the track in Beijing (not at home) and the Australians were incredibly strong in Athens (not at home). Australian cyclist Anna Meares dominated the track world championships in 2011; they were held in the Netherlands. Australian Shane Perkins won his first Men’s Keirin world title at the same event.

Cadel Evans won the Tour de France in 2011, and the Green Edge cycling team has propelled its members to the front of many European events. It seems plausible that winning is indeed possible in Europe.

The team pursuit is an event that has been like an Ashes battle between Australia and Great Britain. In February, at the World Cup, the Aussies took gold in the Olympic Velodrome that will host the Games.

The biggest British win on our soil was at the World Championships in Melbourne earlier this year (see video above), in which Britain beat Australia by a tenth of a second.

Teams and individuals may be more likely to win at home, that’s true, but equally they will be most likely exposed to more spotlight, home expectation, and potential scrutiny than many of the foreign visitors. Some studies have even found that home advantage disappears as the importance of the event increases.

I’ve heard countless athletes talk about the pressure of performing at home, and how relieved they were to be playing away from the eyes of significant others.

For our British friends, the eyes of all of their significant others and a whole nation will be closely upon them. Those competitors who don’t find this helpful will likely experience more anxiety than ever before.

Ultimately, I think the advantage will lie in the athlete’s perception of advantage and disadvantage. Aussie women and men have won in Europe before (even at the same venue). They speak the local language, and will be well adjusted to the time-zone difference.

The Aussies and the British are evenly matched by form. So now we will have to see if being at home feels like a burden or a turbo-boost.

David Williams is affiliated with Malaysian Track Cycling

Cats crush Saints by 101 points

Geelong have strengthened their hold on an AFL top-two spot and given struggling St Kilda a horror night with a 101-point thrashing but lost ruckman Dawson Simpson to a knee injury.

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The Saints lost skipper Nick Riewoldt and key defender James Gwilt to injury during Saturday’s 21.11 (137) to 5.6 (36) belting at Simonds Stadium, in which the Cats kicked the last 15 goals.

Elusive Cats half-forward Steven Motlop starred with four goals and 29 touches, skipper Joel Selwood had three goals and 32 disposals, while Tom Hawkins kicked five majors.

James Podsiadly snared two, including one from a spectacular high-flying mark late in the second quarter.

The Cats had already regained second spot when Essendon’s percentage took a hit with their belting from Hawthorn on Friday night, but Saturday night’s comprehensive victory further bolstered their advantage over the Bombers.

The only blight for Geelong, who were rebounding from last weekend’s fade-out loss to Adelaide, was the injury to Simpson, who had to be stretchered off after landing awkwardly when he contested the opening bounce of the second quarter.

Geelong were hopeful it was only a dislocated kneecap and not ligament damage, which would mean a much longer absence.

Riewoldt ended the game a spectator after limping off with what appeared a left foot or ankle injury in the third term.

The Saints’ threadbare defence, already missing Sam Fisher and Sam Gilbert, was also further hit, when James Gwilt was subbed off with a knee injury midway through the second term.

It helped the cause of Cats key forwards Hawkins and Podsiadly.

But it would have been a tough night for the Saints’ defence anyway, given Geelong’s midfield dominance, particularly after quarter-time.

The Cats entered their attacking 50m arc 63 times to the Saints’ 26 for the match.

Selwood and Steve Johnson were creative in the midfield, Andrew Mackie and Corey Enright provided drive off halfback.

The Saints had started the game brightly, with four goals to two in the first 17 minutes, with Jack Steven, Leigh Montagna and Nick Dal Santo all prominent, but the Saints managed just one more goal for the night as the Cats’ greater depth of contributors told.

Cats coach Chris Scott said the club’s medical staff were confident Simpson hadn’t injured his anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments, meaning he might play again this year.

“The bad news is there appears to be something significant there,” Scott said.

“They won’t know the extent of that until midweek …. they’re still hopeful Daws can play a part in the rest of the season.”

Scott was heartened by the way Nathan Vardy carried the ruck load in Simpson’s absence and by the Cats’ performance generally.

Saints coach Scott Watters said Gwilt was believed to have bone bruising to his knee while injuries to Riewoldt (foot) and Lenny Hayes (hamstring) needed further assessment.

“We have no excuses. They (Geelong) were very very good tonight,” Watters said.

“They’re a side that’s certainly a premiership contention type of side so that was a really strong lesson for us.”

Woods eyes 15th major title at sun-kissed Muirfield

Defending champion Ernie Els is 25-1 to retain the title at a course where he lifted the Claret Jug 11 years ago and U.

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S. Open winner Justin Rose is 20-1 to become the first English winner of the tournament since Nick Faldo in 1992.

Woods, who has not won a major for five years, is excited by the challenge of playing the course in fine weather conditions, a sharp contrast to 2002 when his hopes at Muirfield were scuppered by a third-round 81 in driving wind and rain.

“I’m looking forward to it,” the American told a news conference. “What a fantastic championship on one of the best venues.

“It’s playing really fast out there. The golf course has got a little bit of speed to it and I’m sure it will get really quick by the weekend so the golf course is set up perfectly.”

Woods said he was feeling very good about his form.

“I’ve had a pretty good year so far, won four times even though I haven’t won a major,” he added.

“It’s just a shot here and there. It’s making a key up-and-down here or getting a good bounce here, capitalising on an opportunity here and there. That’s what you have to do to win major championships.”

Els, 43, rolled back the years at Lytham 12 months ago, taking advantage of Adam Scott’s meltdown over the closing holes to seal his fourth major championship.

“I just feel this is a great golf course,” the South African said. “It reminds me a little bit of Lytham.

“Obviously last week I didn’t make the cut at the Scottish Open but I’ve had some extra time coming into the event and feel quite good about my game. I’m striking it nicely.”

American Phil Mickelson, four-times a major champion, won last week’s Scottish Open and is 20-1 to win his first British Open, the same odds as Rose and Australian Scott who made up for his Lytham disappointment by winning this year’s U.S. Masters.

BRITISH CHALLENGE

Rose leads the British challenge as the nation’s golfers bid to ride a wave of sporting success that has also brought a rare rugby series win for the British & Irish Lions, Andy Murray’s stunning Wimbledon triumph and a nerve-jangling victory for England in a dramatic first Ashes test.

“Rose is a strong contender,” said Faldo who is making a rare appearance in the Open this year.

“It’s all been a process. It didn’t happen overnight, this has been a concerted plan for the last four years. Rose’s game has slowly been climbing. He might be strong enough to come out and carry on.”

Former world number ones Luke Donald and Lee Westwood will also be flying the British flag as they bid to end their long waits for a first major crown.

Twice major winner Rory McIlroy is alongside Westwood as a 25-1 shot to win the Open.

The Northern Irishman, however, has struggled since switching clubs at the start of the year and bookmaker Ladbrokes is also offering odds of 4-1 on him missing the cut.

The sun is expected to shine throughout the four-day tournament and, if it does, Woods will be a happy man as he wrestles with the unique challenges of links golf.

“I fell in love with links golf when I came here 17 years ago,” he said. “Because we play generally everywhere around the world an airborne game where you have to hit the ball straight up in the air and make it stop.

“Here it’s different,” added Woods who won his third and last British Open title at Hoylake seven years ago.

“A draw will go one distance, a fade will go another, and they’re so dramatic. I just absolutely love it.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

Thai club to appeal Bodin’s two-year ban

Granular, who had earlier suspended Bodin without pay until the end of the year, said the two-year ban was too harsh and they would seek to get it reduced to a year or even six months.

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“I understand that BAT would like to set a standard but a two-year ban is too severe,” Granular president Jane Piyatat was quoted as saying by The Nation newspaper on Monday.

“After the BWF announces its decision, we will file a petition. “

Jane, who was also banned from accompanying the team to domestic and international events for six months for Bodin’s indiscipline, said the player was depressed after the verdict and the club would send him abroad to train and keep fit during the suspension.

The BWF, which is expected to announce their verdict this week, has charged both players with inappropriate conduct, oral abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct. Bodin was also charged with physical abuse and conduct contrary to the integrity of the game.

The duo teamed up for Thailand at the London Olympics and were competing on opposite sides for the first time since their split and tensions blew up during the men’s doubles contest in Canada earlier this month.

Trouble broke out between the two Thais after Maneepong and his partner Nipitphon Puangpuapech bagged the first game. At the change of ends Maneepong hit Bodin with his racquet following a heated verbal exchange.

Bodin retaliated by chasing Maneepong to a neighbouring court, tackling him to the ground and punching him several times, for which he was disqualified.

Maneepong accepted the punishment from BAT but was disappointed that he would miss major events such as the World Championship in Guangzhou, the China Masters and the Japan Open, the report said.

“I think I will go back to my hometown in Phuket to recover from my injuries and regroup mentally,” Maneepong said.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Patrick Johnston)

Woods in charge after flirting with 59

Needing two more birdies for the magical number with five holes to play, Woods narrowly missed a nine-footer at the 15th and a six-footer at the 17th on the way to a nine-under-par 61 at Firestone Country Club.

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His sizzling score equalled the course record, which he had previously tied in the second round in 2000, and gave him a commanding seven-shot lead with a 13-under total of 127.

Woods, who has triumphed a record seven times in the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event at Firestone, is bidding to win his fifth title on the PGA Tour this year as he builds momentum for next week’s PGA Championship.

“I had a lot of control today from tee to green and obviously the way I putted,” the American world number one told reporters after totalling only 22 putts. “I felt I was in total control of my game.

“Obviously things like that don’t happen every day, and it’s fun when it all comes together and I was able to take advantage of it, especially on a golf course like this.”

Asked whether he was at all disappointed to fall short in his bid to fire a 59, Woods replied: “Absolutely not, nope. 61 is pretty good. I’m not bummed.

“Would it have been nice to shoot 59? Yeah, it would have been nice. I certainly had the opportunity. I just had (to get) two more (birdies) out of five holes. I had two good chances at 15 and 17 to do it.

“But the par putt at 18 was even bigger,” Woods said, referring to the 26-footer he sank from the back fringe to keep his card bogey-free, prompting him to raise his right arm skyward with a pointing finger in celebration.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley and Englishman Chris Wood carded matching 68s on the challenging South Course to end the day tied for second, with Swede Henrik Stenson (70) and American Bill Haas (68) a further stroke back at five under.

However, the tournament would now appear to be in Woods’ hands to win or lose as he heads into the weekend at one of his favourite venues with a seven-shot advantage.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)

Al-Qaeda accuses US of plotting overthrow Morsi

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri accused the US of “plotting” with Egypt’s military, secularists and Christians to overthrow Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, in an audio recording posted on militant Islamist forums.

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In his first public comment on the July 3 military coup, the Al-Qaeda boss, himself an Egyptian, said: “Crusaders and secularists and the Americanised army have converged … with Gulf money and American plotting to topple Mohamed Morsi’s government.”

In the 15-minute recording, Zawahiri also accused Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority of supporting the Islamist president’s ouster to attain “a Coptic state stripped from Egypt’s south.”

Zawahiri attacked Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and former UN nuclear watchdog chief who was an opposition leader during Morsi’s single year in office.

ElBaradei is the “envoy of American providence,” Zawahiri said, labelling the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief as “the destroyer of Iraq.”

Zawahiri, who belonged to the militant Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, criticised Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement for going soft on applying strict Islamic law.

Morsi’s “Muslim Brotherhood government strove to please America and the secularists as much as it could, but they were not satisfied with it,” said Zawahiri, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

“They did not trust it (Morsi’s government) because they did not forget the Brotherhood’s slogan: ‘Jihad is our war, and death in the path of God is our highest aspiration’,” he said.

“The Brotherhood abandoned that slogan, substituting it with the slogan ‘Islam is the solution,’ but the Crusaders and secularists did not forget,” he said.

“What happened is the biggest proof of the failure of democratic means to achieve an Islamic government,” he said of the coup.

“I call for them to be united … to make Islamic law rule.”

Malaysia rejects Borneo ceasefire call

Malaysia’s prime minister has rejected a ceasefire call by the self-proclaimed Philippine sultan whose Islamic fighters launched a deadly incursion into Malaysia.

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Malaysian forces are currently hunting for the Islamic militants in a remote region of Borneo island where they landed last month to assert a long-dormant territorial claim in what has become Malaysia’s worst security crisis in years.

Their Manila-based leader called for ceasefire at midday but Prime Minister Najib Razak, who flew to the region Thursday to inspect security operations, said he told Philippine leader Benigno Aquino by phone the offer was rejected.

“I told President Aquino they must lay down their arms immediately,” Najib told reporters in a village near the area where up to 300 militants were being searched for.

“They have to surrender their arms and they have to do it as soon as possible.”

The “sultan”, Jamalul Kiram III, declared a unilateral ceasefire for 12:30 pm (0430 GMT) and urged Malaysia to reciprocate.

But Najib said Malaysian forces would continue to press the offensive, adding that still more soldiers would be sent in to the hilly region of vast oil palm estates and pockets of jungle.

Anger has mounted in Malaysia over the incursion, which began February 12 when fighters arrived from the southern Philippines to press Kiram’s claim to the area.

Kiram says he is heir to the Sultanate of Sulu, which once ruled islands that are now part of the southern Philippines, as well as Sabah.

An estimated 100-300 militants were holed up in the sleepy farming village of Tanduo for three weeks until a pair of deadly shootouts with security forces at the weekend triggered a military assault with jet fighters and ground forces Tuesday.

However, the attack appears to have merely scattered the fighters, and security forces were combing through huge palm groves for them. Sporadic exchanges of fire have been reported since the assault.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged a peaceful resolution of the bizarre incursion, which has led to at least 28 reported deaths — 20 militants and eight police officers.

“(Ban) urges an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation,” said a statement released by his office late Wednesday.

Kiram declared the “unilateral ceasefire… in order to reciprocate the call of the UN to preserve lives”, said his spokesman.

Malaysia’s military assault appears to have failed, with authorities confirming just one kill so far.

They have not explained how the militants — said to be alive and well and in contact with their Manila comrades — were able to escape a tight security cordon built up over three weeks.

Tension is running high in eastern Sabah due to the incursion, and residents of some towns have fled after police said gunmen were spotted in other areas down the coast, raising fears of a wider guerrilla infiltration.

Late Wednesday, police said the bodies of six police officers killed in a weekend ambush in the coastal town of Semporna were mutilated.

“The bodies of dead police personnel were found to have been brutally mutilated by the armed intruders,” a statement said, giving no further details.

Police have said six militants responsible for the Semporna ambush were later killed by reinforcements.

The incursion has proven a delicate situation for the two neighbours, with Manila earlier calling for Malaysian restraint just before Tuesday’s military assault was launched.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said late Wednesday that his government might seek Kiram’s extradition if Manila failed to take action, but the Philippine government said that was unlikely, citing the lack of an extradition treaty.

Saudi Arabia appoints new crown prince

Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a half-brother to the king, has been appointed heir to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, a statement from the royal court says.

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King Abdullah’s appointment of Salman, 76, as crown prince follows the death of the previous heir apparent – Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, another half-brother – on Saturday in Geneva, where he had been undergoing medical treatment.

Saudi Arabia buried the 79-year old Nayef during a sombre ceremony in Islam’s holiest city A medical source said Nayef died of “cardiac problems” at his brother’s residence in Geneva.

The ceremony was held late Sunday afternoon at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, in western Saudi Arabia, and attended by a grieving King Abdullah, members of the royal family and a number of heads of state from Islamic countries.

Tributes for Nayef, Saudi’s long-serving interior minister, poured in from around the world.

“Crown Prince Nayef devoted his life to promoting the security of Saudi Arabia,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, while US President Barack Obama praised his co-operation in the fight against terror that “saved countless American and Saudi lives”.

Salman, who retains his position as minister for defence, is one of the so-called Sudairy Seven brothers, a group of powerful princes that included both Naif and previous monarch Fahd bin Abdul Aziz.

Locals see Salman as a supporter of gradual reform in the conservative kingdom. The influential pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, in which Salman officially has a 10-per-cent stake, is thought to reflect his views.

According to a 2007 Wikileaks cable, Salman said the pace and extent of reforms depend on social and cultural factors, and that “changes have to be introduced in a sensitive and timely manner.”.

“He said that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is composed of tribes and regions and if democracy were imposed, each tribe and region would have its political party,” said the cable.

He served as the governor of the Saudi capital Riyadh from 1954 until he was named minister of defence since November 2011.

Nayef’s son, Muhammad bin Naif, is expected to be promoted in turn to deputy minister for interior. Currently assistant minister for the interior with responsibility for security, he has played akey role in Saudi Arabia’s fight against al-Qaeda and is seen as one of the members of the next generation of Saudi princes most likely to hold high positions in the future.

Nayef is the second crown prince to die in less than a year. His predecessor, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, died in October.

(DPA/ AAP)

Troops ring Egypt court ahead of election ruling "Ž

Some 200 protesters were gathered outside the court, chanting slogans against Shafiq.

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Egypt’s top court will on Thursday examine a law which could disqualify one of two presidential candidates, in a legal crisis that threatens to derail an already tumultuous transition from Hosni Mubarak’s rule.

The Supreme Constitutional Court is to examine the legality of the political isolation law which bars senior officials of the Mubarak regime and top members of his now-dissolved National Democratic Party from running for public office for 10 years.

The law applies to those who served in the 10 years prior to Mubarak’s ouster on February 11, 2011 after a popular uprising.

If approved, the legislation will mean disqualification for Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, who faces Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi in a presidential runoff on Saturday.

Shafiq was initially disqualified from standing in the election in accordance with the law passed by the Islamist-dominated parliament in April.

But in late April the electoral commission accepted an appeal from Shafiq against his disqualification and the case was referred to the court.

On Thursday, the Supreme Constitutional Court will first examine whether the electoral body had the right to refer the case, and if so, will then look into the legality of the text.

The hearing comes two days before the landmark presidential election to choose a successor for Mubarak.

In the first round of voting on May 23 and 24– which saw 13 candidates compete for the top job– Mursi won 24.7 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of Shafiq’s 23.6 percent.

The race has polarised the nation between those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq’s leadership and those wanting to keep religion out of politics and who accuse the Muslim Brotherhood — which already dominates parliament — of monopolising power since last year’s revolt.

The next president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the uprising and its sometimes deadly aftermath, but his powers are yet to be defined by a new constitution.

At Thursday’s hearing, the court will also examine a High Administrative Court appeal over the constitutionality of aspects of a law governing legislative polls between last November and February that saw Islamists score a crushing victory.

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