Egypt anti-terror law: Egypt Anti-Terrorism Law

Published: August 17, 2015

Egypt anti-terror law: Egypt Anti-Terrorism Law, Egypt passed an anti-terrorism law that gives authorities more powers to crush a growing insurgency in a move that critics of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi say aims to stifle dissent and the freedom of expression.

Leading members of any group classified as a terrorist organization will face a life sentence or the death penalty, according to the law that was passed Sunday night. Advocating terrorist acts “directly or indirectly” will be punished by a jail term of at least five years.

The law also gives the president, subject to parliamentary approval, the right to close off areas, impose curfews and evict citizens. Journalists would risk paying fines from 200,000 to 500,000 pounds ($64,000) for publishing reports on militant attacks that deviate from the government’s narrative. An initial draft of the law had originally stipulated two years in prison for violators.

The law “considers as terrorism every criticism or dissenting voice or act not to the liking of authorities,” Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said on Twitter.

Militant attacks have surged in Egypt since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his one-year rule. Critics of el-Sissi, who is the country’s ultimate authority in the absence of parliament, say authorities use laws aimed at fighting terrorism to crush political dissent, a charge the government denies.

El-Sissi, the former army chief who led Mursi’s ouster before being elected as president, promised harsher laws and speedier trials after the assassination of the prosecutor general in a Cairo car bomb in June. His government blames Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood for most of the attacks.

The group was classified as a terrorist organization shortly after the removal of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically-elected civilian president. The Brotherhood denies its involvement in violence, although it has repeatedly called for using “all possible means” to fight the current government in Egypt.

Sinai Province, a militant group operating mainly in Northern Sinai, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Egypt. The group, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants, said last week killed a Croatian citizen in retaliation for his country’s involvement in the fight against the militant group.

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