Egypt: disrespecting flag can lead to prison

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Egypt's interim government decided Wednesday that insulting the flag and refusing to stand for the national anthem is an offense punishable by law.

The decree follows a media fracas sparked by reports that an ultraconservative Islamist sitting on a committee to amend the constitution refused to stand for a moment of silence honoring policemen killed on duty during a raid on a militant stronghold last month.

It recalled earlier controversy over reports that members of the ultraconservative Salafi trend have refused to stand for the national anthem for religious reasons.

Mohammad Ibrahim Mansour, a representative of the Salafi al-Nour party in the constitutional committee, has been quoted as saying that it is better to pray for those killed instead of standing for a moment of silence.

In its weekly meeting, the Cabinet said it approved a draft law submitted by interim President Adly Mansour which states that lack of respect to the Egyptian flag and anthem could bring six months in prison or a fine of no more than EGP 5,000 (about $726) or both.

The Al-Nour party, which came second to the Muslim Brotherhood's party in 2011 parliamentary elections, was a major force in drafting Egypt's 2012 constitution, when Mohammad Mursi of the Brotherhood was president.

Mursi was overthrown by a July coup after millions took to the streets to demand his removal. Islamists are a tiny minority of the new 50-member panel appointed to amend the constitution.

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