Egypt to criminalize ‘insulting revolutions’

Just what would constitute an insult however was unclear, as was the timeframe for the legislation’s implementation

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al Sisi has said his office is drafting a law to criminalize insulting the uprisings that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and his Islamist successor Mohammed Mursi last year, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The move intends to ease concerns on both sides of a widening rift over whether the two popular movements expressed the genuine will of Egyptians.

Just what would constitute an insult however was unclear, as was the timeframe for the legislation’s implementation.

Such a law, however, would infringe on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the nation’s new constitution.

News of the draft law broke late Tuesday when the presidential palace released comments by Sisi to a group of young media workers.

Sisi, who led the military ouster of Mursi in July 2013, wields legislative authority since Egypt’s last elected parliament was dissolved by a 2012 court ruling.

Elections for a new legislature are due next year.

The law appeared to be in response to a weekend court ruling acquitting Mubarak, his two sons and a businessman friend of corruption charges because the alleged crime took place over 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International slammed Egypt over the mass death sentencing of 188 Islamists days after murder charges were dropped against Mubarak.

“Mass death sentences are fast losing Egypt’s judiciary whatever reputation for independence it once had,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director, said in a statement.

“Instead of weighing the evidence against each person, judges are convicting defendants en masse without regard for fair trial standards.”

Amnesty International also lashed out at Tuesday’s mass sentencings.

“It is quite telling that the sentencing... was handed down in the same week that the case against former president Hosni Mubarak was dropped,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahrouai, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“This is blatantly a case of justice being meted out based on a political whim.”

A Cairo court on Tuesday sentenced 188 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to death over the killing of 13 policemen in a village on the outskirts of Cairo on August 14, 2013.

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