Anger sweeps Egypt as emergency law makes powerful comeback
This is the death of the Egyptian revolution, said activists, politicians, and scholars in the wake of the full implementation of the articles of the emergency law, regulations that not only apply to activities allegedly destabilizing security, but that extend to the press and freedom of expression.
The Higher Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued decision number 193 for the year 2011 to modify several articles in law number 126 for the year 2010, which deals with the state of emergency.
According to the new regulations, the state of emergency will be effective in cases of internal instability, terrorist and national security threats, possession and trading of weapons or narcotics, thuggery and acts of vandalism, and the blocking of roads, as well as the propagation of misleading news or false rumors.
The law also renders any citizen who criticizes the Higher Council for the Armed Forces or the Egyptian government subject to persecution.
Several rights organizations are expected to issue on Tuesday a series of statements about the decision and its possible repercussions, and various political faction strongly criticized the regulation.
The Coalition of Revolution Youths condemned the decision, which its members consider a continuation of the practices of the former regime, including the closure of satellite channels and the curtailment of press freedom.
Essam Derbala, a Muslim Brotherhood member of the Consultative Assembly, Egypt’s upper house of parliament, reiterated the group’s respect for freedoms and objected to the use of emergency laws.
“Citizens who commit mistakes should be penalized in accordance with regular laws only,” he said.
He added that the future of the new Egypt should be based on full freedom.
“As for violations by the media, they can be handled by the regular judiciary and not the State Security courts. A committee headed by regular Egyptian judges can also be formed to define those violations and specify their penalties.”
Derbala stressed that neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor other political parties or coalitions in Egypt will back off on the promise to hold SCAF to its promise regarding handing power to a civilian government.
For potential presidential candidate Abdullah al-Ashaal, the activation of the emergency law was designed to satisfy the Obama administration, whose main priority is protecting the Israeli embassy, which was recently stormed by protestors.
“In addition, this law came into effect because the government and the military council are incapable of managing the country, but they need to know the Egyptian people will no longer allow anyone to oppress them,” he said.
Potential presidential candidate Mohamed Salim al-Awwa said that applying this law is detrimental to the January 25 Revolution.
“One of the main goals for which the revolution took place was the annulment of the emergency law,” he said during a conference in Cairo on Sunday.
Former International Atomic Energy Agency director and potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei expressed his apprehensions over the deterioration of the situation in Egypt and the way the powers of its main institutions are diminishing.
“I believe the reason for this deterioration is the mismanagement of the transitional stage, which led to the absence of transparency when it comes to dealing with the people,” he said in a statement.
ElBaradei added that it is the authorities’ duty to penalize outlaws and that this has not so far happened in cases of thuggery.
“However, in all cases every Egyptian citizen has the right to be tried in regular courts.”
According to journalist and mass media professor Mohamed al-Baz, Egypt is still under a fascist repressive regime that can only deal with any crisis through the implementation of exceptional laws.
“Both the government and the military council have proved their failure in dealing with all the ordeals Egypt has been going through since the fall of the regime. This is an announcement of the death of the Egyptian revolution.”
Baz explained that, according to the law, he himself can be penalized for these statements.
“The law does not specify what ‘false news’ means and this is the case with such laws in repressive regimes like Syria and Egypt, even after the revolution,” he concluded.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)