President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has issued a decree giving Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab the power to ban any foreign publication offensive to religion.
Issued in the official State Journal on Tuesday, presidential decree no.16 (2015) delegated the prime minister the president’s powers stipulated in articles 9 and 10 of law no.20 (1936).
Law no.20 (1936) regulates the publishing of printed media in Egypt.
Article 9 of the law stipulates that “To maintain order in the society, publications issued abroad can be banned in Egypt by an order from the cabinet to ban its re-publish and decimination in the country.”
While Article 10 of the same law stipulates that “The cabinet has the right to ban publications offensive to religion or publications promoting erotica in a way that can disturb the public peace.”
The latest amendments in the publications law come as Egypt’s biggest Islamic institutions criticised the decision of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo to continue the publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed.
Egypt’s Dar El-Ifta has described the decision of the French weekly magazine that lost 12 of its staff members in an attack by Islamist militants last week as “an act unjustifiably provocative to the feelings of a billion and a half Muslims worldwide who love and respect the Prophet.”
Islamic Sunni scholars ban the depiction of prophets, especially Prophet Mohammed.
Egypt's courts periodically issue jail sentences and fines against individuals who "insult religions".
Earlier this week an Egyptian court sentenced a 21-year old student Karim El-Banna to 3 years in jail for atheism and insulting "Islam" on his Facebook page.
Last June, a Christian man was sentenced to 6 years in jail for insulting Islam.