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Egypt's political parties slam anti-terror draft law

Several parties have declared their support to the journalist syndicate, who have criticised the law for curtailing press freedoms

Ahram Online , Tuesday 7 Jul 2015
Medhat Al-Zahed
Socialist Popular Alliance's party head Medhat Al-Zahed.
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A number of Egypt's political forces have declared their support for the journalist syndicate in rejecting a new counter-terrorism draft law soon set to be passed in the country.

The press syndicate has said that the new law, if passed, will trample on press freedoms and enable the authorities to censor the media.

Several Egyptian political parties have denounced the new law, which has been approved by the country's judicial council and cabinet and only awaits President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's go-ahead, as he currently holds legislative powers in the ongoing absence of a parliament. Others have called for more time and research prior to passing the law.  

The Socialist Popular Alliance, the Wafd Party and the Social Democratic Party were among those who rejected the law.

The Socialist Popular Alliance believes that the new law reveals that the Egyptian state clearly intends to reduce terrorism to a mere "security concern" that can be eliminated with harsher sanctions, the party's deputy head Medhat Al-Zahed told the Ahram Arabic news website.

But the state needs to involve the Egyptian people in its fight against terrorism, he said. It needs to be reinforced with "justice, freedoms and democracy."

His party rejects the new law, as it imposes restrictions on freedom of information and freedom of the press, he said, stressing the party's full solidarity with journalists in their demouncing the law.

Meanwhile, Hussein Mansour, committee member of Egypt's oldest political party, El-Wafd, told Ahram Online that his party has launched a national dialogue that would discuss the newly drafted law.

"Since January 2011, none of the laws drafted and passed have been discussed in a national dialogue, not even the recently-passed elections law, and this is a catastrophe," said Mansour.

The ultra-conservative Nour Party has recommended that the state take all the time necessary to research the law before passing it, assistant head for the party's legal affairs Talaat Marzouk has said.

In a statement late on Monday, Egypt's sole Islamist party stated that the party "understands the challenges that the state faces and the dangers of the terrorist operations targeting the state's stability."

But the party also called on the government to take all the necessary time "to allow for dialogue" and to ensure the law's constitutionality.

Social Democratic Party spokesperson Mohamed Arafat described the newly drafted law as an "emergency law that contradicts the [2014] constitution."

Article 71 of the constitution stipulates that "no custodial sanction shall be imposed for crimes committed by way of publication or the public nature thereof."

"The new law in its current form is an emergency law and not one to counter terrorism," said Arafat.

Many "constitutional" means could be followed to fight terrorism, he said, highlighting his party's solidarity with the journalist syndicate in its objection to the law.

Egypt's cabinet passed the counter-terrorism draft law last week, following a deadly attack in North Sinai and ensuing clashes that left 117 police and militants dead. 

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