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Egypt's Sisi says he seeks 'balance' between stability and freedoms

The president told a gathering of prominent Egyptian intellectuals that he is keen to find a balance between his country's stability and securing basic rights and freedoms

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Mar 2016
El-Sisi meeting
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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi says he aims to find equilibrium between Egypt’s stability on one side and securing freedoms and rights on the other, according to state news agency MENA.

"I am keen to [achieve] balance between the safety of 90 million and the state's stability [on one side] and securing rights and freedoms," the president said at a gathering of some of the country's top writers and intellectuals on Tuesday.

The meeting is the first in a string of gatherings of social dialogue that El-Sisi aims to hold with figures from across the country's political, economic and arts spectrum, the presidency said in a statement.

The meeting was aimed at addressing efforts by El-Sisi's administration to "improve public services and boost investments" as well as "looking at grievances harboured by the public."

Participants in the meeting called for better participation in the country's political scene by political parties, non-governmental organisations and professional syndicates.

They also urged the guaranteeing of unrestricted freedom of expression and demanded an overhaul of the country's media scene.

Writer Farida El-Naqash, who was present at the meeting, told Ahram Arabic that some of the participants called for revoking the 2013 protest law, which bans all but police-sanctioned protests. Hundreds of Islamists and secular activists have been jailed under this law.

El-Sisi also said that four batches of detainees have been released in recent months as part of campaigns sponsored by Egypt's semi-official National Council for Human Rights along with media figures.

Some participants also demanded the release of TV presenter Islam El-Beheiry, who is imprisoned on blasphemy charges, as well as novelist Ahmed Nagy, who was sentenced to jail for the publishing of what authorities deem a “sexually explicit text.”

Human rights activists have slammed both cases as a blow to freedom of expression.

El-Sisi said that he has been frank about the country's economic woes since he came to office, urging "concerted efforts and patience."

He called on attendees to sponsor efforts to set up "working groups" of think tankers to look at pressing issues and challenges and propose means of tackling them.

El-Sisi said he would convene a similar gathering next month to look at recommendations proposed by the groups.

El-Sisi added that no president can "remain in office beyond the prescribed period."

El-Sisi came to office in June 2014, almost a year following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi after massive protests against his turbulent one-year rule.

Under the Egyptian constitution, a president can remain in office for a maximum of two terms, each of four years.

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Sam Enslow
22-03-2016 09:19pm
244-
7+
Constitution/International Accords
Egypt's Constitution is the balance between freedoms and stability. The international accords signed by Egypt bolster human rights. Until the rule of law is applied (and no laws found to punish someone who displeases someone else) Egypt will never be stable or free. Even President Sisi is not above the law. Part of his job is to protect The Constitution. The protection of The Constitution, respect for the law and human rights is necessary not only for the well being if the Egyptian people but also to attract tourists, investors, and to enhance Egypt's standing internationally. This concept is new to Egypt where the law was often what the dictator said it was. Egypt, in many ways, is a country where The Past is at war with The Future. Respect for law and rights is an effective tool against terrorists. It is not all about guns.
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