Egypt's Sisi signs anti-terrorism law

Ahram Online , Sunday 16 Aug 2015

(File Photo) President Sisi poses with members of security forces (Photo: Ahram)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi signed into law a controversial anti-terrorism legislation which was drafted by the cabinet in early July, Ahram Arabic news website reported on Sunday evening.

When it was first issued, the draft legislation stirred strong criticism within the Journalists Syndicate and among media workers, who claim the bill would curtail press freedoms. Article 33 had threatened a minimum two-year sentence as punishment for "reporting false information on terrorist attacks in Egypt which contradict official statements."

The cabinet, a month ago, agreed to scrap jail sentences under Article 33, but replaced them with hefty fines between LE200,000 to LE500,000 (approximately $26,000 to $66,000). The amendment didn't soothe critics since a fine within that range would be beyond the means of many journalists.

The contentious article has become number 35 in the final draft of the 54-article law, which has been effective upon ratification.

Some legal experts have argued that several articles of the law could be easily dubbed unconstitutional.

Amid criticism, Ibrahim El-Heneidy, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Transitional Justice, defended the government's right to issue such a law given Egypt's "war against terrorism."

Bomb attacks have surged in Egypt since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, with militants affiliated to the Islamic State group claiming responsibility for major bombings.

In the absence of parliament, El-Sisi has held legislative authority. But once elected, not before next year, the parliament must review all the laws issued by the president within 15 days.

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