Egypt's parliament to discuss tougher penalties against terrorist entities on Sunday

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 8 Feb 2020

The law will be amended to include television channels, radio stations, and social media accounts inciting violence on the list of terrorist entities

Egyptian Parliament
File photo of the Egyptian Parliament (photo: Khaled Mashaal)

Egypt's parliament will reconvene in a plenary session on Sunday to discuss new government-drafted amendments to the law regulating lists of terrorist entities and terrorists.

A 14-page report prepared by the two committees of Legislative and Constitutional Affairs and the Defence and National Security argued that four years after Law 8/2015 regulating lists of terrorist entities first came into force it became clear amendments were needed for the law to be in line with international anti-terrorism agreements and conventions to which Egypt is a signatory.

"These include the 2001 international agreement on fighting terrorism and its sources of funding, and the seventh chapter of the UN charter on anti-terrorism," the report read.

"Developments in terrorist crimes also necessitated the amendments," the report added.

The report also indicated that the government-drafted amendments aim to change Article 1 of the 2015 law to widen the scope of terrorist entities to include satellite television channels set up by individuals or institutions "because some satellite channels were involved in promoting terrorist activities."

The report, however, revealed that while in discussion of the amendments on 27 January, the members the two committees agreed that Article 1 ought to "include associations, organidations, groups, and television channels (audio, visual or print), as well as radio stations, social media accounts which are established by individuals, companies, institutions, gangs, cells or others regardless of their legal or real form and as long as they are involved in any way -- in Egypt or abroad -- in harming citizens, spreading terrorism, and endangering their lives, freedoms, rights and security."

MP Fayez Barakat told Ahram Online that since the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power in 2013, a number of television channels has been set up to target Egypt’s national security.

“These channels, which mainly broadcast from, and are funded by, Turkey and Qatar are involved in inciting violence and terrorism in Egypt,” said Barakat, adding that "social media was not also covered by the law when it was first passed in 2015, but recent developments showed that increasing numbers of social media accounts operated by hostile organised gangs were created to target the security of Middle East countries, particularly Egypt.”

MP Said Hassasseen, a media expert, said the amendment is directed at television channels and social media accounts operated by Muslim Brotherhood fugitives living in Turkey and Qatar.

“These channels and media outlets have in the last four months targeted Egypt’s internal stability and security by inciting violence against police and soldiers and calling on citizens to protest on the street,” said Hassasseen.

The report indicated that Article 7 of the law will also be amended, toughening the penalties against anyone designated as a terrorist.

The government-amended article states that individuals labelled as terrorists will be stripped of all forms of government subsidies, including food subsidies.

Such individuals will lose the right to be members of professional syndicates, the boards of public sector companies, sporting clubs and unions.

“Assets owned directly or indirectly by a terrorist entity will be confiscated,” states the draft law. These assets, according to Article 7, include “all forms of property, documents, legal tools, national or foreign currency, financial or commercial securities, tourist cheques, documentary credit, and all returns and profits generated by these and other assets.”

The amendment shall include entities publicly declared as terrorist-owned. They will be banned from exercising any activity, including collecting money, holding meetings or maintaining offices. “All forms of terrorism promotion — such as raising terrorist slogans — will be criminalised,” states the draft law.

The amendment also states that individuals listed as terrorists will be stripped of their passports and barred from assuming public posts or joining parliament.

Parliament will discuss on Sunday and Monday amendments to other laws on the protection of antiquities, regulating the activity of consumer finance, and protection of personal data.

On Tuesday, MPs will question Minister of Agriculture El-Sayed El-Qussair on the future of Egypt's strategic crops such as cotton, wheat, rice, and sugar cane, problems facing farmers, and prices of fertilisers, seeds and pesticides.

El-Qussair will also be questioned about the future of fish and animal farms and assault on agricultural lands.

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