Egypt's parliament on Monday preliminarily approved all 20 articles of a new law establishing up the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism and Extremism (SCCTE), modifying Presidential Decree 355/2017 which first regulated the council.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal announced that the final vote on the law will be postponed until a later meeting. "As we lack two-thirds of MPs as required by the constitution, I decide to postpone the final vote to a later date," said Abdel-Aal.
Head of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee and chairman of Al-Wafd Party Bahaa Abu Shoqa said "the law aims to mobilize all the country's forces not only to rid the country of terrorist elements, but also to spread enlightenment and contain extremist and radical ideologies, particularly among people in schools and universities."
Abu Shoqa explained that after the council was established by a presidential decree last June, it was found out that it would be much better if it was established through a law.
"This will make its decisions binding and more effective," said Abu Shoqa.
Most MPs heaped praise on the law, agreeing that it will help forge a national strategy necessary to help the country's battle against terrorism and extremism.
MP Abdel-Fattah Mohamed said "Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated elements are still widespread in government sectors and schools, and the role of the new council is to strike with iron hand on these elements."
Article one of the law states that the council will forge a national anti-terrorism and counter-extremism strategy every five years.
"This strategy should mobilize all the country's forces to combat terrorism and extremism," reads the article, adding that "the SCCTE's headquarters will be located in Cairo."
Article two states that the council will be led by the president and composed of 17 members.
"The council will consist of the prime minister, parliament speaker, grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, Pope of the Coptic Church, minister of defence, minister of religious endowments, minister of youth and sports, minister of social solidarity, minister of foreign affairs, minister of interior, minister justice, minister of telecommunications, minister of education, and minister of higher education," says the article, adding that "it will also include chief of general intelligence, head of the Administrative Control Authority (ADA), and other public figures who can contribute to SCCTE's strategy."
Article four indicates that the council will seek to achieve 14 objectives.
"It will implement a national strategy capable of containing extremism and terrorism every five years," said the article, adding that "it will coordinate with religious, security and media institutions to spread moderate religious thoughts, amend legislations in a way that should help in the battle against terrorism, and amend educational curriculums to spread ideals of citizenship and tolerance in schools and universities."
Article four also states that the council will move to set up a regional coalition of Arab countries interested in exchanging information on terrorism and participating in the fight against terrorist elements and movements.
"The council will also move to take the necessary legal measures against countries supporting terrorist and extremist movements, and stand up to hostile media channels which broadcast from outside and give cover to terrorist and extremist movements," it reads.
Article eight states that a secretariat-general will be formed to prepare the council's meetings and ensure that its resolutions are implemented by state authorities.
The law was referred to parliament early this week.
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi originally ordered the creation of the SCCTE after meeting with the National Defence Council following terrorist attacks targeting Saint George’s Church in Tanta and Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria on Palm Sunday last year.
El-Sisi has already held two meetings with the council's members to discuss the roots of extremism and the necessity of forging a new strategy to combat it.