A new draft law aiming to facilitate the dismissal of civil servants and government employees with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist-designated groups was overwhelmingly approved by Egypt's House of Representatives in a plenary meeting on Monday.
Ibrahim El-Heneidi, the chair of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the draft law, submitted by MP Ali Badr, seeks to amend the Law on Non-Disciplinary Dismissal of Civil Servants (10/1973) to safeguard national security and internal stability against the infiltration of terrorist and extremist elements into government offices and administrative units.
Badr's draft law states in Article 1 that employees working at the state's administrative system, including ministries, government authorities, public organizations, local council units, and public enterprise companies will be subject to the law.
Article 2 states that the dismissal of employees specified by the above article will be mainly allowed in two cases: if they violate their job's duties in a way that might cause gross harm to the state's public utilities or economic interests; and if serious proof shows they are a danger to the country's national security and safety. The article states that putting certain employees on the list of terrorist-designated entities would be serious proof paving the way for their dismissal.
State employees would be also automatically dismissed if they lost trust and esteem, and if they have become unable to do their job properly.
Article two also states that dismissed employees would be suspended from doing their job for no more than six months - or until the final dismissal decision is approved – and that they will be entitled to receive just half of their salary during the suspension period.
Article 2 also gives the president of the republic, or whoever is deputised by him, the authority to dismiss Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist elements.
"The president's dismissal decision would be issued upon a report submitted by the concerned cabinet minister and after listening to the dismissed worker's defence, and a dismissed employee will not be prevented from obtaining a pension or financial compensation," Article 2 states.
Parliament speaker Hanafi Gibali said the law gives employees the right to appeal the dismissal decision before administrative courts.
Gibali also argued that the law does not violate the constitution as Article 14 states that state employees and civil servants can be dismissed in certain cases to be specified by the law.
"The new law also goes in line with Article 14, as it will not strip dismissed employees of their pensions and financial compensation," said Gibali.
Gibali indicated that the draft law, once provisionally approved by the House, will be referred to the State Council to be revised in constitutional and legislative terms.
MP Ali Badr, secretary-general of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee and a deputy from the Upper Egypt governorate of Beni Suef, said the law is important to help the government in its war against terrorism.
MP Mahmoud Badr said the law is necessary to protect the country from a handful of Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist employees who are a big threat to national security.
Leftist MP Atef Meghawry said, "Like we passed a law to protect the army and policemen from terrorist attacks, we also decided to pass this law to purge government offices and administrative units from terrorist elements."
MP Amal Salama, the parliamentary spokesperson of the Egyptian Freedom Party, said Muslim Brotherhood elements were able to infiltrate many government offices like the ministries of transport and endowments as well as the Maspero (state television and radio) building.
"The law comes to confront these elements and safeguard national security against their danger," Salama said.
Wafdist MP Dina Abu Ismail said the law comes on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the 30 June revolution, which helped Egypt get rid of the rule of religious fascism led by Muslim Brotherhood.
"The law is very important to make it legal to rid government offices and administrative units of the remnants of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group," said Abu Ismail.
However, another Wafdist MP, Amira Abu Shoka, warned that the law could be arbitrarily used to dismiss state employees without serious justifications.
"State authorities should be very careful while implementing this law in order not to strip state employees of their constitutional and legal rights," said Abu Shoka.
Maha Abdel-Nasser, the parliamentary spokesperson of the Egyptian Socialist Democratic Party (ESDP), was the only MP who rejected the law, arguing that the law could be used against employees who voice objection to their bosses or to government policies.
"Worse, the law does not provide enough guarantees that bosses in government offices will not use this law to get rid of employees who voice rejection to their policies," said Abdel-Nasser, indicating that "the ESDP was at the forefront of political forces which revolted against the rule of Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, but in spite of this it cannot approve this law."
Ihab El-Tamawy, deputy chairman of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the law goes in line with Article 237 of the constitution, which stipulates that the state must "combat all forms of terrorism and track its sources of funding."
El-Tamaway also revealed that the law was approved by the National Defence Council, the Higher Justice Council, the Administrative Prosecution Authority, the State Cases Authority, and the Higher Police Council.