Targeting hostile television channels
Parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee began discussing government-drafted amendments to the Terrorist Entities Law on Monday.
Bahaaeddin Abu Shoka, chairman of the committee, said four-years after Law 8/2015 was first implemented it had become clear amendments were needed in light of international anti-terrorism agreements and conventions which Egypt had signed in the intervening years.
Abu Shoka proposed that government-drafted amendments be widened to bring television channels, radio stations, social media accounts and websites which incite violence, hatred and terrorism within the scope of the law. He revealed that Article 1, which regulates and defines terrorist entities, will be amended to include television channels, radio stations, and social media accounts inside or outside Egypt that incite violence or otherwise endanger the lives, freedoms and rights of citizens.
MP Fayez Barakat said that since the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from office in 2013 several television channels had been set up that target Egypt’s national security.
“These channels, which mainly broadcast from Turkey and Qatar and receive funding from the governments of these two countries, are involved in inciting violence and terrorism in Egypt,” said Barakat. Social media was not covered by the law when it was first passed in 2015 but now, Barakat added, “increasing numbers of social media accounts operated by hostile organised gangs are targeting countries like Egypt.”
MP Said Hassaseen, 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 citizens to protest on the street,” said Hassaseen.
Abu Shoka indicated that Article 7 of the law will also be amended, toughening the penalties anyone designated as a terrorist will face. “The amended article states that individuals labelLed as terrorists will be stripped of all forms of government subsidies, including food subsidies,” said Abu Shoka.
Such individuals will lose the right to be members of professional syndicates, the boards of companies, sporting clubs and unions and all assets owned by “terrorist entities” will be frozen.
“Assets owned directly or indirectly by a terrorist entity will be confiscated,” states the draft law. Assets 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 also states that entities publicly declared as terrorist will be banned from exercising any activity including collecting money, holding meetings or maintaining offices.
“All forms of promotion — such as raising terrorist slogans — will be criminalised,” says 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.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 30 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.