CAIRO: General Ashraf Abdullah, assistant minister of interior for the Central Security sector, urged the government on Wednesday to pass an “anti-terrorism” law during a telephone call with the CBC channel.
“The government should boycott the products of companies owned by Muslim Brotherhood, and must confiscate the funds of any group responsible for killing people,” he added.
Since the ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Egypt has been exposed to numerous attacks on security and army personnel.
The attacks, which originally started in the Sinai Peninsula, have spread across several governorates, including Cairo.
The Brotherhood was designated a “terrorist” group in December 2013 and all of its activities were banned over accusations of orchestrating violence and plotting against the country.
According to the Washington Post, the controversial “anti-terrorism” draft law was submitted to interim President Adly Mansour for ratification on April 3, following several months of discussion concerning an increase in militant attacks against army and police troops. But on April 14, Mansour sent the final draft law back to the Cabinet for further discussion. It was unclear why. Neither the Interior Ministry nor the Justice Ministry responded to media inquiries about the content of the legislation.
“This law is being created to limit freedoms, not to fight ‘terrorism,’ and it also gives the president the power to declare a state of emergency without consulting parliament,” said Ahmed Ezzat, a lawyer with the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, an Egyptian rights group, told the Washington Post.
Amnesty International issued a statement on April 11 denouncing the “counter-terrorism” law drafted by the Egyptian government, saying that it must be scrapped or fundamentally revised.
According to the statement, the draft law defined “terrorism” as “any behavior or preparation with the purpose of damaging communications, or information systems, or financial and banking systems, or the national economy,” terms that the Amnesty statement said are too extensive, Ahram reported.
“The problem with these vaguely worded ‘terrorist offenses’ is that they potentially allow the authorities to bring a ‘terrorism’ case against virtually any peaceful activist,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
On the other hand, Mohamed Talaat, director of the legal unit at the Lawyers Union for Legal and Democratic Studies told Ahram that “Egypt is going through a critical period, and there are elements that are trying to take down the state.”
“We can’t talk about human rights right now. I am with any law that brings back security,” he added.
Egyptian legal experts said that the rising violence and instability, coupled with a growth in pro-military nationalism in the wake of Morsi’s ouster, have bolstered support for the campaign against “terrorism” suspects and also demonstrators and opposition activists. It is, therefore, unlikely that the Cabinet will make any fundamental changes to the draft law, Ahram reported.