Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi approved a strict anti-terrorism law Monday as the country faces a growing insurgency from militant groups and grapples with concerns about security. The law, which would speed up trials and impose harsh sentences for suspected militants — or those found to be aiding them — while providing new protections to police officers, has sparked controversy over concerns about its likelihood of violating civil and human rights.
Under one provision of the law, for instance, anyone who does not adhere to official government narratives or statements about attacks or security operations would be subject to a minimum fine of 200,000 pounds, or about $25,000, Al Jazeera reported. That fine was amended from a draft version that initially imposed a prison sentence of two years on those who contradicted official versions of such events. Critics of the law fear that it will harm the media and muzzle government dissenters.
“The law here is a system that is not protecting the citizenry, but rather protecting the state,” Dalia Fahmy, a member of the Egyptian Rule of Law Association, told Al Jazeera. “It is becoming indicative of the consolidation of power in the hands of the executive.”
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