Middle East

Egyptians fear 'republic of darkness' under new terror law

Egypt"s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sits before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws

Egyptian journalists and rights advocates are warning of "dark days" ahead for the country after President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi approved new counter-terrorism laws on 16 August. Others, however, have praised the laws, saying they will deter terrorism.

The legislation is aimed at cracking down on jihadist insurgency in the country, and includes fines of up to $64,000 (£41,000) for journalists who contradict official reports on terrorist attacks.

The laws also offer additional protection for police and military officers who use force.

'Ghoul's state'

Jamal Eid, a human rights activist and the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said the laws had ushered in a "republic of darkness" in Egypt. The legislation equates terrorism and "any criticism or dissenting voices, or acts that are not to the state's liking," he tweeted.

Osama Rushdi, a former member of the National Council for Human Rights under ex-President Mohammed Morsi, tweeted that the new legislation is a "jungle law to terrorise society and to officially clamp down on the rights and guarantees for fair trials.

"This has become a ghoul's state."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood

Journalists have echoed activists' fears. Mahmoud Sultan, chief editor of the pro-Islamist newspaper Al-Misriyun wrote on Twitter: "The anti-terrorism law signed by Sisi clearly tells journalists and the media and anyone with an opinion: Very dark days ahead."

"You will get whacked the moment you open your mouth," commentator Mahmoud Higazi tweeted.

"If you die then you will be a dead dog - there is no criminal accountability for the law enforcers... say goodbye to your parents and siblings when you leave home," he added.

'Deterrent to terrorism'

Government supporters, however, said the new laws were a necessary step to fight terrorism.

Mohammed Abu Hamid, a former MP, tweeted that Mr Sisi's endorsement of the anti-terrorism law "is a strategic step on the path to combat terrorism and its group, and it will help to dry up the sources of terrorism and extremism."

Ahmed Moussa, a pro-government TV presenter and a journalist at state-run Al-Ahram daily, also spoke in favour of the law during the 16 August broadcast of his show on Sada al-Balad TV.

He said the new law "makes reporters shoulder their responsibility".

Image copyright AP
Image caption President Sisi vowed to bring in tough new counter-terrorism legislation in June, following the assassination by car bomb of Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat

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