Egypt:Lawmakers approve 3-month state of emergency

The file photo shows a parliamentary session in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo by AFP)

Egypt’s parliament has unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after attacks claimed by Takfiri Daesh terrorists killed over 40 people.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told lawmakers before the vote that the measure was essential to combat terrorist groups bent on undermining the North African country.

“The emergency law is aimed at enemies of the homeland and citizens, and it will grant state apparatuses greater ability, flexibility, and speed to confront an evil enemy that has not hesitated to kill and wreak havoc without justification or discrimination,” the premier said in a televised speech on Tuesday.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdelaal said it was a necessary measure at a time that requires exceptional laws. “It is up to all of us to protect this nation. This is a national and constitutional duty.”

The countrywide state of emergency was declared by President Sisi on Sunday after the deadly attacks. The measure, however, required parliamentary approval according to the constitution.

On Sunday, at least 17 people were killed and more than 40 injured after a bomb targeted a church in Alexandria. The attack took place just hours after a church in the city of Tanta near Cairo was targeted with a remote-controlled bomb killing at least 27 people and wounding around 80 others.

The emergency law will allow police to make arrests and conduct surveillance and seizures more easily. The measure has raised fears among some Egyptians, who see it as a formal return to the pre-2011 police state under the rule of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information has expressed concern over the emergency law, saying it would not achieve security and was intended to “further suppress freedom of opinion, expression and belief, and to crack down on human rights defenders.”

Nasser Amin, the head of an Egyptian-run organization working to advance judicial independence, said, “By implementing the state of emergency almost all the guarantees that exist for rights and freedoms in the constitution will be halted.”

Amin added that the law grants the executive branch sweeping powers, allowing it to close companies, shutter media outlets, halt demonstrations and monitor personal communications without judicial approval.

Egypt has been facing violence due to terrorist attacks across the country in the past few years with Takfiri militants taking advantage of the turmoil after the first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted by the military in July 2013.

By Africafrique and agencies

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