Egypt widens government power with new anti-terrorism law

The New York Times reports: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt has issued a counterterrorism law that gives state security officers wider immunity from prosecution, expands the government’s surveillance powers and penalizes journalists for contradicting official accounts of militant attacks.

Egyptian officials say the law is a response to militants’ stepped-up campaign of violence against Mr. Sisi’s government. The attacks have shaken the country’s stability and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of police officers and soldiers.

But legal analysts and human rights advocates said Monday that the government was already well equipped to combat and punish terrorism with existing laws. They said the new law, which Mr. Sisi signed on Sunday night, legally protected repressive practices that have been used regularly in cracking down on most kinds of dissent over the last two years.

The counterterrorism law also shows how power is increasingly concentrated in the hands of Mr. Sisi, who has effectively ruled the country by decree since July 2013, when he led the military ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. [Continue reading…]

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