CAIRO, Aug. 17 (Andrew V. Pestano) — Egypt introduced strict anti-terrorism laws on Monday in order to fight violent insurgency, but critics argue the laws will be used to crush dissent.
Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi approved the laws Sunday night, which include imposing the death penalty for people found guilty of forming or leading a terrorist group. Trials for suspected militants will be fast-tracked through special courts.
Pending parliamentary approval, al-Sisi will be able to impose curfews, evict citizens and close off areas. People found guilty of inciting violence or creating websites considered to spread terrorist propaganda will be sentenced to up to seven years imprisonment.
Financing a terrorist group will carry a 25-year life imprisonment sentence. Military and police officers who use force will be offered special protection from legal consequences.
Journalists can be fined up to $64,000 for publishing reports that conflict official government accounts of militant attacks. The original draft of the laws called for a two-year prison sentence, but officials amended the law after widespread outcry.
The law “considers as terrorism every criticism or dissenting voice or act not to the liking of authorities,” Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said in a statement.
The new laws will give the Egyptian government powers that could only be used during a state of emergency, which could ban the rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, according to Amnesty International.
“This new law will become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent and steamroll over basic human rights,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, Said Boumedouha, said in a statement.