Government split over the return of state of emergency

Government figures and bodies are continuing to debate the possibility of reapplying emergency laws to counteract lawlessness and “thuggery.”

The Interior Ministry has called for the reintroduction of the state of emergency, saying that Egypt is “witnessing a critical stage,” while Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mohamed Mahsoub Abdel Meguid said that the government will not reintroduce emergency laws, saying that doing so would “inhibit freedoms.”

“Why do opinion-makers [reject applying emergency laws] on drug dealers or thugs?” asked Major General Ahmed Helmy, who is an assistant to the Interior Minister on public security.

Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Helmy added, “The Interior Ministry had applied the law during the first six months of this year, before the state of emergency ended on 31 May, and arrested 1,352 according to clear and firm regulations, and none of them were arrested for political opinions or orientations.”

In contrast, Abdel Meguid said that existing legislation is sufficient to achieve security.

He added that the abolition of the state of emergency cost the people of Egypt their blood during the revolution and the events that followed, and that its abolition was a direct result of the protests on Mohamed Mahmoud Street last November.

Abdel Meguid tweeted yesterday, “The emergency did not protect Egypt from terrorism in 30 years, while it was a way to inhibit freedoms and to freeze life in Egypt. This government will not be part of restoring the emergency [state], and what is being said are opinions to be discussed, not decisions for consultation.”

For his part, Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki stressed that he has not filed a bill for a new emergency law, but has made amendments to the existing law put forward 5 June by the now-dissolved Parliament before he took office.

He added that the public opinion was misled to think that the emergency law of Mubarak’s era was canceled, saying that the old laws are still applied and what was actually cancelled was the state of emergency.

Mekki explained that the current proposed amendments aim to adjust the current law and remove elements that can harm Egyptians.

He said he considered the survival of the emergency law in its current form a “catastrophe,” and said that the President will not issue a new emergency law “as long as the street is divided on it.”

The Justice Minister stressed that the state will look in the future for a “legal alternative” to face the security vacuum in the streets when cancelling the emergency law in its current form.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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