Egypt to criminalize 'insulting revolutions'

AP News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 7:23 AM
Egypt to criminalize 'insulting revolutions'

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has said his office is drafting a law to criminalize insulting the uprisings that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi last year.

The move intends to ease concerns on both sides of a widening rift over whether the two popular movements expressed the genuine will of Egyptians. The dispute was further stoked by a judge's dismissal last weekend of a murder case against Mubarak over the killing of protesters.

Just what would constitute an insult however was unclear, as was the timeframe for the legislation's implementation. Such a law, however, would infringe on the freedom of expression guaranteed by the nation's new constitution. It follows an intense, yearlong media campaign to denigrate the 2011 uprising and paint those behind it as foreign agents.

Many of those who participated in the 2011 uprising also supported massive street demonstrations in June 2013 accusing Morsi of monopolizing power and demanding his resignation, but were later targeted by a crackdown that saw many of their leaders jailed.

News of the draft law broke late Tuesday when the presidential palace released comments by el-Sissi to a group of young media workers. El-Sissi, who led the military ouster of Morsi in July 2013, wields legislative authority since Egypt's last elected parliament was dissolved by a 2012 court ruling. Elections for a new legislature are due next year.

Another law being drafted, according to el-Sissi, would remove the statute of limitations on graft crimes.

That appeared to be in response to a weekend court ruling acquitting Mubarak, his two sons and a businessman friend of corruption charges because the alleged crime took place over 10 years ago. The prosecution alleged that the businessman, Hussein Salem, bribed the Mubaraks by selling them vastly discounted villas in a Red Sea resort. Salem, a fugitive living in Spain, was tried in absentia.