Egypt has enacted a strong new anti-terrorism law that sets a sweeping definition for who and what could face a harsh set of punishments, including journalists who don’t toe the government line.
The far-reaching new law adds provisions to protect security forces from prosecution, establishes stiffer prison sentences for terror-related offenses, as well as heavy fines for those who publish “false news,” and a special judicial circuit for terrorism cases.
Authorities claim the measures will halt attacks by Islamic terrorists and stop the spread of their ideology. However, the new restrictions have prompted concern from lawyers, rights groups, the opposition and some Egyptian politicians and senior judges.
The 54-article bill, signed into law late Sunday by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and announced Monday, establishes an extremely broad definition of terrorism, describing it in one article as any act that disturbs public order with force. Some charges, such as leading or organizing a terrorist group, carry the death penalty.
The law also provoked criticism from abroad.