The country’s authoritarian regime says that the emergency law prevents instability, but independent analysts say it’s a political tool used to suppress dissent.

Egypt’s strongman Abdel Fattah el Sisi has led the country with an iron fist since 2013, when the general-turned-president overthrew the first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi, inflicting a deadly blow to the Cairo’s newborn democracy. 

Usurping power at the expense of common people, Sisi imposed an emergency law in April 2017 after twin church attacks, which killed at least 45 people.  

Since then, the emergency law has been extended on superfluous grounds, arming Sisi with special powers which have facilitated an authoritarian political atmosphere and a disregard for basic human rights. 

The latests renewal was approved on October 26. 

“We are continuously in a state of emergency with law or without law under the rule of the military coup. There has been no time for normal life. There has been no peaceful time in Egypt [since the coup in July 2013],” said Hamza Zawba, the former spokesman of the Freedom and Justice Party, which was the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful opposition. 

Zawba calls Sisi's rule a dictatorship, which would never abandon the state of emergency or martial law, in order to secure the regime’s interests. 

“If you have a dictatorship, you will be in a state of emergency,” Zawba told TRT World. 

Emergency law: A legal shield to protect Sisi? 

The nature of the state of emergency requires it to be used only in a time of war, he said, but in Egypt people have been "punished to live in conditions like the country is at war".

"The  renewal of the state of emergency is integral to the coup regime's policy of political control. The renewal helps facilitate further arbitrary arrests and searches of Egyptian citizens. It’s a means of further enabling the regime to maintain its extreme levels of repression," said Dr Maha Azzam, Head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council. 

"The extension of emergency rule was a feature of the Mubarak dictatorship when emergency rule was renewed every two years and lasted 30 years. Sisi continues to transgress even his  own state constitution which prohibits such extensions. The current  dictator Sisi flagrantly transgresses the law and violates the rights of Egyptian citizens," Azzam told TRT World.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi speaks as he meets with President Donald Trump at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2019, in New York.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi speaks as he meets with President Donald Trump at the InterContinental Barclay hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 23, 2019, in New York. (Evan Vucci / AP Archive)

The law enables the president to order arrests and crack down on people who have been considered as enemies of Sisi and his authoritarian regime. 

"Declaring a state of emergency in the country has become a necessity given internal and regional developments and the continuation of state efforts to uproot terrorism," said a statement from the country’s parliament. 

The statement did not explain what kind of internal and regional developments have led to the tenth renewal of the state of emergency. 

“The false Egyptian parliament never ever discusses the reasons of the state of emergency. They never question [the rule of] Sisi. They never asked him why you did so. That’s why, we are in a complete dictatorship and chaos,” Zawba said. 

Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli believes that the state of emergency protects people from "dark forces” that target the country’s stability. 

But Zawba strongly disagrees with Madbouli. 

“Protecting from whom? From protesters? From the lack of education? From the lack of health care? Protecting them from what?” Zawba angrily asked. 

“The emergency law protects Sisi from the anger of people.” 

Other experts also think that the law has been used to suppress dissent, enabling Sisi to rule the state single-handedly. 

Which powers the law furnishes to Sisi

Under the emergency law, Sisi can send any civilians with any record to State Security Emergency Courts, whose decisions cannot be appealed.

The law also equips Sisi to monitor and track all kinds of communication, enabling him to facilitate a harsh censorship regime over the country’s already restricted press. 

It also provides powers to Sisi’s men to declare curfews in different towns across the country. 

In addition, the law gives leeway to the government to close commercial entities and to confiscate private properties, empowering the state to designate certain settlements for evacuation. 

Finally, the law authorises Egypt’s armed forces to crack down on any protesters in order to address any violations of the state of emergency. 

Under Sisi, more than 60,000 people have been arrested since the coup according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). Other rights groups also reported that there have been serious abuses and human rights violations during the continuing state of emergency. 

Many of the political prisoners have been treated so badly in the country’s notorious jails, where they face abuses “including beatings, force feedings, deprivation of contact with relatives and lawyers, and interference in medical care,” according to HRW.  

Source: TRT World