Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Egypt's New Anti-Terror Law Targets Dissent

Egypt’s New Anti-Terror Law Targets Dissent

by Stephen Lendman

Egypt is a coup d’etat installed, US supported fascist police state. Anyone challenging regime authority is targeted for elimination.

Thousands of political prisoners languish in hellish gulag conditions. Many others resisting for their fundamental rights are murdered, disappeared or sentenced to death by hanging judges.

Junta leader/US War College graduate General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi rules like a modern day pharaoh. Challenging him risks imprisonment or death.

Police states call all forms of legitimate resistance “terrorism.” On Sunday, Sisi signed a new anti-terror law, effective August 17. 

Amnesty International’s Said Boumedouha said it “strike(s) at the very heart of basic freedoms. (It) vastly expands the Egyptian authorities’ powers and threatens the most fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”

It adds to existing regime tools to crush dissent. It “place(s) a gag order on journalists attempting to independently report facts as they perceive them. It is a plain effort by the authorities to blackmail and intimidate journalists who challenge the official narrative.”

In July, Prime Minister Ibrahim Ibrahim Mahlab lied saying “(w)e do not target the freedom of the press or the freedom of expression by the new anti-terrorism law.”

Weeks earlier, Egypt’s press syndicate called the prospective new law blatant media censorship. Its under-secretary Gamal Abdel-Rehim said it’s “an outright violation of the constitution, and will legally impose a new penalty to publish crimes.”

It’ll “transform journalists into machines automatically publishing official statements without thinking. It denies them the right to obtain the information from different sources and restricts the (sourcing) process to one entity” - the government.

Journalists can be prosecuted and imprisoned for publishing anything junta authorities want suppressed. It’s called a “terrorist crime,” content verbally or in writing “disrupting the course of (police state) justice,” contradicting official regime statements.

Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) wrote Sisi expressing “concern about the deteriorating climate for press freedom in Egypt.”

Article 71 of Egypt’s constitution states: “No freedom-restricting penalty shall be imposed for publication or publicity crimes.”

Junta officials make their own rules. Record numbers of journalists are imprisoned in Egypt since CPJ began keeping records.

They “face unprecedented threats.” At least 18 are behind bars - denied due process and judicial fairness. The threat “is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics. Entire outlets, such as Al-Jazeera and the Turkish Anadolu news agency, have been banned from operating or forced to close their offices,” CPJ explained.

Sisi uses the fabricated pretext of national security or interest to suppress human and civil rights, including press freedom. Restrictions place entire areas off-limits to cover.

One local reporter unnamed for his safety said “(j)ournalism is over in the Sinai. The only (thing) we can do is tell the army’s story. Anything else is a prison wish.”

Journalist arrests are brutal - involving home raids, beatings, confiscation of property,  confinement in overcrowded, unsanitary prison cells, denial of family contacts or counsel and torture.

At times, victims are denied the right to attend their own court hearing or sentencing. They’re unable to defend themselves in person or through counsel. They’re automatically guilty.

Extreme sentences often follow. CPJ cited six journalists given life sentences together with dozens of other defendants. Many others are held indefinitely in pre-trial detention with no set court hearing.

The new anti-terror law can prosecute Internet users for “harming social peace” and/or “threatening national unity” - for simply expressing views junta authorities want suppressed.

No one is safe in Sisi’s Egypt. Wrongful brutalizing imprisonment awaits anyone criticizing regime policies. Police state ruthlessness is official policy - ignored by Washington. One rogue state supports another.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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