"Terrorism" in Egypt
There are acts of terror in Egypt, and there are terrorists--including some linked to Al Qaeda and ISIS.
But the government of President Sisi has decided to call every opponent, dissident, critic, and political activist a terrorist. Such a move makes the fight against terrorism much harder and ought to draw loud U.S. protests.
What do I mean? Last week the Egyptian Cabinet approved and sent to Sisi for his final approval a "terrorist entities" law. Here is the key passage, defining terrorism:
According to Article 1 of the bill, a terrorist entity is any group which disrupts public order or threatens the safety, security or interests of society, or harms or frightens individuals or threatens their lives, freedoms, rights or security or harms national unity, Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
According to the bill, a terrorist entity is also any group which harms the environment and natural resources or communications or transportation or public and private buildings, money or property or occupies them or takes control of them, or hinders the work of public and judicial authorities or places of worship or hospitals or educational institutions or diplomatic and consular missions or regional and international organisations in Egypt, or disrupts the constitution and the law with force or threats or intimidation to realise the group’s goals.
What’s the punishment? According to Al Ahram, "The bill gives executive authorities the right to dissolve any groups listed as terrorist entities and freeze their assets and money and arrest their members....An amendment to the penal code in April increased penalties for terrorist acts."
Readers are all probably guilty of some of these "acts of terror:" have you "harmed national unity" recently? Harmed the environment? Hindered the work of a public authority, whatever that means? In truth, these laws have little to do with fighting terrorism and a great deal to do with criminalizing and crushing any dissent in Egypt. Countries facing terrorism, like the United States and the members of the European Union, should say so.