Not even a week after President Sisi’s ‘successful trip’ to the US in which he met with his biggest fan the new US president, the church bombings occurred. As usual, the Orthodox Church had called on its people in New Jersey and New York to go greet Sisi on the streets with flags as a show of support – which they did.
President Sisi did not make an immediate statement following the Palm Sunday attacks but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the absurd statement that ‘this is a failed attempt at striking Egypt.’ In addition, the prime minister announced a three-day mourning period. By evening, the president ordered the military to ‘help police’ secure vital infrastructure in the country. The following day, April 10th, at 1pm, the president appeared on TV and declared a state of emergency [martial law] for three months, contrary to the constitution which stipulates that such a decision must be made after the approval of parliament. He also announced the formation of a ‘high council for combating terrorism.’ He also admonished the media, and made the absurd comment that “the incident happened.. it’s unbelievable that I keep seeing it played over and over on all TV channels!” Included in the declaration is an article that this high council will take control of ‘renewing the religious discourse’ – a demand that he and others had made several times before.
Within minutes of the declaration of a state of emergency, the contested Tiran and Sanafeer agreement was handed over to the parliamentary legislative committee to decide – contrary to the court’s judgement – to determine whether the the islands were Egyptian or Saudi Arabian. Parliamentarian Haitham ElHariri expressed anger on twitter at what happened.
Meanwhile, parliament had scheduled a hearing, summoning ministers of interior and justice before Parliament following the Palm Sunday Bombings, but speaker of the house Abdel Aal refused to let anyone speak of the matter and the hearing was cancelled because, according to Abdel Aal, “there is no need since now the president said it all’.
In addition, Abdel Aal stated right away that the emergency law will be applied to everybody, “especially the media, newspapers, Twitter and Facebook.”
Also on the same day, Parliament approved an amendment to the emergency law reinstating detention for an open term without charge or trial.
Instantly on the same day the pro-government newspaper Al Bawaba was confiscated at press time. Naturally the online newspaper posted that issue that they confiscated but to everyone’s surprise, the very pro-government editor in chief Abdel Rahim Ali, famous for his ‘phone leaks’ of activists, made a strong statement to journalists outside parliament and expressed anger that the newspaper simply criticized the minister of interior which caused the confiscation, and that the minister should not be above criticism. He also criticized the fact that the emergency declaration was without parliament being in session with the correct number of people, and that they are “totally contravening the constitution.” Because Abdel Rahim Ali insisted he would re-publish the banned article in his next issue, that too was confiscated.
It turned out that the man who is accused of being the suicide bomber was an Egyptian who had been kicked out of Kuwait because of his affiliation with ISIL and handed over to Egypt which in turn, released him to the surprise of the Kuwaitis.
Why Emergency Laws will not curb terrorism:
Security is not about application of emergency laws but rather the strict application of regular laws, equal citizenship, justice and the respect for human rights. It is clear that the state of emergency has been declared for other reasons – an opportunity to approve the islands agreement and an opportunity to commit extra-judicial crimes. People are demanding answers and a strong response, and to many, a declaration of martial law sounds good only because it sounds like it entailed more security measures. In fact, it is a cover not only for the failure of the regime on many levels including the economy and security, but also a cover to pass resolutions that people were resisting – such as monitoring and prosecuting social media users who criticize the regime, holding people for indefinite periods of time, and other violations. While no one can stop a suicide bomber – hence security should not be entirely blamed for the church bombings – it still failed in securing this particular church which was already under threat and a bomb inside it had been defused a mere one week earlier.
Emergency law is a cover-up for accountability for such failure, especially that it prevented parliament from having its scheduled hearing with the ministers of interior and justice. Emergency law is also to cover up the economic disaster that Egypt is undergoing: CAPMAS announced that inflation has reached 32.5% and that millions of people have fallen under the poverty line.
The most important reason for the emergency law is that there will be presidential elections in 2018. While the declaration states that it is only for three months, it is doubtful that it will be lifted in that short period of time. Some pro-government parliamentarians have insisted that they wanted ‘by popular demand’ to change the constitution and extend the president’s term in office to 6 years instead of 4, in preparation of course of making Sisi the lifetime president as with any other Egyptian president since the 1952 revolution. This is perhaps the most critical issue, and the most important reason why the emergency laws have been declared.
Let us look at what emergency laws will and will not do:
- All vital infrastructure has been under military jurisdiction since Oct. 2014 and under military control since 2013, but the government has mostly used this to prosecute civilian dissidents.
- Emergency law has been declared in Northern Sinai and terrorism continues, engaging the Egyptian military in a brutal battle.
- A terrorist whose sole goal is to commit mass destruction and blow himself up will not be stopped by any law, emergency or otherwise.
- Military trials have already been used, but they were also used against dissidents and protesters.
- The Sisi regime keeps the Salafis as part of their regime but at arm’s length. They consider them their ‘Islamist faction’ and do their best to appease them as long as they insult others but not the regime. In fact the regime has given presidential amnesty to many Islamists.
- Laws related to contempt of religion are in full force – used only against Copts and liberals who dare speak about attempting to reinterpret and/or ‘clean up’ Al Azhar curricula which is full of anti-Christian rhetoric. In fact liberal writer and media personality Islam El Beheiri stated that the previous Grand Imam of Al Azhar had removed the ‘bloody passages’ that call for murder from the Azhar curricula but the current Grand Imam Al Tayeb brought them back!
- Emergency law will not change radical minds nor lessen their threat. Coinciding with any military measures taken, there has to be a change in education and a change in the application of the law.
If Sisi truly wants to secure the country, he needs to apply the law – not the emergency law.
Social media words of wisdom:
الدولة تفرج عن الإرهابيين وتغازل السلفيين وتنصب على المسيحيين وتحارب المبدعين
منقول عن الصديق عماد توماس
“الصديقة ميادة: “خالص العزاء للأخوة الأقباط بمناسبة عيدهم!”
“الخطة الأمنية أيه بقي؟ نهجر المسيحيين من الأسكندرية و طنطا؟”
نور فرحات: ليس بالحداد والدموع نكافح الإرهاب . عليك أن تقدم كشف حساب لشعبك أو أن ترحل
خالد منتصر: “من ربط الحزام الناسف على خصر هذا الإرهابى؟، أظنه لم يكن حزاماً ناسفاً على الخصر بقدر ما كان حزاماً ناسفا على العقل”
بهى الدين حسن: “من ٤ سنوات السيسي طلب التفويض ليضرب به غير الإرهابيين بينما ترك الاٍرهاب يتوسع. حالة الطوارئ هي تفويض ثان وأبشع،استعدادا للانتخابات الرئاسية