Govt rights council supports ban on use of religious electoral slogans

Moqbel Shaker, vice president of the government-run National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), urged the government this week to adopt legislation criminalizing the use of religious slogans in electoral campaigns.

He also recommended that punitive measures be imposed on candidates found exceeding the LE200,000 ceiling for campaign spending.

In statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Shaker stressed the need for legislation regulating electoral campaigning in order to prevent the use of religious slogans. Such legislation, he opined, would help "preserve Egypt's security."

Shaker noted that he had made the proposals at a recent meeting with Moufid Shehab, minister of state for parliamentary and legal affairs.

Shaker called for a law banning "extravagant" spending on electoral campaigns in an effort to prevent vote-buying. He added that the law should include penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment.

According to Bahieddin Hassan, president of the Cairo Center for Human Rights studies, both the formally-banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Hosni Mubarak use religious slogans in their respective electoral campaigns, although authorities tend to turn a blind eye in the latter case and only punish the opposition.

Hassan went on to point out that the head of parliament’s religious committee–who is a member of the NDP–frequently employs religious slogans.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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