Egypt Independent

Politicians: Thuggery exclusion in emergency law a loophole

Parties from across the political spectrum demanded that the head of the military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, cancel the Emergency Law completely and instead enforce the penal code to deal with thuggery cases.

The head of Egypt's ruling military council said on Tuesday that he had decided to lift the state of emergency beginning Wednesday, except in certain cases.

"I have made the decision to end the state of emergency," Tantawi said in a televised address, adding that it would still apply in dealing with cases of "thuggery." He did not spell out what that meant.

Political and partisan leaders said thuggery should be clearly defined to guarantee that revolutionaries are not included in the definition, while rights activists said that excluding thuggery from the cancellation of the law is meant to target revolutionaries.

Freedom and Justice Party MP Saber Abouel Fotouh said a deal has been made between his party and the Salafi Nour party to cancel the Emergency Law completely. He confirmed that enforcing criminal law is enough for confronting cases of thuggery.

Head of the media office of Jama’a al-Islamiya Essam Abdel Maged reiterated the importance of the full cancellation of the Emergency Law and demanded that the military and the police to use their full authority to maintain security.

The honorary chief of the Wafd Party, Mostafa al-Tawil, said Tantawi’s announcement is a step in the right direction but expressed fears that the use of the word “thuggery” could be a backdoor to arrest revolutionaries. Nabil Zaki, spokesperson for the Tagammu Party, echoed this sentiment.

Head of the Egyptian Citizens Party, Salah Habib, said the decision is good in principal but is not new because the Emergency Law had always been meant to combat thuggery.

General coordinator for the Kefaya movement, Mohamed al-Ashkar, said the cancellation of the law is meaningless if there are exclusions.

Head of the Arabic Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary Nasser Amin said that the law should either be canceled totally without exception or it should be kept in place, as the thuggery exclusion is aimed at political activists.

Human Rights Watch agreed that the exclusion of thuggery keeps the door open for arbitrary arrests and violations against activists.