Egypt extends 'state of emergency'

Decision is being criticised by human rights groups and the country's opposition.

    Egypt has used the 'state of emergency' to clamp down on the banned 'Muslim Brotherhood' [AFP]
    'Rights violations'
     
    Last year Mufid Shehab, the judicial and parliamentary affairs minister, said the state of emergency would end in 2008, even if the new anti-terror law meant to replace it was not ready.
     
    "The state of emergency has for decades been one of the main causes of human rights violations in Egypt," Hafez Abu Sada, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, told the AFP news agency.
     
    "The state of emergency is by definition put in place when the country is going though a period of danger such as a war or a natural disaster, which is not the case now," he said.
     
    Egypt's authorities have used the state of emergency to suppress political opponents, including the country's largest opposition movement, [the banned Muslim Brotherhood] whose members sit in parliament as independents.

    "We reject the extension of the state of emergency because there is no constitutional justification," Essam al-Aryan, a Brotherhood political bureau member, told the AFP news agency.
     
    "We have been living under a state of emergency ever since Mubarak came to power. It's been part of our daily life since the assassination of Sadat despite the fact it's an emergency law."
     
    'No justification'
     
    Aryan said the Brotherhood would now start a public awareness campaign about the law.
     
    The state-backed National Council of Human Rights said there was no longer any basis for renewing the state of emergency.
     
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    "Nothing any longer justifies the extension of the state of emergency, all the more so as Egypt is experiencing a period of stability," said the watchdog headed by Boutros Boutros Ghali, Egypt's foreign minister before becoming UN secretary general in the 1990s.
     
    Earlier this month, two dozen independent human rights groups also called for the emergency to end, saying it contradicts the comprehensive social, economic and political reforms under way in Egypt.
     
    "We call on President Mubarak to keep the promise he made during the (2005) presidential election campaign and abolish the state of emergency," the rights organisations said in a joint statement to the media.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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