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Egypt’s Unexceptional State of Emergency

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Egyptian President al-Sissi’s imposition of the state of emergency in April 2017 adds nothing new to the already restrictive framework permitting the use of exceptional measures and legitimizing rights abuses in the name of fighting terrorism, writes Sherif Mohy El Deen in new paper published by the Arab Reform Initiative. 

 

The paper discusses the impact of the state of emergency on the public sphere and whether it actually makes any difference at a time when the country is in a very exceptional situation since July 2013.

 

He argues that the state of emergency is not exceptional in itself, it is rather the current context in which it is being implemented that is the most exceptional, compared to what Egypt has lived thorough over the last five decades. While the state of emergency has not succeeded in stopping the 2011 uprising revolution or curbing terrorism, it was used by the Egyptian authorities as an excuse of install draconian powers and justify further abuses and harassment of the political opposition and critical voices. 

 

The state of emergency therefore, nothing more than a formal declaration of a stage that has been far surpassed by repression, violations and the killing of the public sphere. This is particularly true as the pace and degree of human rights violations has exceeded what emergency measures have permitted in the past. The declaration of the state of emergency is an addition to policies and procedures design to enshrine the exceptional situation used by a regime that rules by forces and repression to maintain its place rather than a measure used to counter terrorism and armed violence. 

 

In order to deal effectively with the dangers of terrorism, Mohy El Deen puts forward a number of proposals, namely the need to restructure the security services, to put an end to impunity and embark on a process of non-selective, non-politicized transitional justice.

 

Photo: Security forces stand near a protester in central Cairo, Egypt, 2016 - © EPA.