Tuesday, May 11, 2010

29 Years of Emergency Law - More Than Enough

Around 200 activists, and a handful of opposition MPs, demonstrated outside parliament today demanding the lifting of the Emergency Law which has governed/repressed Egypt for the past 29 years. Activists also denounced the extension of this oppressive law (Emergency Law # 162 of 1958) for another two years.

The Mubarak Regime has argued that this law, which has been continuously renewed since the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in October 1981, serves to crackdown on terrorists, crime networks and drug-dealers.

In reality the Mubarak Regime has utilized this law to crack down upon social and political opponents of all shades - from Islamists to liberals to leftists. This law is used as a pretext for spying on Egyptian citizens, illegal searches and seizures, for the forced dispersal of street protests and labor strikes, arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, along with torture.

Members of the liberal opposition Ghad Party, the Sixth of April Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Karama Party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and others chanted slogans against the extension of the Emergency Law.

Slogans were also chanted denouncing President/Dictator Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif, and Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, along with a host of other ministers.

In attempts to intimidate the protesters - thousands of riot police forces were deployed around parliament, and a police cameraman was perched in a tree filming much of the protest.

These tactics, however, did not prevent the disillusioned demonstrators from chanting "Down with Mubarak!" at the top of their lungs; sloganeering, clapping, and pounding on drums in anger.

Meanwhile hundreds of workers, who have been protesting and sleeping-in outside parliament for the past weeks looked on with interest. When this activists' protest quietened down, the voice of angry workers' chants took their place.

This two year extension of the emergency law will ensure that the Shura Council elections of June 2010 will be controlled (and very likely manipulated) by the executive branch of government and its security apparatuses; as will be the parliamentary elections in November 2010, nation-wide trade union elections in 2011, and the decisive presidential election in 2011.

This renewal of the emergency law will also serve to maintain feelings of fear and instability amongst the Egyptian populace - again, in the interests of the ruling dictatorship.

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