Draft law on public decency causes outrage in Egypt

Politicians argued whether the draft law clashed with the constitution. (Reuters)
Updated 20 November 2019

Draft law on public decency causes outrage in Egypt

CAIRO: A proposed Egyptian law concerning public decency has been fiercely criticized by some members of Parliament, including the speaker of the house.

According to Article 4 of the draft law, it would not be permitted to wear body-revealing clothing or clothes with pictures or symbols that violate public decency, including ripped jeans.

Parliament Speaker Aly Abdel-Aal slammed the draft, which was proposed by MP Ghada El-Agamy. “I am sure that those who read the draft law did not read it properly. We are in a country that accepts everyone. We should not interfere in personal affairs,” Abdel-Aal said.

“I stopped at the expression of public decency because this is an expression that can never be controlled since it covers behavior. It is a relative perspective, something that is acceptable to some people but unacceptable to others,” Abdel-Aal added.

MP Mohamed Abu Hamed said the draft law clashes with the constitution, and that mere talk about such issues would harm the tourism sector. Abu Hamed said the bill flies in the face of the constitution in terms of freedom of clothing and other forms of personal liberty.

El-Agamy said the MPs who expressed their opinion about the bill during the general session did not read it in the first place.

She said Abdel-Aal’s opinion matters, adding that every MP has the right to express his or her opinion regarding the draft. She alleged that much of what has been said about the law was not true.

El-Agamy told Arab News that her proposed draft law would be applied to public places under the joint supervision of the Interior Ministry and the concerned authorities in accordance with what would be stipulated in its regulations. 

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She added that violating the public decency code could encompass various forms, and that the authorities concerned will determine the penalty according to the type of violation committed, such as badmouthing people, or committing an act that would harm people in the area by frightening or endangering them.

Article 8 of the draft law stipulates that the penalty for violators is between 500-5,000 Egyptian pounds ($31-$311). The penalty doubles if the violation is repeated within a year.

The draft law opens by stating that public decency code “is a set of attitudes and ethics that reflect society’s values, principles and identity in accordance with the foundations and the elements provided for in the constitution.”

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

Updated 12 August 2020

Libya’s GNA govt detains 35 Egyptian fishermen

  • The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention

CAIRO: The fate of at least 35 Egyptian fishermen hangs in the balance after they were arrested by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) on Nov. 2 last year.  

The families of the fishermen have appealed to the Egyptian government to step up their efforts to secure their freedom as Cairo has been working on their release since November.

Little is known about the fate of the fishermen in Libya other than their location, after it was leaked to Egyptian authorities that they were held in the Turmina Prison, which is affiliated with the GNA.

The head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate in Kafr El-Sheikh, Ahmed Nassar, said they had not been able to communicate with the fishermen since last November and after their disappearance they came to learn that the GNA authorities had detained them.

The GNA is still holding the fishermen without a clear accusation to justify their detention. Nassar said that the fishermen were not fishing in Libyan territory without a permit.

Nassar explained that the fishermen were working on Libyan boats. Alongside them were a number of colleagues working on boats that belong to the Al-Wefaq government. They were not approached by anyone unlike their detained colleagues who were arrested and sent to prison without being charged with any crime.

The Fishermen’s Syndicate chief said that people had called on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the government, and the consular section had also been contacted about the matter.

Many of the detained fishermen come from Kafr El-Sheikh, while others come from Abu Qir in the governorate of Alexandria.

The fishermen had been supporting families of up to eight members.

Egyptian authorities say they are exerting great efforts to bring the fishermen back safely, while the fishermen’s families continue to demand safety and justice for the men.