CAIRO: The Egyptian Parliament is deleting the words “satellite channels,” “radio stations” and “social media” outlets from the definition of terrorist entities to prevent Western media attacking the state.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said the inclusion of “satellite channels” may cause confusion and, as such, there was no need to include it in the definition. “The path to media freedom is known to everyone, where all opinions respect the constitution, the law and national constants,” he told Parliament.
The decision follows complaints by MPs that naming television channels could be used to portray Egypt as a violator of free speech.
“The law will be promoted abroad as a means of repression if satellite channels are added, and we are not immune to that,” said Atef Nasser, who represents the Future of the Nation Party in Parliament.
“We are facing a fourth generation of wars and we have seen this through an attack on the state on social media platforms,” journalist Mustafa Bakri said. “But the formulation of the text in this way makes it an interpretation and, therefore, it must be deleted.”
The Rome-based International Federation for Rights and Development warned Egypt against trying to include audio, visual or print media in the definition of a terrorist entity, fearing it would lead to restrictions on freedom of information in the country.
Reporters Without Borders said last month that including news media to the list of terrorist entities would “explicitly” target journalists and “aggravate the already fragile press freedom situation in the country.” It ranks Egypt 163 out of 180 countries in its 2019 press freedom index.
Boards of sports clubs, sports federations and any entity designated for the public benefit will suspend the membership of terrorists instead of dropping their membership permanently in an attempt to portray the principle of the decision as being a temporary, precautionary measure.
Amendments submitted by the government also call for the freezing of funds or other assets owned by a terrorist, either fully or in the form of a share in joint ownership, the returns generated from it, and what is controlled directly or indirectly.
Parliament added a new article that prevents a terrorist from transferring and receiving money and other similar financial services.