Conflict & Justice

Egypt: military to expand state of emergency

An Egyptian general reportedly said Monday that the military will expand a state of emergency in the country in response to the storming by protesters of Israel's embassy.

The emergency law will be expanded from just narcotics and terrorism cases to including labor strikes, the spreading of so-called false rumors and activities that disrupt traffic, such as public demonstrations, AFP reports.

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"Widening the scope of crimes liable under the emergency law along with terrorism and narcotics is the result of the security conditions the country is undergoing and the breach in public order," General Mamduh Shahin said, as quoted by the state news agency MENA.

There is now a "necessity of confronting thuggery and all who threaten Egypt's security and harm its reputation abroad," he said.

Shahin is a member of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power during a promised transition to democratic rule.

The decree comes days after protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. The clashes between demonstrators and police left three people dead and 1,000 injured. Israel's ambassador to Egypt and many of his staff returned to Israel.

The country's military leaders said they would try suspects in emergency state security courts.

Many Egyptian politicians and activists condemned the move and said they fear the military is backtracking on reform pledges, Reuters reports. Egypt's military leaders had promised to end emergency law after protesters toppled former President Hosni Mubarak and the military took power on an interim basis.

"Egyptian law has many rules against thugs and terrorism, so I still don't see a reason to extend emergency law," Mohamed Adel, leader of the April 6 youth group, told Reuters.