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Mon 17 Aug 2015 11:04 AM

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Egypt's Sisi approves anti-terrorism law setting up special courts

Law also details sentences for various terrorism crimes ranging from five years to the death penalty

Egypt's Sisi approves anti-terrorism law setting up special courts
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. (Getty Images)

Egyptian
President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Sunday approved an anti-terrorism law that
sets up special courts and provides protections to its enforcers in the face of
a two-year-long insurgency that aims to topple his government.

The law also
details sentences for various terrorism crimes ranging from five years to the
death penalty.

It also shields
those applying it, such as the military and police, from legal ramifications
for the proportionate use of force "in performing their duties."

Sisi had
promised a tougher legal system in July, after a car bomb attack that killed
the top public prosecutor, the highest level state official to be killed in
years.

Forming or
leading a group deemed a "terrorist entity" by the government will be
punishable by death or life in prison. Membership in such a group will carry up
to 10 years in jail.

Financing
"terrorist groups" will also carry a penalty of life in prison, which
in Egypt is 25 years. Inciting violence, which includes "promoting ideas
that call for violence" will lead to between five and seven years in jail,
as will creating or using websites that spread such ideas.

Journalists
will be fined for contradicting the authorities' version of any terrorist
attack. The original draft of the law was amended following domestic and
international outcry after it initially called for imprisonment for such an
offence.

Egypt is facing
an increasingly violent insurgency in North Sinai, where the most active
militant group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Cairo and other cities
have also witnessed attacks.

The insurgency,
which has killed hundreds of soldiers and police, has intensified since
then-army chief Sisi ousted the Islamist former President Mohamed Mursi after
mass protests against his rule in 2013.

Sisi has since
overseen a crackdown on Islamists. Thousands of alleged Islamist supporters
have been jailed and scores have been sentenced to death, including Mursi and
other senior Muslim Brotherhood figures.

The government
considers the Brotherhood a terrorist group and does not distinguish between it
and other militants. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.

In February,
Sisi signed off on another anti-terrorism law that gave authorities sweeping
powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to
disrupting public order.