A breakdown of Egypt's new anti-terror law

A breakdown of Egypt's new anti-terror law
Blog: A look at Egypt's new 54-article anti-terror bill including highlights among the most important of its "tough" and "sweeping" provisions.
3 min read
18 Aug, 2015
The bill orders stiff sentences for a range of crimes and establishes new courts [Getty]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's new anti-terror law has been widely condemned both locally and internationally as "draconian", even after a two-year insurgency.

The 54-article bill orders stiff sentences for a range of crimes and establishes new "special" courts.

Such courts will be set up to expedite terrorism trials, which will be closed to the public, while broadcasting court proceedings will be punishable with fines of at least 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($12,780).

The new courts can deport foreigners, restrict their residency, activity and travel and impose house arrest.

They can also force people to join "rehabilitation and re-education" programmes for up to five years.

The definition of "terrorist group" has been expanded to include associations or organisations made up of at least three people, aiming to commit acts deemed by authorities to be of a "terrorist" nature.

Security forces will not be punished or questioned over the use of force in terror cases - or in cases of self-defence by serving members of the police.

Death sentences will be mandatory for founders or leaders of "terror groups", while ordinary members finding themselves before the court will face automatic 10-year prison sentences.

     'Plotting with foreign entities' carries sentences of between 25 years and the death penalty
Journalists who report anything but the official line on militant attacks will face fines of 200,000 to 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($25,500 to $64,000).

Five-year prison sentences will be given to anyone convicted of using social media or the internet more generally to promote ideas or beliefs leading to "terrorist acts", or communicate with terrorist groups, or even to "impede officials".

Inciting violence on or offline is now punishable by five to seven years in prison, while funding anything perceived by the authorities as terrorism will be rewarded with 25 years in prison.

"Plotting with foreign entities" carries sentences of between 25 years and the death penalty, depending on the severity of the offence.

In the event of an attack or national disaster, the president can now shut down areas, impose curfews and evict residents for renewable periods of six months, after parliamentary approval.


Human rights activists and organisations have railed against the new law. Amnesty International said the laws were "deeply flawed" and were similar in character to former president Hosni Mubarak's 30 years of emergency law.

"We now have a definite anti-terror law in Egypt. We now have 90 million possible terrorist suspects. We no longer have any signs of a civil state," tweeted leading Egyptian human rights activist Gamal Eid.

Former Al Jazeera English Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy said the law stood contrary to free speech. "The newly ratified terrorism law in Egypt cripples journalism and social media with its fluid interpretations and harsh penalties," he said.

Fahmy and two of his Al Jazeera English colleagues were jailed for more than a year after the government accused them of supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood and undermining national security through their media coverage.

Reporters Without Borders also criticised the anti-terror law: "Egyptians are entering an Orwellian world in which only the government is allowed to say what is happening. Even in countries where freedom of information is highly restricted, laws rarely suppress pluralism so blatantly."

But not all reaction has been negative.

Mohammed Abu Hamid, a former member of parliament, tweeted: "The ratification of the anti-terror laws and bringing them into effect is a strategic step on the path to combating terrorism and terrorist groups and it will help to dry up the sources of terrorism and extremism."