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Things you don’t want to be caught doing in 2015
 
 
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
 

In the absence of a parliament, former President Adly Mansour and current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi together ratified over 140 laws during the past year.

As part of the crackdown on dissent, a considerable number of these amendments and laws legislated new crimes or made the punishments for already existing ones harsher.

Receiving foreign funds with the aim to harm national interest

This has become the most serious crime amended in the penal code in 2014. In September, amendments rendered receipt of foreign funding in any form “with the aim of pursuing acts harmful to national interests or destabilizing to general peace or the country’s independence and its unity” punishable by life in prison and a fine of no less than LE500,000. The punishment is cranked up to the death sentence if the perpetrator is a civil servant.

Copy an officer’s ID or uniform

In June, a new law was issued whereby photocopying the ID of member of the military or police, or manufacturing, selling or possessing their uniforms is punishable by prison. The punishment is increased to life in prison if the violation was done “with the intention to harm national security.”

Be a politically active student or professor

Several laws were passed this year limiting freedom of political association in universities.

In February amendments to the law regulating universities enabled presidents of universities to expel students for “committing acts of vandalism that harm the educational process or target university buildings, exams or work, assaulting people or public or private properties, or inciting students to commit violence or any of the aforementioned behaviors.”

In October, a similar amendment was tailored specifically for Al Azhar University, legislating punitive measures against faculty and students involved in protest movements. The law stipulates the firing of faculty members who participate in protests that hinder the educational process, participate in vandalism or engage in an act “not becoming of a Muslim scholar.”

The law also mandates the expulsion of students inciting violence or hindering the educational process.

Giving the executive branch increased control over universities, a law passed in June stipulated that the president appoints universities presidents and may fire them before the end of their terms on request of the high council of universities if they “violate their responsibilities.” According to the law, deans are also appointed and terminated by the president with the same mechanism.

Drive recklessly

Several amendments to the traffic law throughout the year increased penalties for violations.

In April, amendments to the traffic law created an unprecedented crisis for motorcycles and tuk tuks as it stipulated the confiscation of all unlicensed vehicles, giving owners one month from the law’s activation to legalize their positions.

Another amendment to the law in June legislated the gradual elimination of trucks, making them illegal by August 2015.

An amendment made in November made driving under the influence or in the wrong direction punishable by one year in prison. If such a violation leads to the injury of one or more people it is punishable by two years, and if it leads to the death or total incapacitation of at least one person it’s punishable by between three and seven years. In all those cases the driving license is to be revoked and only renewed after the passage of double the punishment period.

Attack government buildings

While the punishment for this crime hasn’t been altered, a law issued in October rendered public buildings and facilities including electricity towers, railroads and other structures equivalent to military buildings. This allows military forces to contribute to their securing and referring those committing crimes involving these buildings to military trial.

Vote twice

In January, an amendment was made to the law regulating the practice of political rights that increases the penalty for people who vote without being registered voters, impersonate a voter or vote twice from one month jail and a LE500-1,000 fine to three to five years in prison.

Give sermons without license

A new law passed in June to stipulated that only licensed Al Azhar and endowment ministry scholars are allowed to give sermons in mosques. Giving sermons without a license is punishable by three months to a year prison and a LE20,000 to LE50,000 fine.

Engage in sexual harassment

Amendments to the penal code in June recognized various kinds of sexual harassment as crimes for the first time.

The law describes sexual harassment as sexual insinuations expressed physically, verbally, through means of communications or otherwise.

Those are punishable by no less than six months in prison and a LE3,000-5,000 fine. The penalty is increased to one year in prison and a LE5,000-10,000 fine if the harasser repeats his act or follows the victim. It is further increased to two years if the accused has an authority over the victim, whether familial, professional or academic or if the perpetrator held a weapon.

Disrespect the flag and national anthem

A law was issued in May that made disrespecting the flag or national anthem punishable by up to one year in prison and a LE30,000 fine.

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