The Cabinet has approved a decree issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to criminalize the use of “terrorist” symbols with penalties of imprisonment and fines of up to LE30,000.
The state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail’s Cabinet approved the draft presidential decree, which will be added to the Penal Code as an amendment.
The bill prohibits “the publication, production, promotion, importation, transfer (whether transferred within the country or abroad), possession, trafficking, distribution, rent or presentation of: symbols, drawings, posters, publications, signs, photos or other objects that symbolize terrorist entities or groups which operate inside the country or abroad.”
The second provision of the bill stipulates that the penalties apply to the usage of all such symbols, “whether acquired personally or through an intermediary.”
Far more vaguely, the second provision goes on to add that the aforementioned penalties also apply to “the publication of something referencing such symbols, if they are intended for distribution, to inform others about them.”
The second article concludes that the aforementioned penalties apply “even to the temporary usage” of terrorist symbols, MENA reported, including in the form of “recording, documenting, printing or broadcasting things stipulated above.”
Bylaws regulating the bill are reportedly to be issued separately, as is a specific list of banned terrorist symbols.
Police officials welcomed the bill and cheered the Cabinet’s approval.
“This is a positive step,” Brigadier General Mohamed Nour al-Dein of the Interior Ministry told the privately owned Sada al-Balad news site, even though “it was issued late.”
When enforced, the law would be specifically outlaw the use of symbols used by the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement, Dein added. These include the Brotherhood’s four-fingered salute commemorating the Rabea al-Adaweya massacre and the clenched fist icon representing the April 6 Youth Movement.
Following the military-led takeover of government on July 3, 2013, the state moved to officially outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood and classified it as a terrorist organization in December of that year.
In April 2014, Egypt’s judiciary moved to outlaw the April 6 Youth Movement.
Since 2013, the judiciary has imprisoned the senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and April 6, along with many of their cadres. Both groups were important players in the anti-Mubarak uprising of 2011.