Curfew penalties, the government’s new way to collect money in Egypt

While Ahmed Mahmoud was preparing to close his barbers, Egyptian police forces fined him EGP 4,000 ($255) for violating the curfew. Mahmoud says that he did not violate the curfew, which begins at 7pm, and pointed out that passers-by were still walking in the street. The officer told him that he was supposed to close at 5pm, according to the government’s decision. Mahmoud repeatedly tried to persuade the officer that it was only a few minutes after 5pm, and that he did not know that shops had different closing times in the curfew, but this did not help. Egyptian activists ridiculed the seriousness of the Egyptian police in applying curfew fines, and considered that the curfew was not, in fact, an attempt by the Egyptian regime to protect the people from coronavirus, but rather a ruse to collect more money from people.

The Egyptian regime has begun to impose a nightly curfew, saying it is an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, which has infected 456 people, of whom 21 have died. Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said in a news conference on Tuesday that the 11-hour nationwide curfew from 7pm to 6am would go into effect on Wednesday, during which all public and private transportation would be suspended. “Movement will be banned on all public roads from 7pm to 6am… for two weeks,” he added. “All mass transport, public and private, will be halted over the same period.” All shops, malls, and service centres will be closed between 5pm and 6am during the two-week curfew, and fully shut on Fridays and Saturdays, Egypt’s weekend, Madbouly stressed. Groceries, bakeries, and pharmacies would be excluded from the closure order.

Penalties for violators include a fine of up to EGP 4,000 ($254) and even prison, he said. “We aim to protect our families and citizens across Egypt,” Madbouly said. Egyptian activists ironically questioned whether the Egyptian police would be this strict in pursuing criminals. Egyptian journalist Ahmed Mounir considered that the reason the police are enforcing the curfew is that they will raise more funds for the government. Egyptian opponents have said that another reason is that a number of Egyptians organised a protest in the northern city of Alexandria, and the regime strongly hates and fears the protests. Egyptian bloggers have posted videos captured from their balcony of empty streets in Cairo and Alexandria, where people used to be out until the early hours. Other activists have said that these scenes were restricted to the major cities and that some remote villages in Upper Egypt did not witness any curfews, and that the Egyptian police are not enforcing it in these areas.