A new law joins the notorious laws that violate the articles of the constitution in Egypt and the continuation of the escalation of power against political opponents by dismissing them from their government jobs under the pretext of terrorism. A few days ago, the House of Representatives approved in one session to amend provisions of Law No. 10 of 1972. This law is the one which defines the cases that allow the dismissal of workers.

The amendment of the law added a new case, namely those who were included in the lists of terrorists, and the president was authorised to directly delegate the inferior authority represented by the prime minister to issue the dismissal decision. In the explanatory memorandum for the draft law, the government said that Article 237 of the constitution obliges the state to confront terrorism in all its forms and to track its funding sources according to a specific timetable.

The government clarified that the constitutional article emphasised guaranteeing rights and freedoms, the regulation of law provisions for anti-terrorism measures, and fair compensation for damages resulting from it and because of it. In March, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved amendments to the law regulating lists of terrorist entities, including expanding the confiscation and freezing of assets, funds, and property of people on these lists.

Escalation?

While observers considered that the new law to dismiss people from government jobs is a new escalation and a continuation of the authority to stifle political opponents, others saw it as a foregone conclusion. Many human rights defenders saw the new law as an attempt by the al-Sisi regime to legalise an already existing situation, and since the 2013 military coup, the regime has begun dismissing hundreds of opponents from their government jobs without waiting for a law. Hundreds of political opponents, most of them were accused by the al-Sisi regime of belonging to the Brotherhood, were subjected to dismissal from their government jobs, cut off from their salaries, or harassed with transfer and exclusion from their workplace.

In October of last year, the Minister of Education, Tariq Shawky, announced in a press conference that 1,070 teachers had been dismissed, claiming that they harboured extremist ideas. The minister claimed that the measure aimed to purify the ministry of destructive ideas and extremist political trends and preserve the students’ future. The continuous dismissal of large numbers of teachers came in light of schools’ suffering from the deficiency of teachers, according to ministry data. Simultaneously, the Ministry of Religious Endowments announced the suspension of 1,500 imams from preaching and their conversion to administrative work and justified this as them having extremist ideas.

On August 30, 2017, the Central Agency for Organisation and Administration began preparing a database of state employees listed on terrorism lists to take measures to dismiss them from their jobs.

Continuous retaliation

The procedures and decisions began and were issued some time ago, and the recently issued law is an attempt to legalise an already existing situation in light of the al-Sisi regime’s expansion of the circle of revenge against its opponents.

Former parliamentarian Izz al-Din al-Kumi believes that the system is introducing legislative amendments to expand the circle of revenge to include workers in the public sector and workers in the state’s administrative apparatus. Al-Kumi pointed out in press statements that the new amendment is an unconstitutional measure and violates the constitution because whoever is listed on those lists is called a terrorist has the right to grievance and to appeal the decision issued against him. He stressed that what happened raises suspicion in terms of approving the amendment of the law during the plenary session which did not take more than five minutes to read the articles and vote on them.

Al-Sisi and some ministers have confirmed on several occasions that the state does not need a large sector of six million employees working in the government sector, as one of the conditions of the International Monetary Fund is to reduce the number of these employees. The government is working through several measures to reduce the number of employees in the state’s administrative apparatus from six million employees to one and a half million only in response to these conditions. It is noteworthy that, during the past month, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait revealed that the number of citizens who lost their jobs due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus COVID-19 is at least one million citizens.