Sisi’s obsession with security stains all aspects of life in Egypt

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A few days ago, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a republican decision to form a committee affiliated with the prime minister to review ministers’ decisions regarding the dismissal of state employees without a disciplinary method, to start the practical application of the law known in the media as the “Brotherhood Employee Dismissal Law.”

This law, which specialists confirmed as unconstitutional, allows for the dismissal of employees working in the state’s administrative apparatus if they are on the “terrorist lists,” which are lists prepared by the political security services of President Sisi’s regime to harass opponents of various political orientations. Apart from the details of the law, which we have previously devoted a space to talk about, the formation of the committee concerned with reviewing decisions to dismiss state employees is drawing attention, as it includes representatives from 10 ministries and agencies, about half of whom belong to security agencies.

This formation reflects the security nature with which the Sisi regime has dealt with all aspects of life in Egypt, where every problem and challenge has become a security problem and challenge, even if the opposite is proven.

Security committees everywhere

In accordance with the Republican decision to form a committee to review decisions to dismiss employees working in the state, the committee will be chaired by one of the deputy or assistants of the Minister of Justice, provided that its membership includes representatives from the Military Intelligence, the National Security Agency (Political Security), the National Security Authority, the Military Judiciary Authority, and the Administrative Oversight Authority, that they are  all security agencies directly or indirectly.

And the matter does not stop at this committee only but extends to many other committees that prompted the Sisi regime’s obsession with security to involve security elements, such as the Committee for the Development of the First National Strategy for Human Rights, which includes in its membership representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior, the General Intelligence Service and the Administrative Control Authority.

The Board of Directors of the Personal Data Protection Centre, which was established by the government to protect electronically processed personal data, consists of 10 members, including representatives of the Ministries of Defence and Interior and a representative of the General Intelligence Service. The paradox here is that these entities are excluded from the application of the Personal Data Protection Law, which gives them the right to directly acquire databases without oversight or legal restriction.

Security first

Over the past few years, the state has expropriated thousands of properties and facilities to implement public projects. In many cases, the decisions provoked the anger and indignation of the residents and owners of these properties, especially considering the poor compensation provided to them, so it was natural for them to express their anger and rejection of the government’s decisions, and the means of expression were peaceful.

Instead of the government respecting these angry people and trying to appease and accommodate them, it preferred that the security forces deal with them in separate incidents on Al-Warraq Island and Talbieh in Giza, Ezbet El Sayadin in Alexandria, and other places. Many of them were charged with gathering, demonstrating, displaying force, bullying, and sabotaging public facilities.

The security dealings also extend to labour protests, as every labour protest, whatever its demands, is a security event in the first place. And the security approach is not to ensure the preservation of security and the absence of riots, but to suppress protesting workers, and there are dozens of examples of this.

For example, in January, the security services arrested eight workers at the Delta Company for Fertilisers and Chemical Industries in Dakahlia Governorate, against the background of their participation in a mass sit-in inside the company’s headquarters, in protest at the decision to transfer it to another governorate. This forced the company’s workers to break up their sit-in, which lasted 34 days, for fear of security repression.

In September 2020, the security forces arrested several employees of the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in Shebin El-Kom, against the background of the workers organising a sit-in in front of the administration building to demand financial rights after the company’s management refrained from paying for workers for a period of three months, to intimidate workers from demanding their rights.

All these facts indicate the extent to which the regime of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is obsessed with security. It was not strong enough, and he is trying to prevent any social movement by tightening the security grip and involving it in all matters, for fear that the situation will develop one day.