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Egyptian government issues emergency laws as Egypt rises in anger, on the 2nd anniversary of the uprising

SOCIETY-HOQOOKProtestors in Tahrir square, Cairo. EgyptBy Fanny Ohier | Hoqook
“I want to salute the Egyptian police for their efforts to protect the people and public institutions. I also salute the army for effectively contributing to securing the country.” , declared Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. And indeed, five days after the beginning of the second anniversary of the revolution, the death toll in the clashes reached 50.

On the 25th, nine deaths were reported from Suez. The following day, the Criminal Court in Port Said gave its ruling in last year’s riots in the city, and sentenced 22 defendants to death penalty.
On last February 2012 in Port Said Stadium, the police had failed containing supporters’ violence during a football match. About 79 people were killed and over a thousand injured. Witnesses reported the Central Security Forces closed the doors of the Stadium, preventing the supporters from leaving the place, and opened the gates between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry fans, leading to the bloody event. The day of the sentence was released, on the 26th of January 2012, clashes renewed in Port Said. 30 people lost their life, amongst them 20 civilians and 2 policemen and around 300 were wounded.
As a result of the clashes shaking the whole country, President M.Morsi adressed the nation on Sunday the 27th .

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In his speech, he set emergency laws in the three Canal cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia. In other words, the cities were imposed a curfew from 9pm to 6am. Morsi emphazised in his speech that he may “do more than that for the sake of Egypt. It’s my duty.”
The next day, Egyptian government took further steps by approving a draft law which gave the army the right to arrest civilians and to maintain security along with police forces. Theses decisions only concerned Suez Canal cities, for 30 days. To be precise, it means that during the time emergency laws are effective, any protester can be trialed in civilian courts without any clear reason.

And then, the Shura Council -upper chamber of the Parliament- passed a new law on January 28 allowing the military to arrest civilians, and to bring them before military courts. This specific law was denounced by the Human Rights Watch, and by many activists fighting against military trials. The upper chamber of the Parliament, criticized for being submissive to Morsi governent has the monopoly on legislative grounds until a new Parliament is elected.

Since the Port Said, Suez and Ismailia were imposed emergency laws, demonstrations have been organized after 9pm, in order to defy the curfews.
The presidential decision to impose a curfew on three cities reminded to many another decision, taken two years ago by another President. On Friday the 28th of January 2011, Hosni Mubarak had ordered a nationwide curfew in order to calm down the protestors asking for his departure. It concerned the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. And in reaction to this decision, many had taken the streets in Port Said two years ago.

In his declaration on Tv, President Morsi also called for a dialogue between the opposition and the government. The National Salvation Front (NSF), Morsi’s main opposition, declared they would engage in a dialogue with the government if their conditions were fulfilled. El Baradei, coordinator of the NSF declared on Twitter “Unless the president takes responsibility for the bloody events and pledges to form a government of national salvation and a balanced committee to amend the constitution, any dialogue will be a waste of time“. Some said NSF’s demands were disconnected from reality.

According to Egypt Independent, on Tuesday afternoon the 29th of January, President Mohamed Morsy gave instructions to the interior minister, asking to deal softly and in accordance with the laws with protesters. As protests are still continuing in many governorates throughout Egypt, President Morsi seems to send peaceful signs in order to calm the riots.
Since the beginning of the clashes, Cairo seems to be saved from a tough repression, though governorates’ cities had to deal with the police using live ammunitions. Deaths estimations since the 25th have reached the highest rate since Morsi came to power. As several demonstrations are awaited on coming Friday the 1st of February, about 56 deaths have been reported.

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