For the sake of protecting the prestige of state icons and institutions, the head of the Parliamentary Defense and National Security Committees, Kamel Amer, introduced on Monday a draft law to add harsher penalties for those who humiliate the President and the state’s high-ranking officials, known as committting ‘lèse majestéy’, a French legal term meaning an offense that violates the dignity of a ruler.
By the same token, the draft law also suggests harsher penalties on those who humiliate the Parliament, army, police forces, and judiciary authorities, in addition to any state-run facilities; the added penalties include as well imprisonment.
During the era of the Muslim-Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi who was removed from power through the June 30 uprising, harsh penalties against those who humiliate the state’s icons were activated in the constitution.
Following Morsi’s ouster from power, the judicial counselor Adly Mansour was appointed as interim President of Egypt for one year. During his year in office, Mansour issued a decree to suspend the penalty of imprisonment mentioned in penal code over the President’s humiliation, replacing it instead with paying a financial fine.
According to the suggested draft law, articles no. 179 and 184 of the penal code currently followed in the 2014 constitution will be modified to include the penalty of imprisonment, in addition to a large financial fine.
“Article no. 179 stipulates that anyone who proved to commit ‘lese-majeste’ of the President will be imprisoned for a period that is not less than a day and not more than three years; moreover he will be obligated to pay a fine not less than 50,000 LE and no more than 100,000 LE, or be punished by one of them” reads the suggested modification on article no. 179 in the penal code.
In the same context, article no. 184 will be modified in the suggested draft law to include the imprisonment and financial fine against those who commit ‘lese-majeste’ of the Parliament, other judicial authorities, army and police forces.
In the past, article no. 184 only decreed financial fines that reached 10,000 LE on those who commit ‘lèse majesté’ against the above mentioned state authorities.
On the reasons that stood behind the suggestion of such modifications, a number of MPs who support the draft said in media statements that the aims of such punitive measures is to prevent the unprecedented waves of humiliation against state icons and officials.
On the contrary, member of the National Council for Human Rights, Nasser Amin, considered on Tuesday the suggested modifications for harsher penalties for those who commit ‘lèse majesté’ against the President as “meaningless propositions”.
He asserted to Egypt Independent that suggesting such measures is only serving to enhance the presence of the police state in Egypt and to spread fear among citizens; noting that any public figure ought to be aware that he is subject to criticism or even insults from people.
“Every public figure such as the President and other high-ranking state officials should be aware that they will receive criticism and insults from people; they should accept this, as they are not Gods” he explained.
On reasons that pushed MP to suggest such modifications, he stressed that reasons may be linked to orders from security apparatuses or even subtle instructions from them to the Parliament to follow such measures for the sake of tightening their security fist on the country.
“These modifications are only working for the sake of security apparatuses who aspire to impose their blockades on opponents” he concluded.