State of emergency lifted in Egypt —charade?

The ending of Egypt's nearly four-year state of emergency, announced by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Oct. 25, was hailed by international human rights groups as a positive step. But Sisi is now trying to make permanent a more recent, and officially temporary, national security law that would give the military powers normally used during a state of emergency. The amendments to the national terrorism law, which were approved by the House of Representatives on Oct. 31, would give the president the authority to take "measures necessary to preserve security and public order," including the ability to impose curfews. It would also expand the purview of military courts, giving them power over any crimes concerning "public infrastructure." A related measure passed by the House would impose penalties for conducting "research" on the military.

Sisi declared the nationwide state of emergency in April 2017 following a major terrorist attack that killed dozens of Christians. Since then, he has renewed it every three months—despite Article 154 of the constitution, which limits a state of emergency to three months, renewable once. The current and previous parliaments, overwhelmingly pro-Sisi, have acted as a rubber stamp for those decisions. (PRI, HRW)

Egyptian court confirms death sentences for 21

An Egyptian court affirmed death sentences for 21 alleged members of the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis militant group. Handed down by the Court of Cassation, the country's highest civilian court, this appeal comes from a ruling delivered by the Cairo criminal court in March 2020 in which 208 suspects were indicted. The suspects were convicted over terrorism-related charges including more than 54 attacks in which at least 57 people were reported to have died, with another 340 being injured. (Jurist)

Militants blow up gas pipeline in Sinai

Suspected Islamic State militants blew up a natural gas pipeline in Egypt's restive north of the Sinai Peninsula, causing a fire but no casualties. Officials said the presumed militants planted explosives under the line where it passes through the town of Bir al-Abd. (AP)