Rights groups concerned after Sisi calls for counter-terror mandate

Egyptian human rights organizations on Thursday issued a statement in which they expressed concern over Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s request for mass demonstrations to "mandate" him to confront "violence and terrorism" on Friday.
 
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Al-Ard Center for Human Rights and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights were among the organizations to sign the statement.
 
They said that Egyptian laws explicitly criminalizes all acts of terrorism, including some acts that fall under the scope of freedom of expression.
 
The statement also said that political and religious violence that has emerged over the last two years in Egypt, particularly sectarian violence against Copts and Shias, warranted a re-evaluation of the law with political parties, together with the media.
 
The groups claimed that the police had been absent from several violent incidents, raising questions about whether this betrayed selective absences from events following on from the 25 January revolution. 
 
The statement continued, adding that the "war on terror" in the Sinai Peninsula does not demand a mandate outside the law.
 
The main reason for terrorism in Sinai was the unlawful confrontation with it launched by former President Hosni Mubarak, it claimed.
 
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm