President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will soon amend a law that will “criminalize insulting the January 25 and June 30 revolutions,” Presidential spokesperson Alaa Seif said late Tuesday.
Sisi reportedly first stated he would amend the law during a meeting with youth media figures. He added that other amendments to the Criminal Procedures Law will be passed in light of the recent court verdict acquitting former President Hosni Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides of charges of killing protesters during the January 25 revolution. The proposed amendments intend to prevent state officials from being involved in corruption through legal loopholes.
Managing editor of the privately owned YallaKora sports news website, Karim Ramzy, said that Sisi expressed dissatisfaction with Mubarak’s acquittal.
“God was not satisfied with the verdict, before the people were [dissatisfied],” Sisi said, according to Ramzy. However, Sisi also stressed his wish to respect the judiciary, saying he would not resort to any exceptional measures that would endanger judicial independence and violate the Constitution.
“The January 25 revolution was 15 years too late. Thank God it erupted – it saved Egypt before it fell down,” Sisi said, according to various reports from local media and media figures that attended the meeting.
The intended presidential amendment would have an immediate effect on media figures who have publicly attacked the revolution, and who have accused revolutionaries of participating in a foreign plot to destroy Egypt.
Ahmed Moussa, the presenter of ‘Ala Mas’ouleyety (It’s My Responsibility), a daily talk show on the private channel Sada al-Balad, will likely be one of the people affected. Moussa was the first to interview Mubarak following his acquittal and congratulated him. In the past, the popular presenter has called the revolution a naksa, or a setback.
Moussa stated in response to the announcement that while the new amendment will criminalize direct insults of the revolution, criticizing people who received “foreign funding” during the revolution will still be legal.
“The law will criminalize those who insult the revolution itself, but when we mention [certain people], this is not an insult to the revolution. Whoever received foreign funding during the revolution has no relationship to it. Normal people who took to the streets are respected, and we salute them. I’m talking about 100 or 150 people who have no relationship to the revolution,” he stated, asking Sisi to issue a similar law criminalizing those who allegedly received foreign funding during the uprising.
Mohamed Dessouky Roushdy, the presenter of the talk show Al-Sahafa Al-Youm (Press Today) on the private channel al-Nahar, praised the decree saying, “We have an anchor [Moussa] who used to insult the revolution day and night now saluting the revolution. This is a win.”
Tamer Amin, a talk show host for Min al-Akher (In Short) on the private channel Rotana Masriya, also hailed Sisi’s decision. “There are some TV channels that will shut down because of this law. Some people make their living from insulting the revolution. President Sisi, you made my day,” he explained.
Amin used to work for Egyptian national television and, in 2011, he slammed the calls for solidarity with Khaled Saeed and called him a drug addict during his talk show Masr Ennaharda (Egypt Today).
Meanwhile, TV anchor for the private channel ONTv Ibrahim Eissa criticized the decision asking, “Why do you want to ban criticism of January 25? Do you think that this is freedom?”
“How can we call for freedom while we impose limits on what people can and cannot say? It is our right to question whether it is a revolution or not. This draft law is dangerous and pushes us back to the times of the rule of the military council,” Eissa concluded.