Egypt passes law on civil servants suspected of terror links

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Egypt’s parliament approved legal amendments expanding government’s ability to sack civil servants with suspected links to terrorist groups without prior disciplinary action, parliamentary sources said.

The move was described by state media as a major step in a campaign to “purify” government bodies of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt classifies as a terrorist group.

The legal amendments allow government to immediately fire any employee whose name appears on its terrorism list. This includes suspects under investigation or on trial as well as those convicted in terrorism cases.

The list includes liberal and leftist activists.

Individuals added to the terrorism list by court orders are generally subjected to an asset freeze and a travel ban and have 60 days to appeal the decision. Public prosecutors submit requests in court to put people or groups on the list, and the court decides on the matter.

Since 1972, the Dismissal Without Disciplinary Action Act allowed government to dismiss any public employee considered a threat to state security.

The amendments classify presence on the terrorist list as “serious evidence” of such a threat, while allowing dismissed employees an appeal to administrative courts.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi oversaw a broad crackdown on Islamist and liberal political opponents since leading the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi as army chief in 2013.

A parliamentary committee said in a report on the legal amendments they aim to preserve Egypt’s national security and combat corruption and were in line with a constitutional commitment to fight terrorism.

Many Egyptians welcomed the amendments on social media, while others expressed concerns about the state targeting any employee who is not pro-government regardless of affiliation to Islamist groups.