The generality of the language seems to leave plenty of loopholes for abuse or selective implementation. As was the case with the proposed law on places of worship, this law looks equitable on paper, but for practical purposes, it appears dismally short on substantive protections for non-Muslims. Indeed, the language of the law as quoted below could just as well be used disproportionately against non-Muslims, as it seeks to stamp out “any action, or lack of action, that discriminates between people or against a sect due to gender, origin, language, religion or belief.”
With that, for example, Copts could potentially be prosecuted for perceived sins of omission against Muslims. The document is window dressing at best, carefully crafted to attempt to mollify those concerned about the abuse of non-Muslims and women, but without inflaming Islamic supremacist sentiments. As this report notes, it would do nothing to make authorities dismantle the numerous forms of insitutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims that are the result of Sharia law in the Egyptian constitution.
If they were really going to enforce the law, the government would need to throw itself in jail. “Egypt Government Proposes Anti-discrimination Law,” from Agence France-Presse, August 10:
CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt’s government on Wednesday proposed an anti-discrimination amendment to its criminal code, mostly aimed at the troubled Christian minority which has been the target of sectarian attacks.
The bill, which the caretaker cabinet published a draft of on its Facebook page, would make discrimination a crime punishable by at least three months in prison, in addition to a fine.
It defines discrimination as “any action, or lack of action, that discriminates between people or against a sect due to gender, origin, language, religion or belief.”
Women and minorities in Egypt complain of discrimination, but it is enshrined in the law regarding Coptic Christians, who are not allowed to build houses of worship without presidential permission.
The cabinet, which was appointed by the ruling military after a revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February, has said it is studying another law to ease restrictions on church construction.
The military must approve any law before it goes into effect.
Disputes over building churches have contributed to sectarian clashes, which so far have killed at least 30 people in 2011.