The head of the Egyptian Human Rights Organization called it a “limited but positive symbolic step.” The decree is foremost an attempt take the pressure off of the military following its massacre of Christian protesters last Sunday. The true test will be how it is enforced.
Generalities about “discrimination” leave its identification in the eye of the beholder, and leave room for excuses and exceptions. Genuine enforcement would require specificity about what constitutes discrimination, and that will be sure to anger Egypt’s Islamic supremacists.
There must also follow a process for reporting discrimination that protects the victim and the victim’s family from retaliation.
For those reasons, while the decree sounds like it was constructed to appear even-handed on paper (like the useless proposed law on houses of worship), the current state of affairs in Egypt will make it easier for a Muslim to accuse a Christian under this law than for a Christian to accuse a Muslim.
The new law is window-dressing until proven otherwise. “Egypt’s military rulers criminalize discrimination,” from the Associated Press, October 15:
CAIRO “” Egypt’s transitional military rulers have issued a decree prohibiting all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of religion.
The step comes about a week after 26 people were killed in clashes involving minority Coptic Christian protesters, the military and others. It was the worst bloodshed since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February.
The decree was one of the longtime demands of the protest movement that has been pushing for political and other reforms in the post-Mubarak transition toward democracy.
The anti-discrimination measure carries a maximum penalty of three months in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Egyptian pounds, or nearly $17,000.
Hafiz Abou Saada, head of the Egyptian Human Rights Organization, described the decree as a limited but positive symbolic step.