Coptic Solidarity Condemns Egyptian Plans for 'Morality Police'

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Coptic Solidarity condemns in the strongest terms the draft law for community policing, which through a misplaced effort to provide security threatens the further imposition of Islamists' values over Egyptian citizens. 

If promulgated by President El-Sisi, this legislation would put at risk fundamental human and individual rights of all Egyptians, and obliterate the freedoms gained through the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

The Egyptian State Council approved a bill providing for the creation of a new type of police called "Community Policing Associates." This police force will have the authority to arrest citizens deemed a threat to internal security. The overbroad language and vague directives leave much room for individual interpretation and implementation. Of particular concern, mention of instilling "positive values" and "fighting harmful habits" are twice cited as some of the key prerogatives of this new force.

It is predictable that a loosely regulated and unaccountable force will rely on the "positive values" imposed by conservative Sunni Islamists over Egyptian society spanning the past decades, to counteract such "harmful habits" as women not wearing a head covering, Christians wearing crosses, non-Sunni Muslims practicing their rites or ordinary persons simply not appearing pious enough. Already, Egyptians suffer from repeated and widespread instances of gender, religious and cultural discrimination that is all but ignored by existing, allegedly accountable and trained, police forces and state institutions.  Extending policing powers to even less accountable, self-proclaimed guardians of societal norms will put Egypt in the same category of habitual human rights violators such as mutaween*-dominated Saudi Arabia, Al-Shabab's Somalia, or the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Surely Egyptians do not aspire to replicate the world's most unenlightened societies that regularly denigrate and abuse women and religious minorities through their deplorable policing and judicial systems.

Sadly, apart from a few objecting voices in the Cairo press, most Egyptians are not cognizant of how this legislation will undermine the goals of the revolution that bravely ousted the Brotherhood regime. When Islamists during former President Morsi rule tried to introduce similar legislation, the Egyptian people roundly rejected it for the very reasons why it should be rejected now. Morality police will not further Egypt's war on Jihadi terrorism.  To the contrary, bartering control over societal mores to placate Salafists and other Islamists only strengthens the cause of the terrorists and further erodes the legitimacy of the Egyptian state.

The use of morality police is a clear violation of religious and personal freedom and decidedly a step towards a religious-fascist order. We call upon President El-Sisi not only to shelve the bill, but to categorically reject any attempts to introduce it.

Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt and minorities in Middle East.For more information, contact Lindsay Vessey at 801-512-1713 or  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(*): Mutaween are the 'Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice' police

SOURCE Coptic Solidarity