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Egypt: Supreme Council for Armed Forces Approves Anti-Discrimination Law

(Nov. 1, 2011) On October 15, 2011, the head of the Egyptian Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued Decree 126-2011, amending the Penal Code (Law 58-1937). The purpose of the new law is to eradicate all forms of discrimination by and against Coptic Christians and Muslims. (Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Egypt [in Arabic], AL JAZEERA NEWS NETWORK (Oct. 16, 2011).)

Decree 126-2011 provides for tough sanctions against individuals who discriminate against other persons based on race, language, religion, or creed. The law amends article 161 of the Penal Code by imposing a a minimum fine of 30,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$6,100) and a maximum fine of 50,000 pounds (about US$8,100) on perpetrators of acts of discrimination. (Id.) The amended law will penalize government officials who commit a discriminatory act, with a maximum fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$16,750) and three months of imprisonment. (Id.)

SACF issued Decree 126-2011 after the Egyptian military police were accused by Coptic Christians in Egypt of using live ammunition against a peaceful march of Christian protesters earlier in October. The Christian community in Egypt also accused the military police of using armored vehicles to run over protesters during the march, leaving 25 Coptic Christians dead and 300 injured. (Id.)