As coronavirus spreads in Egypt, Sissi sees opportunity to tighten his grip | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

As coronavirus spreads in Egypt, Sissi sees opportunity to tighten his grip

CAIRO - Egypt's military-backed government is using the coronavirus pandemic to tighten its grip on the country, human rights activists say.

In recent weeks, authorities have ordered up punishments, including prison terms, for anyone they accuse of contradicting official accounts about the pandemic. Political opponents have been linked to the virus and targeted. And under coronavirus-related restrictions, political prisoners are more isolated than ever from the world as the virus threatens them.

On Friday, President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi approved amendments to the nation's emergency law, giving himself and security agencies additional powers. The stricter measures, the government claims, are needed to address a legal "vacuum" and prevent the spread of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

But activists say some of the measures open the door to more abuses of rights and freedoms.

"President al-Sissi's government is using the pandemic to expand, not reform, Egypt's abusive emergency law," said Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "Egyptian authorities should address real public health concerns without putting in place additional tools of repression."

But they also give Sissi the authority to ban or limit public and private gatherings, even in the absence of any public health emergency.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

It appears that Sissi has turned "gangster" as President, and now considers himself a dictator, running Egypt as his own personal fiefdom for himself and his cronies; this does not augur well for peace, either inside the country, or in the entire region.

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