Legalized Authoritarianism: How Egypt’s Lawmakers Codify Authoritarianism

Demonstrators praying and riot police, January 2011 (photo via Ramy Raoof on Flickr)


TIMEP Nonresident Fellow Mai El-Sadany had an article published in the World Policy Journal‘s Summer 2017 issue, entitled “Justice Denied.” The introduction of her article is excerpted here with their kind permission.

The Egyptian Parliament is considering a bill to require residents to submit their names, ID numbers, and email addresses to a federal authority before using social media. Under this law, an errant tweet could result in a six-month prison sentence and $275 fine. As of May, the provisions are still under discussion. While the act seems unlikely to pass, it is not without support—at least 60 out of 596 parliamentarians have endorsed it.

Although the proposed social media bill is an extreme example, it is telling of the current state of affairs. Throughout its modern history, the Egyptian government has repeatedly violated domestic and international law through practices like arbitrary arrests, torture in detention, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. What is different today is that the government is moving to legalize its crackdown. The pieces of vaguely worded legislation being introduced to Parliament empower the state to use practices that were once unlawful, but are now considered acceptable to protect Egyptians during a time of heightened terror threat.

Read the rest of the article on the website of the World Policy Journal here.

Mai El-Sadany

Mai El-Sadany

Mai El-Sadany is the Nonresident Fellow for Legal and Judicial Analysis with TIMEP. She has previously worked at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, among other places. Ms. El-Sadany’s published work has covered legal and constitutional issues in Egypt, human rights issues in Syria, sectarian violence in the Middle East, and the split between Sudan and South Sudan. She holds a J.D. and certificate in refugees and humanitarian emergencies from the Georgetown University Law Center, and a B.A. in political science from Stanford University. You can follow her on Twitter: @maitelsadany.
Mai El-Sadany


Human Rights Lawyer | Legal and Judicial Director at @TIMEPDC | @Stanford & @GeorgetownLaw Alumna
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