Sisi ends state of emergency in Egypt

Egypt's President Sisi ends state of emergency for the first time in years

Egyptian security forces cordon off roads during curfew hours, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, March 29, 2020. © AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

Egypt’s state of emergency will be lifted for the first time in years, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi said on Monday.

The North African country has been under a state of emergency since April 2017 bombings of two Coptic churches by an Daesh group affiliate that killed more than 40 people.

Coptic Christians account for around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

“Egypt has become … an oasis of security and stability in the region,” Sisi wrote in a Facebook post. “Hence it was decided, for the first time in years, to cancel the extension of the state of emergency in all areas of the country.”

“Egypt has become, thanks to its great people and its loyal men, an oasis of security and stability in the region,” Sisi said on Facebook.

“This is why I decided to cancel the renewal of the state of emergency throughout the country,” he added.

Egypt’s security forces have also been battling an insurgency by militants linked to Daesh in northern Sinai, although they have recently consolidated their position in the area.

Prominent Egyptian activist Hossam Bahgat welcomed the decision, saying it would stop the use of emergency state security courts, although it would not apply to some high-profile cases already referred to such courts.

Under a state of emergency, police powers such as arresting and holding citizens are extended and constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and assembly are curtailed.

Egypt has for years been battling a militant insurgency. The attacks have been largely concentrated in the northern Sinai Peninsula, but occasionally struck elsewhere in the country.

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