[JURIST] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [official profile; JURIST news archive] suggested Tuesday that the country's emergency laws will be extended before they expire in June. Mubarak said that a nearly two-year gap between the expiration of the emergency provisions and new anti-terror legislation that could result from delays in the legislature would be a "serious danger." The emergency laws [EOHR backgrounder] have been renewed every three years since their 1981 adoption in response to the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat [CNN profile]. The laws permit the government to arrest and detain anyone deemed a threat to state security, with detentions renewable every 45 days. The laws also ban public demonstrations and allow military courts to try civilians.
The Muslim Brotherhood [backgrounder] made a campaign issue [JURIST report] out of the laws during last November's elections, in which they claimed one-fifth of Egypt's parliamentary seats. While the Egyptian government claims the law is only used to combat Islamic terrorists, members of the Brotherhood claim that dozens of members were arrested in connection with campaign activities. More than 100 Brotherhood members were arrested [JURIST report] earlier this week for planned protests of the laws. Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] have said the laws indicate intolerance [HRW press release] of political dissenters. Reuters has more.