Egypt’s military rulers approve anti-discrimination law

October 16th, 2011 - 4:10 pm ICT by BNO News  

CAIRO (BNO NEWS) — Egypt’s ruling military council on Saturday approved new amendments to the criminal code punishing all forms of discrimination, nearly one week after Coptic Christian protesters were attacked during a rally in Cairo.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a decree which aims to toughen penalties on discrimination. According to the new measures, any person who commits an act that discriminates against another person based on race, language, religion or creed will serve time in jail, the Bikya Masr news website reported.

Offenders face a minimum penalty of 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($6,100) and a maximum of 50,000 Egyptians pounds ($8,700). A maximum penalty of three months in prison and a maximum fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($16,750) was established for government officials who participate in discriminatory acts.

The SCAF has been under fire all week for its alleged attack on protesters, who say the military opened fire on the peaceful march. Egypt’s military rulers denied allegations that its soldiers fired on protesters during the recent clashes which left at least 26 people dead and 300 injured.

Clashes erupted on Sunday between Egyptian security forces and Coptic Christian demonstrators when an estimated 10,000 Copts were marching in Cairo against religious persecution. The protest, which was organized by the Maspero Youth Union, was against an attack on a Coptic church on September 30 in the southern Egyptian province of Aswan.

Sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christian Copts have increased in the past year. There are around 8 million Christian Copts in Egypt, which represent about 10 percent of the population, and the clashes last week were the country’s worst since the revolution earlier this year.

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