FILE - Parliament member Omar Hamroush FILE - Parliament member Omar Hamroush

Controversy over historical figures draft law

Mon, Aug. 27, 2018
CAIRO - 27 August 2018: Two public figures criticized a draft law “criminalizing insulting historical figures” that will be discussed in the general assembly during the fourth parliamentary session kicking off in October.

Youssef Zeidan, Egyptian scholar specialized in Arabic and Islamic studies, posted a response on Facebook saying, “If that flawed disgraceful law is approved, I will leave the country and never come back. I will seek another nationality.”

Zeidan has very strong views on Arabic and Islamic history contradicting the mainstream that has made him subject to criticism and attack by the masses and other public figures.



Also, billionaire Naguib Sawiris tweeted on Friday saying, “Is Mohamed Ali a historical figure? Is Hitler a historical figure? Is King Farouk a historical figure or an alcoholic gambler like we were taught at school? That law should be named “criticism and discussion prohibition law.”




The law was drafted by Omar Hamroush, member of Religious Affairs and Endowments at the Parliament, last year and submitted to the secretariat. As indicated by the statute, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal referred the draft, which received the signatures of 60 members, to a joint committee comprising members from the Legislative Committee, and the Culture and Media Committee.

Hamroush told Egypt Today that a historical figure is defined as “a person who assumed a nationalistic role in Egyptian history according to studies published by specialists based on documented data and taught in schools and universities.”

Furthermore, the term insulting is defined as “belittling and showing contempt for those figures,” the parliamentarian stated. Only academic researchers “relying on documented data” would enjoy impunity.

The penalty indicated in the law is a jail sentence ranging from 3 to 5 years, and a fine between LE100,000 and LE500,000. In case of recidivism, the penalty would be a jail sentence ranging from 5 to 7 years, and a fine between LE500,000 and LE1 million.

Hamroush explained that the reason behind drafting such law was insults to Ahmed Orabi and Sheikh Mohamed Metwaly al-Shaarawi, stressing that insults to “historical leaders” are still ongoing.

Orabi is an army officer who led a revolution named after him against Khedevi Tawfik in 1884 because of increasing foreign interference in Egypt’s affairs and inequality, while Shaarawi (1911 - 1998) was a prominent religious figure and the former minister of endowments.
 
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