Egyptian president defends extension of controversial emergency law

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak defended his country's decision to extend the emergency law, saying in comments published Wednesday that many democracies had tougher laws in place to fight terror.

In an interview with the editors-in-chiefs of national Egyptian newspapers, Mubarak said he was "surprised" by the uproar that the extension of the law had caused "especially since the country is threatened by loathsome terrorism," according to the daily Al-Gomhouria newspaper.

In its early Thursday edition, the pro-government newspaper quoted Mubarak as saying "some of the major democracies apply anti-terror laws that are tougher and harsher than the Egyptian law."

Mubarak said he had never resorted to acts to revenge against his opponents, but at the same time wouldn't forgive those who hurt the Egyptian people, according to the paper.

On April 30, Egypt's parliament at Mubarak's request approved a two-year extension to emergency laws that have been in place since 1981, despite a growing chorus of criticism from opposition groups. The measures, instituted after the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, give security forces broad powers to arrest and detain suspects.

Some members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood were arrested as they put out posters condemning the law.

The United States has said it was disappointed that the parliament approved the extension. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack has noted that during last year's presidential campaign, Mubarak said he was going to seek a new law that would be targeted specifically to terrorism and counterterrorism and would take into account freedom of speech and human rights, reports AP.


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