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TITLE: EGYPT HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995









                             EGYPT


According to its Constitution, Egypt is a social democracy in 
which Islam is the state religion.  The President is Hosni 
Mubarak, who was reelected unopposed to a third 6-year term by 
the People's Assembly in 1993.  The President appoints the 
Cabinet which is responsible to him.  His party, the National 
Democratic Party (NDP), has governed since its establishment in 
1978.  It commands large majorities in the popularly elected 
People's Assembly and the Shura (Consultative) Council.  One 
opposition party is represented in the People's Assembly; the 
others boycotted the previous People's Assembly election in 
1990 and are not represented.

There are several security services in the Ministry of 
Interior, two of which are primarily involved in combating 
extremist violence:  the State Security Investigations Sector 
(SSIS), which conducts investigations and interrogates 
detainees; and the Central Security Force (CSF), which enforces 
curfews, bans on public demonstrations, and conducts 
paramilitary operations against terrorists.

Egypt is a developing country with a mixed economy dominated by 
the public sector.  Agriculture, an almost entirely private 
sector, remains the largest single employer.  Remittances from 
approximately 2 million Egyptians working in the Gulf countries 
are the largest source of foreign currency earnings.  In the 
past 4 years, the Government has enacted significant economic 
reforms, which have reduced the budget deficit and stabilized 
the exchange rate, but has made slow progress on other reforms, 
including privatization.

The Constitution provides for various human rights, including a 
multiparty political system, regular elections, the rule of 
law, an independent judiciary, freedom of opinion, and the 
right to peaceable private assembly.  However, the Emergency 
Law continues to restrict many basic rights.

There continued to be widespread human rights violations in 
1994.  The security services and terrorist groups remained 
locked in a cycle of violence.  Security forces committed human 
rights abuses in their campaign against terrorist groups, but 
frequently victimized noncombatants as well.  Under the 
Emergency Law, abuses included the widespread torture of 
detainees in security cases, the Government's continued failure 
to punish those responsible for torture, arbitrary arrest, and 
detention without trial, and the use of military courts to try 
suspected terrorists.  The Government continued to arrest and 
harass journalists and lawyers who defended accused Islamists.  
Terrorists bombed banks, attacked and killed government 
officials, security forces, Egyptian Christians, and foreign 
tourists, and were responsible for the majority of civilian 
deaths in 1994.

The ruling NDP dominates the political scene to such an extent 
that, as a practical matter, the citizens do not have a 
meaningful ability to change their government.  The Government 
continues to restrict substantially basic rights of expression 
and the press.  Women and Egyptian Christians face 
discrimination based on tradition and some aspects of the law.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

In 1994 the state security police were implicated in several 
extrajudicial killings.  In virtually all cases, the Government 
has not adequately investigated or explained the causes of 
death.  On February 1, police raided a house in Cairo, killing 
7 suspected terrorists.  The police maintain that a 3-hour 
shootout began when one of the suspects inside the house opened 
fire on the approaching police.  However, witnesses later told 
the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) that the 
shootout lasted a matter of seconds, followed by a pause, and a 
later burst of gunfire after the police had entered the house.  
One policeman was wounded in the incident.  The mother of one 
of those killed filed a complaint against the police, alleging 
that security forces had executed her son.  She retracted her 
complaint after the police detained her for 12 hours.

On February 14, security forces shot dead three alleged 
extremists in a Cairo neighborhood.  According to the Ministry 
of Interior, the police acted in self-defense after the 
suspects opened fire on a patrol in an alley.  However, 
witnesses claimed that they observed the police arrest four 
suspects, place three of them into a police truck, and later 
heard suspected gunfire from within the truck.  Witnesses 
further claimed that they observed security officers dump three 
bodies from the truck onto the street and place guns and 
ammunition purportedly belonging to the dead suspects near the 
bodies.  Local human rights monitors who inspected the scene 
concluded that the traces of blood on the street were too small 
to be consistent with the Government's claim that the suspects 
were shot on the spot in an exchange of fire.  No information 
is available concerning the fourth detainee.

On April 26, officials of the state security police arrested 
Islamist lawyer Abdel Hareth Madani at his office in Cairo.  
Madani died in police custody at a hospital early on April 27.  
The state security police did not inform Madani's family until 
May 6.  The police did not allow Madani's family to view the 
body, which was transported in a sealed coffin to his village 
for burial.  The Government initially claimed that Madani had 
died of an asthma attack, despite claims by morgue workers that 
they observed puncture wounds and bruises on Madani's body 
while preparing it for burial.  In May the Ministry of Justice 
announced that it would conduct an investigation of Madani's 
death.  At year's end, the results of the ongoing investigation 
had not been made public.  The Minister of Interior has 
nonetheless publicly denied any police wrongdoing in Madani's 
death, maintaining that Madani died of natural causes.

Also in April, local human rights monitors claim that Mohammed 
Abdel Hamid Hassan died in Abu Zabaal prison near Cairo, 
following beatings by a prison officer.  Hassan was serving a 
3-year sentence for sale of drugs; his body was allegedly 
thrown from a fourth-floor window to conceal the cause of 
death.  The Prosecutor General's office investigated the case 
and charged the officer with Hassan's death.  The officer was 
released on bail, pending further investigation.

In August Fateh al-Bab Abdel Manem died at a police station in 
the Cairo suburb of Helwan, following his arrest on drug 
charges.  He was detained along with his wife and son.  
According to human rights monitors, Abdel Manem died after 12 
continuous hours of torture, witnessed by his son.  The autopsy 
report indicates cause of death as cerebral hemorrhage and 
"major wounds to the body."  The Prosecutor General's office 
has stated it will investigate the death but at year's end had 
not made public its findings.

In 1993 at least 12 persons died from injuries sustained while 
in police custody, and 2 others died amid charges of inadequate 
medical treatment.  The Government reported that it had 
referred security officials for prosecution in the cases of the 
death of Sayyed Hassan Fetouh and Hassan Salah Sayyed.  At 
year's end, the officers had not been brought to trial.  The 
Government continued investigations of possible criminal 
conduct in the 1993 deaths in police custody of Effat Mohammed 
Ali Wali, al-Muhamdi Mohammed Mohammed Mursi, Mohammed Gomma 
Abdel Sayyed, Eissa Taher Soliman, and Amre Mohammed Safwat.

The Government closed the cases of Ahmed Farouk Ahmed Ali, 
Abdel Sattar Abdalrah Rashwan, Mohammed Abdel Hamid, and 
Mohammed Ateya Shamardan, ruling that in the cases of Ali, 
Hamid, and Shamardan, death occurred as the result of 
preexisting medical disorders.  The death of Rashwan was ruled 
accidental electrocution.  The Government claimed it had no 
records of the arrests of Bahaa el-Din Abdel Raouf Mohammed, 
Mohammed Hossain Mohammed, or Ahman Abdel Rahman Mohammed, 
whose relatives claim they were last seen in police custody.  
The Government's report on these cases left unanswered several 
questions raised by the relatives of the deceased persons and 
human rights groups.  The Government stated that it will try to 
resolve the inconsistencies and provide further information.

The press reported that at least 286 people were killed in 
civil unrest in 1994 compared with 201 in 1993.  In 
antiextremist operations, security forces killed at least 139 
suspected extremists, 5 civilian bystanders, and a fellow 
policeman by friendly fire.  The security forces appear to have 
caused some of these deaths by the excessive use of lethal 
force.

In April security forces in Assiyut opened fire on a taxi 
stopped at a police roadblock, killing the driver and three 
passengers, including a woman.  The police maintained that one 
of the passengers tried to kill an officer at the roadblock.  
However, local human rights monitors believe that the shooting 
broke out when a policeman's weapon accidentally misfired, 
provoking others to open fire on the car.

In October security forces used lethal force in quelling a 
demonstration in support of a strike by textile workers (see 
Section 6.a.).

Terrorists killed at least 101 members of the security forces 
and 40 civilians, including a witness in the trial of persons 
indicted for the November 1993 assassination attempt on Prime 
Minister Atef Sedky.  In four incidents, extremists attacked 
foreign tourist groups, killing five tourists and several 
Egyptian bystanders.

In October a suspected terrorist stabbed Naguib Mahfouz, an 
Egyptian novelist, Nobel laureate, and antifundamentalist 
critic, in the neck with a knife.  Mahfouz survived.  As they 
have in recent years, Islamic extremists targeted Egyptian 
Christians, attacking churches and other properties owned by 
Copts, and are believed to have murdered at least nine Copts 
(see Section 5).

Extremist groups took responsibility for the following murders 
of senior government and police officials:  police Brigadier 
General Raouf Khairat in Cairo on February 10, and the Director 
of Central Security Forces in Assiyut, General Sherine Ali 
Fahmi, on February 20.

     b.  Disappearance

Mansur Kikhya, a former Libyan Foreign Minister under Colonel 
Qadhafi and a prominent exiled dissident, disappeared from 
Cairo in December 1993.  The Government has been unable to 
account for Kikhya's disappearance.  Some observers, citing 
Libya's long history of antidissident campaigns, believe that 
Libyan operatives abducted Kikhya.  Kikhya's whereabouts are 
still unknown.

In December local human rights monitors published a report on 
disappearances, which claims that 11 people disappeared in 1994 
after their arrests.  It recounts the unsuccessful efforts by 
family members and nongovernmental organizations to locate them 
in the detention system.  According to the report, the number 
of disappearances in 1994 was "unprecedented," compared to 
three disappearances in 1991 and three in 1993.  At year's end, 
the Government had not yet responded to the report.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There is convincing evidence that the police and officers of 
the SSIS systematically practice torture.  The law does not 
adequately protect citizens from physical abuse by security 
forces.  Article 126 of the Penal Code prohibits torture to 
obtain a confession but is silent on the mistreatment of 
detainees for other reasons.  Punishment for offenders is 
imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.  A 1-year sentence and 
a modest fine may be imposed if the injury does not reach the 
level of bleeding or wounding.  However, Article 126 does not 
address such abuses as blindfolding and prolonged interrogation 
and handcuffing.

The Minister of Interior stated several times in 1994 that 
torture does not exist in detention facilities.  Instances may 
occur, he said, but they are isolated and not official 
government policy.  The Minister also stated that the 
authorities investigate all allegations and punish those 
responsible.  Government officials have accused human rights 
organizations of focusing on the rights of accused terrorists, 
while ignoring those of the victims of extremist attacks.  
Officials argued that international human rights groups 
exaggerate torture reports and that their reporting does not 
take into account the extreme nature of the security threat.  
However, the record indicates that the Government does not 
adequately investigate torture complaints in cases involving 
suspected terrorists.  Since 1985, there is no evidence that 
officers implicated in such cases have been prosecuted or 
punished.

While the Government has investigated torture complaints in 
criminal cases and punished some offending officers, the 
punishments do not necessarily relate to the seriousness of the 
injury.  In August the press reported that a senior SSIS 
officer received 6 months' imprisonment for permanently 
crippling a suspect during interrogation.

Officers of the SSIS allegedly are responsible for most of the 
torture used on suspected terrorist detainees.  Prisoners 
report that torture takes place in police stations, SSIS 
headquarters in Cairo, and the governorates, and at Central 
Security Force camps.  Torture is used to extract information, 
coerce the victims to end their antigovernment activities, and 
deter others from such activities.  Torture victims are usually 
taken to a state security office where they are handcuffed, 
blindfolded, and questioned about their associations, religious 
beliefs, and political views.  Victims have reported the 
following torture methods:  detainees are frequently stripped 
to their underwear; hung by their wrists with their feet 
touching the floor or forced to stand for prolonged periods; 
doused with hot and cold water; beaten; forced to stand 
outdoors in cold weather; and subjected to electric shocks.  
Some victims, including female detainees, report they have been 
raped or threatened with rape; others report that security 
officers have inserted solid objects, including electric 
devices, into their anuses.

Written records of detainees' whereabouts are not kept while 
they are in the custody of the state security police, a period 
which may last 10 days or longer.  Records are maintained only 
after security forces deliver the detainee to a prison.  The 
absence of such a record in the early days of detention invites 
abuse and effectively blocks the investigation of torture 
complaints.  The security forces also transfer detainees from 
prisons to other facilities where they are interrogated, 
tortured, and then returned to prison.  No written records are 
kept on such transfers.

To pressure male fugitives to surrender, security forces have 
taken into custody their relatives, including minors and female 
family members.  An undetermined number of such detainees have 
been subjected to physical abuse.

According to government sources, the prisons have a 400-percent 
occupancy rate, resulting in unhealthy living conditions, 
severe overcrowding, and occasional outbreaks of disease.  Many 
of the country's 31 prisons were constructed during the Ottoman 
era.  Prisoners report cells are poorly ventilated, and food is 
inadequate in quantity and nutritional value.

Prison officials occasionally levy collective punishment on 
inmates, suspending visits and delivery of food to inmates by 
their families.  According to official prison sources, in 
Qanater women's prison, the prison doctor was prosecuted for 
sexually molesting 12 female prisoners during examinations.  
Prisoners reported that prison guards beat a number of women in 
the aftermath of the scandal, and a sweep of the prison 
facilities resulted in the confiscation and destruction of many 
prisoners' clothes and personal belongings.

As many as 28 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 have 
reportedly been detained in the Assiyut General Prison, a 
facility for adults.  The charges against the adolescents 
reportedly include membership in the illegal Islamic Group, 
monitoring the movements of the police, and attempting to break 
into a mosque.  The adolescents allege that they were 
blindfolded and tortured at the state security police 
headquarters in Assiyut or at local police stations in southern 
Egypt.  Torture methods reportedly included suspension, 
electric shocks, and beatings with sticks.  In some cases, 
electricity was reportedly applied to the penis and tongue.  
Some of the adolescents have been detained for prolonged 
periods without trial, in one case since 1993.

Prison officials impose particularly harsh living conditions on 
some categories of prisoners such as Islamic activists.  
Al-Aqrab prison, which houses security suspects, has been 
closed to all visitors, including lawyers, since January, 
despite an administrative court order in April annulling the 
Ministry of Interior's ban.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention are commonly used against 
suspected terrorists and others suspected of threatening 
national security.  However, according to local human rights 
groups, in some mass security operations, security forces have 
subjected entire villages to collective punishments, such as 
curfews and mass arrests.  Frequently, the police have taken 
into custody nonviolent Islamists and persons with no 
association with extremist groups.  Such arrests and detentions 
are conducted under the State of Emergency which has been in 
effect since President Sadat's assassination in 1981.

In April the People's Assembly renewed the Emergency Law until 
May 31, 1997.  Government supporters claim that the Emergency 
Law is a temporary measure used only to fight terrorism or drug 
trafficking.  However, the Emergency Law has been in force so 
long that it has become an important characteristic of the 
political and legal system and is an impediment to the 
improvement of the human rights situation.  Under the Emergency 
Law, there is a continuous flow of new arrests and releases 
from detention.  Mass arrests continued in 1994, despite the 
Minister of Interior's stated intention in 1993 to deemphasize 
these arrests.

Under the Emergency Law, the Interior Minister may detain an 
individual without indictment for 90 days.  Detention orders 
are issued by public prosecutors who have limited powers to 
commit individuals to confinement.  Some detainees are not 
allowed to inform their relatives of their detention, and 
access to legal counsel is frequently delayed.  In theory, 
those arrested under the Emergency Law should be released after 
90 days.  In practice, the Government rearrests detainees who 
have been released by court order.  The procedure in effect 
detains them without due process for prolonged periods.

Under the Penal Code, arrested persons are charged with 
violations of specific laws, have the right to a judicial 
determination of the legality of arrest, and should be formally 
charged within 48 hours of arrest or be released.  Arrests 
under this procedure occur openly and with warrants issued by a 
district prosecutor or a judge.  There is a system of bail.  
The Penal Code also gives the State wide detention powers.  
State prosecutors may obtain court orders to detain individuals 
for 45 days and to confine them for up to 6 months to complete 
investigations.  Detainees are often released without 
explanation or acknowledgment that charges have been dropped.

The Penal Code contains several provisions to combat extremist 
violence.  These provisions broadly define terrorism to include 
the acts of "spreading panic" and "obstructing the work of 
authorities," allow the police to hold suspects for 24 hours 
before obtaining arrest warrants, and prescribe the death 
penalty for persons found guilty of terrorism and life 
imprisonment for membership in a terrorist group.

Human rights observers report that the security forces maintain 
an unauthorized permanent presence in prisons.  This practice 
purportedly violates Article 40 of the Criminal Procedures Code 
which prohibits contact between intelligence officers and 
prisoners.  SSIS officers reportedly frequently remove 
prisoners from their cells and take them to other locations for 
questioning.

Official sources estimate the total prison population at 
14,000, of which 5,000 are security cases.  They note that 
approximately 4,000 detainees are held without charge.  These 
numbers do not include the undetermined number of persons who 
are in detention prior to their entrance in the prison system 
(see Section 1.c.).

In May the Government detained 41 lawyers following a 
demonstration at the Bar Association building in Cairo by 
lawyers protesting the death in police custody of Abdel Hareth 
Madani (see Section 1.b.).  Some of the detained lawyers were 
charged with demonstrating illegally and threatening public 
order, while others, acting as their defense attorneys, were 
accused of incitement.  Some were detained without charge.  
None was tried.  All but one, Montasser Al-Zayyat, were 
released after 3 to 4 weeks in detention.  Al-Zayyat is the 
self-declared spokesman for the Islamic Group, as well as a 
well-known attorney who has defended accused extremists, 
including Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman.  State prosecutors ordered 
his release from detention on December 6; he still faces 
possible trial on charges of his association with an illegal 
terrorist organization and contact with terrorists.

In other cases, security forces continue to detain at least 150 
former defendants who have been acquitted in court.  Some have 
been held for as long as 3 or 4 years.

In September the police reportedly arrested hundreds of people 
to prevent any disruption of the U.N. International Conference 
on Population and Development, which was held in Cairo.  The 
police targeted extremists who were reportedly planning to 
attack the conference.

In October the police arrested hundreds of persons in Cairo and 
Hurghada in a security sweep.  The arrests followed the 
September 27 killing at a Red Sea resort town of a German 
tourist and two Egyptian citizens by suspected terrorists.

Human rights observers estimate that 20 Palestinians are in 
detention.  In September the Government released 34 
Palestinians at the request of a Palestinian human rights group 
and expelled them to Gaza.  Some Palestinians who are still in 
detention entered Egypt illegally, while others are legal 
residents and are under investigation for alleged political 
activities.  Some Palestinian detainees have reportedly been 
tortured.  One Palestinian was executed in 1994 after 
conviction for involvement in terrorist offenses.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the judiciary in recent years has exercised 
considerable independence, the Government continued to 
circumvent the regular court system by trying accused 
terrorists in military courts, in which they do not receive 
fair trials.

There are three levels of civilian criminal courts:  primary 
courts, appeals courts, and the Court of Cassation, the final 
stage of criminal appeal.  There is also a Supreme 
Constitutional Court, but its jurisdiction is limited to 
constitutional challenges.  It does not hear criminal appeals.  
The judicial system is based on the Napoleonic tradition, hence 
there are no juries.  Criminal cases are heard by panels of 
three judges.  Most trials are public.

In the civilian court system, the President appoints all judges 
based on nominations from the Higher Judicial Council, a 
constitutional body designed to ensure the independence of the 
judiciary.  The Council is composed of senior judges, lawyers, 
and law professors and is chaired by the President of the Court 
of Cassation.  It regulates judicial promotions, salaries, 
transfers, and disciplinary actions.  In practice, however, the 
Minister of Justice, an executive branch officer, has 
considerable influence over judicial appointments and 
transfers.  Judges may be appointed as prosecutors, and vice 
versa.

There are three special courts for crimes considered to touch 
upon national security:  state security courts, courts of 
ethics, and military courts.  The state security courts have 
jurisdiction over serious offenses, such as armed 
insurrection.  They are divided into upper and lower 
divisions.  Trials are heard by three judges, but two military 
officers may be added by presidential decree to the upper 
division.  Defendants before a state security court may be 
indicted under the Penal Code or the Emergency Law.  When an 
indictment is handed down under the Emergency Law, the court is 
designated an Emergency State Security Court.

A defendant has no judicial appeal from an Emergency State 
Security Court.  However, he may file an appeal for clemency 
from the President, or the Prime Minister acting for the 
President, who is empowered to amend, commute, or cancel a 
sentence, or order a retrial.  These powers imply that an 
acquittal may be canceled and the defendant retried for the 
same offense.

The Court of Ethics hears cases prosecuted under Law 95 of 1980 
which makes illegal such activities as "endangering the public 
safety," inciting youth "to depart from religious values and 
loyalty to the fatherland," and denying the three "heavenly 
religions."  It has an upper and lower division.  In recent 
years, the ethics courts have been used relatively infrequently 
to try "economic crimes," such as corruption and drug 
trafficking.  An ethics court conviction denies the defendant 
the right to engage in certain occupations or activities.
A person may be tried in a state security court and an ethics 
court on similar indictments:  in the former for criminal 
offenses and in the latter for the financial gains associated 
with those offenses.  Ethics courts have confiscated financial 
gains obtained under indictable offenses and may add prison 
terms to those meted out by state security courts.  If the 
ethics and state security courts reach different verdicts, the 
defendant may appeal to the President for a pardon.

As part of their independence from the Government, judges have 
ordered inquests into torture cases; acquitted defendants in 
cases in which confessions were extracted by torture; 
challenged the ban on workers' strikes; defended the right to 
nonviolent ideological opinion; overturned bans on prohibited 
political parties; and overturned an election law that 
discriminated against independent candidates and ordered 
dissolved the People's Assembly elected thereunder.

Nonetheless, the judiciary is still subject to considerable 
outside influence.  The ethics courts allow nonjurists to try 
cases.  The President may appoint military judges to try cases 
in the security courts.  The executive branch does not always 
enforce court orders.  Detainees may be rearrested under the 
Emergency Law without formal charge, even if previously 
released by a court.  In 1994, in contrast to previous years, 
no defendants in terrorism trials were acquitted on the basis 
of torture, although, according to Egyptian human rights 
monitors, the majority of such defendants claimed they had been 
tortured.

Since 1992 the Government has tried at least 543 civilian 
defendants in military courts for terrorist acts or membership 
in subversive organizations.  Defendants have been tried in 
groups as few as 8 and as many as 32.  The Government claims 
that civilian trials are too lengthy and civilian judges too 
susceptible to intimidation to warrant their use in terrorist 
cases.  In 1994 the Government referred for trial in military 
courts at least 97 civilians for terrorist acts or membership 
in subversive organizations.  Through September, these courts 
sentenced 22 defendants to death, 42 to prison, and acquitted 3.

Each military court comprises three military officers.  The 
presiding judge usually has general officer rank.  In January 
1993, the Supreme Constitutional Court upheld the use of 
military courts to try civilian cases.  It ruled that the 
President, acting under powers in the Emergency Law, is 
authorized to refer "any crime" to a military court.

The Government maintains that civilian defendants receive fair 
trials in the military courts.  It argues that all military 
judges have the same legal training as judges in the civilian 
courts; defense attorneys are accorded sufficient time to 
review the prosecution's files and inspect the State's 
evidence; trials are conducted under the same procedures used 
in civilian courts; defense attorneys have the right to 
cross-examine and to call any witness; military judges apply 
only the Penal Code in trying cases involving civilian 
defendants--no civilian defendant is subject to military law or 
military punishments; there are adequate safeguards against the 
admission of confessions obtained under duress; defense 
attorneys are appointed by the Bar Association at state expense 
for indigent defendants; verdicts are reviewed by two panels of 
military judges, who examine the trial procedures before they 
forward the verdicts to the President for ratification; and all 
defendants have a constitutional right to appeal to the 
President for clemency.

However, the military courts do not guarantee the defendants 
due process before an independent tribunal.  Both judges and 
prosecutors are part of the State's executive authority.  The 
charge of membership in a broadly defined terrorist group is 
frequently vague.  Defense attorneys have complained that they 
have not been given sufficient time to prepare defenses.  
Judges tend to rush cases with many defendants, so that most 
trials are completed within 6 weeks or less.  Moreover, 
military judges do not appear skilled in the rules of evidence; 
they have refused to hear witnesses or admit evidence deemed 
unimportant, and they do not treat torture complaints with 
sufficient seriousness.  Defendants have no right of appeal; 
their sentences are reviewed by the President of the Republic.

There are no reliable statistics on the number of political 
prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

In 1994 there continued to be substantial abridgment, under the 
Emergency Law, of constitutional provisions regarding the right 
to privacy.  Under the Constitution, homes, correspondence, 
telephone calls, and other means of communication "shall have 
their own sanctity, and their secrecy shall be guaranteed." 
Police must obtain warrants before undertaking searches and 
wiretaps.  Courts have dismissed cases in which warrants were 
issued without sufficient cause.  Police officials who conduct 
searches without proper warrants are subject to criminal 
penalties, although these are seldom imposed.

The Emergency Law empowers the State to search persons or 
places without warrants.  Security agencies frequently place 
political activists, suspected subversives, journalists, and 
writers under surveillance, screen their correspondence 
(especially international mail), search them and their homes, 
and confiscate personal property.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press.  
Egyptians openly express their views on a wide range of 
political and social issues, including vigorous criticism of 
the Government, without fear of retribution.  Nonetheless, 
there are substantial limitations on the freedom of the press.  
The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are often targets of 
criticism, but the press law stipulates fines or imprisonment 
for criticism of the President or a foreign head of state.  
However, in recent years, opposition journalists have, within 
limits, criticized the President without harassment, although 
he may not be satirized in cartoons.

The Government owns most major dailies, and the President 
appoints their editors in chief.  These newspapers generally 
follow the government line.  Nevertheless, criticisms of 
government policies are frequently found in the 
government-owned press.

The opposition newspapers are associated with political 
parties.  Most are weeklies, except the centrist daily Al-Wafd 
and the smaller Islamist semiweekly Al-Shaab.  All have small 
circulations.  Opposition newspapers frequently publish tough 
criticisms of the Government, inspiring rejoinders from the 
government-owned press.  They also give greater prominence to 
human rights abuses than the state-run newspapers.  Most of the 
opposition press receives foreign funding as well as government 
subsidies and is printed and distributed by a government-owned 
publishing house.

The Government restricts the press in a number of ways.  It 
controls the right to publish through its power to license 
newspapers.  The Higher Press Council, chaired by the Speaker 
of the Shura Council, has the power to approve applications for 
new publications.  Most members of the Higher Press Council are 
close to the ruling National Democratic Party and are inclined 
to follow the government line.  In a potentially serious move 
against the freedom of the press, the Higher Press Council in 
September issued new regulations for licensing new newspapers, 
requiring applicants to provide detailed information on sources 
of financing, editorial structure, and, in the case of a 
political party paper, the party's ideology and platform.  The 
regulations may be applied retroactively to existing newspapers 
and represent a significant tightening of the Government's 
control over the opposition press.

Opposition party papers may be called to account for publishing 
articles deemed inconsistent with their official ideologies.  
In the past, the Government has refused to license new parties 
whose stated platforms "duplicate" those of existing parties 
(see Section 3).

As in past years, the Government continued to interfere with 
freedom of expression, arresting and harassing Egyptian and 
foreign journalists, and confiscating printed material from the 
marketplace.  In general, the Government harassed some 
journalists who wrote stories about corruption, portrayed Egypt 
in an unfavorable light, explored human rights and military 
issues, or who were associated with Islamist opposition 
elements.  The Government has used such harassment to indicate 
that there are limits to criticism of the Government.

In March state security officials interrogated journalist 
Moustafa Bakry for his article in Al-Shaab newspaper in which 
he critized the security forces' use of violence against 
demonstrators protesting the massacre at the Hebron mosque in 
February.  Also interrogated were Adel Hussein, the Chairman of 
the Socialist Labor Party (SLP), and Magdy Hussein, Al-Shaab's 
editor in chief.  The three reported they had been accused of 
publishing articles that threatened state security, social 
order, and national unity.  The Government did not file charges.

In the spring, state prosecutors repeatedly interrogated Magdy 
Hussein and the leadership of the SLP in connection with libel 
suits filed against them by senior government officials for 
articles on official corruption.  As of late September, two of 
the four cases had been dropped against them.

In April a court sentenced another reporter for Al-Shaab, Abdel 
Sattar Abu Hussein, to 1 year in prison for publishing state 
secrets in an article on U.S.-Egyptian military exercises.  Abu 
Hussein claimed his article was derived from open sources.  He 
also claimed that after he was arrested, he was held 
incommunicado for 3 days and questioned about another one of 
his stories on alleged corruption in the military industry.  In 
July the Minister of Defense commuted Abu Hussein's sentence to 
3 months, after Al-Shaab retracted Abu Hussein's stories.

Also in April, Mohammed Zaky of Al-Wafd newspaper was detained 
for questioning about the source of an article he wrote on a 
reported police success in uncovering a new terrorist group.

In June the authorities detained Magdy Hussein and confiscated 
his notes after he returned from a visit to Yemen.  In 
September security officials again interrogated Mustafa Bakry 
about foreign funding of Al-Shaab and his articles in another 
newspaper, Al-Ahrar, in which he detailed dissident activity in 
Saudi Arabia, repeated rumors about King Fahd's health 
problems, criticized the Egyptian Government for hosting the 
U.N. International Conference on Population and Development, 
and reported Iraqi press attacks on President Mubarak.

In December the State Security Prosecutor General remanded Adel 
Hussein to 15 days' custody for interrogation into his 
purported links with the Islamic Group, a terrorist 
organization.  Members of the press syndicate staged a hunger 
strike in protest, and local human rights monitors and 
opposition leaders condemned the arrest and held a series of 
rallies.

In 1994 state prosecutors summoned several foreign journalists 
for questioning because they believed their reporting on 
internal events had damaged Egypt's international reputation.

The Government restricts news coverage on television and radio 
more tightly than newspaper coverage.  Criticisms of government 
policies and reporting on government corruption and human 
rights abuses are almost never broadcast on radio and 
television.  Political parties do not have access to broadcast 
facilities, even during election campaigns.

Various ministries are authorized to ban or confiscate books 
and other works of art upon obtaining a court order.  The 
Ministry of Interior regularly confiscates leaflets and other 
works by Islamists.  In 1994 the Ministry prevented the public 
sale of audio cassette tapes by Islamic preachers whose 
preachings were considered to foment sectarian strife.

The Ministry of Defense may ban works about sensitive security 
issues, and plays and films must pass Ministry of Culture 
censorship tests as scripts and as final productions.  The 
Ministry of Culture also censors foreign films but is more 
lenient when these are in video format.  In 1994 government 
censors banned the showing of the U.S. film, "Schindler's 
List," on the grounds of explicit violence, nudity, and sex.  
Government censors ensure that foreign films made in Egypt 
portray Egypt in a favorable light.  Censors review scripts 
before filming, are present during filming, and have the right 
to review the film before it is sent out of Egypt.

The Ministry of Information censors television productions and 
foreign news publications.  On occasion in 1994, the Ministry 
impounded some foreign news publications before they were 
released.  The Ministry does not usually inform the management 
of foreign publications of the reasons for impoundments.  In 
1994 the Ministry banned or delayed the distribution of nine 
issues of the English-language weekly, The Middle East Times.  
Those issues carried stories on government corruption, human 
rights violations, and the Government's security campaign 
against extremists.

The Islamic Research Institute at Al-Azhar University has legal 
authority to censor, but not to confiscate, all publications 
dealing with the Koran and Islamic scriptural texts.  In recent 
years, however, the Institute has passed judgment on the 
suitability of nonreligious books and artistic productions.  In 
February an advisory council in the judiciary issued an opinion 
expanding Al-Azhar's censorship to include visual and audio 
artistic works.  In response, the Minister of Culture issued a 
statement describing the court's decision as advisory and not 
binding upon the Government.  In the past, President Mubarak 
has publicly approved Al-Azhar's censorship role, but in 1994 
he stated that the Government would not allow confiscation of 
books from the market without a court order.

As in recent years, moderate Muslims and secularist writers 
have found themselves under attack by extremists.  In October 
suspected extremists attempted to assassinate Nagib Mahfouz, 
Nobel Laureate and antifundamentalist critic, whose novel, "The 
Children of the Gebelawi," has been banned from public sale by 
Al-Azhar since 1959 because it is considered blasphemous.  
Following the murder attempt, the press published the novel in 
a show of solidarity with Mahfouz and secular intellectuals 
(see Section 1.a.).

The Government does not generally restrict academic freedom at 
universities.  However, in May the People's Assembly amended 
the Education Law to authorize university presidents to appoint 
deans of faculties.  Under the previous law, faculty deans were 
elected by their peers.  The Government justified the measure 
as a means to combat Islamist influence in the school system.

In January a court ruled against Islamist lawyers who had 
petitioned the court to divorce Nasr Abu Zeid, an Arabic 
language professor at Cairo University, from his wife on 
grounds that Abu Zeid's writings on the Koran were heretical.  
The petitioners argued that, as a heretic, Abu Zeid should not 
be allowed to remain married to a Muslim woman in a Muslim 
country.  The court found the petitioners had no standing to 
file a divorce suit.  The case was in appeal at year's end.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

There continue to be substantial restrictions on this freedom.  
Under a 1923 law, citizens must obtain approval from the 
Ministry of Interior before holding public meetings, rallies, 
and protest marches.  Permits are generally granted for rallies 
held indoors or on university campuses.

In May security forces broke up a demonstration of lawyers 
protesting the death in police custody of Abdel Hareth Madani 
(see Section 1.a.).  When the demonstrating lawyers attempted 
to enter the street, the police moved in with tear gas and 
clubs.  The Government had denied the Bar Association's request 
for a permit for a protest march, and thus termed the 
demonstration illegal.

Under Law 32 of 1964, the Ministry of Social Affairs has 
sweeping authority over all Egyptian "private organizations," 
including the right to license and dissolve them, confiscate 
their properties, appoint members to their boards, and 
interfere in other internal administrative matters.  Licenses 
may be revoked if such organizations engage in political or 
religious activities.  The law authorizes the Ministry to 
"merge two or more associations to achieve a similar function," 
a provision that can be used to merge an undesirable 
organization out of existence.

In 1994 the Ministry dissolved a nongovernmental organization 
which had received unauthorized funds from a Kuwaiti group, the 
Society for the Revival of the Islamic Heritage.  The 
Government expelled several Kuwaiti citizens associated with 
the organization, asserting that the organization had 
distributed funds to extremists.  In August the Ministry 
announced that all organizations receiving charitable funds 
from abroad would be obliged to transfer the funds to the 
Ministry for distribution.

Since 1985, the Government has refused under Law 32 to license 
the EOHR and the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) on 
grounds that they are political organizations.  Both continue 
to operate openly (see Section 4).  Similarly, the request by 
Amnesty International (AI) for legal status for its local 
chapter has been pending with the Government for 4 years.  
Until recently, the Government allowed AI to operate freely, 
but in October it informed AI's local chapter that it would no 
longer be allowed to hold meetings, pending a decision on its 
request for legal status.  The Government says it is still 
studying that request.

Under 1993 legislation on professional associations, an 
association must elect its governing board by at least 50 
percent of its general membership.  Failing a quorum, a second 
election must be held in which at least 33 per cent of the 
membership votes in the board.  If such a quorum is impossible, 
the judiciary may appoint a caretaker board until new elections 
can be set.  The law was adopted to prevent further gains in 
the professional syndicates by Islamist candidates.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides freedom of belief and the practice of 
religious rites.  However, there are important limitations.  
Islam is the state religion.  Most Egyptians are Muslim, but 
approximately 10 per cent of the population, 5 million people, 
belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the largest Christian 
minority in the Middle East.  There are other small Christian 
denominations.  The small Jewish community practices its 
religion without harassment.  Members of recognized religions 
maintain links with coreligionists abroad.  The foreign clergy 
pursue their ministries without harassment, but the law 
effectively bars non-Muslims from proselytizing.

Islam accepts Christian and other converts, but Muslims face 
legal problems if they convert to another faith.  There is no 
clear legal prohibition against conversion or proselytizing, 
but Article 98f of the Penal Code prohibits any person from 
"degrading or disdaining any of the holy religions or any of 
its religious sects" with "the intention of harming national 
unity and social peace."  This is interpreted as forbidding the 
conversion of Muslims by non-Muslims.  Conviction is punishable 
by 6 months' to 5 years' imprisonment.  In 1993 the authorities 
twice arrested an Egyptian lay missionary for preparing 
Christian missionary literature for publication.  A court 
ordered his release from detention in March.

In July the Minister of Education issued a decree prohibiting 
local school officials from requiring schoolgirls to wear the 
hegab (head scarf) without parental consent on school grounds.  
A group of lawyers and parents, who favored the hegab, 
challenged the decree.  An administrative court ruled against 
the Minister, but his decree was later upheld by an appelate 
court.

The courts have upheld the principle that Muslims cannot change 
their identity papers to reflect their conversion to a new 
religion.  As a consequence, married male converts from Islam 
must register their children as Muslims, as the law considers 
them to be Muslims.

In the past, state security forces have harassed and detained 
for prolonged periods Egyptian Christians accused of 
proselytizing Muslims.  In November 1993, security forces 
arrested six Coptic Christians who had sought to dissuade 
another Coptic Christian, who was also arrested, from 
converting to Islam.  All seven persons were held in detention 
without formal charge.  The Supreme State Security Court 
ordered their release in May.

An 1856 Ottoman decree still in force requires non-Muslims to 
obtain what is now a presidential decree to build or repair a 
place of worship.  Coptic Christians maintain they are 
frequently unable to obtain such authorization or are blocked 
by the security forces from using the authorizations that have 
been issued.  As a result, some communities use private 
buildings and apartments for religious services.  From 1992 to 
1994, the Government increased the number of building permits 
issued to Christian communities to an average of more than 20 a 
year, compared to the average of 5 permits issued annually in 
the 1980's.  Most permits appear to be for the repair of 
existing structures and not for new construction of churches.  
Christian and Muslim reformers urge the abolition of the 
Ottoman decree, but Islamists defend the building restrictions.

According to human rights and legal sources, the Government in 
June closed two buildings in an unzoned area near Alexandria 
which had been used by Coptic Evangelical Christians since 1990 
for church activities.  Church lawyers are pursuing a legal 
suit against the closures.  The lawyers maintain that the 
closures violate previous court rulings upholding the right to 
conduct religious services in private buildings without prior 
government approval.  They also point out that the closed 
buildings are located in an area were unlicensed buildings are 
common.  In July security forces arrested a Coptic Christian 
who protested the closures in letters published in newspapers.  
The police released the individual after 10 days' detention 
after he signed a statement binding him not to discuss the 
closures in public.

In theory, mosques must also be licensed by the Government, but 
the Government reports approximately half of the estimated 
70,000 mosques in Egypt are unlicensed.  The Penal Code 
prohibits using a place of worship for antigovernment speeches, 
and the Ministry of Religious Affairs proposes themes and 
monitors sermons.  In practice, the Government cannot control 
all sermons, especially at "unauthorized" mosques where sermons 
may invoke antigovernment, anti-Christian, and anti-Western 
themes.  In 1994 the Government increased efforts to bring 
private mosques under its administrative control as a means to 
counter Islamic extremism.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Egyptians and foreigners are free to travel within Egypt except 
in certain military areas.  Males who have not completed 
compulsory military service may not travel abroad or emigrate, 
although this restriction can be circumvented.  Unmarried women 
under 21 must have permission from their fathers to obtain 
passports and travel; married women require the same permission 
from their husbands.  Citizens who leave the country have the 
right to return.

In recent years, the Government has denied permission to 
Christian converts from Islam to travel abroad.  The 
deportation of citizens and aliens granted political asylum is 
prohibited and not practiced.

Egypt is host to thousands of refugees, but only a few are 
granted the right to resettle in Egypt.  In the past, some 
Ethiopians and other Africans, who seek documentation as 
refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 
have been detained by the police and then transported to areas 
near the Libyan or Sudanese borders where they are released.  
Some have returned to their countries; others have found their 
way back to Egyptian cities.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) dominates the 
454-seat People's Assembly, the Shura Council, local 
governments, the mass media, labor, the large public sector, 
and the licensing of new political parties, newspapers, and 
private organizations to such an extent that, as a practical 
matter, Egyptians do not have a meaningful ability to change 
the national government.

In 1993 President Hosni Mubarak was elected unopposed to a 
third 6-year term by the People's Assembly.  In October of that 
year, his reelection was approved by 96 percent of the voters 
in a national referendum.  The Government claimed that 86 per 
cent of the electorate went to the polls although observers 
judged that the actual figure was much lower.  The electorate 
was not presented with a choice among competing presidential 
candidates; it was offered the opportunity only to vote for or 
against Mubarak's reelection.  Two opposition parties, the Wafd 
and the Islamist-affiliated Socialist Labor Party, urged the 
public to boycott the referendum, and two other parties, the 
leftist Tagammu and the Nasserist Party, urged the public to 
vote against President Mubarak.  The other opposition parties 
endorsed Mubarak's candidacy.

In June the Government convened a "national dialog" conference 
of figures in politics, labor, the media, and intellectuals to 
discuss the country's future priorities.  Although the 
Government had stated that the dialog would be open to various 
views, it strictly controlled the agenda and the selection of 
the delegates, who were overwhelmingly drawn from NDP members 
and sympathizers.  The Government invited the opposition 
parties to send three representatives each.  Two parties 
boycotted the conference.  At the conference, the Government 
disallowed any discussion of constitutional reform, nor did it 
address such topics as human rights.

Acting on recommendations from the dialog, President Mubarak in 
October issued edicts amending or abolishing several old laws 
on political party registration, candidates for public office, 
and elections.  However, at year's end, he has not indicated 
how or when the more substantial political reforms recommended 
by the dialog might be implemented.

In the 1990 People's Assembly election, NDP candidates won 383 
seats of 444 elected, independents won 55, and a leftist party 
won 6.  Seven opposition parties boycotted the election.  The 
Constitution reserves 10 Assembly seats for presidential 
appointees, assuring some representation for Coptic Christians 
and women.  Women were granted suffrage in 1956.  Ten women 
hold Assembly seats:  7 elected and 3 appointed.  One Copt is 
in the Cabinet and five Copts sit in the Assembly:  one elected 
and four appointed.

The Assembly debates government proposals, and members exercise 
their authority to call cabinet ministers to explain policy, 
but it does not have sufficient authority to challenge or 
restrain the executive in the areas of security or foreign 
policy.  The Assembly can exercise significant influence over 
economic policies, primarily by blocking governmental 
initiatives.  The executive initiates almost all legislation; 
the Assembly may not modify the budget except with the 
Government's approval, and there is little oversight of the 
Interior Ministry's use of Emergency Law powers.  Many 
executive branch initiatives and policies are carried out by 
ministerial decree without significant legislative oversight.  
The military budget is prepared by the executive and not 
debated publicly.  Presidential appointees do not require 
legislative approval.  Roll-call votes in the Assembly are 
rare.  Votes are generally reported in aggregate terms of yeas 
and nays, and thus constituents have no independent method of 
checking a member's voting record.

There are 12 recognized opposition parties.  The law empowers 
the Government to bring felony charges against those who form a 
party without a license.  New parties must be approved by the 
Parties Committee, a semiofficial body dominated by the ruling 
National Democratic Party.  Since the late 1970's, the 
Committee has granted a license to only one opposition 
party--the Wafd Party.  Other parties have been granted 
licenses by presidential decrees or by court orders.  The sole 
application to form a new party in 1994, from the Egyptian 
Popular Democratic Party, was pending at year's end.

In January the Political Parties Court rejected the 1993 
application of the Social Justice Party.  In February the 
Higher Administrative Court upheld a lower court ruling which 
disapproved the establishment of the Peace Party.

The law prohibits political parties based on religion.  
Nevertheless, Muslim Brotherhood partisans are publicly known 
and openly speak their views.  Some have served in the Assembly 
as independents or members of other recognized parties.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government refuses to license local human rights 
organizations as private entities under Law 32 of 1964 (see 
Section 2.b.) on the grounds that they are political 
organizations.  Appeals from the Egyptian Organization for 
Human Rights (EOHR) and the associated Arab Organization for 
Human Rights (AOHR) on the ruling on their legal status are 
still before the courts.  AOHR has successfully registered as a 
foreign organization with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  
Despite its nonrecognition, the EOHR operates openly, its field 
workers visit prisons and government offices, and the 
Government does not interfere with its funding from foreign 
human rights organizations.  Other activists have successfully 
registered their human rights organizations as corporations 
under the commercial law, thus skirting the obstacles posed by 
Law 32.

In May an EOHR staff member, who was also a defense lawyer for 
persons arrested in an unauthorized demonstration at the Bar 
Association headquarters (see Section 1.c.), was arrested 
ostensibly on grounds of inciting public disorder and 
questioned extensively about his activities at the EOHR.

In June representatives of the New York-based Human Rights 
Watch complained of overt surveillance by state security 
officers during one of their field trips to upper Egypt.  In 
September the EOHR reported that state security officers 
ordered EOHR's publisher not to distribute copies of EOHR's 
1993 annual report.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

The law provides for equality of the sexes, but aspects of the 
law and many traditional practices discriminate against women.  
By law women need their husbands' or fathers' permission to 
obtain a passport or travel abroad (Section 2.d.).  Only males 
can confer citizenship.  In rare cases, this means that 
children born to Egyptian mothers and stateless fathers are 
themselves stateless.

Laws affecting marriage and personal status generally 
correspond to an individual's religion, which for most 
Egyptians is Islam.  A 1979 liberalization of the Family Status 
Law strengthened a Muslim woman's rights to divorce and to 
child custody.  In 1985, however, the changes were found 
unconstitutional on grounds that they conflicted with Islamic 
law and were repealed.

Under Islamic law, non-Muslim males must convert to Islam to 
marry Muslim women, but non-Muslim women need not convert to 
marry Muslim men.  Muslim female heirs receive half the amount 
of a male heir's inheritance, while Christian widows of Muslims 
have no inheritance rights.  A sole female heir receives half 
her parents' estate; the balance goes to designated male 
relatives.  A sole male heir inherits all his parents' 
property.  Male Muslim heirs have the duty to provide for all 
family members who need assistance.

Egyptian women have employment opportunities in government, 
medicine, law, academia, the arts, and, to a lesser degree, in 
business.  About 100 officers in the Egyptian diplomatic 
service are women, including 3 ambassadors.  There are no women 
judges.  Although there is no legal basis to prohibit women 
judges, a woman under consideration for promotion to magistrate 
was denied the promotion on the basis of gender in 1993 and is 
suing the Government.

Social pressure against women pursuing a career is strong, and 
some Egyptian feminists say that a resurgent Islamic 
fundamentalist trend limits further gains.  Women's rights 
advocates also point to other discriminatory attitudes and 
practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and the male 
relative's role in enforcing women's compliance with 
religiously prescribed codes of sexual conduct.

Family violence against women occurs and is reflected in press 
accounts of specific incidents.  Official or nonofficial 
quantitative data do not exist.  In general, the intervention 
of neighbors and extended family members tends to limit the 
prevalence and scope of such violence.  Abuse within the family 
is rarely discussed publicly, owing to the value attached to 
privacy in this traditional society.  Neither the government, 
nongovernmental organizations, or human rights organizations 
has commented publicly upon family violence.

There are at least two active women's rights groups, one 
affiliated with the EOHR.  The other is the Communications 
Group for the Enhancement of the Status of Women, which has 
published a booklet on the legal rights of Egyptian women.

     Children

The Government remains committed to the protection of 
children's welfare within the limits of its budgetary 
resources.  Many of the resources for children's welfare are 
provided by international donors, especially in the field of 
child immunization.  Child labor is widespread, despite the 
Government's commitment to eradicate it.

International health experts have condemned female genital 
mutilation (FGM) as damaging to physical and mental health.  
Statistics on the prevalence of FGM vary, but government and 
private sources agree it is common among 70 to 80 per cent of 
rural and poor urban women.  The act is generally performed on 
girls between the ages of 7 and 10, probably with equal 
prevalence among Muslims and Coptic Christians.

A 1959 decree and subsequent amendments, which described the 
practice as "psychologically harmful," limited the practice to 
excision.  However, the more drastic infibulation is practiced 
in some parts of southern Egypt.  The decree prohibited doctors 
from performing the excision in government health facilities.  
Current law stipulates penalties for nonmedical practitioners; 
a barber was sentenced in November to a year at hard labor for 
circumcising a child.  However, the law does not stipulate 
punishment for parents who violate the law.  Following public 
outcry in 1994 over foreign television airing of the 
circumcision of a 9-year old girl, the Minister of Health, in 
the company of religious leaders, announced the Government 
would hold its first conference on FGM.  The Government also 
broadcast television programs condemning the practice.  The 
Sheikh of Al-Azhar, head of the world's oldest institution of 
Islamic thought, has issued a decree declaring FGM a 
religiously mandated duty.  His ruling could hamper any public 
educational efforts by the Government.

     Religious Minorities

The approximately 5 million Coptic Christians are the objects 
of occasional violent assaults by Islamic extremists and of 
discrimination by the Government.  In 1994 Islamic extremists 
are believed to have been responsible for killing at least 
eight Coptic residents of Assiyut governorate, including the 
shooting of six pilgrims at a monastery.  The area of Dairut, 
Assiyut governorate, the scene of a massacre of 13 Coptic 
residents in 1992, is reportedly still tense.  Local Coptic 
residents fear for their personal safety when traveling outside 
their homes.

Extremists have obstructed church repairs and construction and 
harassed Copt-owned businesses.  Christians have complained 
that the Government is lax in protecting Coptic lives and 
property.  Security forces arrest extremists who perpetrate 
violence against Copts, but the Coptic community does not 
believe the Government is vigorous in its efforts to prevent 
the attacks and does little to correct nonviolent forms of 
discrimination, including its own.

Government discriminatory practices include:  suspected 
statistical underrepresentation of the size of the Christian 
population; delays in issuing church building and repair 
permits and obstruction of permits obtained; the detention and 
mistreatment of some Muslim converts to Christianity; laws that 
prevent Muslims from changing their identity papers to reflect 
their conversion to Christianity (upheld in a 1980 court 
decision); anti-Christian discrimination in education, 
illustrated by the requirement that public school students, 
including Christians, memorize Koranic verses as part of their 
Arabic studies; a public school ban on the hiring of Christian 
Arabic teachers as the curriculum involves the study of the 
Koran; the production of Islamic television programs, some with 
anti-Christian themes; job discrimination in the public sector, 
the police, the armed forces, and government agencies; reported 
discrimination against Christians in admission to state medical 
schools; and underrepresentation in government.  There are no 
Coptic governors and no Copts in the upper ranks of the 
military, police, and diplomatic service.

     People with Disabilities

There are approximately 5.7 million disabled persons in Egypt, 
of whom 1.5 million are severely disabled.  The Government 
makes serious efforts to address their rights.  It works 
closely with United Nations agencies and other international 
aid donors to design job-training programs for the disabled.  
The Government also seeks to increase the public's awareness of 
the capabilities of the disabled in television programming, the 
print media, and in educational material in public schools.  By 
law, all businesses must designate 5 percent of their jobs for 
the disabled, who are exempted from normal literacy 
requirements.  Although there is no legislation mandating 
access to public accommodations and transportation, the 
disabled may ride government-owned mass transit buses without 
charge, are given priority in obtaining telephones, and receive 
reductions on customs duty for private vehicles.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Egyptian workers may, but are not required to, join trade 
unions.  A union local, or worker's committee, may be formed if 
50 employees express a desire to organize.  Most union members, 
about 25 per cent of the labor force, are employed by 
state-owned enterprises.  The law stipulates that "high 
administrative" officials in government and the public sector 
may not join unions.

There are 23 industrial unions, all required to belong to the 
Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF), the sole legally 
recognized labor federation.  The International Labor 
Organization's Committee of Experts (COE) has repeatedly 
emphasized that a law requiring all trade unions to belong to a 
single federation infringes on the freedom of association.  The 
Government has shown no sign that it intends to accept the 
establishment of more than one federation.  The ETUF leadership 
asserts that it actively promotes worker interests and that 
there is no need for another federation.  ETUF officials have 
close relations with the NDP, and some are members of the 
People's Assembly and the Shura Council.  They speak vigorously 
on behalf of worker concerns, but public confrontations between 
ETUF and the Government are rare.  Disputes are more often 
resolved by consensus behind closed doors.

Some unions within ETUF are affiliated with international trade 
union organizations.  Others are in the process of doing so.

The Government is in the process of drafting a new labor law 
which has not yet been submitted to the People's Assembly.  The 
law is expected to be debated in the spring of 1995.  The 
proposed law provides statutory authorization for the rights to 
strike and to collective bargaining.  Under current labor laws 
such rights are not adequately guaranteed.  Even though the 
right to strike is not guaranteed, strikes occur.  The 
Government considers strikes a form of public disturbance and 
hence illegal.

In October the police used force to break up a public 
demonstration in support of a strike by several thousand 
textile workers at the northern town of Kafr al-Duwar.  In 
putting down the demonstration, the police killed at least 5 
persons, including a 12-year-old child, arrested more than 100 
demonstrators.  Sixty demonstrators were injured.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The draft labor law provides statutory authorization for 
collective bargaining.  Under the current law, unions may 
negotiate work contracts with public sector enterprises if the 
latter agrees to such negotiations, but unions otherwise lack 
collective bargaining power in the state sector.  Under current 
circumstances, collective bargaining does not exist in any 
meaningful sense because the Government sets wages, benefits, 
and job classifications by law.  Larger firms in the private 
sector generally adhere to such government-mandated standards.

Labor law and practice are the same in the export processing 
zones as in the rest of the country.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is illegal and not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment is 12.  Education is compulsory 
until age 15.  An employee must be at least 15 to join a labor 
union.  The Labor Law of 1981 states that children aged 12 to 
15 may work 6 hours a day but not after 7 p.m. and not in 
dangerous or heavy activities.  Child workers must obtain 
medical certificates and work permits before they are employed.

A 1988 survey found that 1.4 million children between the ages 
of 6 and 14 are employed--about 7 percent of the total work 
force.  A 1989 study estimated that two-thirds of child labor, 
perhaps 720,000 children, work on farms.  However, children 
also work as apprentices in repair and craft shops, in heavier 
industries such as brickmaking and textiles, and as workers in 
leather factories and carpet-making, which largely supplies the 
export market.  While local trade unions report that the 
Ministry of Labor adequately enforces the labor laws in 
state-owned enterprises, enforcement in the private sector, 
especially in family-owned enterprises, is lax.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

For government and public-sector employees, the minimum wage is 
approximately $20 a month for a 6-day, 48-hour workweek.  Base 
pay is supplemented by a complex system of fringe benefits and 
bonuses that may double or triple a worker's take-home pay.  It 
is doubtful that the average family could survive on a worker's 
base pay at the minimum wage rate.  The minimum wage is also 
legally binding on the private sector, and larger private 
companies generally observe the requirement and pay bonuses as 
well.  Smaller firms do not always pay the minimum wage or 
bonuses.  The Ministry of Labor sets worker health and safety 
standards, which also apply in the export processing zones, but 
enforcement and inspection are uneven.
(###)

[end of document]

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Return to 1994 Human Rights Practices report home page.
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