Egypt to dismiss public servants with alleged ties to Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt’s parliament has approved controversial new amendments to a law allowing the dismissal of public servants with alleged ties to terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

al-monitor An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood supporter flashes the four finger sign in front of a statue of Talaat Harb during a demonstration in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 1, 2013. Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 16, 2020

CAIRO — The Egyptian parliament’s Legislative Committee approved Nov. 1 a draft law submitted by the government, approving the dismissal of civil servants who support terrorist groups, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, from all state agencies and institutions, without taking disciplinary measures. 

In the explanatory memo for the new amendments to Law No. 10 of 1972, the government said that as per Article 237 of the constitution, “the state is obliged to confront terrorism in all its forms, a threat to the homeland and citizens, and track its sources of financing according to a specific timetable while guaranteeing rights and freedoms. This law will regulate the provisions of anti-terrorism measures and fair compensation for any ensuing damages.”

It continued, “The Egyptian state is waging a fierce war against terrorism, violence and extremism. Terrorism begins with an anomalous and poisonous mindset spread by the misguided followers of terrorism to deceive others. This creates a breeding ground for corrupt ideas of terrorism and violence. The state will by no means serve as an arena for such ideas or fertile soil that terrorist groups would exploit to recruit followers."

The memo also stressed the need to dismiss public employees who are “intellectually affiliated” with terrorist groups, as this would pose an imminent threat to the public interest and society. “Drying up the sources of extremism is not limited to confronting its promoters in the state administrative apparatus only, but necessitates confrontation at a wider and more comprehensive level,” it added.

In October 2019, the Ministry of Education announced the dismissal of 1,070 teachers for their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, following the issuance of court rulings against them. 

At the time, Minister of Education Tarek Shawki said the reason for the dismissal of the teachers was to confront destructive and extremist ideas and to preserve the future of students. He stressed that the decision affected convicted teachers, “who are not fit to be educators,” stressing that he had “carefully studied the decision, and followed all legal means in this regard.”

The Administrative Court of the Egyptian State Council is currently considering a lawsuit filed by lawyer Samir Sabry to bind the authorities to dismiss all employees belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood from all positions in the state’s administrative apparatus. 

The case stated that following the January 25 Revolution of 2011 and the arrival of the Muslim Brotherhood to power, the prime minister and some Brotherhood leaders at the time had issued several decisions allowing their cadres to have a stranglehold on the Egyptian state through high positions in different ministries and institutions.

Mohamed Abu Hamed, member of parliament and undersecretary of the parliamentary Social Solidarity Committee, described the new law as “extremely important for the state to combat terrorism.”

“The law guarantees a legal tool allowing the state to purge the administrative apparatus from members of terrorist organizations,” he told Al-Monitor. “This draft law helps the state to purge its administrative apparatus from members of terrorist organizations, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, whose presence in the different government institutions represents a threat to the Egyptian state."

He said, “The new law will help bridge any gaps that may be exploited to impede its implementation from a constitutional point of view. The law will define and determine new cases that would face nondisciplinary dismissal, including cases involved in terrorism crimes affecting national security.”

Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, an attorney at the Court of Cassation, told Al-Monitor via phone that the decision of nondisciplinary dismissals is subject to judicial oversight, and therefore it may be appealed before the State Council, which means providing sufficient guarantees to the dismissed employees. 

He explained that nondisciplinary dismissals terminate the service of a public employee by an administrative decision and not under the regular termination procedure specified by the law. Disciplinary dismissal is the termination of service of an employee as a result of disciplinary punishment by competent courts, according Ahmed.

He noted that the new amendments to Law No. 10 of 1972 grant the administrative judiciary the authority to monitor decisions of nondisciplinary dismissals of civil servants. This would provide guarantees to affected employees that the dismissal decision would not be final until the judiciary considers all grounds of the decision, which has to be approved and issued by the president based on recommendation by the competent minister or the director of administrative prosecution. The concerned public employee would be informed of the decision.

Ahmed stressed that the final decision of dismissal is made after hearing the statements of the affected employee. The competent minister may not suggest to the president to dismiss an employee based on nondisciplinary grounds before considering the statements of the employee, as the final termination decision depends on the general attitude and behavior of the employee, according to Ahmed. He said that the charge could be based on false accusation, and that therefore it is imperative to allow the employee to make a statement to this effect. 

The newly approved law also includes a new condition for nondisciplinary dismissal, whereby “those who are listed on terrorist lists in accordance with Law No. 8 of 2015 on lists of terrorist entities and terrorists, pose a threat to the state security and should be removed from all state institutions as long as they remain on the list.”

The law also allows the president to directly delegate the prime minister, the second in the administrative hierarchy, to issue a dismissal decision, in order to alleviate the administrative burden given that several bodies have the same prerogatives in this regard.

Sharif Radwan, an attorney at the Court of Cassation and the State Council, believes the law allows the executive power to take arbitrary decisions to dismiss civilian employees working in state institutions, without taking disciplinary measures or referring to the judiciary. He told Al-Monitor that under the new law, the affected employees cannot refer to the judiciary, specifically to the State Council's Supreme Administrative Court to appeal the dismissal decision.

According to Radwan, the law is a new tool to expand the crackdown against opponents of the regime, legitimizing arbitrary dismissal and allowing abuse of power.

He added, “The approval of the amendments is confusing; the process only took five minutes, including reading the draft text and voting on it. The [parliamentary] Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee even referred the text for amendment to the General Assembly on the same day.”

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