Egypt to End 30-Year State of Emergency

Cairo's interim junta has said it will not renew the decades-old emergency law that has been in place since the 1981 Sadat assassination.

Gabe Kahn. ,

Tahrir Square Riot
Tahrir Square Riot
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Egypt’s military ruler said that the country’s decades-old state of emergency will be lifted on Wednesday.

“I have taken a decision to end the state of emergency, in all parts of the country, except in fighting acts of thuggery, starting on the morning of January 25, 2012,” Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said Tuesday in a televised address.

The date marks the first anniversary of the uprising that brought down President Hosni Mubarak. It also comes one day after a member of the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was appointed speaker of Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliament.

The controversial emergency law – which has been in place since Islamists assassinated president Anwar Sadat in 1981 – had been regularly extended under Mubarak’s rule.

Last year the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces widened the scope of the law – restricted in 2010 to narcotics and terrorism – to include labour strikes, traffic disruption and the spread of false information.

The lifting of the emergency law has been a key demand of protesters who took to the streets last year to call for democratic change and demand the ouster of Mubarak.

It is also a requirement for billions in promised US aid dollars, which are contingent on Cairo transitioning to a civilian government that respects freedom of religion and human rights, as well as upholding the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.