Lawmen define a state of emergency as being subject to a law regulating it, which is an exceptional system specified in time and place announced by the government, to confront emergency and extraordinary circumstances that threaten the country or part of it, by urgent measures and unusual methods; under specific conditions and until the threat is removed.
In Egypt, the emergency law authorizes the armed forces and police to take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism, maintain security throughout the country, protect public and private property, and save the lives of citizens.
Last April, the state of emergency was renewed for the last time, before Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision on October 25 ended this turbulent chapter in the country’s history. In light of what he has repeatedly declared, “Egypt is building a new republic.”
140 years ago
On July 11, 1882, the first chapter of the extraordinary measures began in Egypt, after the Egyptian government announced military provisions for the first time, during the British attack on Egypt, just prior to its occupation.
According to Imad Abu Ghazi, a professor of documentation at Cairo University and a former Egyptian Minister of Culture, the government imposed the military rulings at the time through a telegram sent by Ragheb Pasha, the head of the Council of Principals, to all directorates and published in the Egyptian Gazette.
And the telegram stated: “When the war began between us and the British, and according to the law, the administration will be under military provisions, and the horses and mules that are all in the directorates and governorates are sent to the Diwan of Jihadism at prices approved for Jihadism, so let him take the initiative to send them.”
Abu Ghazi says that this procedure is the first incident in which military rulings are announced in the country after the constitutional system was known with the Urabi Revolution, describing the matter as declaring general mobilization, and with Britain’s occupation of Egypt, the constitution was abolished and public freedoms were restricted without an official declaration of a state of emergency.
The era of martial law
With the British occupation of Egypt, freedoms remained restricted without an official declaration of emergency, but on November 2, 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, General Maxwell, the commander of the occupation army in Egypt, announced the country’s submission to military rule, and a few weeks later the British protectorate was declared over Egypt.
After the end of World War I in 1918, the demand for the abolition of military judgments topped the demands of Egyptian politicians at the time, led by Saad Zagloul. Under martial law, censorship was imposed on newspapers, and Egyptians were widely abused.
With the 1919 revolution, demands for the abolition of martial law increased, but it was not abolished until after the adoption of the 1923 constitution, which included the first constitutional text regulating the state of martial law. After its approval for about 9 years.
With the Second World War, martial law was re-imposed in 1939 again, and in 1948 witnessed the re-imposition of that state with the Palestine War, and then it was also restored in the wake of the Cairo fire on January 26, 1952, and it extended even after the July Revolution.
law of emergency
In 1958, the emergency law in force was issued, and it was activated from the setback of 1967 until the end of the era of the late President Anwar Sadat, and it was re-imposed again after his assassination in 1981, and it remained in force since that year until it was abolished in May 2012.
In January 2013, the emergency law was imposed in the governorates of the Suez Canal for a month, then the state of emergency was re-imposed after the June 30 revolution for only one month, and with the escalation of terrorist acts, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi imposed a state of emergency in Sinai from the end of 2014.
In April 2017, the state of emergency expanded to include all Egyptian lands, and between 17 renewals and extensions, the emergency law remained in force until it ended President Sisi’s last decision dated October 25, 2021.