Endless Emergency: The Case of Egypt

Sadiq Reza

The Arab Republic of Egypt has been in a declared state of emergency since1981 and for all but three of the past fifty years. Emergency powers, militarycourts, and other “exceptional” powers are governed by longstanding statutes inEgypt and authorized by the constitution, and their use is a prominent featureof everyday rule there today. This essay presents Egypt as a case study in whatis essentially permanent governance by emergency rule and other exceptionalmeasures. It summarizes the history and framework of emergency rule inEgypt, discusses the apparent purposes and consequences of that rule, mentionsjudicial limitations on it, and notes the many targets of its exercise over theyears, particularly the government’s two most prominent and persistent groupsof opponents: Islamists and liberal political activists. It also explains how thecountry’s March 2007 constitutional amendments, much decried by humanrightsorganizations inside and outside Egypt, further entrench emergency rulethere. The thesis of the essay is that the existence and exercise of emergency powershave been far from exceptional in Egypt; instead they have been a vehiclefor the creation of the modern Egyptian state and a tool for the consolidationand maintenance of political power by the government.

Filed Under: EgipatIstaknutomuslimansko bratstvoStudije & Istraživanja


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