U.S. Department of State
Egypt Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 
30, 1997

According to its Constitution, Egypt is a social democracy in which 
Islam is the state religion.  However, the National Democratic Party 
(NDP), has governed since its establishment in 1978, has used its 
entrenched position to dominate national politics, and maintains a wide 
majority in the popularly elected People's Assembly and the partially 
elected Shura (Consultative) Council.  The President, Hosni Mubarak, 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.  
The judiciary is independent.
There are several security services in the Ministry of Interior, two of 
which are primarily involved in combating terrorism:  The State Security 
Investigations Sector (SSIS), which conducts investigations and 
interrogates detainees; and the Central Security Force (CSF), which 
enforces curfews and bans on public demonstrations, and conducts 
paramilitary operations against terrorists.  The use of violence by 
security forces in the campaign against terrorists appeared more limited 
this year than in previous years.  The security forces committed 
numerous serious human rights abuses.
Egypt continued to move from a command economy to a free market system.  
Manufacturing is still dominated by the public sector.  The Government 
began accelerating its privatization program during the year.  
Agriculture remains the largest employer in the economy and is almost 
entirely in private hands.  Transfers and remittances from approximately 
2 million Egyptians working abroad are the largest source of foreign 
currency earnings.  In 1995 tourism surpassed petroleum as the second 
largest hard currency earner and preliminary data for 1996 suggest a 
continued strong rebound of the tourism sector.  In the past 5 years, 
the Government has enacted significant economic reforms, which have 
reduced the budget deficit, stabilized the exchange rate, reduced 
inflation and interest rates significantly, and built up substantial 
reserves.  The success of the reform efforts has resulted in an increase 
in annual economic growth rates to 4.8 percent for fiscal year 1995-96 
and 5.1 percent estimated for fiscal year 1996-97.
The Government continued to commit numerous serious abuses, although its 
human rights record improved somewhat over the past year.  The Emergency 
Law, which has been in effect since 1981, continues to restrict many 
basic rights.  The ruling NDP dominates the political scene to such an 
extent that citizens do not have a meaningful ability to change their 
government.  The security forces and terrorist groups remained locked in 
a cycle of violence.  In fighting the terrorists, the security forces 
continue to mistreat and torture prisoners, arbitrarily arrest and 
detain persons, hold detainees in prolonged pretrial detention, and 
occasionally engage in mass arrests.  Aside from the antiterrorist 
campaign, local police abused common criminal suspects.  However, 
security forces committed fewer abuses than in the previous year.  The 
Government took disciplinary action against police officers accused of 
abusing detainees, but did not pursue most cases or seek adequate 
punishments.  Prison conditions are poor.
The use of military courts to try civilians continues to infringe on a 
defendant's right to a fair trial before an independent judiciary.  The 
Government again tried members of the Muslim Brotherhood in military 
courts on charges of illegal political activities, continuing to expand 
the jurisdiction of the military courts beyond terrorism-related 
offenses.  The Government used the emergency law to infringe on 
citizens' privacy rights.  Although citizens generally express 
themselves freely, the Government continues to place significant 
limitations on freedom of the press.  Some of the harsher penalties of 
the 1995 press law were suspended; however, state prosecutors brought 
libel charges, some under the old law, against several journalists for 
criticizing corruption and abuse of authority among government officials 
and their families.  The Government restricts freedom of assembly and 
association, and does not legally recognize local human rights groups, 
but which are allowed to operate openly.  The Government places limits 
on the freedom of religion.
Women and Christians face discrimination based on tradition and some 
aspects of the law.  Terrorist violence against Christians was a 
problem.  Violence against women is a problem.  Worker rights are not 
adequately protected.  A new child labor law increases protections for 
children, but child labor remains widespread despite the government's 
efforts to eradicate it.  Abuse by employers continues, and stricter 
government enforcement of the law is necessary.  In a significant 
breakthrough, the Government issued a decree banning the practice of 
female genital mutilation (FGM), developed a program to address the 
problem, and increased efforts to educate the public as to its dangers.
Terrorists committed numerous serious abuses.  Terrorist groups seeking 
to overthrow the Government and establish an Islamic state continued 
their attacks on police, Coptic Christians, and tourists.  In April 
terrorists killed a group of 18 Greek tourists in Cairo; 13 Greeks and 2 
Egyptians were wounded.  Terrorists groups were responsible for the 
majority of the 132 civilian and police deaths, and committed bank and 
jewelry store robberies to get funds.  They also attacked police, a 
train, and riverboats, mostly in upper (southern) Egypt.
Section 1     Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
     a.     Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political killings by government officials; 
however, extrajudicial killings may have occured in certain 
antiterrorist operations.
There were no total figures for deaths in custody from government or 
human rights sources by year's end.  Human rights groups were 
investigating eight deaths in police custody, six of which they believed 
were due to medical negligence, one to suicide, and one as a result of a 
beating or being tortured to death.  They are also investigating 13 
prison deaths related to medical negligence (see Section 1.c.).
In antiterrorist operations, the security forces killed 34 suspected 
terrorists; there were no reports of excessive use of lethal force.  At 
least one civilian bystander was reported killed inadvertently by 
security forces.  No suspects died while attempting to escape arrest.  
There were no reports of killings of relatives of suspected extremists 
in apparent vendettas.
The case against a policeman charged with torture and use of excessive 
force in the 1994 death of a detainee remained pending (see Section 
In January state prosecutors ruled in the case of the 1994 death in 
custody of Amre Mohamed Safwat that there was no felony case.  The 
prosecutors, however, ordered a reprimand for the head of the Ain Shams 
Cairo police station and the director of the hospital involved for 
violating the rules of admission to the hospital.  An appeal by the 
family is currently under investigation by the Technical (Human Rights) 
Office of the Ministry of Justice.  There were no new developments in 
the case of Mohammed Abdel Hamid Hassan, who reportedly died in police 
custody in 1994.
Terrorist groups were responsible for the majority of the deaths in 
civil unrest.  They killed 132 persons, compared with 200 in 1995.  This 
total included 48 police and security officers as well as 84 civilians.  
Terrorist attacks directed specifically against Coptic Christians 
continued, killing at least 22, including a group of 8 in Assiyut in 
February.  They also attacked churches and other properties owned by 
Christians.  In April four gunmen belonging to the extremist Islamic 
group Al-Gamma'a Al-Islamiyya attacked a group of Greek tourists at the 
entrance to the Europa Hotel near the pyramids.  The terrorists killed 
18 of the visitors, and wounded 13 other tourists and 2 Egyptians before 
escaping.  Terrorists also attacked a passenger train in Minya in 
January and were involved in a number of bank and jewelry store 
robberies, mostly in upper Egypt.  While the Europa Hotel attack brought 
the largest casualty count from a single incident in Egypt's modern 
history, the total number of deaths from extremist violence was sharply 
down in 1996 after increasing steadily during the previous 4 years.
     b.     Disappearance
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
Of the 11 individuals that local human rights groups claimed had 
disappeared in 1994 and the 1 cited in 1995, 8 have since been located 
in detention facilities, but 4 remain missing.  The Government has not 
responded to queries from human rights monitors regarding the 
outstanding cases.
There were no concrete developments in the case of Mansur Kikhya, a 
former Libyan Foreign Minister and a prominent exiled dissident, who 
disappeared in Cairo in 1993.
     c.     Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
The Constitution prohibits the infliction of "physical or moral harm" 
upon persons who have been arrested or detained.  However, abuse and 
torture of detainees by police, security personnel, and prison guards is 
Under the Penal Code, torture of a defendant or orders to torture are 
felonies punishable by temporary hard labor or 3 to 10 years 
imprisonment.  If the defendant dies, the crime is one of intentional 
murder punishable by a life sentence at hard labor.  The crime of arrest 
without due cause through threat of death or physical torture is 
punishable by temporary hard labor.  The use of cruelty against people 
by relying on one's position is punishable by imprisonment of no more 
than 1 year or a fine of no more that $65.00.
Despite these legal safeguards, there were numerous credible reports of 
mistreatment and torture by security forces, although fewer than in 
previous years.  Reports of mistreatment and torture at police stations 
remain frequent.
In a June interview, the Minister of Interior stated that human rights 
was taught as a subject at the National Police Academy, and that police 
officers responsible for human rights infractions must be brought to 
trial and punished or administratively reprimanded in accordance with 
the law.  While the Government has investigated torture complaints in 
criminal cases and punished some offending officers, the punishments are 
not in line with the seriousness of the offense.  However, government 
officials have stated that administrative punishments can be severe 
enough to prevent further career advancement, and that some police 
officers have opted to face criminal charges instead.  The Government 
has said that it will not disclose further details of individual cases 
of police abuse for fear of harming the morale of law enforcement 
officers involved in counterterrorist operations.
Reports of torture on the part of the SSIS dropped during the year.  
However, torture has reportedly taken place in police stations; SSIS 
offices, including its headquarters in Cairo; and at Central Security 
Force camps.  Torture victims usually are taken to a SSIS office where 
they are handcuffed, blindfolded, and questioned about their 
associations, religious beliefs, and political views.  Torture is used 
to extract information, coerce the victims to end their antigovernment 
activities, and deter others from such activities.  While the law 
requires security authorities to keep written records of detained 
citizens, human rights groups report that such records often are not 
available, not found, or the police deny any knowledge of the detainee 
when they inquire about specific cases, effectively blocking the 
investigation of torture complaints.
Egyptian human rights groups and victims report a number of 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 that they have been 
threatened with rape.
In late 1994, public prosecutors charged a policeman with torture, 
unlawful detention, illegal entry, and excessive use of force in the 
case of Fateh Al-Bab Abdel Moneim who died in police custody in 1994.  
At year's end, the case remained pending before the south Cairo Criminal 
In early 1995, the Public Prosecutor's office began an investigation 
into the case of Gamal El-Shazly, who allegedly had been tortured in 
December 1994, in a police station in Manshayit Nasser, a poor district 
of Cairo.  The case remains under investigation.
Prison conditions remain poor.  Despite the completion of five new 
prisons in 1995, human rights groups report that overcrowding and 
unhealthy conditions continue.  The use of torture and other 
mistreatment, lack of medical care, the banning of visits, and 
substandard living conditions are reportedly common.  Prisoners have 
claimed that their cells are poorly ventilated, their food is inadequate 
in quantity and nutritional value, and medical services are often 
unavailable.  Health conditions in the High Security Prison ("The 
Scorpion") at Tora reportedly include widespread tuberculosis among the 
inmates.  At the same prison, in June, 40 inmates were ordered to strip 
and were flogged, after 3 contraband items were found during an 
inspection of the prison.  Human rights groups are investigating 13 
prison deaths related to medical negligence.
Prisoners at two high security prisons, the New Valley Prison and Torah 
Prison, reported receiving physical and psychological abuse known as a 
"reception party" upon their arrival at prison.  Under the supervision 
of a prison official and doctor, guards reportedly beat new arrivals for 
30 minutes with fists and heavy plastic sticks.  The inmates are then 
forced to crawl to their cells on their hands and knees.
The Ministry of Interior stated that the ban on prison visits by 
relatives and lawyers at a number of prisons, including Fayyom and the 
High Security Prison, has been lifted.  Human rights groups report, 
however, that visits have been refused at several prisons.  At others, 
restrictions have been placed on visits to political or extremist 
prisoners, limiting the number of visits allowed each prisoner, and the 
total number of visitors allowed in the prison at any one time.  Human 
rights monitors are allowed to visit prisoners, but often face 
considerable bureaucratic obstacles before obtaining the proper 
     d.     Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
As part of the Government's antiterrorist campaign, security forces 
conducted mass arrests and detained hundreds of individuals without 
charge after specific terrorist incidents.  Under the provisions of the 
Emergency Law, which has been in effect since 1981, the police may 
obtain an arrest warrant from the Ministry of Interior upon showing that 
an individual poses a danger to security and public order.  This 
procedure nullifies the constitutional requirement of obtaining a 
warrant from a judge or prosecutor upon showing that an individual has 
likely committed a specific crime.
The Emergency Law allows authorities to detain an individual without 
charge.  After 30 days, a detainee has the right to demand a court 
hearing to challenge the legality of the detention order, and may 
resubmit his motion for a hearing at 1-month intervals thereafter.  
There is no maximum limit to the length of detention if the judge 
continues to uphold the legality of the detention order, or if the 
detainee fails to exercise his right to a hearing.
In addition to the Emergency Law, the Penal Code also gives the State 
wide detention powers.  Under the code, prosecutors must bring charges 
within 24 hours or release the suspect.  However, they may detain a 
suspect for a maximum of 6 months, pending investigation.  Arrests under 
the Penal Code occur openly and with warrants issued by a district 
prosecutor or judge.  There is a system of bail.  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."
Human rights groups reported that hundreds, and according to one report, 
thousands, of people detained under the Emergency Law have been 
incarcerated for up to several years without charge.  The courts have 
ordered the release of a number of these detainees, but prison officials 
have reportedly ignored the orders.  Frequently, the Ministry of 
Interior reissues detention orders, sending detainees back to prison.
In March the Government lifted a 2-year dusk-to-dawn curfew on Mallawi 
and several surrounding villages in Minya province.
During the year, security forces and police arrested at least 120 
members of the Muslim Brotherhood (an Islamist opposition organization) 
as well as 200 members of a new group, the Qutbiyoun, described as an 
offshoot of the Brotherhood.  The charges ranged from inciting the 
masses against the Government, to distributing illegal leaflets and 
membership in an illegal organization.  An undetermined number of Muslim 
Brothers were brought to trial during the year (see Section 1.e.).
Neither the Government nor human rights groups were able to provide firm 
figures for the total prison population.  One human rights group cited a 
government figure of 12,000 registered and serving sentences, but 
provided a rough estimate of 32,000 for the total prison population, 
including those being held pending sentencing.  However, in a June 
interview in the weekly magazine Al-Wasat, Interior Minister Hasan Al-
Alfy asserted that the number of political detainees was considerably 
less than 10,000.  The Minister also noted that 1,600 repentant 
convicted terrorists had been released during the previous few months.
The Government does not use forced exile.
     e.     Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judiciary is independent.  The Constitution provides for the 
independence and immunity of judges, and forbids interference by other 
authorities in the exercise of their judicial functions.  The President 
appoints all judges upon recommendation of the Higher Judicial Council, 
a constitutional body composed of senior judges, and chaired by the 
President of the Court of Cassation.  The Council regulates judicial 
promotions and transfers.  In the last few years, the Government has 
added lectures on human rights and other social issues to its training 
courses for prosecutors and judges.
There are three levels of regular criminal courts:  Primary courts; 
appeals courts; and the Court of Cassation, the final stage of criminal 
appeal.  The judicial system is based on the Napoleonic tradition; hence 
there are no juries.  Misdemeanors, that are punishable by imprisonment, 
are heard at the first level by one judge; at the second level by three 
judges.  Felonies, that are punishable by imprisonment or execution, are 
heard in criminal court by three judges.  Contestations of rulings are 
heard by the Court of Cassation.  A lawyer will be appointed at the 
court's expense if the defendant does not have one.  The appointment of 
lawyers is based on a roster chosen by the Bar Association; however, 
expenses are incurred by the State.  Any denial of this right is cause 
for contestation of the ruling.  However, detainees in certain high-
security prisons alleged that they were denied access to counsel, or 
that such access was delayed until trial, thus denying counsel the time 
to prepare an adequate defense.
Defense lawyers generally agree that the regular judiciary respects the 
rights of the accused and exercises its independence.  In the past, 
criminal court judges have dismissed cases where confessions were 
obtained by coercion.  However, while the judiciary generally is 
credited with conducting fair trials, under the Emergency Law, cases 
involving terrorism and national security may be tried in military or 
state security courts, in which the accused do not receive all the 
constitutional protections of the judicial system.  The majority of 
terrorist cases were again referred to Supreme State Security Emergency 
courts this year.  High-profile cases involving Muslim Brotherhood 
members and a large number of terrorists went to military courts.
In the past, human rights groups and defense lawyers have claimed that 
the Government intimidated lawyers representing terrorist suspects by 
detaining and questioning them on the activities of their clients.  
There were no such reports during the year.
The use of military and state security tribunals under the Emergency Law 
has deprived hundreds of civilian defendants of their constitutional 
right to be tried by an ordinary judge.  In 1992, with extremist 
violence on the rise, the Government began trying cases of persons 
accused of terrorism and membership in terrorist groups before military 
tribunals.  In 1993 the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the 
President may invoke the Emergency Law to refer any crime to a military 
From January to December, the Government referred approximately 66 
civilian defendants to the military courts in five separate cases.
During the year security forces detained 13 members of the Muslim 
Brotherhood on suspicion of engaging in illegal political activities.  
The Government referred the Muslim Brotherhood detainees to trial in a 
military court on charges of membership in an illegal organization, 
maintaining links to terrorists, and planning to overthrow the 
Government.  In an August decision, the court acquitted five.  The 
remainder were found guilty of the charges--seven were sentenced to from 
7 months' to 3 years' imprisonment, and 1 to a suspended 1 year prison 
term (for health reasons).
In January 24 defendants accused of involvement in terrorist plots were 
brought to trial before a military court.  The court acquitted six, 
sentenced six others to death, and sentenced the remainder to prison 
terms ranging from 3 to 15 years.
In November a higher military court in Assiyut handed down verdicts on 
10 defendants accused of infiltrating Egypt and attempting to smuggle 
and sell weapons to terrorists.  The court acquitted 3 defendants, 
sentenced 4 to life imprisonment at hard labor, and the remaining 3 to 
prison terms ranging from 10 to 15 years.
Two trials of 19 defendants from the Islamic Group opened in December at 
a supreme military court in Cairo.  The first trial involved 3 
defendants accused of attempting to assassinate the Military Prosecutor 
in 1993.  In the second trial, 19 defendants, including the 3 defendants 
in the first trial as well as 16 others, are accused of killing a 
policeman, assaulting persons at two movie theaters in Helwan, and 
wounding 16 persons, including 8 tourists, during an attack on a tourist 
bus in Cairo in 1994.
In response to an appeal, the Supreme Court, as it did in 1993, found 
that the President may invoke the emergency law to refer any crime to a 
military court.
The Government defends the use of military courts as necessary in 
terrorism cases, maintaining that trials in the civilian courts are 
protracted, and that civilian judges and their families are vulnerable 
to terrorist threats.  Some civilian judges have confirmed that they 
fear trying high-visibility terrorism cases because of possible 
reprisals.  The Government claims that civilian defendants receive fair 
trials in the military courts and enjoy the same rights as defendants in 
civilian courts.
However, the military courts do not guarantee civilian defendants due 
process before an independent tribunal.  While military judges are 
lawyers, they are also military officers appointed by the Minister of 
Defense and subject to military discipline.  They are not as independent 
as civilian judges in applying the civilian Penal Code.  There is no 
appellate process for verdicts by military courts; instead, verdicts are 
subject to review by other military judges and confirmed by the 
President, who in practice usually delegates the review function to a 
senior military officer.  Defense attorneys have complained that they 
have not been given sufficient time to prepare defenses and that judges 
tend to rush cases with many defendants.
The state security courts share jurisdiction with military courts over 
crimes affecting national security.  The President appoints judges to 
these courts from the civilian judiciary upon the recommendation of the 
Minister of Justice and, if he chooses to appoint military judges, the 
Minister of Defense.  Sentences are subject to confirmation by the 
President but cannot be appealed.  The President may alter or annul the 
decision of a state security court, including a decision to release a 
defendant.  In 1996 state security courts tried at least 9 cases 
involving over 175 defendants charged with terrorist acts.
There are no reliable statistics on the number of political prisoners.
     f.     Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
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.
However, the Emergency Law has abridged the constitutional provisions 
regarding the right to privacy.  The law empowers the Government to 
place wiretaps, intercept mail, and search persons or places without 
warrants.  Security agencies frequently place political activists, 
suspected subversives, journalists, foreigners, 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, however, 
the Government continues to place limitations on these rights.  Citizens 
openly speak their views on a wide range of political and social issues, 
including vigorous criticism of the Government.
The Government owns stock in the three largest daily newspapers and the 
President appoints their editors in chief and chairmen of the board.  
However, although these papers generally follow the Government line, 
they frequently criticize government policies.  The Government also 
enjoys a monopoly on the printing and distribution of newspapers 
including the opposition parties' papers.  The Government has been known 
to use its monopolistic control of newsprint to limit output of 
opposition publications.
Opposition political parties publish their own papers but receive a 
subsidy from the Government and, in some cases, subsidies from foreign 
interests as well.  Most are weeklies, with the exception of the 
centrist daily Al Wafd, the daily Al-Ahrar, and Al-Shaab, the semiweekly 
of the Islamist-oriented Socialist Labor Party.  All have small 
circulations.  Opposition newspapers frequently publish criticism of the 
Government, inspiring rejoinders from the government-owned press.  They 
also give greater prominence to human rights abuses than the state-run 
newspapers.  All party newspapers are required by law to reflect the 
platform of their party.
The Penal Code, Law 93 of 1995, the Press Authority Law, and the 
Publications Law govern press issues.  The laws stipulate substantial 
fines for criticism of the President, members of the Government, and 
foreign heads of state.  The Constitution restricts ownership of 
newspapers to public or private legal entities, corporate bodies, and 
political parties.  However, there are numerous restrictions on legal 
entities that wish to estabish their own newspapers.  Papers published 
outside Egypt can be distributed with government permission.
Libel laws provide protection against malicious rumor-mongering and 
unsubstantiated reporting.  Jail terms may be imposed.  Financial 
penalties increased substantially under Law 93 of 1995, although the 
judicial process remains long and costly, creating a bar to realistic 
legal recourse for those wrongly defamed.  In recent years, opposition 
party newspapers have, within limits, published articles critical of the 
President and foreign heads of state without being charged or harassed.  
Most cases involving the press are brought by the Government, usually 
involving rumors or charges of corruption against members of the 
families of government officials.  On several occasions in 1996, the 
Government detained and interrogated editors and journalists for 
publishing allegations of official misconduct and corruption.
In June 1995, an amendment to Law 93 was passed, stiffening penalties 
for and broadening the definition of criminal libel.  Following a series 
of protests by the press syndicate, and a direct appeal to President 
Mubarak, he set aside this amendment in June.  However, the Government 
continues to prosecute journalists under the law in effect at the time 
charges were filed.  The process of determining whether the applicable 
sections of the law have been set aside is time-consuming and 
exprensive.  Approximately 42 journalists are in various stages of 
prosecution under Law 93.
In July a court sentenced Magdy Ahmad Hussein, editor of the Islamic 
fundamentalist newspaper Al-Shaab, to a 1-year suspended sentence for 
libeling the son of Interior Minister Hassan Alfi.  He was also ordered 
to pay a fine of
15,000 Egyptian pounds.
Various ministries are legally authorized to ban or confiscate books and 
other works of art, upon obtaining a court order.  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 the Institute has passed judgment on 
the suitability of nonreligious books and artistic productions.
In January 1995, an administrative court ruled that the sole authority 
to prohibit publication or distribution of books and other works of art 
resides with the Ministry of Culture.  This decision voided a 1994 
advisory opinion by a judiciary council that had expanded Al-Azhar's 
censorship authority to include visual and audio artistic works.  The 
same year, President Mubarak stated that the Government would not allow 
confiscation of books from the market without a court order, a position 
supported by the then-Grand Mufti, who is now the Grand Sheik of Al-
There were no court ordered confiscations during the year.  However, two 
books were seized by police in June without a court order, after 
officials at Al-Azhar ruled that they should be banned for violating 
religious laws and norms.  In August the police also seized five books 
on Shi'a Islam from Cairo bookstores, without a court order.
The Ministry of Interior regularly confiscates leaflets and other works 
by Muslim fundamentalists.  It also has the authority to stop specific 
issues of foreign published newspapers from entering the country on the 
grounds of protecting public order.  The Ministry of Defense may ban 
works about sensitive security issues.
The Council of Ministers may order the banning of works that it deems 
offensive to public morals, detrimental to religion, or likely to cause 
a breach of the peace.
Plays and films must pass Ministry of Culture censorship tests as 
scripts and as final productions.  Many plays and films, highly critical 
of the Government and its policies, are not censored.  The Ministry of 
Culture also censors foreign films for viewing in theaters, but it is 
more lenient when the same films are released in video cassette format.  
Government censors ensure that foreign films made in Egypt portray the 
country 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.
Two films are currently in the courts.  "The Emigrant" was banned this 
year after a long court case, but the decision is under appeal.  A group 
of Islamic lawyers had brought the case in 1994, arguing that it 
violated Islamic tenets in its portrayal of the life of the Prophet 
Joseph.  Despite the court case, the film has represented Egypt in 
several international festivals.  The second case is against the film 
"Birds of Darkness," the plaintiffs charging that it is insulting to 
lawyers.  The case is still pending.
The Ministry of Information owns and operates all domestic television 
productions.  In the past, it has censored serious artistic works that 
criticized the Government or dealt with social problems from a 
nongovernmental perspective.  The Ministry also censored nine articles 
of the English language weekly, The Middle East Times, during the year.  
Two of the articles had contained allegations of human rights 
violations.  According to the editor, in October an issue of the 
newspaper al-Dustuur was confiscated because of previously published 
criticism of the Israeli Government.
Moderate Muslims and secularist writers continue to find themselves 
under attack by Islamic extremists.
In August the Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest court of appeal, 
supported a 1995 lower court ruling against Cairo University professor 
Nasr Abu Zeid.  In 1993 Islamic fundamentalist lawyers had asked the 
courts to rule that Abu Zeid was an apostate because of his 
controversial interpretation of Koranic teachings.  The petitioners 
argued that as an apostate, Abu Zeid should not be allowed to remain 
married to a Muslim woman in a Muslim country.  After a lower court 
threw out this suit, an appellate court in June 1995 gave the plaintiffs 
standing to pursue their suit.  Jurists and secular intellectuals 
criticized the court's decision as an infringement on the principle of 
privacy and freedom of expression.
The Government had joined Abu Zeid in his appeal, and the People's 
Assembly passed two laws during the year designed to derail other such 
lawsuits.  The Hisba Law, ratified by the Assembly in late January, 
limits cases by third parties "on behalf of society."  The Assembly also 
approved in May amendments to an article of the Law for Civil and 
Commercial Procedures requiring the direct personal involvement of the 
plaintiff prior to the filing of suits.
In its decision, the Court of Cassation, which rules on legal 
technicalities rather than the case itself, noted that the Hisba Law and 
Law 81 were issued after final arguments were made by the plaintiffs and 
the defense, and that the case and the lower court ruling were legally 
valid.  Abu Zeid's defense team has filed for a reconsideration by the 
Court of Cassation, citing major mistakes in the decision against Abu 
Zeid, including the Court's ignoring of the Hisba Law and Law 81.  In 
September a lower court judge stayed the execution of the decision 
against Abu Zeid pending the outcome of the reconsideration by the Court 
of Cassation.  Meanwhile, Abu Zeid and his wife are residing together 
abroad.  In December a Giza court of appeal upheld their stay.
In another Hisba case, a Cairo criminal court ruled against and fined 
two lawyers who brought a case against the actress Youssra and a 
magazine for printing an allegedly indecent picture of her on the cover.
The Government does not directly restrict academic freedom at 
universities.  However, some university professors claim that the 
Government tightened its control over universities in 1994 when a law 
was passed authorizing university presidents to appoint the deans of the 
various faculties.  Under the previous law, faculty deans were elected 
by their peers.  The Government has justified the measure as a means to 
combat Islamist influence on campus.
     b.     Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Government continues to maintain substantial restrictions on freedom 
of assembly.  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.
The Government continues to maintain substantial restrictions on freedom 
of association.  Under Law 32 of 1964, the Ministry of Social Affairs 
has extensive authority over associations and private foundations, 
including the right to license and dissolve them, confiscate their 
properties, appoint members to their boards, and intercede in other 
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 may be used to merge an undesirable 
organization out of existence.
Since 1985 the Government has refused under Law 32 to license the 
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and the Arab Organization 
for Human Rights (AOHR) on grounds that they are political 
organizations.  Nevertheless, both continue to operate openly (see 
Section 4).  Amnesty International, which had a petition pending for 
legal status for its local office, closed its local office this year for 
internal reasons.
Under 1993 legislation on professional syndicates, 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 percent of the membership votes for 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 well-organized 
minorities, specifically Islamists, from capturing or retaining the 
leadership of professional syndicates.  Members of these syndicates have 
reported that Islamists have used such irregular electoral techniques as 
physically blocking polling places, and limiting or changing the 
location of polling sites.
     c.     Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of 
religious rites.  However, the Government places clear restrictions on 
this right.  Most Egyptians are Muslim, but at least 10 per cent of the 
population, 5.7 million people, belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, 
the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.  There are other 
small Christian denominations, as well as a Jewish community numbering 
fewer than 50 individuals.
For the most part, members of the non-Muslim minority worship without 
harassment and maintain links with coreligionists abroad.  Under the 
Constitution, however, Islam is the official state religion and primary 
source of legislation.  Accordingly, religious practices that conflict 
with Islamic law are prohibited.  While technically proselytizing is not 
a crime, Christians have been arrested on charges of ridiculing or 
insulting heavenly religions and/or inciting secular strife.  At least 
one Christian was detained in 1996 on charges of ridiculing or insulting 
heavenly religions and/or inciting secular strife.
There are no restrictions on non-Muslims converting to Islam.  However, 
Muslims face legal problems if they convert to another faith.  
Authorities have charged a few converts to Christianity under provisions 
of the Penal Code that prohibit the use of religion to "ignite strife, 
degrade any of the heavenly religions or harm national unity or social 
peace."  In other cases, authorities have charged such persons with 
violating laws against falsifying documents, since Muslim converts to 
Christianity sometimes attempt to change their names and religious 
affiliation on their identification cards and other official 
documentation to reflect their conversion.  These laws were upheld in a 
1980 court decision.  There were no confirmed reports of individuals 
detained during the year under these laws.
There were credible reports that state security officers in Cairo 
detained, interrogated, and, in at least two cases, physically abused 
several Christians and converts to Christianity, in an effort to obtain 
information about the identities and activities of other converts.
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 that they frequently have been unable to 
obtain such authorization, that such permits have been delayed, or that 
they have been blocked by the security forces from using the 
authorizations that have been issued.  Other restrictions of the 1856 
Decree were codified in 1934 into a list of 10 provisions that the 
police and other authorities should investigate prior to issuance of a 
presidential decree.  A local human rights organization brought a legal 
case during the year requesting the abolition of the Ottoman Decree 
against Copts, including abolition of the 10 provisions.  The case 
remains before the court.
As a result of these restrictions, some communities use private 
buildings and apartments for religious services.  Between 1992 and 1995, 
the situation improved somewhat as the Government has increased the 
number of building permits issued to Christian communities to an average 
of more than 20 per year, compared to the average of 5 permits issued 
annually in the 1980's.  During the year, the Government issued 10 
permits for the construction of new churches and 8 for repairs and 
reconstruction.  While Christian and Muslim reformers urge the abolition 
of the Ottoman Decree, Islamists who oppose the spread of Christianity 
in Egypt defend the building restrictions.
In 1994 the Alexandria government closed two buildings near the city 
that had been used by Coptic Evangelical Christians since 1990 for 
church activities.  The Government claims that the church lacked a 
building permit.  Lawyers for the church point out that the closures 
violated previous court rulings upholding the right to conduct religious 
services in private buildings without prior government approval.  They 
also pointed out that the closed buildings were located in an area where 
unlicensed buildings are common.  At year's end, the case remained with 
an administrative court in Alexandria.
The Government continued its efforts to extend legal controls to all 
mosques, which by law must be licensed.  The Government appoints and 
pays the salaries of the imams officiating in mosques, and proposes 
themes for and monitors sermons.  Of the country's approximately 70,000 
mosques, slightly less than half remain unlicensed and operate outside 
the control of government authorities.  In an effort to combat Islamic 
extremists, the Government announced that it intended to bring the 
remaining 30,000 unauthorized mosques under its control during the next 
5 years.
     d.     Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation
Citizens and foreigners are free to travel within Egypt except in 
certain military areas.  The Government during the year removed the 
requirement for most foreigners to register within 7 days of their 
arrival in Egypt.  Males who have not completed compulsory military 
service may not travel abroad or emigrate, although this restriction can 
be deferred or bypassed.  Unmarried women must have permission from 
their fathers to obtain passports and travel; married women of any age 
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 a small number 
of Christian converts from Islam to travel abroad.  In October 1994, 
security officials arrested Ibrahim Sharaf Al Din, an Egyptian convert, 
at Cairo Airport as he attempted to enter Egypt from Kenya, where he had 
been granted asylum and resided with his family since the early 1980's.  
Sharaf Al Din was imprisoned for 8 months while prosecutors investigated 
the circumstances of his conversion.  He was released without charge in 
June 1995.  However, according to a local human rights group, in order 
to leave Egypt he is required to file a lawsuit in order to obtain a 
court order that indicates that he is not banned from leaving the 
The Constitution forbids the deportation of citizens and aliens granted 
political asylum.  Egypt grants first asylum for humanitarian reasons or 
in the event of internal turmoil in neighboring countries.  Asylum 
seekers generally are screened by representatives of the United Nations 
High Commisioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose recommendations regarding 
settlement are forwarded to the Ministries of Interior and Foreign 
Affairs for final determination.  Refugees accepted by the Government 
are permitted to live and work, but cannot acquire Egyptian citizenship, 
with rare exceptions.  During the year, the Government accepted over 
6,000 refugees, including 3,000 Somalis and 1,400 Sudanese, for 
temporary resettlement.
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, citizens do not have a meaningful ability to 
change their 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.  
Under the Constitution, the electorate is not presented with a choice 
among competing presidential candidates.  Two opposition parties urged 
the public to boycott the referendum, and two other parties urged the 
public to vote against the President.  The other opposition parties 
endorsed the President's candidacy.
Over 100 losing candidates in the fall 1995 legislative elections filed 
complaints in the administrative courts, alleging ballot-rigging and 
other irregularities.  The courts agreed with most of these claims, but 
while the courts have the authority to rule on whether irregularities 
took place, they may not remove an elected Member of the Assembly, a 
right that the Assembly claims solely for itself, under the concept of 
parliamentary sovereignty.  To date the Assembly has not called for any 
new by-elections to cover these cases.
The Assembly debates government proposals, and members exercise their 
authority to call cabinet ministers to explain policy.  The executive 
initiates almost all legislation.  Nevertheless, the Assembly maintains 
the authority to challenge or restrain the executive in the areas of 
economic and social policy, but it may not modify the budget except with 
the Government's approval.  The Assembly exercises limited influence in 
the areas of security and foreign policy, 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 regulation through 
ministerial decree without legislative oversight.  The military budget 
is prepared by the executive and not debated publicly.  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 15 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 semi-official body including a substantial majority of 
members from the ruling NDP and some members from among the independents 
and opposition parties.  Decisions of the Parties Committee may be 
appealed to the civil courts.  The Parties Committee rejected the 
applications of at least four new parties this year; those applications 
and several from last year are before the courts for review.
According to the law, which prohibits political parties based on 
religion, the Muslim Brotherhood is an illegal political organization.  
Muslim Brothers are publicly known and openly speak their views, but 
have come under increasing pressure from the Government (see Sections 
1.d. and 1.e.).  Some have served in the Assembly as independents or as 
members of other recognized parties.
Women and minorities are underrepresented in government and politics.  
The Constitution reserves 10 Assembly seats for presidential appointees, 
which the President traditionally has used to assure representation for 
women and Coptic Christians.  Five women and no Copts were elected in 
1995; of the 10 presidential appointments, 6 were Copts and 4 were 
women.  The ruling NDP nominated no Coptic candidates in the 1995 
parliamentary election.  Three women and two Coptic Christians are in 
the Cabinet.
Section 4     Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The Government refuses to license local human rights groups as private 
entities under Law 32 of 1964 (see section 2.b.).  Since 1986 the 
Government has refused to license the Egyptian Organization for Human 
Rights (EOHR) on grounds that it is a political organization and 
duplicates the activities of an existing, although moribund, human 
rights group (see Section 2.b.).  The EOHR has appealed the denial in 
the courts, and continues to conduct activities openly, pending a final 
judicial determination of its status.
The Arab Organization for Human Rights, EOHR's parent organization, has 
a long-standing request for registration as a foreign organization with 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The issue remains pending.
A request by Amnesty International for legal status for its local 
chapter had been pending with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 6 
years, until the office was closed for internal reasons.  In the 
meantime it was allowed to conduct limited activities.
Despite their nonrecognition, the EOHR and other groups sometimes enjoy 
the cooperation of government officials.  The Government allows EOHR 
field workers to visit prisons, to call on some government officials, 
and to receive funding from foreign human rights organizations.  
Representatives from EOHR met this year with Speaker of the Assembly 
Fathy Sorour.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs facilitated entry into 
the country for Africans in a training seminar held by EOHR, and the 
Supreme Constitutional Court cosponsored a seminar on human rights.
There were no reports during the year that the Government banned 
meetings of human rights groups, although the Government has on occasion 
made the holding of such meetings difficult.  Some human rights 
organizations have found requests for conference space turned down for 
"security reasons" or reservations later canceled for "maintenance 
Other human rights organizations, such as the Center for Human Rights 
Legal Aid, are registered with the Government as corporations under 
commercial or civil law, thus avoiding the obstacles posed by law (see 
Section 2.b.)
In 1995 the Ministry of Justice issued a nonbinding advisory ruling 
stating that such organizations properly should be considered 
nongovernmental organizations as defined by Law 32 and registered 
accordingly, or face punitive action.  However, the Government did not 
close down any group during the year.
Section 5     Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status
The Constitution provides for equality of the sexes and equal treatment 
of non-Muslims, but aspects of the law and many traditional practices 
discriminate against women and Christians.
Family violence against women occurs and is reflected in press accounts 
of specific incidents.  According to recent statistics, one out of every 
three women who have ever been married has been beaten at least once 
during marriage.  Among those who have been beaten, less than half have 
ever sought help.  In general neighbors and extended family members 
intervene to limit incidents of domestic violence.  Abuse within the 
family is rarely discussed publicly, owing to the value attached to 
privacy in this traditional society.  Several nongovernmental 
organizations have begun offering counseling, legal aid, and other 
services to women who are victims of domestic violence.  "Honor 
killings" are not prevalent, but when they do occur, the punishment is 
generally lighter that in other cases of murder.
The law provides for equality of the sexes, but aspects of the law and 
many traditional practices discriminate against women.  By law unmarried 
women under 21 must have permission from their fathers to obtain 
passports and travel; married women of any age require the same 
permission from their husbands (see 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 is Islam for most Egyptians.  A 1979 
liberalization of the Family Status Law strengthening a Muslim woman's 
rights to divorce and child custody was repealed in 1985 after it was 
found unconstitutional for conflicting with Islamic law.  A new marriage 
contract for Muslim women was proposed in 1995, to replace the current 
one drafted in 1931.  It stipulates premarital negotiations on a wide 
variety of issues, including the woman's right to work, study and travel 
abroad, and divorce settlements.  Government approval is still pending.
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 face strong social 
pressure to provide for all family members who need assistance.  
However, this does not always occur.
Women have employment opportunities in government, medicine, law, 
academia, the arts, and, to a lesser degree, in business.  According to 
government figures, women constitute 17 percent of private business 
owners, and occupy 25 percent of the managerial positions in the four 
major national banks.  There are 123 women officers in the Egyptian 
diplomatic service, including 6 ambassadors and 7 consuls general.  
There are 3 women state counselors in the administrative court system.  
However, there are no women state prosecutors or judges in the civil 
court system.  Although there is no legal basis to prohibit female 
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 womens' advocates say that a resurgent Islamic fundamentalist 
trend limits further gains.  Women's rights advocates also point to 
other discriminatory traditional or cultural attitudes and practices 
such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and the traditional male 
relative's role in enforcing chastity and appropriate sexual conduct.
There are a growing number of active women's rights groups working in 
diverse areas including reforming the Personal Status Code, educating 
women on their legal rights, combating FGM, and rewriting the marriage 
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 (see Section 6.d.).  The 
Government provides public education, which is compulsory until the age 
of 15.  In education the Government treats boys and girls equally at all 
levels of education, although only 74 percent of girls attend school.  
Literacy rates reflect this disparity:  Female literacy is 34 percent, 
while male literacy is 63 percent.
The Government enacted a new Child Law in March.  The law provides for 
more privileges, protection, and care for children in general.  Six of 
the laws's 144 articles set advantageous rules for working children (see 
Section 6.d.).  Other provisions include:  Employers to set up or 
contract with a child care center if they employ more than 100 women; 
the right of rehabilitation for disabled children; defendants between 
the ages of 16 and 18 may not be sentenced to capital punishment, hard 
labor for life, or temporary hard labor; and defendants under the age of 
15 may not be placed in preventive custody although the prosecution may 
order that they be lodged in an "observation house" and be summoned upon 
In July following the death by hemorrhage of an 11-year-old girl, the 
Minister of Health and Population issued a decree calling for an end to 
the practice of FGM and prohibiting its performance by nonmedical and 
medical practioners.  FGM is widely condemned by international health 
experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health.  
Statistics on the prevalence of FGM vary, but Government and private 
sources agree it is common.  A recent study places the percentage of 
Egyptian women who have undergone FGM at 97 percent.  The act is 
generally performed on girls between the ages of 7 and 10, probably with 
equal prevalence among Muslims and Coptic Christians.  The Government 
broadcasts television programs condemning the practice, and a number of 
NGO's work actively to educate the public of the health hazards attached 
to the practice.  A discussion of FGM and its dangers is being added to 
the curriculum at medical schools and in training courses given to 
traditional birth attendants.  The new Sheik of Al-Azhar, the senior 
Muslim leader in the country, has stated that FGM is not required by 
Islamic tenets.  However, despite strong government efforts to eradicate 
it, it is unlikely that the practice will disappear quickly due to 
traditional and family pressures.
     People with Disabilities
There are approximately 5.7 million disabled persons, 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 by using television programming, the 
print media, and educational material in public schools.  By law, all 
businesses must designate 5 percent of their jobs for the disabled, who 
are exempt 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 duties for private vehicles.
     Religious Minorities
The Constitution provides that all citizens are equal before the law and 
prohibits discrimination based on religion.  For the most part these 
constitutional protections are upheld by the Government.  However, 
discrimination against Christians still exist.
The approximately 5.7 million Coptic Christians are the objects of 
occasional violent assaults by Muslim extremists.  During the year, 
extremists were responsible for killing at least 22 Copts, most in the 
Minya and Assiuyut governorates in upper Egypt, where about 30 to 40 
percent of the inhabitants are Christian.  Acts of violence also were 
reported against churches and Copt-owned businesses; some carried out by 
extremists, but others committed by ordinary citizens.  Rumors of church 
repairs or building without permits occasionally resulted in anti-
Christian rioting by citizens.  In one incident in the delta village of 
Kafr Demyan, local newspapers reported that the rioters were incited by 
Muslim preachers who utilized mosque loudspeakers to call for 
retaliation against the perceived violations.
Some Christians have complained that the Government is lax in protecting 
Coptic lives and property.  Security forces arrest extremists who 
perpetrate violence against Copts, but some members of the Coptic 
community do not believe that the Government is vigorous in its efforts 
to prevent attacks and does little to correct nonviolent forms of 
discrimination, including its own.
There were reports of forced conversions of Coptic children to Islam, 
but even human rights groups find it extremely difficult to determine 
the actual degree of compulsion used, as most cases involve a Coptic 
girl converting to Islam to marry a Muslim boy.  According to the 
Government, the girl in such cases must meet with her family, with her 
priest, and with the head of her church before she is allowed to 
convert.  However, there are credible reports of government harassment 
of Christian families attempting to regain custody of their daughters, 
and of the failure of the authorities to uphold the law that states that 
a marriage of a girl under 16 is prohibited and between the ages of 16 
and 21 is illegal without the approval and presence of her guardian.
Government discriminatory practices include:  Suspected statistical 
underrepresentation of the size of the Christian population; anti-
Christian discrimination in education; failure to admit Christians into 
schools of Arabic studies to become Arabic teachers since the curriculum 
involves study of the Koran; the production of some Islamic television 
programs with anti-Christian themes; job discrimination in the public 
sector--the police, the armed forces, and other government agencies; 
reported discrimination against Christians in staff appointments at 
universities; and their underrepresentation in government.  There are no 
Coptic governors and no Copts in the upper ranks of the military, 
police, or diplomatic service.
Section 6     Worker Rights
     a.     The Right of Association
Workers may join trade unions but are not required to do so.  A union 
local, or workers' 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 
repeatedly has 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 or 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.
The labor laws do not adequately provide statutory authorization for the 
rights to strike and to engage in collective bargaining.  Even though 
the right to strike is not guaranteed, strikes occur.  The Government 
considers strikes a form of public disturbance and hence illegal.
Only a few strikes took place in either the public or private sector 
during the year, mainly over wage and dismissal questions.  No violence 
was reported in any of the strikes.
Some unions within ETUF are affiliated with international trade union 
organizations.  Others are in the process of becoming affiliated.
     b.     The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Under the law, unions may negotiate work contracts with public sector 
enterprises if the latter agree 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 
(EPZ's) as in the rest of the country.
     c.     Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The criminal code authorizes sentences of hard labor for some crimes.
     d.     Minimum Age for Employment of Children
Under the new Child Law (see Section 5), the minimum age for employment 
is 14 in non-agricultural work.  Provincial governors, with the approval 
of the Minister of Agriculture, can authorize seasonal work for children 
between the ages of 12 to 14 years, provided that duties are not 
hazardous and do not interfere with schooling.  Preemployment training 
for children under the age of 12 is prohibited.  It is prohibited for 
children to work for more than 6 hours a day, including 1 or more breaks 
totaling at least 1 hour.  Children are not to work overtime, during 
their weekly day off, between 8 pm and 7 am, or more than 4 hours 
continuously.  Education is compulsory until the age of 15.
Ministry of Health figures for 1995 indicate that 2 million children 
between the ages of 6 and 15 are employed.  A 1989 study estimated that 
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 and carpet-making 
factories.  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.  Many of these children are abused and overworked 
by their employers and it is unlikely that the restrictions in the new 
Child Law will improve their condition without much stricter enforcement 
on the part of the Government.
     e.     Acceptable Conditions of Work
For government and public sector employees, the minimum wage is 
approximately $25 (84 Egyptian pounds) a month for a 6-day, 42-hour 
workweek.  Base pay is supplemented by a complex system of fringe 
benefits and bonuses that may double or triple a workers 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 it 
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.  The law prohibits employers from maintaining 
hazardous working conditions, and provides legal recourse for employees 
who are asked to work in such conditions if they refuse.