After three years of vacuum in the legislative branch, Egypt’s House of Representatives made a comeback in January 2016 following a rather low turnout in the parliamentary elections.
The elected parliamentarians successfully drew the public’s attention through their uncanny sessions. Controversy erupted after several bills and drafts had been suggested and filed for discussions, also after the public feuds between the members were aired.
Footage of random voting on bills surfaced, showing thorough “randomness” under the Egyptian parliament’s dome. Other footage suggested that some MPs are not allowed to discuss draft laws.
Apart from the clashes and quarrels inside the parliament that are common in several countries, Egypt’s parliamentarians have repeatedly proved that they don’t have much to bring to the table. Every now and then, a member decides to come up with a new controversial draft law that makes people question whether these MPs are actually familiar with people’s needs and demands or not.
Ban on Western Names
MP Bedir Abdul-Aziz, the representative of Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate suggested a jail term and a fine that ranges between EGP 1,000 to 5,000 to be imposed on parents who give their children Western names.
In the bill’s defense, Abdul-Aziz said that names like Mark and Sam will distort the Egyptian heritage and culture. He said in statements to the privately-owned Al-Youm Al-Sabee that he is trying to alleviate the embarrassment of kids from their names, adding that they suffer from these Western names as they grow up.
Abdul-Aziz also decided to get personal in his statements and told a story about baby twins whose grandparents didn’t know how to spell their names. “When I got home, I couldn’t find an origin for these names in our Arabic language,” said Abdul-Aziz.
MP Abdul-Kareem Zakareya, a member of the parliament’s religious committee suggested a uniform for all students in any educational institution, including universities. Zakareya believes that uniform will limit the new trend of ripped jeans and will help combat “revealing clothes”.
Registration Fees for Facebook
Parliamentarians suggested imposing registration fees on users to be able to access Facebook. These fees are aimed at easing up the “monitoring” process of users and spotting those who use the platform to spread hatred.
In essence, the Egyptian constitution stipulates that monitoring can only be done under particular conditions, random monitoring would be unconstitutional. However, the MPs who endorsed the bill said that Facebook “destroyed Egypt”.
MP Shadia Kheidr filed a draft law that criminalises disobeying parents and imposes a severe penalty on disobeyers.
The draft law suggested a 3-year-jail term for anyone who violates the rule and disobey their parents, and/or a fine that ranges between EGP 500 to EGP 10,000.
Encouragement of Female Genial Mutilation (FGM)
Former MP Elhamy Agina suggested that Egyptian women undergo FGM procedures in order to curb their sexual appetites. In defense of his suggestion, Agina said that the majority of Egyptian men suffer from impotence and cannot keep up with their partners’ needs.
FGM is criminalised in the Egyptian Law.
Agina, as well, suggested that girls should undergo virginity tests before their admittance to universities. He defended his bill saying that it will help combat Urfi marriages (informal marriages that are not announced).
Documentation of Engagements
MP Abla Al-Hawary is currently working on a bill to document engagements and impose fines on the one who decides to call off the engagement.
Al-Hawary said that this law will help limit the problems that erupt between families and partners over the gifts and presents.