How Syria and other countries use emergency rule to quash dissent

The concept of emergency rule has been at the forefront of much of the Mideast unrest. Meant to help a country in times of danger, emergency law has sometimes been turned into a political tool.


One of the key demands of the Egyptian protesters seeking to oust former President Hosni Mubarak was to end more than four decades of almost uninterrupted emergency rule.

Mr. Mubarak is gone, but that emergency rule is still in place.

It has been since 1967, aside from a brief lifting in the early 1980s. It was reinstated in 1981 with the assassination of then-president Anwar Sadat. Mr. Mubarak claimed a state of emergency was necessary to enable the country to fight terrorism and drug trafficking, but the law was often used to stop the work of journalists, activists, and political opponents.

Egypt’s interim military government has so far declined to life the state of emergency. Its removal remains one of the central demands of Egypt’s reformers.

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