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Egyptian Lawmakers OK Controversial Bills on Citizenship, Military Immunity, Media


FILE - Members of Egypt's Parliament attend the inaugural session in Cairo, Jan. 10, 2016.

Egypt's parliament passed a series of controversial bills Monday, including one that offers citizenship to foreigners who deposit around $400,000 in a local bank.

The bill allows foreigners who make a deposit of at least 7 million Egyptian pounds ($392,000) the ability to receive citizenship if they leave the money in the account for five years and reside in Egypt during that time.

Lawmakers said foreigners who take up the offer would have no political rights until after five years of citizenship.

The bill, which must be approved by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, has drawn criticism from some legislators, as well as on social media.

Lawmaker Haitham el-Hariri accused the government of "selling Egyptian citizenship'' to bring investment to the country.

The head of parliament's defense and national security committee, Gen. Kamal Amer, said the new law complements recent incentives for foreigners to invest in Egypt.

Military officers

Also on Monday, Egypt's parliament passed a law that could protect senior military officers from future prosecution for violence carried out during the 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The bill, which must be signed by the president before becoming law, allows Sissi the right to grant immunity to officers for any crimes committed between Morsi's overthrow in July 2013 and June 2014.

Hundreds of protesters were killed during that period when security forces broke up sit-ins in support of Morsi.

Media regulations

Parliament also passed a bill Monday regulating the press and media, drawing criticism from journalists.

Agence France-Presse reports one of the measures would allow Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulations to supervise social media accounts that have more than 5,000 followers and to suspend any account that "publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything (information) inciting violating the law, violence or hatred."

It said another article threatens five years of jail time to anyone who imports satellite transmitters without official approval from the government.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161 out of 180 countries on their World Press Freedom Index.

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