The interim Egyptian government approved a draft law Wednesday which makes disrespecting the flag and not standing during the national anthem offenses punishable by prison time and a fine.
The Egyptian website Ahram Online reports that the measure states that “ridiculing the Egyptian flag and not standing in respect when the national anthem is played in public is a crime punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment and/or five thousand pounds fine (about $726).”
In recent days, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and more hardline Salafi groups have confronted their secular opponents over which songs are played to start the school day.
Those who support the military have been playing pro-army songs in schools, a move that has irritated Muslim Brotherhood members. This as army supporters accuse Muslim Brotherhood school administrators of failing to play Egypt’s national anthem in their schools and instead playing pro-Brotherhood tunes, reports Ahram.
The new decree was enacted days after Egypt’s Ministry of Education decided to ban all songs besides the national anthem from being played at public schools.
The conflict apparently began in 2011 when Salafi members of parliament refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem. They believe the anthem contradicts Islamic teachings.
The Associated Press reports that an Islamist member of the committee to amend the constitution “refused to stand for a moment of silence honoring policemen killed on duty during a raid on a militant stronghold last month.”
Salafi al-Nour party member Mohammed Ibrahim Mansour, one of 50-members of the constitutional committee, has reportedly said it is better to pray for those killed rather than stand for a moment of silence.