“It was the symbolism. The interior ministry seems to have this belief that repressive laws are a deterrent.”
Egypt has been under almost continuous emergency law since 1967, with breaks in 1981 and after president Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in early 2011.
The scope of the emergency law was gradually whittled down under Mubarak and by courts following the strongman’s ouster.
More than 2,000 Islamists, including most of the top leadership of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, have been arrested since the overthrow of the president, who has also been jailed.
But the majority of those arrested since Morsi’s overthrow were not rounded up according to the emergency law’s provisions, Morayef said.
The state of emergency had meanwhile allowed authorities to place Mubarak under house arrest in a hospital after the maximum period of detention expired in September.
On trial for alleged involvement in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising, Mubarak may be forced to go back to jail with the end of the state of emergency, now that the government has amended the law to allow for a longer detention period during trial.
The interim president is meanwhile on the verge of decreeing an amended law regulating protests that has sparked a backlash, even from other members of government and its supporters.