CAIRO - Egypt's cabinet approved on Wednesday a draft anti-terrorism law that would give the government blanket power to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.
Authorities have cracked down hard on Islamist, secular and liberal opposition alike since the army toppled elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year after mass unrest against his rule, dashing hopes for a more robust democracy stirred by the fall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The government already has broad security powers and has been able to exercise them largely at will - jailing thousands of Morsi supporters and more recently many leading lights of the 2011 uprising - because of many Egyptians' weariness with lawlessness that crippled the economy after Mubarak's fall.
The draft legislation, however, would help enshrine the security crackdown in the criminal code by permitting authorities to classify groups as "terrorist" according to a long list of offenses, some of them non-violent.
"A terrorist entity is considered any organization... which practices or seeks in any way to disrupt public order or exposes society's integrity, interests or security to harm," the draft legislation reads.