President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ratified on Tuesday the Youth Centres Law that was recently approved by parliament.
The legislation was published in Egypt’s official state gazette early Tuesday
The new law will ban young people from practising politics inside these centres, a decision that stirred great controversy among parliament members and members of the centres. It also prohibits smoking, gambling, and drinking alcohol inside the youth centres.
As justification for banning politics at the facilities, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal said, during a previous discussion session over the law, that “youth centres are a public facility where political ideas should not be propagated, and political activity is always a bias towards a particular party and a particular government. Therefore, it is not permissible to depart from the constitutional text in Article 87, which prohibits the exercise of any political or religious activity inside them.”
Youth centres are clubs affiliated with the state, meant for those who are not able to afford the expenses of a sports club. Hundreds of families send their children to such centres to practice sports and arts in their spare time. There are over 400 centres in urban areas and more than 3,700 in rural areas, according to 2016 data from the country’s official statistics agency CAPMAS, in addition to another 74 centres in Cairo.