Egypt government proposes anti-discrimination law

Cario, Egypt - Egypt's government on Wednesday proposed an anti-discrimination amendment to its criminal code, mostly aimed at the troubled Christian minority which has been the target of sectarian attacks.

The bill, which the caretaker cabinet published a draft of on its Facebook page, would make discrimination a crime punishable by at least three months in prison, in addition to a fine.

It defines discrimination as "any action, or lack of action, that discriminates between people or against a sect due to gender, origin, language, religion or belief."

Women and minorities in Egypt complain of discrimination, but it is enshrined in the law regarding Coptic Christians, who are not allowed to build houses of worship without presidential permission.

The cabinet, which was appointed by the ruling military after a revolt ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February, has said it is studying another law to ease restrictions on church construction.

The military must approve any law before it goes into effect.

Disputes over building churches have contributed to sectarian clashes, which so far have killed at least 30 people in 2011.