Egypt's interim president criminalizes, sets heavy fines for dishonoring national anthem, flag

Egypt's outgoing interim president has issued a decree making dishonoring the Egyptian flag or not standing for the national anthem a criminal offense, punishable by sentences of up to one year in prison and a fine of more than $4,000.

The decree announced Saturday increased penalties suggested by the government late last year. The presidential decree says the flag and the national anthem are symbols of the state that must be honored.

Egypt is witnessing a rising wave of nationalist fervor following the July military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against him. Controversies over the flag and national anthem erupted in the past as some Islamists refused to stand for the national anthem and other critics tore up the flag in protest.