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Egyptian MP says he respects freedom of expression but within limits

Citizens have a right to protest, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf tells state television as demonstrations grow across Egypt

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Jul 2011
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Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told Channel 1 of Egypt’s state television that he personally respects freedom of expression including strikes and peaceful demonstrations. At the same time, he called on protesters not to disrupt public life and services.

In recent days, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in many Egyptian cities from Cairo to Alexandria to Suez to express their frustration at the record of Sharaf’s four-month-old cabinet.

Many have accused Sharaf of being unable or unwilling to prosecute officers accused of killing protesters during the revolutionary uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak last February.

Others charge that Sharaf has not taken any serious steps to raise wages and living standards, a key demand of the January uprising.

The prime minister has publicly promised in the last two days to overhaul his cabinet in order to allow it to meet people’s needs in a more efficient manner and to purge the police department of officers accused of murdering protesters.

In a nod to angry protesters, the prime minister told channel 1, “Demonstrations are a natural right for citizens.”  However, he was quick to ask protesters to respect and protect all public facilities and services.

The prime minister added that he hoped that Egyptians realise that his cabinet is doing its utmost to achieve the goals of the January 25 Revolution.

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