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Rights group adds to criticism of Egypt's draft protest law
Draft protest law is reminiscent of policies implemented by Hosni Mubarak and Habib El-Adly, says Egyptian rights group
Ahram Online, Wednesday 16 Oct 2013
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Egyptian demonstrators
Egyptian demonstrators raise their hands up and chant slogans during a protest at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Sept. 30, 2011 (Photo: AP)

An Egyptian human rights group has said the country does not need more laws restricting rights and freedoms, with a number of political forces echoing similar sentiments. 

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said the draft protest law was reminiscent of "the security grip imposed under [Hosni] Mubarak and [former interior minister] Habib El-Adly that failed to prevent a popular revolution against them."

The controversial protest law is being reviewed by interim President Adly Mansour after it was approved by the cabinet. Among its most controversial measures is the right given to the interior minister or senior police officials to cancel, postpone or change the location of a protest. 

The law also entitles governors to designate "protest-free" areas near state buildings, including presidential palaces.

Gamal Eid, executive director of ANHRI, said it was unfortunate that "the same authoritarian approach continues when dealing with rights and freedoms in Egypt."

"Resorting to security and police solutions will lead to more failure and worsen the political conflict in Egypt," Eid added.

He accused the authorities of trying to gain public approval for the law by claiming it would only be used against "a certain group," referring to Mohamed Morsi supporters, who have been protesting since the Islamist president was ousted in July.

The most controversial articles of the law are articles 6, 10 and 14.

Article 6 states that a written appeal should be handed to the local police station 24 hours before any scheduled protest. The appeal must include its location and purpose, the name of its organisers and how to reach them, as well as its demands and the proposed start and end time.

Article 10 gives the interior minister or senior police officials the authority to cancel, postpone or change the location of a protest, although protesters can seek emergency judicial intervention against such decisions.

During Morsi's year in power, neither the interior minister nor senior police officials were able to issue a direct order to cancel a protest. Such a demand had to be issued by the judiciary.

Article 14 states that governors have the power to designate "protest-free" areas of 50 to 100 metres around state and governmental premises, including presidential palaces, headquarters of legislative authorities and the cabinet.

The draft law also stipulates a punishment of imprisonment and a fine of between LE100,000 and LE300,000 for those who pay or receive money for participation in protests, and who organise protests without prior disclosure at the local police station.

Younes Makhioun, head of Egypt's largest Salafist party, has called on President Mansour not to issue the law without first conducting a national dialogue, or at least discussing it with political forces. He also said it would be better to wait for the next parliament to adopt such a law.

The ultraconservative Islamist group Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and its political wing the Building and Development Party have also criticised the draft law, saying it would be used to crackdown on any kind of political opposition.

The group is one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strongest allies and has been taking part in protests calling for Morsi’s reinstatement.

Egypt's Youth Revolutionary Block said the draft law would enable the return of the police state and ignored the January 25 Revolution’s demand for freedom.

The group's general coordinator, Safwat Omran, said the current government wanted to enforce security by restricting freedom, a tactic that was common under Hosni Mubarak's government.

April 6 Youth Movement (Democratic Front) also denounced the draft law for restricting freedom of assembly, saying in a Monday statement that it refused to "go back to the era of rulers issuing laws to silence their opponents."



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Sauer Kraut
17-10-2013 11:12pm
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The articles criticized are common in democracies of Europe!
Regular demonstrations are not limited thereby. The police can plan an escort for a demo and prevent possible collisions. In practice, however, one must rely on the courts! One has to differentiate spontaneous gatherings and demonstrations. The speech of a politician, an injustice of the police and the like can lead to spontaneous gatherings that can have the character of a demonstration. This can not be announced. But there is a short-term event. There must be exceptions. A revolution is not prevented by law, because revolutionaries do not respect laws! Compares the law with the practice in other democratic countries.
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Samantha Criscione
17-10-2013 12:48pm
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Shame on Tamarod for joining with April 6 in making this demagogic attack
Nagi Abdelhami (below) is absolutely right. In Germany and Italy -- indeed, all over Europe -- if you hold a demonstration without getting a permit you are arrested. It is only when it comes to Egypt that Baroness Ashton's EU Foreign Affairs Council demands that, "All political parties, including the Freedom and Justice Party, must be allowed to work freely and enjoy full freedom of expression." The reason the EU makes this demand for Egypt, but for no country in Europe, is that they want the Brotherhood to make a comeback, returning to power so that it can once again pursue its totalitarian "Renaissance Project," enforced with blood, a project which means the unhindered exploitation of the Egyptian people. In demanding the right to unhindered protest, whatever the members of these groups THINK they are doing, in fact they are siding with the Brotherhood against the Egyptian people. -- Samantha Criscione
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Sauer Kraut
18-10-2013 04:26pm
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Why do you bash EU and Catherine Ashton?
Islamist can say, that USA, EU and all the West support the military and will accept a military dictator, because they fear islam.
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Nagi Abdelhami
16-10-2013 08:36pm
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protest law
At any democratic country, any peaceful protest must be approved by the authorities, also the protest organiser must let the police know the rout of the march and sitting not allowed. Therefore all the political parties should stop wasting time and let the law take it's course at least stop protesting for a few months in order to give every one chance to move forward and the economy and growth take place. Islam is a peaceful faith, you don't have to grow a bread and force the women to wear the nikab and treat them like slaves. Morsi has divided the country instead for him to be a president to all the Egyptians, he sided with the Taliban brotherhood, Hamas, terrorist organisations and Qatar at the expenses of Egypt and the Egyptians. I hope all the Egyptian put the interest of Egypt first and move on for better future.
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Mahtab
17-10-2013 01:58am
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Democracy
Please enlighten me, where on earth the military is the friend of democracy?. The military has its place in barracks and should think of getting elected to president ship. How much more death would make make you realise of this bloody coup.
Hussein Shafiei, Cairo
16-10-2013 11:57pm
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What happened in Egypt is too obscene to be accepted by honest people
Yes, but the important thing is that the authoritiesw must be legitimate,which is not the case in Egypt. Sisi and cohorts are coup-makers who deposed a democratically-elected government, arrested and imprisoned the legitimate president, massacred his supporters and invented a corrupt justice system to concoct charges against the real president. Just imagine the merican DefenseMinister overthrowing Obama and putting him in prison? What happened in Egypt is too obscene to be accepted by any level-headed human being.
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mahtab
16-10-2013 08:04pm
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coup
The Egyptian people has started realising that militry cannot be friend of justice and political freedom. The coup leaders are all set to take them to Mubarak era. come of Egyptians throw this corrupt regime and bring genuine democracy.
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Dan Thorne
16-10-2013 07:35pm
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Dismayed
Is this the democracy that Egyptians have fought for? There are rights for the police, the army and the government and no rights for common ordinary Egyptians to freely express their opinions.
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Sam Enslow
16-10-2013 06:58pm
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Curtail Freedoms to Protect Them?
A statesmen once observed that those who trade freedoms for security get neither. That is a true statement. You maintain Liberty only by protecting it for all, including those who disagree with the current government. There are criminal charged to be brought against terrorists (inciting to violence, damaging property, conspiracy to do bodily harms, etc.), but there should be no crime against peaceful protest. Protests, and all other forms of criticism, help governments (who care) by bringing problems to the attention of the government. Government leaders are people (and I believe only 5 men in Islam have been deemed perfect) and can make mistakes. They are in error if they believe they can hide their mistakes by not allowing the people to speak of them. Hide grievances and you set the path to a new revolution. The biggest mistake any politician can make is to start believing his own propaganda. It must be added that the Egyptians are used to governments of lies. Keeping things secret (non transparent) only confirms that the members of the government are telling more lies to protect their interests. The people of Egypt want to see actions, not listen to any more empty words and promises. Egypt will advance when the government actually feels accountable to the people and trusts the people. Egypt has problems known to all. Playing "Let's Pretend" will no longer work. Honesty and openness will. Egypt is filled with some very nice people. It is a shame that both government officials and most clerics believe otherwise.
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