Hundreds protested against the re-activation of the emergency law on Monday in a peaceful march that ended near the Egyptian parliament’s headquarters and saw demonstrators hit out at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Ministry of Interior.
The protesters started to gather in Tahrir Square at around four o’clock in the afternoon, as planned. One group rallied outside KFC restaurant while another congregated in front of the Mogamma, Egypt’s largest administrative governmental building.
Repeating various slogans and holding high banners and placards, both groups soon started to march towards each other until they merged. The protesters spent several minutes on the grassy central island, which was a restricted area for weeks, before heading to the parliament’s headquarters.
The march created a traffic problem for around 30 minutes as the protesters partly blocked Kasr El-Eini Street. The demonstrators tried not to completely halt traffic, and some of them volunteered to keep vehicles moving by directing traffic.
The march was not obstructed by any security personnel on its way to its destination, although some of the chants were quite provocative, including some against the interior ministry, the military council and de-facto ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
This was the second protest against the emergency law in Cairo less than 3 days.
The first one was held last Friday, which was named the “No to Emergency Law Friday”. Around 500-1,000 protesters took part in the demonstration, which saw one of the smallest turnouts on a Friday protest in Tahrir since January 2011.
The controversial emergency law was re-activated following the 9 September protests after demonstrators broke into one of the Israeli embassy’s offices in Cairo and others attacked Giza’s Security Department and the Saudi Embassy as well.
The Central Security Forces (CSF) used tear gas and electric batons to disperse the crowds on that day, before SCAF announced the reactivation of the emergency law.
The decision was met by widespread wrath from the revolutionaries.
The emergency law was repeatedly denounced during the tenure of toppled president Hosni Mubarak, as it gives the police unfettered authority. Many believe that numerous officers have misused the controversial law under the previous regime and now there are increasing fears that history might repeat itself.
During Monday’s march, demonstrators also spoke out against the military trials for civilians and the law that bans strikes and sit-ins, two key issues that have stirred up considerable controversy over the past few months.
One of the frequently repeated chants was: “the military police is dirtier than the dogs of the interior [policemen]”, referring to the reported excesses of military police against civilians.
The protesters also called for the sacking of the minister of interior Mansour El-Eissawy, and the release of detained political blogger and activist Mikael Nabil.
Nabil was arrested last spring for writing a blog entitled “The People and the Army Were Never One Hand”. He was tried before a military court and convicted of insulting the military and disturbing public security.
The Coptic activist has been on a hunger strike since last month, in protest of his conviction. Calls for his release have become quite common in mass protests in recent weeks.
The Revolutionary Socialists were the most notable among the political groups taking part in the march. They held aloft eye-catching red flags that bore their name, as Kamal Khalil, a prominent socialist, led the chants more than once during the demonstration.