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Salafist leader criticises draft protest law

Nour Party head says national dialogue necessary before adoption of controversial protest law that has also been criticised by revolutionary forces

Wednesday 16 Oct 2013
Younes Makhioun
Younes Makhioun, Head of Nour Party (Photo: Ahram Arabic Gate)
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The leader of Egypt's largest Salafist party has called on interim President Adly Mansour not to issue a controversial protest law without first conducting a national dialogue, or at least discussing it with political forces.

The Nour Party's Younes Makhioun said in a Tuesday statement that it would be better to wait for the next parliament to adopt such a law.

The draft law gives the interior minister or senior police officials the authority to cancel, postpone or change the location of a protest, and allows governors to designate "protest-free" areas near state buildings, including presidential palaces.

The interim authorities should only use their exceptional legislative powers for urgent matters, Makhioun added.

He accused the country’s new authorities of reproducing deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s errors by adopting controversial laws without consultation, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

The draft law was prepared by the justice ministry and contains 21 articles, the most controversial of which 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 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.

Egypt's Youth Revolutionary Block on Tuesday denounced the draft law, which has been approved by the cabinet and is currently under review by the interim president, stating that it would enable the return of the police state.

The April 6 Youth Movement (the Democratic Front) also denounced the draft law, 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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