Last Update 23:31
Egypt protests against anti-protest law
The new decree-law issued by the cabinet yesterday draws the ire of activists and labourers who plan to take their objections to the street in massive protests on Friday
Thursday 24 Mar 2011
Share/Bookmark
Views: 23617
Egypt
A boy watches as pro-democracy supporters gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Feb. 18. (Mohamed Abd El-Ghany/Reuters)

The Egyptian cabinet approved yesterday a decree-law that criminalises strikes, protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state owned businesses or affect the economy in any way.

The decree-law also assigns severe punishment to those who call for or incite action, with the maximum sentence one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.

The new law, which still needs to be approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, will be in force as long as the emergency law is still in force. Egypt has been in a state of emergency since the assassination of former president Anwar Sadat in 1981. 

Since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February, Egypt has witnessed escalating nationwide labour strikes and political protests. Amongst those protesting have been university students, political activists, railway workers, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, journalists, pensioners and the police force. 

Many labourers have expressed their shock at the decree. “We really had hopes that the new government will support us and look into our demands. We expected them to say we have all of your legal demands on our desks and there is a timeline of a month or two within which they will be achieved,” said Ali Fotouh, a driver in the public transportation sector.

“I don’t understand what they mean by protests that affect the traffic and the business. This is not fair, why don’t you solve our demands so that we don’t go on strikes. This tone reminds me of the old days of Mubarak, threats and oppression used by the regime. This is no longer valid after January 25 Revolution.”  

Many agree with Fotouh that this decree will incite even more protests and create even more distrust between the new government and the army on one side, and the people on the other. 

In a statement issued today, the investment bank Beltone Financial said: “The law is more likely to face further protests and discontent. The Egyptian public has only just found its political voice and will, most likely, view this decision as another attempt to silence it. We agree that there is a need for work to resume normally once again, for Egypt’s economy to begin its recovery process, but we also believe that the government’s decision to criminalise protests and strikes could provoke further discontentment and more protests.”

Indeed the proposed law has incited a lot of anger, as can be gauged by the response on Facebook and Twitter. Activists have already called for protests tomorrow against the decree in Tahrir Square and in the main streets and squares in Egypt. 

“Let’s show them what the revolution is about. Let’s all go out and protest against repression,” posted Hend. 

Reham, also on facebook says “This is exactly what I feared would happen if the vote was in favour of the military's recommendations. They have achieved the division, gained a majority and feel safe to conquer. We need millions on the streets again. The revolution has been hijacked!”

Hala simply asks “What do you mean protests are not allowed by law? Did we do revolution to criminalize protests?” 

On Twitter Wael said: “This law is another reminder for those who supported Essam Sharaf, here he is another copy of Shafiq and Nazif the ex prime ministers, these are all corrupt NDP members.” 

For some activists, the law, if passed, will not change anything. 

“It is another dictator law, the emergency law never stopped labour strikes during the 30 years Mubarak regime,” said Mustafa Basiounu, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists who doesn’t think that this law will affect the Egyptian labour movement in any way. 

“This only shows us that the new cabinet is launching a counter revolution. I am only surprised they have announced their hatred to the revolution that fast,” added Basiouni.  

Another problem with the law is its wording with many unclear what it means by those who hamper the economy. “It is so vague, I don’t understand who they mean. They left the TV strike people, but they attacked the students’ strike at Cairo University. What does that mean?” wonders political activist Amr Asaad who is perplexed by the proposed law. 

Basiouni agrees with Asaad on the vagueness of the law but believes that “dictator laws are supposed to be vague so that they apply it whenever they want and on whomever they want. It could apply to looters and to honourable labourers,” he said, adding that it will not affect the labour movement. “The Egyptian labour movement is the backbone of the Egyptian revolution. Those who try to counter it are trying to counter the revolution.”  

Fotouh also takes a withering view of the law. “Egypt is now a free country, no law will repress us. This law will be rejected, this time not through a rigged parliament but in Tahrir Square. They have to understand this is where we have our legitimacy.”





Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 50 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
17



broseforgeorge1
27-03-2011 05:03pm
0-
0+
SAD
IT'S TO BAD ALL THE PROTESTING WAS FOR NOTHING THERE SEEMS TO BE NO CHANGE AT ALL AND THINGS WILL ONLY GET WORSE IN EGYPT MY FRIEND SAID THE OTHER DAY WHO KIILS MORE MUSLIMS ? MUSLIMS KILL MUSLIMS. JUST LOOK WHATS GOING ON THROUGH OUT THE MIDDLE EAST
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
16



Abe
27-03-2011 07:58am
0-
0+
Zimbabwe? Sorry, Egypt!
Apologies for mixing the two countries. The anti-protest law, the attacks on students and professors inside their own universities, forbidding people from voicing their opinions, all this make it easy to think that we are in Zimbabwe, not Egypt. I congratulated the new government on its effort to establish a democratic path for the Egyptian people in a previous comment. I spoke too soon, now I can see Mubarak's hand running the show while enjoying the sun in Sharm El Sheikh. Wake up my young Egyptian friends before you loose your revolution. Best wishes and salamat.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
15



Peter
26-03-2011 08:49am
0-
0+
Protests Needed Now
Very sad. All this for nothing as the army shows its true colours. Remember that a leopard never changes its spots! The Egyptian people need to have more mass protest meetings fast in Tahrir Square before the army entrenches itself, remove all of the old guard, and establish a new democratic goverment
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
14



J.B.
26-03-2011 12:30am
0-
0+
Dont let the Revolution be stolen
To the Egyptian protesters and trade unionists: I am from the United States and I want to first congratulate you on your successful organization and hard work that brought about the revolution. Second, I want to offer a warning about the intentions of my government in your country. I am certain that the U.S. government will not easily give up the control of Egypt that it enjoyed under Mubarak. I believe they will try to use the Egyptian army to maintain an Egypt that is friendly to U.S. interests. As you probably know, most of the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid went to top personnel in the army anyway, not to Mubarak. I urge you not to be fooled about the intentions of the Egyptian army or the U.S. government, and Marc, i believe you are quite right, the Revolution in Egypt has just begun. Dont let it be stolen from you. To quote one of my favorite authors, George Orwell, "Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution."
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
13



drew
26-03-2011 12:18am
0-
0+
front
doing away with a frontman would never have been enough.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
12



Ayman
25-03-2011 07:51pm
0-
0+
Silly
SThis is the sort of law the old regime would have loved to have to suppress opposition on a wide scale. In fact it’s an extension of an existing laughable law that states that a gathering of five or more people can be illegal. The exact law the old regime has abused over many years to deter and imprison the opposition. This is just revolting and completely unacceptable. It's as if they are trying to build a stronger dictatorship without the limitations of the previous one. This law is nothing more than a tailor made solution to a contrived problem to hide failure and corruption by suppressing people. Time and again it has been shown that the best way to handle such protests is by simply listening to them and fixing the problems they present such as the ones that were in Tahrir and in front of Maspero (TV building). On the opposite end, suppressing protests leads to nothing but festering hatred and contempt that end up forming a real disruption of daily life. Who writes these laws, w
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
11



Joe
25-03-2011 07:48pm
0-
0+
Revolution what?
Revolution has to have clear goals, not people chilling in Tahrir smoking shisha. It needs to have a leader not a whole bunch. Egyptians, you have to organize yourselves before asking the gov to respect your opinion. They can't break you, you have to unity. This is why this is not a revolution: 1. Army is still hiring whatever they want. 2. Army is still passing whatever law they want 3. Army is still changing the constitution to whatever they want. 4. Brotherhood is taking over. Another Iran on the way. Makes me really sad, I was hoping to see Egypt my land move to a better direction.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
10



Joe
25-03-2011 07:48pm
0-
0+
Revolution what?
Revolution has to have clear goals, not people chilling in Tahrir smoking shisha. It needs to have a leader not a whole bunch. Egyptians, you have to organize yourselves before asking the gov to respect your opinion. They can't break you, you have to unity. This is why this is not a revolution: 1. Army is still hiring whatever they want. 2. Army is still passing whatever law they want 3. Army is still changing the constitution to whatever they want. 4. Brotherhood is taking over. Another Iran on the way. Makes me really sad, I was hoping to see Egypt my land move to a better direction.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
9



Paul X
25-03-2011 07:39pm
0-
0+
Par for the course
This is what rulers do, gang. Time to hang a few of them from lamp posts, maybe they will get your message. Thing about rules is, you can always ignore them. Too bad Egyptians are not armed, though. That always helps a lot.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
8



shahira
25-03-2011 07:03pm
0-
0+
the way to Tahrir Square
I say BRAVO to the defiant ones who refuse to be silenced or intimidated! The government is indeed trying to silence voices of dissent in much the same way as the Mubarak regime did. This time their pretext is to "restore stability ." How about they help us restore stability by first responding to our demands?! We are all shocked and dismayed especially as this was the same Essam Sharraf who joined the protesters in Tahrir and pledged to work to meet their demands. The same corrupt people are still pulling the strings all over the country including in state media institutions . The editors in chief have changed their tune but they have already lost their credibility. The government hasnt even given a timeframe for the activists' demands to be met. They risk losing the trust of the people . Let's remind them that we now know the way to Tahrir Square.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment

© 2010 Ahram Online. Advertising