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Egypt constitution committee says protests to require only prior 'notification'

Committee members tasked with amending suspended 2012 constitution define restrictions on demonstrations in charter's protest article

Ahram Online, Thursday 31 Oct 2013
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File photo: Huge crowds protest in Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's constitutional committee has agreed that article 53 concerning the right to protest will only require that event organisers provide 'notification' before protests take place, the committee's Twitter account stated on Thursday.

This is in contrast to a protest law under debate within the cabinet, which would require official authorisation for every protest.

The cabinet's protest law, drafted by the justice ministry in October, sparked outrage among the country's political groups, who condemned the right given to the interior minister and senior police officials to cancel, postpone or change the location of a protest.

Earlier on Thursday, committee spokesman Mohamed Salmawy told reporters that committee members largely agreed that protests should require prior notification, but not official authorisation, from the relevant authorities, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.

Further details regarding the right to protest will be decided by law, sources told Al-Ahram.

Protest law controversy

The controversial protest law was approved by the cabinet earlier in October before being sent to Interim President Adly Mansour for ratification. Several political forces have unanimously condemned the bill, arguing that it infringed on Egyptian citizens' basic rights and freedoms.

The draft law is comprised of 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 the protest's location and purpose, the name and contact information of its organisers, 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.

Article 14 states that provincial 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.

Responding to growing criticism, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said that the draft law could be amended after dialogue with political groups and parties before being officially approved by Interim President Mansour.

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Samantha Criscione
01-11-2013 09:06pm
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To Terry Willis (whose comment is below): Sorry, but you entirely miss the point!
Of course the constitution should guarantee the rights to speech, assembly, and so on. But that is not the issue under discussion. Guaranteeing the right to speak, to assemble and to protest does not mean forbidding the government from legislating to set rules governing protest. If it did, then we would have to say all governments are undemocratic, since all have such rules (e.g., requiring permits). Similarly, having a constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech should not mean the government can't legislate to prevent someone from threatening others with violent, obscene speech. If Egypt gives its government the right to legislate concerning protests, does that make abuses possible? Yes, but a) forbidding the government that right makes it impossible for government forces to protect people from abusive and disruptive protests, as provided for in laws in every society and b) whatever is in the constitution, the ultimate guarantee against abuses is a politically conscious population. The significance of this constitutional ruling, forbidding the government from making laws concerning protests, is that it permits the Brotherhood to continue to call false-protests --- terrorist forays thinly disguised as protests -- in their campaign to try to intimidate the government and the Egyptian people. -- Samantha Criscione
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Richard
01-11-2013 08:15pm
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KEEP GOING AL-SISI
From a Texan Christian USA: God bless Al-Sisi and his strong stand against so-called "religionists" who want to take away the rights of the people of Egypt. Al-Sisi is a hero. We're praying here for him that he will be strong enough to resist the pressure of the Washington regime and get a good Constitution on the books to guarantee freedom and security to all the beloved people of Egypt.
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Pharaoh
01-11-2013 06:58pm
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shariah and secularism can get a long.
Egypt needs a purely secular structured democratic government but the government is not the nation. Differentiate between the country and the nation. The country plays a social organizing role, while the nation plays a more structural role. Politicians need to strengthen the military role in protecting the national unity and the egyptian race which defines Egypt as a nation. The military gives us our beloved Pharaoh back. The Islamic identity needs to be given more symbolic power. This means the judicial authorities need to be bounded by the islamic shariah interpreted by specialized azhar scholars. Al azhar needs to create a corporate body with organizational by-laws and include the muslim constituents. This is how it is done in America, when it comes to religious bodies with power. The religious corporation will then implement the shariah by-laws on muslims only. However, it is bounded by the judicial authority and the rules of the law of the land. This means that certain norms can be implemented by the organization however no ruling or verdict can be enforced except by the rule of law. This gives the freedom for individuals to decide to be part of the muslim community or not, instead of being forced. It is time to rationally design a secular country with all the freedoms but an egyptian nation with powerful Islamic symbolic values. All the country laws need to go through judicial review to ensure it is in accord with the egyptian nation. This nation will not intrude on other values because the nation should not require assimilation. One of the tenants of Islam (classical one from al azhar) is it desires for everyone to keep their heritage and does not compel anyone to be a muslim. The model I present forth should construct a multicultural unassimilated country. While simultaneously preserving the egyptian nation that can learn and grow from the multiple heritages and religions around it. On a side note, I suggest we completely forgo the arab identity, since in reality we are more accurately linguistically arabic. I hope for an arabophone economic union similar to the European union.
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Terry Willis
01-11-2013 02:53pm
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A supporter of human rights
The right to assembly is a basic human right. When this right is denied to people, then that government cannot be called a democracy. In order for Egypt to become a democracy, the following freedoms must be established: Freedom of Speech Freedom of the Press The right of Peaceful Assembly Freedom of Religion The right to a speedy and open trial in front of a jury of your peers (not a military court or having defendants in a cage) The right of requiring a search warrant from a judge before your home or business is searched by law enforcement. The right to choose your leaders in a fair and open election. These are the basic requirements that a government must follow in order to be called a democracy.
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George Saber
01-11-2013 05:27pm
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The fascists wouldn't let them do it
Terry: The Islamists tried to do just this, but the fascist centers of powere wouldn't let them do it.
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Samantha Criscione
31-10-2013 10:41pm
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This is an error -- at BEST an error! -- that greatly pleases Egypt's enemies
It is absurd for a constitution to define the limit of laws on protest. That is a matter for legislators. Such laws must of necessity vary according to circumstance. Now, with the clerical fascist Muslim Brotherhood using protests as a cover for terror, denying the government the right to legislate police control on protests BEFORE the fact can mean so-called 'protesters' with a history of violent attack on passersby -- and critical government installations! -- get to make such attacks before police can act, whereupon the international media can falsely cry 'police suppression of free speech.' If this goes through it is a big, big mistake -- or perhaps, treachery. -- Samantha Criscione
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George Saber
01-11-2013 03:08pm
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You are the true fascists, you carry alot of innocent blood on your hands
Samantha Criscione: any fascist government can call its opponents "terrorists" You are doing this yourself. But the true fascists are you and your Sisis Junta. You shut down non-conformist media, you imprisoned your political opponents, and you murdered thousands of men, women and children for peacefully protesting the overthrow of a democratically-elected government. In fact, the smell of fascism is wafting from your mouth. With so much innocent blood onyour hands, you have no right to babble about violence. Violence in Egypt was created by authoritarian and fascist governments controlled by the Egyptian armed forces....From Nasser to Sisi.
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Jane Salameh
31-10-2013 08:49pm
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Good
Good. this way the Islamists will be able to overthrow this government.
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Hanna Morkus
01-11-2013 12:33pm
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Democracy is paramount
Ervin: Take it easy: a fascist reality can be replaced with a democratic reality. Fascism is bad even for the Copts.
Ervin
01-11-2013 12:47am
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yes
Keep dreaming please. It's good for you, because you are not able to face the reality.
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