Egyptian interior ministry authorises Wednesday protest

Tony Gamal Gabriel, Mariam Rizk, Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

Interior ministry sources say a protest on Wednesday has been given permission to go ahead, but activists say they had not requested authorisation

Interior ministry sources say the ministry has approved a request by activists to hold a demonstration in central Cairo -- the first such authorisation since the issuing of a controversial law on Sunday which requires that all protests receive prior consent from the authorities.

However, activist groups who are planning protests on Wednesday have denied that they sought ministry permission.

Security sources told state news agency MENA that the protest will be allowed to take place from 4pm to 10pm on Wednesday. The ministry has put in place necessary security in Talaat Harb Square where the demonstration will take place, to ensure the safety of protesters and the flow of traffic.

The demonstration will protest the new law on public gatherings, protests and demonstrations, and will call for the release of a group of protesters detained on Tuesday for breaching the law.

Some of the groups behind the Wednesday protest have said that they have not applied for authorisation from security forces.

Khaled Abdel-Hamid, spokesman for the Way of the Revolution Front, told Ahram Online that his group had not applied for authorisation. He added that to his knowledge, none of those who called for the protest have asked for authorisation.

"They are withdrawing and they are ashamed to say they are withdrawing," Abdel-Hamid said, referring to the authorisation given by the interior ministry.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, head of the Justice Centre for Defence and Law, said it was "unlikely there was any demand” for authorisation.

Abdel-Aziz, who is also a member of the No to Military Trials for Civilians group, criticised the fact the interior ministry did not provide the names of the activists who had submitted the demand.

"It is a strategic retreat, because if they disperse today's protest as well it will be perceived as a provocation."

Ahmed Maher, a founding member of the April 6 Youth Movement, affirmed his group did not submit a demand as they are not “recognising the legitimacy of the law.”

On Tuesday, police forces dispersed two protests -- one by supporters of slain protester Gaber “Jika” Salah, and the other by No to Military Trials -- for gathering and "rioting" without prior notice. Footage showed police dragging, hitting and arresting protesters, drawing widespread criticism. Around 50 protesters were arrested, and 24 remained in custody on Wednesday.

The controversial new law on protests, which was issued on Sunday, forbids public demonstrations and protests that have not received prior police permission.

The law states that applications for permits should be submitted at least three days before the date of the planned protests.


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