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Protesters march to presidential palace demanding end to protest law, release of detainees

Non-Islamist activists march to presidential palace chanting against a controversial protest law and the release of their fellow activists

Mariam Rizk , Saturday 26 Apr 2014
Several
thousand demonstrators marched to Ittihadiya presidential palace against protest law (Photo: Mariam Rizk)
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Several thousand marched on Saturday to the presidential palace chanting against the controversial protest law and demanding the release of detainees.

Non-Islamist opposition groups and movements had called for the protest which started at the Saray El Koba metro station in Cairo's Heliopolis district, a few kilometers away from the Ittihadiya presidential palace.

"Freedom for the detained" and "Down with the protest law" were among the chants of the youthful crowd that echoed with the sound of drums.

Banners held the names of the detained and one long banner read "Release Egypt."

Anti-military and anti-police slogans were also repeatedly chanted.

"Down with military rule" the protesters also shouted.

"Those who chant for Morsi and Sisi...the first is not returning and the second will not be my president" was another chant now frequently heard at protests opposing both military rule and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi hails.

Morsi was ousted last summer following mass protests against his rule, while Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the former army chief, announced he will be running for presidency after his popularity soared amid July’s ouster.

Protesters also tore stickers and posters of El-Sisi down from the walls of buildings.

Manal Khaled, a 42-year-old filmmaker at the protest told Ahram Online she went to the street for "all the youths of the revolution who are in detention...with fabricated charges stating that they are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“The most important observation I can spot from this march is that there's no enmity from people on the street...When there were protests in the recent months, people used to throw stuff from balconies on protesters and treat them in a bad way, now what we see means people are starting to rethink their opinions and realize that this is a military rule and that this is not what we want" she added.

Rights Lawyer and a former presidential hopeful at 2012 elections, Khaled Ali, was also present at the march.

Ali similarly argued that "it is obvious protesters at this march are against having a religious or a military state."

"The revolution did not die, the Egyptian revolution is complicated and continuing as you can see, we are here at the presidential palace against the protest law which detains all our fellow activists and revolutionaries at a time when all the thieves and corrupt figures are being released,” Ali told Ahram Online.

Three prominent activists of the January 2011 revolution – Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel – all received three-year sentences and LE50,000 fines for breaking the protest law in December 2013.

Another prominent activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, is being tried on the same charges.

Thousands others, mainly supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, have been arrested during demonstrations because of the law, which bans all protests not pre-approved by authorities.

The law was frequently slammed by political groups, parties and rights activists as a tool to crackdown on dissent.

When the march reached the presidential palace, a security cordon prevented the protesters from marching further.

Two lines of protesters were formed separating the demonstration from security forces, one by men and another by women.

Those who initially called for the protest include the April 6 movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Egyptian Popular Current, in addition to Nourhan Hefzy, wife of prominent activist Ahmed Douma currently facing a three years prison sentence as a consequence of the new law.

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