Egypt's State Information Service issued a study shedding light on Qatar’s restrictions on freedom of expression in response to Qatari media’s continuous criticism of the human rights situation in Egypt.
“The world never witnessed a peaceful demonstration or a gathering criticizing the regime’s conduct in Qatar,” the SIS said in the study, dubbed "Tamim's Firmans: No Meetings or rallies in Qatar".
“Yet the Qatari regime’s media trumpets never tire of preaching on peoples' right to peaceful assembly, and use this to feed media campaigns that aim to spread chaos and instability in other countries,” the study read.
The SIS’s study has focused on Qatari law no. 18 of 2004, in which the state’s body described a method by the Qatari regime to “repress” people’s attempt to exercise the right of peaceful assembly.
According to the law, a number of people, even if they are relatives or neighbours, cannot hold a public meeting at a workplace, a guesthouse, a café, or at a private residence, in the case where they are more than 20, unless they were able to obtain permits.
Organising a meeting, calling for it, announcing it or broadcasting it are all forbidden, the study said, citing the law.
In case a request to hold a public meeting or a peaceful assembly is rejected, people who submitted the request can only make an appeal for the rejection to the minister of interior, who had rejected it in the first place.
Although there has not been a single election for the Shura Council, which is Qatar’s only elected body per the country’s 2004 constitution, authorities have the right to reject any future organisation of such electoral event, the SIS said.
In the case of a group of people being able to obtain the required permit, the security services have the right to be forcibly present or to break into the gathering, SIS said citing article number 10 of the same law.
The police also have the right to use force against licensed gatherings in the cases where they “violate religious principles” or “fail to observe social values,” the study added.
As for the case where a group of people hold a gathering without a permit, they subject themselves to a sentence of three years in prison, according to article 15 of the law.
The owner of the venue who allowed people to gather without a license can also be fined and jailed for three years.
Also, those who call for unlicensed gatherings can be sentenced to one month in prison, said the SIS.
The study comes three years after Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, boycotted Qatar over sponsoring terrorism and interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.
The quartet called on Qatar to cut its ties to Al Jazeera channel, which they said have incited violence against the four states and provided a platform for extremist figures.