Youth Revolutionary Block denounces Egypt draft protest law

Ahram Online, Tuesday 15 Oct 2013

The controversial law regarding public protests is currently being reviewed by interim president Adly Mansour

Egypt's Youth Revolutionary Block denounced Tuesday the draft protest law, approved by the cabinet and currently under review by the interim president, stating that it would enable the return of the police state.

The Block said in a statement that the draft protest law ignores a main demand of the 25 January 2011 revolution, which is freedom.

General Coordinator of the Youth Revolutionary Block, Safwat Omran, said that the current regime is continuing the notion of enforcing security by restricting the freedom of citizens, a tactic that was common under Mubarak's rule.

Omran stated that if a group chooses to abandon peaceful protest, they should be dealt with under the law, instead of punishing all Egyptians through a return to the police state.

The draft law was prepared by the justice ministry and contains 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 place of the protest, its purpose, the name of its organisers and how to reach them, as well as the protest demands and 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.

During Morsi's year in power, neither the interior minister nor senior police officials were able to issue a direct order to cancel a protest. Such a demand had to be issued by the judiciary.

Article 14 states that governors have the power to designate "protest-free" areas of 50 to 100 metres in the vicinity of state and governmental premises, including presidential palaces, head-quarters of legislative authorities and the cabinet.  

The draft protest law stipulates a punishment of imprisonment and a fine of between 100 to 300 thousand EGP for those who pay or receive money for participation in protests, and who organise protests without prior disclosure at the local police station.

The April 6 Youth Movement also denounced the draft law in a statement on Monday.

"Time will not go back to the era of rulers issuing laws to silence their opponents," the statement read.

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