Egypt cabinet criminalises strikes that affect economy, enraging activists

Ahram Online, Wednesday 23 Mar 2011

Calling for a demonstration now a punishable offence under the new law as the cabinet cracks down hard on the very acts of defiance that have set Egypt on the road to a better future

Photo: AP

The Egyptian cabinet today approved a decree-law that criminalizes protests, demonstrations and sit-ins that interrupt private or state owned businesses or affect the economy in any way.

The decree-law also assigns severe punishment to those who call for or incite sit-ins, with the maximum sentence one year in prison and fines of up to half a million pounds.

“This law would only be implemented during times of emergency law and those draft laws would be presented to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to issue a decree,” Magdy Rady, spokesman for the cabinet told Ahram Online.

Shady Ghozali, a member of the Youth Revolution Coalition, told Ahram Online "I'm against it [the law], this is against human rights; peaceful demonstrations are amongst the basic human rights." Ghozali empasised that these views are his own, as he is yet to discuss the law with the coalition, though he expects it to also be opposed to the law.

News of the law drew instant heated reaction on social media sites like Twitter that disseminate calls for demonstrations, now deemed a criminal act. "Where is Essam Sharaf who said my legitimacy is from Tahrir Square and I will return to the street with you if I can't implement your demands," said blogger Amr Ezzat.

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