Hundreds demonstrate against Egypt's proposed protest law

Ahram Online, Saturday 26 Oct 2013

Demonstrators march against draft protest law that would give police sweeping powers to control protests, scuffle with concurrent 'No to terrorism' rally

Hundreds demonstrate
(Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Hundreds demonstrated on Saturday in downtown's Talaat Harb square against the newly proposed draft protest law, rallying under the banner "the street is ours."

Following a call to protest made by the 'Way of the Revolution Front,' demonstrators chanted "Down with the rule of the Interior Ministry…down with military rule" as they marched through the streets of downtown Cairo.

Meanwhile, in the same Talaat Harb square, tens demonstrated under the banner "No to terrorism," referring to the escalating militant attacks targeting police and military since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.  

As the anti-protest law demonstration chanted against the military, the 'No to terrorism' protesters rallied in the military's favor. Arguments and minor scuffles erupted between the two groups.

The anti-protest law march ended at Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the street leading to the Ministry of Interior headquarters.

The draft law, which was proposed by the cabinet in mid-February, has ignited public debate, with critics arguing that it infringes on Egyptian citizens' basic rights and freedoms.

Among the law's most controversial measures is a proposed clause allowing the interior minister or senior police officials to cancel, postpone or change the location of a protest. The law also permits governors to designate "protest-free" areas near state buildings.

Responding to growing criticism, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said last week that the draft law could be amended after dialogue with political forces and parties.

The Way of the Revolution Front, which called for the anti-protest law demonstration, was launched on 24 September, aiming to provide an alternative to the current "polarisation" between the military and Muslim Brotherhood.

The Front coalition includes leading members of the April 6 Youth Movement, the Strong Egypt Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the Justice and Freedom Youth. 

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