Egypt's first authorised protest goes smoothly

Randa Ali , Wednesday 27 Nov 2013

Egypt's first protest reportedly authorised under the new protest law passes without major incident, seeing only minor disputes between supporters and opponents of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

Egypt's first protest to gain authorisation under a new protest law, held Wednesday in central Cairo, went smoothly with no clashes between police and protesters but with intermittent disputes breaking out between supporters and opponents of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Hours before the protest, interior ministry sources said the ministry had approved a request by activists to hold a demonstration in central Cairo — the first authorisation of its kind since a controversial law on protests came into force Sunday, requiring that all protests receive prior consent from the authorities.

However, activist groups behind protests Wednesday denied that they sought interior ministry permission to demonstrate.

A few hundred gathered in Talaat Harb Square, most from the 6 April Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists, who organised the protests. Around 20 people chanted for El-Sisi. Anti- and pro-El-Sisi camps exchanged curses and waved offensive signs at one another.

Protesters chanted against both deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and El-Sisi.

The protest was cut short, however, when Revolutionary Socialist and labour unionist Haitham Mohamdeen announced the end of the protest, saying some civilians, which he dubbed "honourable citizens," were trying to disrupt the demo.

Meanwhile, Revolutionary Socialist Gigi Ibrahim told Ahram Online, "The police gave us authorisation without us seeking it, but they sent us 'the honourable citizens' to sabotage the protest."

Protesters remained energetic and continued to march to Qasr El-Aini Street.

The protest came after the violent dispersal of an unauthorised protest Tuesday. The newly enacted protest law stipulates that any gathering of over 10 people be announced to the police and approved three days in advance.

Police dispersed hundreds at the Shura Council using teargas and water cannons. Twenty-four activists are currently detained for four days pending investigations, while female protesters, initially detained, were released in the desert and left alone last night.

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