Arrest warrant for Egyptian activists for breaching protest law

Ahram Online, El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Tuesday 10 Dec 2013

Prosecution issued arrest warrants for two prominent activists in Alexandria on charges of breaching the protest law; Authorities arrest members from April 6 movement, Al-Dostour party and Strong Egypt party

Arrest warrants were issued on Monday for two prominent Alexandrian activists on charges of breaking a newly passed protest law, judicial sources said.

Hassan Mostafa and Mahinour El-Masry had gathered with others last week outside Alexandria's criminal court during the retrial of two policeman accused of killing Khaled Said.

The protesters, chanting against the Interior Ministry and police brutality, were dispersed by security forces with batons, water cannons and teargas.

The protest law requires three days' prior notification to authorities before any public gathering with more than 10 people can be held. Violators of the law are subject to jail terms and fines. The law also grants police the right to disperse protests, with birdshot if necessary.

The law has been heavily criticised by local and international rights groups. The Egyptian interim government, however, has insisted that the law is necessary to maintain security during a volatile time.

Mostafa is a long-time rights activist who played a key role in advocating for justice in the Khaled Said case.

He was recently released from jail after several months' detention on charges of assaulting a prosecutor.

El-Masry is a rights lawyer who has been fighting for the rights of Syrian and Palestinian refugees who have been detained in the coastal city.

Tensions continued to rise on Cairo's university campuses on Monday, with authorities arresting a number of Al-Azhar University students -- two from the April 6 Youth Movement, two from the liberal Doustor Party and one from the Islamist-affiliated Strong Egypt Party.

The students had been sitting in a nearby cafe when they were arrested, according to the official Facebook pages of the Al-Azhar student union and the April 6 Youth Movement.

"The arrest is a continuation of random security measures and arbitrary political arrests," the April 6 Youth Movement reported on Facebook.

The group stated that the accusations against the students were not clear, which suggests the police are "randomly dealing with whoever expresses his opinion."

Students have been staging near-daily protests since the start of the academic year in September. Initially spurred on by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, the protests have recently expanded to include students demonstrating against the protest law and the detention of colleagues.

Al-Azhar University, the world's oldest and most prestigious Islamic university, has seen some of the worst violence in recent weeks, with clashes between security forces and protesters escalating.

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