Egyptians have been protesting that a new law ratified on 24 November by Egyptian interim president Adly Mansour is abusive. The new law makes it illegal to protest without receiving prior permission from the Interior Ministry. According to the new law, organisers for any given cause should notify the authorities 24 hours ahead of the desired protest. The names of all organising individuals must be given, and what the protest is supposed to be against.
Political activist Ahmed Doma said: “The law is criminal, repressive, tyrannical and idiotic. Any power that thinks it can govern a country in this stupid way after three waves of revolution doesn’t deserve to govern, or even to exist!”
In the wake of recent protesting against the law, the activist we spoke to – Ahmed Doma – was arrested. Human rights organisations have condemned the new legislation as an affront to individual freedom, as it can be used to ban all sorts of peaceful gatherings. They say it stifles people’s voices and opens the way for arrests of more activists.
Lawyer and human rights activist Mohammed Zarei said: “This clearly cramps freedom of expression and civil rights. It hands the Interior Ministry broad powers. If these are abused, it means returning Egypt to the police state it was before.”
The ministry says its fight against terrorism needs the new law, to help end the chaos in Egypt since the overthrow of the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood.
General Mohammed Zaki, a former assistant to the Interior Minister, said: “The state must protect institutions and protect protesters during legal demonstrations by taking into account the differences between a demonstration, a strike, the occupation of a public building and sabotage.”
Under the law, the ministry is empowered to arrest offenders and present them for trial. A court may impose a prison sentence or a fine.
Our Cairo correspondent, Mohammed Shaikhibrahim, said: “The new protest law puts the ministry in direct confrontation once again with the revolutionary movements, both liberal and secular. Most of these are starting to withdraw support from the current government. This could boost the Islamists’ chances of gaining more support.”