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Egyptian Security Forces Prepare for Iraq War Protests

Governments throughout the Arab world are anticipating widespread demonstrations if there is war in Iraq. Egyptian officials say only organized, peaceful demonstrations will be tolerated.

Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adly says security forces have taken measures to deal with the expected consequences of a possible attack against Iraq, including public demonstrations.

Mr. el-Adly said there would be no objection to what he called "organized demonstrations." But he said no demonstration would be allowed to disrupt the flow of traffic, which could limit demonstrations to areas like college campuses. He said demonstrators who take to the streets would likely be arrested.

The interior minister said there would be "zero tolerance of any demonstrator who seeks to disrupt the security of Egypt, either through acts of violence or with the use of what he called "bad language." He said anyone who uses language deemed to be defaming to Egypt during protests would be arrested.

Mr. el-Adly said security forces are employing the use of video cameras during demonstrations and noted that video was used as evidence in a recent court case against a demonstrator accused of using bad language.

He said those arrested and convicted of causing disturbances during demonstrations, would not be released from jail until they had proven they had abandoned their "extremist thoughts."

The Egyptian interior minister also said security forces are actively monitoring prices storeowners charge for commodities like sugar, flour, coffee, tea, water and other goods. He said there have been several arrests of people accused of hiking prices in an effort to cash in on customers who have been stocking up on basic goods, fearing there may be shortages if war comes in Iraq.