News / Middle East

Egyptians Defy, Pay Price for New Protest Law

Protesters shout anti-government slogans during a rally against a new law restricting public gatherings, in downtown Cairo Nov. 26, 2013.
Protesters shout anti-government slogans during a rally against a new law restricting public gatherings, in downtown Cairo Nov. 26, 2013.
Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptian authorities have ordered the arrest of two leading political activists in connection with a new law limiting protests.  The move comes a day after security forces used tear gas and water cannons to break up demonstrations.

Egypt's top prosecutor accuses activists Ahmed Maher and Alaa Abdel Fattah of inciting protests in response to the new law on demonstrations.

Egyptian human rights groups say 50 protesters have already been arrested following Tuesday's demonstrations.

The new law says protesters must give authorities three days notice of any public gatherings.  Failure to do so could result in fines of more than $40,000 and up to seven years in prison.

The law, which went into effect Sunday, was widely seen as an attempt to curb recurring protests by the Muslim Brotherhood angry over the ouster in July of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

But Tuesday's protests were unrelated, with one called to mark the anniversary of the killing of a young political activist, the other against the military trial of civilians.

Government officials have argued the new law will help restore stability to Egypt, which in addition to political protests is facing increased violence from jihadis, mainly based in the Sinai peninsula, and other extremists.  Authorities also said the law was needed to prevent disruptions to traffic.
Law’s legitimacy questioned

Mohamed Fawaz of the opposition April 6 Movement Democratic Front, who took part in Tuesday's protests, finds the official arguments false.

"We are standing against the real terrorist of the state who have been rul[ing] by the martial [emergency law] system, killing innocent people, arresting righteous lawyers, arresting righteous political activists in such a way that has no relationship with human rights or has no relationship with the real January 25 revolution or even the 30 June revolution," says Fawaz.

A spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch, Tamara al-Rifai, notes other countries regulate protests, but says her group has concerns over Egypt's requirement of a three-day notification period, which it considers too far in advance. She also says the limit on any gathering of 10 people or more is far too restrictive.

Al-Rifai also points out that popular protests have been central to Egypt's political life since the uprising against ex-president Hosni Mubarak nearly three years ago.

"We also request a clarification on how you give back the right to Egyptians to protest that they snatched on January 2011.  We are asking if this is a way of taking this right away from them.  So in that sense what the Egyptians have acquired can only be regulated, it should not be restricted the way this law does," says al-Rifai.

Protesters Tuesday were more blunt, accusing the current government, which came into power on the back of popular protests, of trying to ensure no further protests can unseat it.

You May Like

Video Egyptian Journalists Call for Press Freedom

Despite release of al-Jazeera journalists and others, Egyptian Journalist Syndicate says some remain imprisoned More

Turkey Survey Indicates Traditional Distrusts, Shift to the West

Comprehensive public opinion survey also found a large majority of those interviewed distrust all countries other than country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan More

Pakistan Court Upholds Death Sentence in Blasphemy Killing

Highest court upholds sentence of Mumtaz Qadri convicted of 2011 killing a provincial governor for criticizing country’s controversial blasphemy law More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
November 27, 2013 1:34 PM
the protesters will cause serious damage to Egypt. the 25 JAUNUARY REVOLUTION had caused serious damage to Egypt . the 25 revaluation has created Muslim brotherhood to rule the country .The nightmare of Egypt is started by Muslim brotherhood whom they want the country to go back to stone age. now Muslim brotherhood is pay to some activities to create chaos in the hope they can return back. the Egyptian has the right to detain activities whom broke the law .non of them is looking for democracy .they looking for money in their pocket from gulf country and Arab who live in Us are paying for Muslim brotherhood and they are not royal to country that give them the opportunity .they still royal to radical Islam and give them money to destabilize Egypt

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs