Egypt's religious authorities propose strict new law governing protests
In Egypt, new laws, old struggles.
The Shura Council proposed on Sunday a new law governing protests and sit-ins. The draft law is said to be limiting freedom of protest and expression.
The legislative and human rights committees of Shura Council proposed the law, which stated that protests are allowed between 7 am and 7 pm.
The proposal stated that the organiser of the protest should inform security forces of the location and timing of the scheduled protest before holding it. It also gave security forces the right to attend or prevent meetings of protest organisers, if they were perceived as “threatening national security and state order.” According to the law, security forces could also end the protest, if it is “threatening national security.”
The law would also ban any protests disrupting state institutions and interests of the citizens. Slogans and speeches instigating sectarianism would also be banned.
It also specified a punishment of one-year imprisonment and a fine ranging between EGP 30,000 and EGP 100,000 for those disregarding the law.
Hafez Abou See’da, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, confirmed that the law was proposed by the Shura Council, adding that it will be negotiated only inside the council, before it is ratified. He denied that the proposed law was or would be referred for public dialogue.
“It is a proposal limiting freedom of expression and peaceful protests. It is irrational to limit the timing of the protest, as it is up to the protester to decide when to protest as long as he is peaceful.”
Abou See’da criticised the punishment stated in the proposal, describing it as “unsuitable.”
“You shouldn’t go to jail for one year just because you broke an organisational rule. This is a harsh punishment.”