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Political parties, groups support calls to drop Protest Law

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Many people have been arrested and sentenced to jail time under the controversial law

Egyptian activists Ahmed Maher (L) and Ahmed Douma hold up a T-shirt reading Drop the law on demonstrations during their trial in Cairo over an unlicensed protest on 8 December 2013 (AFP File Photo/ Mahmoud Khaled )

Egyptian activists Ahmed Maher (L) and Ahmed Douma hold up a T-shirt reading Drop the law on demonstrations during their trial in Cairo over an unlicensed protest on 8 December 2013
(AFP File Photo/ Mahmoud Khaled )

Al-Dostour and Misr Al-Qawia parties and 6 April Youth Movement were among the groups expressing their support Friday for a march Saturday evening to object to the Protest Law.

The Revolutionary Front called for a march onto the presidential palace to bring down the Protest Law and to call for freedom for the detainees.

Saturday’s scheduled protest comes after a sit-in last week outside the palace, also demanding an end to the law.

Al-Dostour Party announced in a statement on Friday its full support and solidarity to the peaceful march. The party described the Protest Law as “defective” and added that it “has been exploited in the past months to issue harsh prison sentences and hefty fines against a large number of youth”.”

Ahmed Imam, spokesman for Misr Al-Qawia Party,  released a statement Friday announcing that party is calling on its members to partake in the scheduled march. The party asserted its belief that the right to peaceful protest is an acquired right of the 25 January Revolution that cannot be taken by any authority.

6 April Youth Movement is also calling on people to take part in the march to “put an end to the tyranny and oppression”.

Among those imprisoned under the law are two co-founders of 6 April Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel. They, alongside blogger Ahmed Douma, were sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour and fined EGP 50,000 on 22 December after being convicted of protesting without the Ministry of Interior’s approval, rioting, “thuggery”, using violence against Abdeen Courthouse security personnel, and possessing melee weapons.

The verdict has garnered widespread criticism from domestic as well as international bodies. On 7 April, the Abdeen Misdemeanour Court upheld the conviction after a four-month long appeal process.

Douma’s wife, Nourhan Hefzy led last week’s female only sit-in outside the palace, in which at least eight women participated. Hefzy had also led a sit-in outside the presidential palace on 7 April, right after the verdict against her husband was upheld.

Earlier this month, Al-Dostour Party and Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby (Popular Current) coalition called on Interim President Adly Mansour to grant Douma, Maher and Adel amnesty.

Mansour issued  the law on 24 November, amid widespread local and international criticism from a number of human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and a group of 17 domestic rights groups.

The legislation includes strict restrictions on protests, marches and public meetings and requires three-days’ notice for protests. It also allows the minister of interior to move, change the route of assemblies, or cancel them.

Articles in the Protest Law also allow security forces to use water cannons, batons, and teargas to disperse protesters, as well as “escalatory measures”, including the use of rubber bullets and metal pellets.


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