Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa said the draft Protest Law has been amended by the cabinet and is ready to be sent to Interim President Adly Mansour for approval.
In an interview with privately-owned television station Al-Hayat, Eissa said he was unsure when the law would be passed, but will likely be before the state of emergency is lifted on 14 November.
The 21-article draft Protest Law, approved by the cabinet on 10 October, has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent weeks. The law limits citizens’ rights to organise and join meetings, parades and demonstrations. The law defined parades as demonstrations with non-political goals.
The proposed law bans using places of worship as gathering points for protests, and demonstrators are also banned from possessing weapons, ammunition, fireworks and face-covering masks.
According to the proposed law, protest organisers must seek permission from the police station responsible for the intended site of protest 24 hours in advance. Such permission should include the location and the pathway of the protest, start and end time, the issue which the protest is concerned with, its demands and the organisers’ names.
The draft law also contains a provision that allows the Ministry of Interior to move, postpone or cancel planned protests. Another article gives the governors of the governorates permission to create “protest-free” zones 50 to 100 metres around municipal buildings.
Eissa did not elaborate on specific amendments made to the draft law.
The proposed protest law has received wide-spread criticism from groups both domestic and international. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party have all come out with statements condemning the draft law.
“[The law] treats peaceful protesters like criminals and grants security forces additional powers to crush them,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, human rights watchdog Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
On Saturday Eissa announced that the country’s ongoing curfew would be lifted with the state of emergency in mid-November. Both the curfew and state of emergency were enacted on 14 August, the day security forces violently dispersed sit-ins supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Set to expire after one month, the state of emergency was extended two additional months by Mansour.