By: Ali Omar
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim has approved a decision to make permits for protests available online in hopes of streamlining the process. The permits, available from the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) official website, will be available “soon”.
A spokesperson for the MOI said that the planned website will only offer the ability to print the permit, and will not be used for the whole application process. Applicants will still have to take completed paperwork to the corresponding police station in which the protest will take place.
The spokesman added that if the move proves successful, the MOI will set up an “operations room” that will further serve to streamline the process, opening the possibility of a completely web-based service.
Although the MOI does not keep statistics on the number of approved and denied applications, the spokesman said that a number of applications have been denied due to safety concerns or “non-compliance with the Protest Law”.
According to the law, signed by interim president Adly Mansour on 24 November, gatherings of more than 10 people require advance authorisation from the MOI. The law also allowed use of lethal force in “legitimate self-defence”.
Activists have decried this law as a move to effectively ban street protests, since the MOI has the ability to refuse authorisation of any permit and disperse any protests it deems unsafe.
The law has also been used to charge numerous high profile activists, including Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel of the April 6 Youth movement. The three activists each received three years in jail and an EGP 50,000 fine for staging a protest without the necessary paperwork.
The international organisation Human Rights Watch issued a statement while the bill was still being debated, saying that it “would effectively give the police carte blanche to ban protests in Egypt”.
Additional reporting by AbdelHalim AbdAllah