By Federica Ibrahim
Opposition groups have called for a march to Itihadiya Palace on Saturday at 6pm to condemn the controversial Protest Law, issued in 2013.
Several of the groups, including the Way of the Revolution Front, 6 April Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists, Misr Al-Qawia and Al-Dostour Party, said during a press conference Thursday that the aim of the march, besides calling for the law’s cancelation, would be to call for the release of those jailed under its provisions.
They have also called for an International Day of Solidarity with Egyptian Detainees on Saturday, an initiative to support detainees by demonstrating in front of Egyptian embassies in London, Paris, Berlin and other cities.
In their Facebook event, the opposition groups asserted that the military is using the Protest Law to protect its existence, despite “the authority [having come] to power itself through mass popular demonstrations”. They also claimed that Maheinour El-Massry represents them and her detention means that the “Mubarak’s state” is back.
The participating groups stated that they are against both the Muslim Brotherhood and the military and call for the freedom of those oppressed by any ideology.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the opposition groups heavily condemned the manner with which the Protest Law treated “the peaceful protesters of the 25 January Revolution” and their “suffering at the hands of armed groups” .
The groups asserted that the safety of the people cannot be achieved at “the expense of the youth who sacrificed themselves, their future and lives to achieve a dignified life for all”. The rights groups demand that the authorities either cancel or modify the law such that it is constitutional.
They concluded their statement by commending the Administrative Court for referring two articles of the law to the Constitutional Court to settle the validity of the law.
Activist and lawyer Mahienour El-Massry and eight others were sentenced in May to two years in prison and fined EGP 50,000 for protesting last April.
The Protest Law was issued by former interim President Adly Mansour on 24 November and was criticised heavily by both local and domestic rights organisations and political parties in Egypt.
The law was criticised for granting the Ministry of Interior power to refuse permission to organise a demonstration or public meeting – a power which the various groups said violates the constitutional provision granting these rights after only a notification to authorities.
Article 8 of the law obliges the organisers of any public assembly, be it a protest, march or general meeting, to submit a written notice to the nearest police station with their plans at least three working days in advance. Article 10 allows the Minister of Interior or the concerned security director to cancel, postpone or change the route of a protest.
The latest verdict was that of activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others, who were sentenced to 15 years of prison and fined EGP 100,000 each for violating the law, among other charges. In a joint statement by several political parties and organisations they called the verdict a “flagrant violation” of the fundamental right to a just trial.