A new law approved by the Egyptian cabinet, and currently being reviewed by the president, would ban public protests in Egypt unless demonstrators receive advance permission from the police.
The measure also gives the interior minister and other senior officials the authority to cancel, postpone or change protests, while a third provision allows governors to declare “protest-free zones” around state buildings.
The interim cabinet approved the law last week and sent it to President Adly Mansour for his review. It was approved over the objections of several ministers, including deputy prime minister Ziad Behaa el-Din.
Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said the law was “reminiscent of the security grip imposed under [former president Hosni] Mubarak.”
“Resorting to security and police solutions will lead to more failure and worsen the political conflict in Egypt,” Eid said, in comments published by the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper.
The law has also received criticism from across the political spectrum. Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, one of the founding members of the Tamarod movement, which organised largely peaceful protests in June and July that led to President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster by the army.
Abdel-Aziz said the limits on peaceful protests would be “unjust,” according to remarks published in the state-run MENA news agency.
Meanwhile, Younes Makhioun, the leader of the salafi Nour party, urged Mansour not to pass the law without conducing a “national dialogue.” He suggested the issue be postponed until after parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.
Youth movements, like the April 6 group, have also condemned the draft.
Egypt has seen hundreds of protests over the past year, both during Morsi’s tenure and since the coup that removed him. They have become increasingly violent, with armed protesters on both sides and frequent clashes with security forces and local residents.