Egypt issues arrest order for two activists

Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Maher, who challenge the new law that restricts protests, are accused of inciting protests.

    An Egyptian prosecutor has ordered arrest of two prominent activists, including one who played a leading role in rallies that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, the country’s former president, in 2011.

    Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Maher, a founding member of April 6 Youth Movement that played a frontrunner part in 2011 protests, are accused of inciting protests.

    "The law [restricting protests] must be repealed... Even under Mubarak we could hold protests."

    Ahmed Maher, April 6 Youth Movement

    Maher and Fattah took part in protests outside the parliament on Tuesday that defied a new law that restricts demonstrations.

    Twenty-four other activists were detained at the Tuesday's protests for four days pending investigation of allegations of thuggery, attacking public employees, stealing wireless devices and protesting without permission, said a source to Reuters.

    The new law, passed by the army-backed interim government on Sunday, has angered some Egyptians and drawn fire from various human rights groups that describe it as a significant blow to freedoms in the most populous Arab country.

    The law, which authorises security forces to gradually step up force while dispersing protests, allows them to first issue verbal warnings to protesters, then use water cannon/tear gas and, finally, birdshot against demonstrators.

    It also stipulates that protest organisers have to give three days' notice before holding any protests actions.

    "The law must be repealed … The interior ministry does not want any protests," said Ahmed Maher in Tuesday’s rally, adding, "Even under Mubarak we could hold protests."

    'Threat to freedom of assembly'

    Amnesty International, a London-based human rights group, said the law was a "serious setback that poses a grave threat to freedom of assembly and gives security forces a free rein to use excessive force, including lethal, against demonstrators".

    Egypt has experienced some of its worst civilian violence in decades after the army, prompted by mass protests, removed Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Mursi, the country's first democratically elected president, on July 3. Hundreds died and were arrested in the process.

    Liberals and activists, who backed Mursi's overthrow, are now becoming more vocal against the military and its practices.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.