Scores of Egyptian activists demonstrated late Saturday in downtown Cairo against a controversial law regulating public rallies and assemblies.
"This law represents a setback," Ahmed Mohamed, an activist from the Strong Egypt Party, which sent its members to the protest, told Anadolu Agency.
"How come a government that was installed after a revolution creates such a law?" he asked.
The protesters, most of them members of revolutionary movements and political parties, said the controversial law, which has already been approved by the interim government, does not regulate public assemblies but trims free speech.
It makes it necessary for protest organizers to notify the interior ministry a week in advance about the time, venue, reason and participants of their protests.
The law makes it necessary for protesters to stay between 50 and 100 meters away from government offices and buildings.
The law sets hefty fines and imprisonment for violators.
It gives the authorities the right to disperse protesters initially using water hoses, then teargas and eventually live ammunition in case of violations.
The law has been strongly condemned by Egypt's revolutionary and pro-democracy groups as an attempt to muzzle opposition and bring Egypt back to the Hosni Mubarak days when critics were rounded on the streets simply for assembling and chanting anti-regime slogans.
The demonstration was called for by the Revolutionaries' Road Front and the Third Square, two movements that lobby against both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Absent from the demonstration were the flags and the banners of all participating political parties, including the Strong Egypt Party of former presidential hopeful Abdel-Monem Abul Fotouh.
Street is ours
Several rights and democracy groups on Saturday signed a petition against the controversial law, saying it denies Egyptians their right to stage peaceful assemblies and protests.
"The groups signing this petition call on the interim president not to endorse the law," they said in their statement.
The new bill comes against the background of rampant turmoil across this country, following the powerful army's July 3 ouster of Egypt's first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.
Pro-democracy supporters dismiss the move as a military coup and have been staging semi-daily protests across Egypt since then.
The National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, a coalition of largely Islamist powers and figures, has blasted the law as an attempt to stifle freedoms.
Here on Talaat Harb Square, where the Saturday protest was staged, the demonstrators chanted against the interim government and the army leaders.
"Leadership is not for the soldiers," the demonstrators chanted. "We want more freedoms."
In front of them on the façade of one of the old buildings of the area was a large poster of army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
The poster fluttered in the air, but the demonstrators looked at it, as if addressing the general by their chants.
"The street is for us," said Ali al-Sharqawi, one of the assembled demonstrators.
"We will never leave the streets before we achieve the full objectives of the 2011 January revolution," he told AA.