World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Egyptian justice minister Ahmed Mekki lashed out at a new law recently approved by the Egyptian government regulating street demonstrations and public rallies.
The Egyptian government has proposed a bill to limit ongoing demonstrations held daily since the July 3 ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, the country's first freely-elected leader, by the military.
The law stipulates that protest organizers must notify authorities in advance regarding the time and place of would-be demonstrations. The law bans protests from being held within 100 meters of government offices or police stations.
Protest organizers who fail to give authorities adequate notice or violate the law face fines of up to 300,000 Egyptian pounds (roughly $43,300). Sit-ins, meanwhile, are banned under the legislation.
Mekki, who served under Morsi, drew comparison between the proposed law and a bill that had been debated during Morsi's year in power to regulate protesting and sit-ins.
"The comparison between this law and the bill proposed by the ministry during Morsi's tenure shows the difference between the democracy of Morsi's era and the current tyranny," Mekki told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
"During Morsi's tenure, we were preparing a law that turns protesting into a right," he said, noting that the bill received the "admiration" of Amnesty International and foreign envoys.
"The current law suits more the time that saw squares being closed to protesters and freedoms restricted. It also dismissed the accusations that the corrupt media that Morsi is trying to get tyrannical powers," Mekki said.
Egyptian military-backed authorities have been closing down Tahrir Square and the vicinity of the Ittihadiya presidential palace among other places over fears that they might be occupied by pro-Morsi protesters.
"The current law bans sit-ins, a right that has not been touched by the previous law. Also setting a 50-100 meter prohibited area for protesters near the government offices makes it impossible to deliver the message of protesting due to Egypt's narrow streets," he said.
The former minister also slammed the fines to be imposed on the protest organizers if they failed to notify the authorities of the protest in advance.
"In the previous law, there were no penalties but the text made it necessary to notify the authorities as we tried to change the police's attitude against protests and turn it into partners with the organizers in protecting the rallies."Last Mod: 18 Ekim 2013, 10:42