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Egypt Unveils Expansive Protest Law
November 24, 2013

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Egypt has a new protest law, one that is reminiscent of past laws under previous governments.

Adly Mansou, the interim president of the country, has approved a law giving security forces the power to ban protests that treaten national security. People who defy the ban and protest anyway can face up to five years in jail for a variety of offenses, including carrying weapons while protesting and even covering their faces.

The law requires protesters to apply in writing to a police station near where the protest is to take place. The written notice must be given three days before the date of the planned protest and must include the purpose of the protest, what slogans would be chanted, and more about who would be organizing the protest. Further, even approved protests may not be at or start from places of worship.

Proponents of former President Mohamed Morsi and others who have protested in the past asserted that the new law would curtail most if not all political protests and give police the power to use force to disperse any protests that they have already approved. Protests have been numerous since Morsi was arrested on July 3 and a new government installed. The response to these protests has been widespread, with government forces cracking down legally and militarily. More than 1,000 protesters have been killed in clashes with police since the interim government assumed command. Most of the casualties occurred on August 14, when security forces violently dispersed a pro-Morsi sit-in in Cairo. The death toll that day was 627.

For its part, the government says it is trying to prevent further bloodshed.

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