CAIRO, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Amnesty International urged the Egyptian government Wednesday to respect the right to protest and to stop using excessive force against demonstrators.
"We witnessed reckless policing yesterday with the security forces relying on tear gas and using rubber bullet[s] as a first resort," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the human rights group's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Security forces must be held in check."
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Cairo and other Egyptian cities this week in protests inspired by demonstrations in Tunisia that toppled that country's president. At least four deaths have been reported along with hundreds of arrests. The Egyptian government has banned further demonstrations.
"We fear that the ministry's warning signals the authorities' readiness to unleash the full ferocity of the security forces with their track record of abuses," Sahraoui said.
Amnesty International also said protesters should not be arrested unless they can legitimately charged with a crime.