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Egypt bans street protests

The Egyptian government instituted a new law that effectively bans public demonstrations of more than 10 people, prompting criticism from human rights groups and the United States.

By JC Finley
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Egyptian security forces detain supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Egypt, August 14, 2013. Security forces launched a crackdown on the protest camps that quickly turned into a bloodbath with dozens dead. A state of emergency was then declared. (UPI/Karem Ahmed) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/82b5d4dbf846fe94f0100c1809a306bc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Egyptian security forces detain supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as they clear a sit-in camp set up near Cairo University in Cairo's Giza district, Egypt, August 14, 2013. Security forces launched a crackdown on the protest camps that quickly turned into a bloodbath with dozens dead. A state of emergency was then declared. (UPI/Karem Ahmed) | License Photo

Nov. 26 (UPI)-- On Sunday, Egypt passed a law banning public demonstrations, sparking wide-spread criticism from human rights groups and the United States government.

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui expressed a sense of foreboding for Egyptian rights with the passage of the new law. "It is a dangerous sign that the first piece of legislation regulating rights and freedoms passed since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi curtails freedom of assembly and treats peaceful protesters like criminals. Not only does it allow the police to disperse peaceful demonstrations, but gives them the power to shoot protesters who pose no threat to the lives or safety of others."

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Mass protests led to the removal of Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi in July. A state of emergency was in effect from August until its removal in mid-November.

Under the new law, any public gathering of more than 10 people requires government approval. That approval must be obtained three days prior to the assembly. No one may demonstrate at places of worship. Security agencies maintain the right to prohibit any public assembly, demonstration, meeting, or even political campaign event deemed a threat to public order. If dispersing crowds, police officers are required to gradually escalate use of force and so proportionate with the resistance of the protestors, starting with verbal warnings, then non-lethal measures, and finally police may employ birdshot.

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The US Department of State criticized the new law's impact on peaceful assembly in Egypt and underlined that "this law...does not meet international standards and will not move Egypt’s democratic transition forward." The State Department called on the interim Egyptian government to "respect individual rights" and "protect the fundamental freedoms of the Egyptian people."

[Amnesty International] [UPI] [New York Times] [US Department of State]

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