Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Egyptian cabinet bans strikes and demonstrations

The Egyptian government has unexpectadly created a rather tesne situation by criminalizing protests and strikes. It passed a law on Wednesday under which anyone organizing or calling for a protest will be sentenced to jail and/or a fine of LE500,000.
Shady Ghozali, a member of the Youth Revolution Coalition, told Ahram Online "I'm against it [the law], this is against human rights; peaceful demonstrations are amongst the basic human rights." Ghozali empasised that these views are his own, as he is yet to discuss the law with the coalition, though he expects it to also be opposed to the law.
News of the law drew instant heated reaction on social media sites like Twitter that disseminate calls for demonstrations, now deemed a criminal act. "Where is Essam Sharaf who said my legitimacy is from Tahrir Square and I will return to the street with you if I can't implement your demands," said blogger Amr Ezzat.
Essam Sharaf (with microphone) adresses the protesters on Tahrir at the promising start of his career as prime minister. Today he banned demonstrations and strikes. At the request of the Supreme Council of the army and his minister of Defense, marshall Tantawi?

 The new law will be enforced as long as the current Emergency Law is in place, said the Council of Ministers in a statement on Wednesday. The Emergency Law has been in force since 1981 following the assassination of former President Anwar Sadat.
The new law will apply to anyone inciting, urging, promoting or participating in a protest or strike that hampers or delays work at any private or public establishments.
Since the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February, Egypt has witnessed nationwide labor strikes and political protests. Among those protesting have been university students, political activists, railway workers, doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, journalists, pensioners, and the police force.
"The government is working on a new policy to deal with employment and wages and in this context the cabinet has approved a draft law that would penalize some cases of protest and strikes," the cabinet said in a statement.
The cabinet also approved a law under which new political parties can be approved. The military had promised to lift restrictions on the formation of political parties after amendments to the constitution were approved in a referendum on Saturday.
Political parties. The cabinet also approved a law whereby new political parties can be registered.The  military had promised to lift restrictions on the formation of political parties after amendments to the constitution were approved in a referendum on Saturday. 
The cabinet said the amendments would uphold a ban on parties that discriminate by religion, gender, ethnic background, race or language. Parties must be open about their funding and organization and would need the signatures of 1,000 founding members from at least 10 provinces across the country, it said. New parties must give notice to a committee formed by a top judge and two members of Egypt's State Council and would not be allowed to receive donations from foreigners or foreign governments, the cabinet added.

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