Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Protest against new anti-demonstration law in Egypt is spreading

An Egyptian prosecutor has ordered the arrest of two prominent activists for inciting protests, including one whose group helped lead the revolt that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, a source in the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah
Ahmed Maher
Ahmed Maher
The arrests of Ahmed Maher, leader of the April 6 youth movement, and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah were ordered after they took part in demonstrations outside the Shura Council and the Press Syndicate on Tuesday that defied a new law restricting demonstrations. Prosecutors have also ordered the detention of 24 activists for four days after they were arrested at the same unauthorised demonstration against military trials of civilians and the new anti-demonstration law. The authorities originally arrested 52 persons, llater they said the number was 28. Twenty-six arrested women were released on a desert road later on Tuesday, activists said via Twitter. A number of journalists were also released. Teargas and water cannon were used to disperse the hundreds of protesters at the Shura Council, and at a separate protest outside the press syndicate to commemorate the earlier killing of a protester by police.

 The protests were held in defiance of - and in protest against -  a new law requiring police approval for protests. The organisers had not sought prior permission. A number of prominent activists – including lawyer Zyad El-Elaimy – turned themselves in to police shortly after the demonstration, in solidarity with the protest organisers. El-Elaimy said they were questioned by prosecutors late on Tuesday. Among those arrested were Mona Seif, founder of a campaign against military trials of civilians, and Ahmad Harara, an activist who lost his eyes to birdshot during protests against former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the military junta that took power after Mubarak's fall. A number of groups have said they will hold further demonstrations on Wednesday against the protest law and police abuses.
The police measures sparked condemnation from many observers. Thirteen members of the panel drafting Egypt's new constitution have suspended their work in protest at the detentions, state news agency MENA reported. Dozens of lawyers have begun an open-ended strike at the lawyers' syndicate in protest at the arrests, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

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