A draft law organizing protests is still causing disagreements, even within the Cabinet that is set to pass it.
The law, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, imposes several restrictions on demonstrations, that were slammed by advocates of freedom of expression, but also considered necessary by others who say the country is at a security risk and hence needs this law.
Sources told the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm that an argument took place between Vice Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa Eddin and Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim on Tuesday. Bahaa Eddin contested the draft, while Ibrahim said it is a much-needed instrument given the protests his ministry has to deal with and the hazards they are exposed to.
Bahaa Eddin, known to be a reformist figure within the Cabinet, said that passing the law would hurt the interim government and the roadmap that was designed following the ouster of President and Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Mohamed Morsi.
However, Prime Minister Hazem al-Biblawi assured Bahaa Eddin that the draft law was accepted by several human rights organizations consulted over it, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
The state-run Al-Ahram had published the draft law in September. It included the banning of protests in front of houses of worship, the carrying of arms and the wearing of masks during demonstrations. Sits-ins and road bloacking are also banned and violators would be fined between LE50,000 and LE100,000. Organizers of protests need to send a notification to the nearest police station at least 24 hours ahead of the event, specifying the time, location and duration of the planned demonstration. Failure at notifying the authorities may also cause a fine of up to LE5000.
The draft law orders the formation of governmental committees headed by the security directorate chief to monitor protests and marches. Jail sentences are imposed on cases where there is evidence of protest organizers receiving money.
The law is pending approval from Interim President Adly Mansour, to whom the draft law was passed this week by Biblawy, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported.