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Monday, December 31, 2012
Egypt: Draft Islamist-backed bill to regulate protests sparks criticisms

Draft Islamist-backed bill to regulate protests sparks criticisms
Al-Masry Al-Youm Mon, 31/12/2012 - 17:25
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/draft-islamist-backed-bill-regulate-protests-sparks-criticisms

The Islamist-dominated Shura Council was rattled on Monday by scathing
criticism from politicians and activists over a proposed bill to regulate
the right of citizens to protest.

Leaks of the draft were published by media outlets on Saturday.

Ihab al-Kharrat, chairman of the human rights committee, said that Ez Eddin
Al-Koumy, the committee's undersecretary and a member at the Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, had proposed the amendments to the
law that was originally introduced by the interior ministry and asked that
the committee discuss them. Al-Kharrat said he has yet to review the
documents.

"The committee has not presented any bills, but members' proposals will be
discussed. I will submit a bill on peaceful protesting which has been
prepared by civil society groups," al-Kharrat said in press statements on
Monday, noting that all bills would be opened for debate before approval.

The moderate Islamist Wasat Party rejected the bill in a memo to council
speaker Ahmed Fahmy.

"Based on what has been on the media, we refuse linking the right to protest
to thuggery," the memo said, stressing that both are different words, and
that issues related to thuggery are addressed sufficiently in the Penal
Code.

“In the current critical period, we better focus on citizens’ daily
concerns, most notably payment thresholds, pensions, unemployment, and
health insurance," the memo read.

Informed council sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the law had been leaked
to test the public reaction, and added that representatives have started to
backtrack to avoid any crises at present after the criticisms the bill has
stirred.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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