Last week, Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, approved a new law that criminalizes protests that take place without government permission.
He argued the new law will help restore security and enable the economy to recover. The reasoning being, that after nearly three years of upheavals, the law would be welcomed by his exhausted fellow countrymen.
Two days after its implementation, major protests broke out in Egypt and several arrests followed, including that of seven girls ranging from 15 to 17 years old. The New York Times reports that the riot police brought a violent end to peaceful protests, beating, sexually harassing and detaining some of Egypt’s most prominent human rights activists in a burst of repression that seemed likely to broaden opposition to the military-backed government. Subsequently, the BBC says, 10 members of the 50 member panel that is drafting Egypt’s new constitution, suspended their work in remonstration. Drafters of the revised constitution were planning on guaranteeing freedom of expression for Egypt.
Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said Egyptians were increasingly “objecting to the ascendancy of the military and the re-emergence of the secret police.” Ironically, the new Egyptian law outlawing protests may actually have awakened some of Egypt’s “dormant revolutionaries,” which might lead to more protests in the future. In the meantime, a suicide bomber killed 11 soldiers in the Sinai, foreshadowing even greater trouble for the country, despite the lifting of the state of emergency this week.