Egypt Police Disperse Banned Islamist Protests

Friday, 06 Dec 2013 08:43 AM


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CAIRO — Egyptian police dispersed several rallies by Islamists Friday, firing tear gas at protesters in Cairo as the government tries to stamp out unrest since president Mohamed Morsi's July overthrow.

Riot police clashed with Islamist supporters of Morsi in Fayyum province, southwest of the capital, and broke up several protests in Cairo soon after they started, security officials said.

Police have shown little tolerance for the Islamists' rallies since Morsi's overthrow in July, and a new protest law allows them to swiftly clamp down on all but interior ministry sanctioned rallies.

In Cairo, police fired tear gas to disperse a protest in the middle class Mohandiseen neighborhood after Islamists gathered outside a mosque following noon prayers.

Battered by a crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people and imprisoned thousands more, the Islamists still organize almost daily protests to demand Morsi's reinstatement.

Overthrown by the military following massive rallies demanding his resignation, Morsi is on trial on charges related to the deaths of opposition protesters during his single year in power.

Some of those who campaigned for his ouster now condemn the police for what they call its unchecked brutality, following arrests of secular activists who violated the new protest law brought in late last month.

Demonstrations at places of worship, or starting from them, are banned outright.

The law also requires the organizers of any demonstration to seek authorization three days in advance. A request can be denied if the protest is deemed a threat to national security

Secular dissidents Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma are to go on trial on Sunday over a scuffle with police when Maher handed himself in for questioning.

Prosecutors had ordered his arrest for violating the protest law.

Another activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, has been arrested for allegedly organizing an unauthorized protest.

Once lauded as an "icon of the revolution" by the military-installed government, Abdel Fattah now leads a vocal minority of secular activists who say the army has too much power.

© AFP 2014

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