Egypt vows to enforce protest law

The law banning protests without prior police permit has raised growing public outcry

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The Egyptian government vowed on Wednesday to continue implementing a controversial law banning protests without prior police permit despite growing public outcry.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said the law was enacted to help authorities fight terrorism and restore order, warning against any violation.

His remarks come after Egyptian authorities moved earlier on the day to prosecute 24 detained protesters for holding a street rally on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two arrest orders were issued for two pro-democracy campaigners renowned for their role in the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, a source in the prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The arrest orders for Ahmed Maher, head of the April 6 youth movement, and Alaa Abdel Fattah were issued a day after they joined demonstrations outside parliament in defiance of a law passed by the army-backed government on Sunday to curb protests.

Scuffles broke out on Wednesday between protesters and security forces in the northern port city of Alexandria during a demonstration against the new law and against the arrest of the 24 activists on Tuesday, the state news agency MENA said.

Rocks were thrown back and forth and security forces used teargas to try and disperse the crowd, it said.

The 24 activists are to be detained for four days pending investigation of allegations of thuggery, attacking public employees, stealing wireless devices and protesting without permission from the Interior Ministry, said the source in the prosecutor's office.

Four women activists who had also been detained were released on a desert highway, said a security source.

Egypt has seen some of its worst civilian violence in decades since the army ousted a freely elected Islamist president, Mohammad Mursi, in July following mass protests against his rule. The military has introduced a political roadmap meant to lead to elections next year.

Mursi's supporters have staged frequent protests across Egypt, many of them after Friday prayers, since the army deposed him on July 3 in response to mass protests against his rule.

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