Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 25th 2013 Contents A35
Monday, November 25, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CAIRO---Egypt s interim president issued
a new law yesterday regulating protests,
weeks after the much-anticipated bill stirred
serious criticism from rights and political
groups that say it will undermine freedoms
and stifle all opposition.
Drafts of the bill have been widely debated
since the military-backed government first
floated it in October. Interim President Adly
Mansour approved an amended version yes-
terday and it will be released later, presidential
spokesman Ihab Badawi said.
The law comes 10 days after authorities
lifted a three-monthlong emergency order
that granted security forces sweeping pow-
ers.Rights groups and political forces say the
law is designed to restrict protests and will
have a negative impact on rights and freedoms
Egypt has been hit by turmoil and per-
petual protests for nearly three years since
the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni
Mubarak. The turmoil intensified after the
popularly backed July 3 military coup that
removed Mohammed Morsi, Egypt s first
democratically elected president. Morsi sup-
porters have organised near-daily protests
since his ouster.
The bill as initially drafted required prior
notice for protests and set high fines for vio-
An amendment later reduced the period
of notification to three days, banned spon-
taneous assemblies and kept high fines.
The amendments still granted security
agencies the right to bar any protests or
public gatherings, including election related
meetings of political parties.
Under them, the security agencies can ban
a gathering if it received information that it
threatens public safety or order, without
specifying the nature of the information or
It also bars gatherings in places of worship,
a regular meeting place for all protests in
Egypt in the past three years and one heavily
used by Islamist groups.
Nineteen rights groups say the law, despite
some amendments suggested by court, seeks
to criminalise all forms for peaceful public
gatherings. They say it "continues to reflect
the same oppressive vision, which looks upon
peaceful assemblies as being an offense in
the making" by imposing "unreasonable"
restrictions. The amended draft says the
police have the right---following warnings---
to use force as it sees fit, including the use
of water cannons, tear gas and clubs.
The groups say the law gives police forces
unrestricted use of birdshot to put down
protests, omitting an article that prohibited
the use of force in excess.
"Such an omission is the most serious
indicator of the real intentions of the current
authorities, which claim they are seeking to
legalise and regulate peaceful assembly, while
this actually is yet another attempt to legalise
repression," the groups said in a statement
The pro-Morsi protests have decreased in
size since a government crackdown that land-
ed many of the leaders of Morsi s group, the
Muslim Brotherhood, and his allies in jail.
Bloody crackdowns on protests also killed
Security officials accuse Morsi supporters
of organising retaliatory attacks against gov-
ernment offices, police, military troops and
Christians, considered supportive of the mil-
itary, to destabilise the country. (AP)
BEIRUT---Heavy clashes between Syrian troops
and rebels trying to break a government siege in
the suburbs of Damascus have killed at least 160
fighters over two days, activists said yesterday.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad
have laid siege for months to rebel strongholds in
the Ghouta area east of Damascus, preventing food,
clean water, medicine and other supplies from
entering in a bid to crush resistance.
The tactic, which activists say has led to famine,
has helped government troops capture a string of
rebel-held areas over the past month on Damascus
The government push around the capital has
coincided with gains by Assad s forces around the
northern city of Aleppo as well as a new offensive
in the rugged Qalamoun region north of Damas-
The recent victories have shifted the momentum
of the conflict in Assad s favor and given the Syrian
leader greater leverage in proposed peace talks that
the US and Russia are trying to convene to end the
The intense fighting in the eastern Ghouta area
began on Friday when several rebel groups attacked
government forces, according to the British-based
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an activist
based in Qalamoun. The activist spoke on condition
of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.
There was no word on the battle from government
Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said
the rebels were trying to open the road between
Ghouta and the outside.
He said more than 160 fighters were killed Friday
and Saturday, including nearly 100 rebels, most of
them from al-Qaida-linked groups, the Nusra Front
and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Among the more than 60 fighters killed on the
government side were 20 gunmen from the Iraqi
Shiite Abu al-Fadl al-Abbas brigade, he said.
Abdurrahman bases his information on a network
of activists on the ground, as well as employees of
military hospitals who fill him in on army casu-
The death toll is unusually high for such a short
period, testifying to the ferocity of the fighting.
It also points to the increasingly sectarian nature
of the conflict, with Sunni Muslim radicals bolstering
rebel ranks and Shiite militants from Iraq and
Lebanon fighting on the government side.
Abdurrahman also said that at least two Syrian
media activists were killed as they covered the
clashes in eastern Ghouta.
One of those was Ammar Tabajo, who provided
information to many Western-based media outlets
over the past three years, using the alias Mohammed
Saeed. Abdurrahman and the Local Coordination
Committees activist group confirmed Tabajo had
Tabajo played an instrumental role, particularly
in the early phases of the uprising, as a source of
information for the media, and was a rare activist
who appeared regularly on Arab TV stations. He
was one of the first to report on the Aug 21 chemical
weapons attack, going to makeshift clinics to observe
the aftermath. (AP)
No end to turmoil in Egypt
160 killed in clashes
to break Syria siege
A member of the Egypt's security forces stands guard as supporters of ousted President
Mohammed Morsi hold a rally in the Nasr City district in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday. AP PHOTOS
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, background, throw rocks towards members of the
security forces and those against the Muslim Brotherhood in the Nasr City district in
Cairo, Egypt, last Friday. Clashes erupted as thousands of supporters of the Muslim
Brotherhood around Egypt held protests marking the passage of 100 days since the start
of a bloody crackdown against them in the wake of the ouster of the Islamist President
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