Thursday,16 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1175, (5-11 December 2013)
Thursday,16 August, 2018
Issue 1175, (5-11 December 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Permission to protest

Q: Can I protest… this or that?

A: Absolutely! This is your right, your unalienable right to protest, to assemble peacefully; to petition the government for a redress of your grievances. However…


Q: However, what?

A: There are certain rules and regulations you must follow. You need to obtain a police permit three days ahead of your assembly and once approved the government regulates the time, place and manner, but not the content of your protest.


Q: Three days… is that not too much?

A: In other democracies such as the US, the UK, Canada, France among others, they require six days’ notice as well as the date, time and the names of the organisers.


Q: Why is that?

A; If anything should go wrong, the organisers would be held responsible. Remember, the security forces retain the right to change or limit your route in order to protect you and the public. It is imperative that you do not impede or block traffic or public walkways. Above all your rally must be peaceable.

Q: But why a permit?

A: With the passing of our law, protesters without a permit will be subject to arrest.


Q: You are making it quite difficult.

A: Quite the contrary! No law prevents your right to protest, demonstrate, assemble, march, as long as it is non-violent and within the areas designated by the authorities. Your right for free expression is fully preserved by law.


Q: What if I protest this law?

A: Sorry protesters! Your right to remonstrate does not deprive other citizens of their rights or threaten their safety. The imposition of a few must not be allowed to threaten the welfare of the majority. You both have equal rights. I encourage you to gather peacefully, express your views, remain within the assigned zone and then disperse, so life can resume for the general public.

Have we forgotten the horrific scenes of tyranny and brutality during the endless sit-ins of Rabaa and Al-Ittihadiya? How urgently we needed the implementation of such a law! We would have been spared great grief, loss of life and the constant flow of bitter tears.

Terrorism exploits the poor, the desperate and the growling stomachs of the hungry, unable to resist the shameless terrorist with his purse filled with gold. Acts of terrorism are condemned everywhere, how is it that Egypt seems to stand alone in its struggle while the likes of Ashton, Psaki and others dare to interfere in the sovereignty of this nation amongst all others. Such insolence is incomprehensible. Perhaps they should look first into Guantanamo.

During this painful period of transition our thoughts are not of vengeance or despair but of a strong determination to overcome, not just the terrorists, but those plotting a gross conspiracy to keep Egypt in perpetual turmoil.

Non-violence is deeply rooted in man’s temperament. All religions preach it. It is a submission to a force within, a sub-conscious right to be free and to allow others to be free. Systemic peaceful campaigning and massive non-violent resistance are effective means of applying pressure.

Long before Gandhi achieved liberation from British colonialism, and Martin Luther King granted former slaves equal civil rights, way back during the 12th century BC, Egypt recorded the first strike waged in recorded history. The workers building a royal necropolis for the great Pharaoh Ramses II organised a sit-in at the near-by mortuary temples because they had not received their usual payment of grain. They were eventually given their overdue ration without torture, violence, savagery or bestiality.

As for Ban Ki-Moon, objecting to a law he has not even read is ludicrous. No breath of disapproval from the UN chief was directed to David Cameron following the London riots or to Barack Obama’s ruthless dispersion of Occupy Wall Street; and not a note of displeasure was addressed to Nicolas Sarkozy. Why is Egypt their favourite target?

Peaceful protest is vital to any democratic society and Egypt has been unduly patient with criminals, allowing violent protests and gang-like lawlessness, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent citizens. We were in dire need of such a law, regardless of the objections of those who wish Egypt ill.

The law is long overdue, and our only reservation is why it took them so long.


“Law is order, and good law is good order”.                        Aristotle (384-322 BC)

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