Secular activists who defied Egypt’s new protest laws released from jail
A Cairo court on Wednesday freed on bail 23 Egyptian protesters from secular youth movements who were detained last week for holding an unauthorised demonstration, judicial sources said.
The protesters were detained for holding on November 26 what was the first illegal demonstration two days after interim president Adly Mansour passed a law banning unauthorised gatherings.
They were protesting against a provision in the draft constitution that allows the military to prosecute civilians in certain cases.
The demonstration was held in front of the Shura Council in Cairo where a 50-member panel had been drafting the new constitution.
The draft charter was handed over to Mansour on Wednesday. He has a month to hold a referendum on it.
Judicial sources said the protesters were each freed on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (about $725). They were accused of “rioting and breaking the protest law in front of the Shura Council”.
Two days after their protest, they were sent to 15 days’ detention.
Secular groups and rights organisations have criticised the new protest law.
Authorities have also detained three prominent secular activists — Alaa Abdel Fattah, Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Duma — for breaking the protest law.
The protest law requires permits to hold any demonstrations.
Secular activists say that armed with the new law, authorities have widened their crackdown on protests which in recent months had mainly targeted Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.