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Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, has enacted a new protest law that rights groups say will severely curtail freedom of assembly, and could prohibit the kinds of mass demonstrations that forced presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi from power.
The law will force would-be protesters to seek seven separate permissions to take to the streets, and bans overnight sit-ins such as the Tahrir Square protests of early 2011. Activists will have to go to court to appeal against any rejected applications – a restriction lawyers argue will render legal demonstration almost impossible.
The law also bans any unsanctioned gatherings – either in public or in private – of 10 or more people, and will give the police the final say on whether a protest can take place. As a result, the law is deemed just as restrictive as a similar protest bill debated and later discarded under Morsi, whose own authoritarian instincts contributed to his downfall. His version – which was written by the same official – would have made demonstrators seek five separate permissions, instead of seven, but outlined more draconian punishments.