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Egypt passes law restricting protests

Student supporters of ousted Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsy light up a flare as they demonstrate outside al-Azhar university in Cairo on Oct. 28, 2013.

Story highlights

  • The law requires organizers to get government approval by registering protests in advance
  • Activists say it amounts to a dangerous repression of peaceful protests
  • Government officials argue restrictions are necessary to preserve stability in the country

Egypt's interim president approved a new law on Sunday that restricts protests in the country.

Activists and human rights groups have been fighting for years to block passage of the law, which imposes new regulations on demonstrations, requiring organizers to get government approval by registering events with authorities three days in advance. The law approved by interim President Adly Mansour allows police to use force against protesters who commit violations.

Government officials have argued that the restrictions are necessary to preserve stability and protect the rights of protesters.

But some activists say they amount to dangerous repression of peaceful protests.

"Overall law is designed to give the police free reign to ban protests," Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch, said in a Twitter post.

According to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, the law "requires protests to obtain permission from the police prior to assembly" and "imposes hefty fines for gatherings without advance notification."

The law allows police to use a gradual escalation of force, but gives few details about which violations would justify stepping up force.

Protests have played a key role in Egyptian politics in recent years -- spurring President Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011 and fueling a military coup that unseated President Mohamed Morsy in July.

Demonstrations by Morsy's backers since his ouster have drawn crackdowns from authorities. Hundreds have died in clashes with security forces.