One of the iconic images of the Arab Spring protests was the throngs of Egyptians in Tahrir Square calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. However, it’s an image that may never be repeated because of a new executive order from interim president Adly Mansour that bans public gatherings of more than 10 people unless approved by the government.
According to the Associated Press, “Rights groups and activists immediately denounced it, saying it aims to stifle opposition, allow repressive police practices, and keep security officials largely unaccountable for possible abuses.”
The controversy surrounding this law “has caused cracks in the loose coalition of secular and non-Islamist groups that rallied behind the military-backed government installed following the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.”
The law is, in fact, aimed at quelling the constant demonstrations from supporters of the former president, although these protests often turn violent unlike those of the Arab Spring. Rather than address that specific problem, the law makes it nearly impossible for the public to express criticism of the transitional government.
Ironically, the passage of this law inspired one of the most recent protests against the current government. “In a snub to the law, the youth activist group April 6 and other political groups held a rally outside a central Cairo police station Monday, calling on the government to ‘eat popcorn!’- a joke to say the government is wasting time.” They also requested government approval for a farcical protest of 10 million Egyptians.
An appointed panel of 50 is currently amending Egypt’s 2012 constitution, drafted mostly by factions tending towards the Islamic extreme. This is happening in almost total secrecy and what has been released indicates an even greater shift of power given to the president and gives the military control of the courts.