A leading activist of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, Alaa Abdel Fattah, demanded on Wednesday the scrapping of a disputed protest law that the authorities imposed last year to crush opposition rallies.
Abdel Fattah, a symbol of the uprising that toppled former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, was released on bail Monday during a retrial after being sentenced to 15 years in jail.
He was sentenced in absentia on charges of assaulting a policeman during an illegal protest in Cairo.
In November, Egypt’s then military-installed authorities issued the protest law that bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations.
The law was enacted as part of a sweeping crackdown on daily protests by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, as well as rallies by secular youths like Abdel Fattah.
“The protest law is (being used against) workers, students, April 6 leaders, and any opposition against the current regime,” Abdel Fattah told a news conference at which he also demanded the release of other youth activists.
The law “should be lifted and not amended; any policy that says the authorities can limit the number of protests must be lifted and not amended,” he told reporters.
A rally called by Abdel Fattah and other youth activists outside Cairo’s journalists union for Wednesday was cancelled after security forces deployed there in large numbers.
Abdel Fattah was arrested in November as part of the crackdown on Islamist and secular dissent after the army ousted Morsi in July last year.
He was also arrested under the Mubarak regime and the military junta that followed his overthrow.
Khaled Aly, another leading activist who spoke at Wednesday’s news conference, said “resistance is the solution” to the “unconstitutional” protest law.
He also said that the jailed founder of the April 6 movement, Ahmed Maher, and another leading activist behind bars, Ahmed Douma, had begun a hunger strike against the protest law.
Maher and Douma are serving three-year jail sentences for planning an illegal demonstration.
The crackdown on Morsi’s supporters, meanwhile, has left at least 1,400 people dead and hundreds of his backers have been sentenced to death after speedy trials. More than 15,000 others have been jailed.