Around 200 protesters decided Monday night to suspend a sit-in held in front of Ettehadeya Presidential Palace against the contentious Protest Law, citing safety and security concerns.
Protesters had rallied for an impromptu sit-in earlier on Monday following a court ruling that rejected an appeal against three-year prison sentences handed down to April 6 founding members Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, alongside activist Ahmed Douma, for violating the Protest Law and Thuggery Law.
In December, the Abdeen Misdemeanors Court found the three activists guilty of charges including using force against the police and police property and illegal protest.
The sit-in was initiated by Douma’s wife, Nourhan Hefzy, as well as other activists who came to call for the annulment of the law and to support the families of those imprisoned. Members of the Freedom for the Brave campaign and other political groups were also present.
Hefzy and other protesters decided to suspend the sit-in in anticipation of a security crackdown, especially after the lights went out in the area. The protest was also meant to be all-female, but the plan deviated when more male supporters, as well as spectators, gathered.
Activists, supporters and passersby, roughly numbering 200 people, had gathered in front of the presidential palace, some carrying banners with slogans such as “freedom for all prisoners,” while others chanted against the military-backed government and the Protest Law.
Protesters agreed to regroup and set a timeframe during which they will escalate and organize more activities to lobby for annulling the Protest Law.
On Sunday, April 6 canceled a march marking the sixth anniversary of the group’s founding following heightened security in the area of the demonstration.
Mohamed Salem, a member of the Egypt Democratic Party, told Mada Masr that the government is using this law in order to “take revenge” and “crack down on revolutionary activists, who pose more of a threat to the repressive state than the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“It is these activists,” he said, “and not any armed group, who have the power to truly threaten the grip of the military regime.”
Prominent activist Mona Seif told Mada Masr that this protest was a starting point for strategic action aimed at removing the law and the release of all political prisoners detained in alleged violation to it. Her brother, activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, also faces charges of violating the Protest Law.
“We aim to broaden this movement, because this is about everyone who has been unfairly imprisoned,” she said. “Under this law, no one is safe.”