Human rights groups in Egypt have condemned as repressive interim President Adly Mansour’s signing into law new rules on holding protests.
The final version of the law is yet to be issued but reports say it requires permission from the police in advance before protests can be held.
“The draft law seeks to criminalise all forms of peaceful assembly, including demonstrations and public meetings and gives the state free hand to disperse peaceful gatherings by use of force,” 19 Egyptian organisations said in a statement.
However, Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi said the new law was designed to protect “the right of protesters” and that it required them to give “notice” rather than seek permission.
Government sources said the legislation had been watered down to require three rather than seven days’ notice.
Mass protests have led to the toppling of two presidents in the past three years in Egypt.
Parliamentary and presidential elections are due to take place next year but human rights groups have accused the military-backed authorities of anti-democratic tendencies.
Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been detained since Morsi’s overthrow, though the authorities say this is part of combating terrorism.