Demonstrators denounce protest ban, call for more reforms

Over 500 protesters demonstrated Sunday night, criticizing the military and government for recent decisions and requesting them to realize what they consider to be the revolution’s remaining demands.

The march began in front of the Journalists’ Syndicate, headed to the cabinet building and ended in Tahrir Square. It was initially organized by the newly-formed Egyptian Union for Independent Syndicates to demand the cancellation of the new law incriminating some forms of protests and strikes, but other groups joined in with additional demands. Protesters chanted: “Protesting is our only tool against the remnants of a fallen regime,” and “striking is legitimate against poverty and hunger.”

After massive workers protests took place during February and March, a law passed by the cabinet on Wednesday declared that calling for or participating in protests that disrupt business or involve violence while the emergency law remains in effect is a crime punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of LE500,000. The law is currently being reviewed by the military.

“Protesting is what brought the military council and Essam Sharaf’s government into power; they owe their positions to protests,” said Kamal Abou Eita, head of the Independent Syndicate for Real Estate Tax Workers. “We announce our rejection and defiance of this law,” he added.

Some workers among the protesters also demanded the announcement of a minimum and a maximum wage to decrease the gap between high-ranking officials and workers’ salaries, the latter of which often fail to make ends meet for Egypt’s many poor.

Holding banners that read, “The people want to cleanse the media,” protesters also demanded the removal of heads of state media affiliated with the old regime. Many protests have already been staged in front of the state television building and in Tahrir Square to push for this demand.

Demonstrators also chanted anti-military slogans in objection to the reported detention, torture, and military sentencing of protesters. They also denounced the military’s violent disruption of a sit-in at Cairo University’s Department of Mass Communications last Wednesday. In addition, protesters demanded the prosecution of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and heads of the fallen regime, especially former Chief of Presidential Staff Zakaria Azmy, former People’s Assembly Speaker Fathi Sorour, and former Secretary General of the National Democratic Party Safwat al-Sherif.

Protesters called for a larger demonstration next Friday to push their demands.

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