By MARIAM RIZK and TONY G. GABRIEL
CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of Islamist demonstrators took to the streets on Friday in cities across Egypt, days after a disputed protest law was adopted and police forcefully broke up unauthorized gatherings.
Since a popularly backed military coup ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July, his supporters have been staging near-daily protests calling for his reinstatement, with Friday’s weekly Muslim prayers a key time for mobilizing their largest numbers. The rallies have often descended into street clashes with security forces or civilians.
In an effort to quash rallies Morsi supporters have managed to sustain despite a sharp security crackdown, authorities have adopted a controversial protest law restricting the right to protest. Among other rules, it requires organizers to notify the Interior Ministry three days before holding a protest, while also setting prison terms and high fines for violators.
Since the law was enacted Sunday, security forces dispersed forcefully several protests, including one organized by non-Islamist activists. Clashes in a student demonstration left one dead Thursday. The Interior Ministry warned on Thursday that security forces will deal “firmly” with “illegal” protests organized by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group.
On Friday, security was beefed up across Cairo, with army and police forces deployed in some of the capital’s main squares, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA. Islamists marked the 100 days since more than 30 detainees died of suffocation in August when police fired tear gas in their prison truck to liberate a guard detained by rioting detainees.
In one protest in eastern Cairo, Islamists chanted “down with all killers, down with Abdel-Fattah” referring to Egypt’s army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. They also held banners with the outline of a hand raising four fingers, a symbol used to commemorate the violent dispersal by security forces of an Islamist sit-in in mid-August.