A vigil was held by dozens of women outside Egypt’s presidential palace in Cairo on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. The demonstration challenged a law that prohibits peaceful protests and also called for the release of thousands of prisoners captured for breaking the regulation.
Egypt’s protest law went into effect in 2013 – criminalizing any gathering of more than five people without previous consent from authorities. Those who disobey the law often receive heavy fines and prison sentences, though police state the law is imperative to combat the disorder and violence that fell upon Egypt after its uprising in 2011.
Those who organized the event admitted they weren’t given previous permission from authorities to hold the vigil near the palace of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Police formed barricades around the women, who held photographs of the detainees, according to AP. A number of protesters held banners that said “Ramadan is not the same without you,” referring to the Muslim holy month of fasting.
â€” Claire Read (@clear_red) June 21, 2015
â€” Omar Kamel (@OmarKamel) June 21, 2015
â€” Farid Y. Farid (@FaridYFarid) June 21, 2015
Activists say the law is being used to silence those who oppose the government's policies. Thousands of people have been incarcerated for violating the regulations, and some have been given sentences up to 15 years for marching, protesting and reportedly using violence in protest.
Well-known women's rights activist Yara Sallam and award-winning activist Sanaa Seif were arrested on June 21, 2014 for peacefully protesting the law. Both women are currently serving two-year sentences with 22 other activists. The two were initially given a three-year prison sentence and fine of EGP 100,000 for participating in a peaceful protest near the Itihadeya Palace in Cairo. This sentence was followed by three years of probation after release.
Protesters at Sunday's event claimed that journalists were being harassed by authorities, taking to social media site Twitter to post photos of the incident. Some even reported that police were deleting photos of the women on camera phones. There were no reported arrests.