Egyptian experts differ over a draft protest law, as some believe it limits freedom of expression, while others say the law is necessary to organize demonstrations and to prevent social instability.
The controversial law, which was approved by the Egyptian cabinet and is currently being reviewed by the interim president, bans all public protests that have not been given prior written permission to assembly from the police. Many analysts and observers argue it will curb the rights of citizens to protest in a country gripped by continuous rival rallies.
"The law may increase the gridlock in a politically polarized country," Ayman Akeel, chief of Maat Center for Human Rights, told Xinhua.
"The government has to organize protest rights, not curb it," Akeel said, adding it is the government's duty to protect public property from assaults during the protests.
Among the 21 articles contained in the draft law is an article that gives the interior minister and other senior officials the authority to cancel, postpone or change the location of the protest, while a third provision allows governors to declare " protest-free zones" around state buildings.
The law defined parades as demonstrations with non-political goals and bans using places of worship as gathering points for protests.
Demonstrators are also forbidden from possessing weapons, ammunition, fireworks and face masks.
The bill has been widely criticized across the spectrum of political forces. Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, one of the founding members of the grassroots Tamarod movement, which organized the largely peaceful protests in June and July that led to the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi by the army, said that limits on peaceful protests would be "unjust."
Also, Younis Makhyoun, chief of the ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nour Party urged interim President Adli Mansour not to pass the law without conducting a "national dialogue." He suggested the issue should be postponed until after the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year.
For his part, Akeel reiterated that the non-peaceful demonstrations should be dealt with legally, without limiting or outlawing the right to peacefully protest.
Before implementing the law the government should consider the political dissidence among the Egyptians, Akeel noted, adding the government approved the law to curb the pro-Morsi's protests.
Since Morsi's ouster on July 3, the National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy, a coalition of Islamists mainly from Muslim Brotherhood, has been calling for continuous protests to reinstate Morsi, who they say is the legitimate president. The protests have increasingly become violent as armed protesters frequently clash with security forces and residents of neighborhoods.
Akeel added the law is "an offensive way to deal with an alliance whose popularity is gradually increasing."
The human rights advocates emphasized that citizens should have the right to protest and express their opinions non-violently, without damaging public institutions or hindering the traffic flows.
Criticizing the timing of the protest law's drafting, Akeel said "It is unintelligent to issue the law during the transition period," which gives an impression that the government wants to ban the right of protest, an important privilege which was gained after toppling Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Hatham al-Khateeb, coordinator of Revolutionary Youth Union, upholds the law curbs the freedoms acquired by nation-wide protests on January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013.
Khateen added "it is a threatening law," that gives the interior ministry the right to reject or interfere in the protests.
The Revolutionary Youth Union activist said neither the law nor the tightened security measures would bring stability back to the Egyptian street, stressing that "only through justice, will stability be guaranteed."
Meanwhile, Shawqi el-Sayed, a former member parliament and legal expert, said "notifying the interior ministry before the protests could help the government to solve the problem of disruptive protests before its beginning."
He added the protests rights should be organized, as right to protest should not be "absolute with no rules."
"Issuing the protest law now is necessary in light of the Muslim Brotherhood's persistence for continuous protests," el- Sayed said, emphasizing the goal of the law is to prevent the protests from converting into chaos and terrorists operations.
According to the new law, the government is responsible for protecting the protesters. Sayed urged the government to strictly apply the protests law to protect the citizens and preserve the social stability.