Cairo: Egypt`s interim president today approved a controversial law regulating protests in the deeply polarised country, prompting rights groups to condemn it as "repressive".
"The president enacted the law on the regulation of the right to hold public meetings, processions and peaceful demonstrations in public places," presidency spokesman Ehab Badawi said in a statement.
Interim president Adly Mansour approved the law 10 days after the three-month-long emergency was lifted across Egypt that gave security forces sweeping powers.
The law requires protesters to obtain permission from the police three days prior to assembly and reportedly allows security forces to unconditionally use bird shots against demonstrators. It also imposes hefty fines for gatherings without advance notification.
The controversial `protest law` has drawn condemnation from rights groups who claimed it fails to protect freedom of assembly and promotes heavy-handed state intervention.
Civil society groups labelled the bill as "repressive" and said lawmakers have failed to bring about necessary proposed amendments to the latest version.
"The draft law seeks to criminalise all forms of peaceful assembly, including demonstrations and public meetings, and gives the state free reign to forcibly disperse peaceful gatherings," a joint statement issued by 19 Egyptian rights groups said.
The statement said the law "will have a long-term impact on freedoms and rights of individuals to express their opinions", adding that it regards "peaceful assembly as a crime in the offing".
However, supporters of the new law said the legislation is necessary to allow the police to ensure that demonstrations are peaceful in order to achieve a semblance of stability in the country.
Yesterday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim warned that police would act vigilantly against non-peaceful protests.
Street movements have been instrumental in shaping Egypt`s political life, bringing down two regimes in the past two and a half years.
Massive street protests led to the toppling of long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and, two years later, prompted Egypt`s military to oust Mohammed Morsi, the country`s first freely elected president.
Supporters of Morsi have been demonstrating in the streets and on university campuses since his ouster on July 3 causing considerable disruption to traffic and day-to-day activities.
The government imposed emergency law and a night curfew for three months following the violent dispersal of two pro-Morsi camps on August 14 in which over 1,000 people were killed.