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Dozens arrested as Egypt police disperse Islamist demonstrations
One of the supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi protesting against the government hold up a national flag and a flag with his picture in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
One of the supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi protesting against the government hold up a national flag and a flag with his picture in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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CAIRO: Egyptian police arrested dozens of Islamist protesters Friday when they dispersed rallies across the country, the Interior Ministry said.

Riot police fired tear gas at separate protests in Cairo and clashed with Islamists in other provinces, amid a campaign to stamp out unrest following President Mohammad Morsi’s overthrow in July.

Police have shown little tolerance for the Islamists’ rallies since Morsi’s removal, and a new law allows them to clamp down hard on all but Interior Ministry-sanctioned demonstrations.

Thirty protesters were arrested in Cairo and 43 “rioters” were held in seven other provinces, a ministry statement said.

Battered by a crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people and seen thousands more jailed, the Islamists still organize almost daily protests to demand Morsi’s reinstatement.

Morsi, overthrown by the military following massive rallies demanding his resignation, is on trial on charges related to the deaths of opposition protesters during his single year in power.

The Interior Ministry said Friday it will no longer allow visits to Morsi, now held in a remote desert prison.

Ministry spokesman Col. Gamal Mokhtar said Friday that Morsi had delivered four messages “inciting violence” against the interim government during a first meeting with his lawyers on Nov. 13.

Morsi made a statement through his lawyers saying Egypt will see no stability unless he returns to power. One of Morsi’s sons, Osama, posted on his official Facebook page Thursday that his most recent request to visit his father was turned down. He says Morsi was moved from his place of detention to another undisclosed location.

Some who campaigned for his ouster now condemn the police for what they call their unchecked brutality, following arrests by secular activists who violated the new protest law brought in late last month.

Demonstrations at places of worship, or starting from them, are now banned outright. 

The new law also requires the organizers of any demonstration to seek authorization three days in advance.

Permission can be denied if the protest is deemed to present a threat to national security.

Secular dissidents Ahmad Maher and Ahmad Douma are to go on trial Sunday over a scuffle with police when Maher turned himself in for questioning.

Prosecutors had ordered his arrest for allegedly violating the protest law. 

Another activist, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, has been arrested for allegedly organizing an unauthorized protest.

Once lauded as an “icon of the revolution” by the military-installed government, Abdel-Fattah now leads a vocal minority of secular activists who say the army has too much power.

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