CAIRO, Apr. 21 (Aswat Masriya) - The doctors' syndicate said on Thursday that the interior ministry refused their request to protest on Friday without providing a reason, while a security source says their request was rejected because of a European diplomatic visit to Cairo.
The doctors' syndicate sent the interior ministry an official request to organise a protest on Friday Apr 22, that was intended to head to the parliament and to the cabinet to voice the doctors' demands.
Doctors' demands include legislative protection from police assaults and harassment.
Provoked by alleged police assaults against doctors late January, the doctors' syndicate convened an emergency general assembly meeting in Feb that turned into one of the largest assemblies of protest in the past two years.
At the time, thousands of protesters chanted against police brutality and called the interior ministry “thugs". Soon afterwards, doctors decided to abstain from taking fees from patients in state-owned hospitals nation-wide as a form of protest.
While the syndicate urged doctors to abstain from collecting treatment fees from citizens, the health ministry warned doctors from abstention, considering it a squandering of public funds.
A security source told Aswat Masriya that the doctors' request to protest was also rejected because the ministry received information stating that "the Muslim Brotherhood and troublemakers will take advantage of the marches in downtown to spread chaos and riots."
Rights groups have been calling for the amendment of the draconian protest law since its issuance in November 2013. The 25-article legislation outlines regulations and conditions for peaceful protest which practically ban protests, according to those groups.
Whoever wants to organise a public meeting, march or protest must notify in writing the police station under whose jurisdiction the protest will be held, Kholoud Hafez, a Freedom of Assembly researcher previously told Aswat Masriya, adding that the law violates international standards for peaceful demonstrations.
Anger at alleged police brutality has been building up over the past months among various professionals, including lawyers, doctors, journalists and academics.
Professionals held several rallies and protests in front of their syndicates in response to alleged police abuses.