Egypt lawyers hold rare protest in central Cairo
In a rare public show of protest in Egypt, “thousands of lawyers” staged a demonstration at their union in central Cairo Monday, prominent lawyer Tarek al-Awady said.
After a smaller protest was held Thursday, lawyers assembled again in droves Monday to protest a new electronic invoicing system introduced by the finance ministry — a rare sight in a country where public protests are effectively banned.
Awady told AFP that “the lawyers are exercising their legitimate right to voice their opposition to the e-invoicing system”, which they say would burden them with exorbitant fees.
The new system — which seeks to draw in Egypt’s massive informal economy — would require businesses of all sizes to start issuing electronic invoices.
In addition to lawyers, pharmacists and doctors have bristled at the December 15 deadline to sign up to the system, pointing to its sizeable annual registration fees.
Lawyers should be exempt from the system because they “are not service providers”, but are “tasked with aiding the judiciary in achieving justice”, deputy union chief Magdy al-Sakhy said on state television Sunday.
The fees to set up the system, Awady said, could exceed “what an average (law) firm makes in four months”.
In 2013, mass protests against Islamist former president Mohamed Morsi led to his ouster by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Later that year, a law was passed that effectively banned all protests except those authorised by police.
Sisi assumed power as president the following year, as an ensuing crackdown first targeted Islamists, before widening to curtail all public space for dissent.