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Egypt: 30 Years of 'Emergency' Law

Has Egypt been a testing ground for the Patriot Act and Homeland Security?

Egypt's decades-long emergency law makes it difficult for opposition groups to rally. So perhaps it is not surprising that at Monday's demonstration against the measure, there were more police than protesters.

Some of the 100 or so protesters tried to march from Cairo's Tahrir Square to parliament just a few blocks away. They did not get there. Surrounding them were ring after ring of riot police, and a scuffle broke out as the demonstrators tried to break through.

The protesters are getting just about as far with their political demands. Parliamentary elections this year and a presidential vote next year appear likely to be held under the heavy hand of Egypt's emergency law - in effect since the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Lawmaker Mohammad el-Omda says "enough." He argues that under the pretext of security, the Egyptian nation has been "enslaved" for 30 years. The reality, he says, is that the law is used to control power and usurp wealth.

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