Egyptian police fire water cannon on protesters

Riot police take position during a protest against a new law in Egypt that restricts demonstrations, in downtown Cairo November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Riot police take position during a protest against a new law in Egypt that restricts demonstrations, in downtown Cairo November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

(Reuters) – Egyptian police fired a water cannon to disperse dozens of protesters near the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday after they defied a new law that restricts demonstrations.

The protesters had gathered in front of the Press Syndicate to commemorate the death of a liberal activist killed in clashes with police two years ago, challenging the new legislation passed on Sunday that bans protests without police approval.

Human rights groups have condemned the law as a major blow to freedom in Egypt, the most populous Arab state and a U.S. ally which has experienced considerable political upheaval since the overthrow of autocrat ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Under the law, protests at places of worship are banned and the Interior Ministry has the right to forbid any public meeting of more than 10 people.

“(The) new protest law gives security forces free rein,” Amnesty International said in a report issued this week.

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