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Egypt: protesters clash with police as young women handed heavy prison sentences for demonstrating

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Egypt: protesters clash with police as young women handed heavy prison sentences for demonstrating

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Protests in Cairo continued into Thursday night as hundreds gathered to demonstrate against a court verdict on a group of young female protesters.

Crowds chanted anti-police slogans and waved banners and flags, including that of the pro-reform Kefaya movement. “Kafaya” is Arabic for “enough.”

Thursday’s rally was in defiance of a new law criminalising protests held without police permits. Violaters face fines and prison terms.

The new law sparked a wave of anger among liberals and youth groups and allies of the military-backed interim government.

Nearly two dozen women and girls were given heavy prison sentences on Wednesday for an earlier protest demanding ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s reinstatement.

Images from the courtroom in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria showed the 21 young female defendants in white head scarves and white prison uniforms, handcuffed in the defendants cage.

Among them were seven teenagers aged 15 and 16, who were sentenced to prison terms until they turn 18.

The rest – most aged 18 to 22 – were sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The moves mark what critics say is a bolder determination by Egypt’s military-backed government to silence dissent.