Egyptian security forces move to prevent anti-Sisi protests

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Egyptian police dispersed a protest in Cairo while presenting a huge show of force in central Cairo and other cities on Friday after calls for a protest against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a large pro-Sisi crowd gathered in the capital, witnesses said.

Protests erupted on September 20 in Cairo and other cities after Internet calls for demonstrations spread after allegations of corruption about Sisi and the army, which Sisi denied.

Witnesses and security sources said police fired tear gas to disperse up to 1,000 protesters on Cairo’s Warraq island, chanting “Go, Sisi.”

Security sources said protesters also tried to gather in Qus in southern Egypt but were dispersed by police.

No protests took place in Tahrir Square, the heart of the protests that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 or other areas of central Cairo because police blocked all roads leading there.

Security forces have stepped up their presence in the main squares of major cities and plainclothes police are checking mobile phones for motorists and pedestrians for political content and searches of that kind continued on Friday morning.

Sisi returned to Cairo on Friday morning after spending the last week in New York to attend the UN General Assembly. He was greeted by senior ministers and then stopped to speak to a crowd of supporters on the side of the road.

“Good morning,” Sisi told them. And then Eh who Elmshikm Badri Keda, today Friday, the topic is not worthy, you must know that the Egyptian people remained conscious Oi … worried about the need.

Sisi apparently repeated his rejection of allegations of corruption contained in Internet videos posted by former contractor and former actor Mohamed Ali before the protests. These videos have been widely watched.

In a video posted on his official Facebook page, El-Sisi said, “This is a picture of what I do before. It is a lie, a slander and a bit of media that works to give a real picture, we are rigid, God willing, the country is rigid.”

Since the protests last Friday, authorities have launched a campaign of arrests, which human rights groups say has resulted in the arrest of nearly 2,000 people.

Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Thursday the prosecutor had “questioned up to 1,000 defendants in the presence of their lawyers.”

Ali called for new protests on Friday but his call was met by rallies to show their support for Sisi and “stability”. The largest gathering was on a main road in eastern Cairo.

– Police presence –

Buses were seen carrying people, including employees of a company from Cairo and other cities, to the gathering, where crowds waved Egyptian flags and held up pictures of Sisi. Delta Sugar, a state-owned company, said it transported workers by bus from its Cairo-based factory in the Nile Delta.

Last week’s protests worried investors and led to a campaign of support for Sisi in Egypt’s strictly censored media, which tried to discredit Mohamed Ali and the fragile opposition.

Police stepped up their presence around Tahrir Square and at some intersections in the city center and deployed vehicles equipped with water cannon. Many shops and a number of major metro stations were closed.

At Cairo’s al-Fateh mosque, where demonstrations began in 2011, dozens of masked policemen carrying rifles, some in uniform and some in civilian clothes, stood near the exit of the mosque as prayers ended.

At least 20 vehicles belonging to the security forces are parked around the mosque or patrol nearby.

Police sealed off an area outside Alexandria’s Sidi Bishr mosque, where protesters gathered last week, and witnesses said they had also sealed off a field in the Red Sea city of Suez, where protesters gathered on Saturday.

Sisi took power after leading the ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. He said on Friday that at some point he would be asked to show support, with millions of Egyptians coming out.

– Campaign –

Sisi’s rule has seen a sweeping crackdown on the opposition, including liberals as well as Islamist groups, which human rights groups say is the toughest in modern times. Brotherhood leaders were imprisoned or fled abroad.

Sisi’s supporters say the campaign is necessary to stabilize after the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising.

Lawyers say several hundred people arrested in the past week are under investigation over accusations of using social media to spread false news, join a banned terrorist group and demonstrate without a license.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called on the Egyptian authorities on Friday to “radically change their approach to any future protests”.

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