Video clips on social media show demonstrators calling on Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to step down
Hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets in the Egyptian governorate of Giza and some other governorates, such as Cairo, Alexandria, El-Mahalla and others on Sunday, despite heightened security in the country in advance of anticipated demonstrations.
Video clips circulating on social media showed the demonstrators holding banners and chanting slogans calling on Egypt’s Abdel Fatah el-Sisi to step down. Others set a police car on fire while some threw stones at security forces who tried to stop them.
Egypt went into high alert after former Egyptian army contractor Mohamed Ali called for anti-government protests on September 20 to commemorate a year since similar demonstrations were launched in the Middle Eastern country.
In a rare show of dissent, thousands of people rallied in cities across Egypt in September last year, demanding the resignation of el-Sisi following a call for protests by Ali, also an actor and businessman who said his company used to carry out projects for the Egyptian military.
In response, authorities launched the “biggest crackdown” under el-Sisi’s rule, according to Amnesty International, rounding up more than 2,300 people.
Security services pre-empted Sunday’s protests by launching a campaign of arrests that included political figures, including the left-wing political thinker Amin al-Mahdi, and a number of activists, especially in the eastern city of Suez.
Several social media users also reported cafes being forced to close over the past week.
In addition to the government crackdown on opposition figures and activists, pro-government media called people who planned to demonstrate part of an external conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the government.
Ali, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, had expected a strong response to his calls for demonstrations against the government and over deteriorating living conditions.
Ali also said: “If five million people took to the streets [on Sunday], no one would be arrested at all.
“Last time [September 2019], the demonstrators returned to their homes, which made it easier for the regime to arrest them,” he added.
Egypt outlawed all unauthorized demonstrations in 2013 after el-Sisi, as defense minister, led the military’s overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi following mass demonstrations.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have imprisoned and prosecuted thousands of people, according to human rights groups, with a nationwide crackdown intensifying after el-Sisi was first elected in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote.
Some Egyptian activists have warned of the danger protesting poses to the lives of demonstrators, given what they called a tight grip on security by authorities.
On January 25, 2011, the Egyptian people began their revolution that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.