Tags: ML | Egypt

Egypt Police Fire Tear Gas, Break up Anti-government Rallies

Friday, 15 April 2016 09:24 AM

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security forces fired rounds of tear gas on Friday to break up demonstrators rallying against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's announced decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Riot police first cracked down on protesters in Cairo's twin city of Giza, where demonstrators had gathered in two locations after Friday prayers — near Mustafa Mahmoud and al-Istiqama mosques — and started marching toward the downtown Tahrir Square.

Many carried signs reading, "Land is Honor" and denouncing the surrender of the islands. Others chanted, "People want to down the regime" and "Down with the military rule!"

After police fired tear gas, the protesters ran in all directions, according to videos posted online by activists. Several photojournalists covering the protests were detained near another mosque in Giza, witnesses at the scene who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their own safety.

The protests were the first significant move against el-Sissi since he was elected president in the summer of 2014. A year earlier, as army chief, he led the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi following mass protests against Morsi's rule. El-Sissi also led the military's crackdown on thousands of Islamists who staged sit-ins and rallied across Egypt to demand Morsi's reinstatement. Thousands were imprisoned and hundreds killed in the crackdown.

Seen by his supporters as the "savior" of Egypt from Islamists, el-Sissi has a large base of support among Egyptians who fear for their security. At a rally Friday in the city of Alexandria, dozens of supporters carried posters with photographs of the president and chanted, "We love you, el- Sissi!"

The calls for the Friday protests in Cairo prompted the Interior Ministry to beef up security and seal off Tahrir Square, shutting down the intersection's metro station and positioning dozens of police vehicles mounted by masked riot police around the square and in its surroundings.

Earlier, the state MENA news agency quoted an unnamed ministry official as saying police were "encircling" all the strategic routes into the country's capital. The official said heavy security measures, including checkpoints erected at Cairo entrances and exits, would prevent "infiltration of the terrorist group" bent on causing chaos and clashes — a reference to Morsi's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

The Islamist group, which has been declared a terrorist organization, had joined calls by secular and leftists groups — much to their dismay — for a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square over the islands issue.

El-Sissi has defended his decision on the islands and tried to defuse the storm stirred up by the decision.

The government maintains the islands of Tiran and Sanafir at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba belong to Saudi Arabia, which asked Egypt in 1950 to protect them from Israel. Israel captured the islands in the 1967 Middle East war, but handed them back to Egypt under their 1979 peace treaty.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


   
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MiddleEast
Egyptian security forces fired rounds of tear gas on Friday to break up demonstrators rallying against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's announced decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.Riot police first cracked down on protesters in Cairo's twin city of...
ML,Egypt
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2016-24-15
Friday, 15 April 2016 09:24 AM
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