The Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights (ECESR) is reporting that at least 1,400 people have been detained in the country since September 20. Egyptians are calling for the resignation of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over allegations of corruption, theft and repressive rule.
Egyptian authorities arrest more than 1,100 people after rare protests held in several cities call on President Sisi to quit.
Egypt’s security forces have arrested some 1,300 people in recent days in one of the largest crackdowns on political opponents in years, rights groups said, amid protests calling for President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s removal.
The protests began this past weekend in Cairo and other cities, representing one of the most serious challenges to Mr. Sisi’s autocratic rule since the former military chief came to power following a coup in 2013.
Amid calls for more demonstrations on Friday, the government has deployed security forces in central Cairo in the vicinity of Tahrir Square, which was the center of the protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Among those arrested in the clampdown this week are protesters from around the country, leading opposition figures and academics. The sweep included a number of people who had no apparent connection to the protests.
Among them was Khaled Dawoud, a journalist and former head of the liberal Constitution Party, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a human rights group that also confirmed the number of those arrested.
A government spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment. Egyptian officials haven’t commented on the arrests. The status of the arrested people couldn’t be determined. Egypt has laws banning protests and incitement against state institutions.
Some analysts said the arrest of a number of people with no apparent connection to the protests suggested panic on the part of the authorities ahead of the expected Friday protests.
“It’s a nervous breakdown by somebody who has clouded vision,” said Hisham Kassem, a prominent former newspaper editor and political analyst, referring to Mr. Sisi.
Among those detained in recent days was Mahinour El-Masry, a prominent human rights lawyer from Alexandria, who was active in the 2011 uprising against Mr. Mubarak. Others arrested included two prominent political science professors, Hassan Nafaa and Hazem Hosny. Mr. Hosny was involved in a campaign by a retired general who was arrested after attempting to challenge Mr. Sisi for the presidency in 2018.
The protests began Friday after a man identifying himself as a former government contractor captured Egyptian public attention in recent weeks with a series of online videos outlining the corruption allegations posted from self-imposed exile in Spain.
The man, Mohamed Ali, has accused Mr. Sisi of wasting public funds on projects like lavish palaces for himself, projects that many Egyptians were unaware of.
Mr. Sisi has denied any wrongdoing but admitted the palaces are under construction, saying they are intended for the Egyptian people.
Mr. Sisi, who has touted himself to the West as a bulwark against terrorism in the Middle East, received an endorsement from President Trump this week during a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.
“He is a real leader. He’s done some things that are absolutely amazing in a short period of time,” said Mr. Trump.
Mr. Sisi hasn’t addressed the protests directly. Egyptian officials have suggested they are the work of hostile foreign television channels.
The government has attempted to stamp out all forms of political dissent, arresting thousands since the 2013 military coup that ended Egypt’s brief period of democracy following the 2011 uprising.
Earlier this year more than 88% of Egyptian voters approved changes to the constitution that would allow Mr. Sisi to remain in office until 2030 in a referendum in which opposition campaigners were arrested and citizens were enticed to the polls with offers of food and cash.