Celebrations, limited protests against island deal on Sinai Liberation Day

Ahram Online , Monday 25 Apr 2016

El-Sisi supporters
Supporters of Egypt's army and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi celebrate the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Limited protests against the recently declared Egyptian-Saudi island agreement took place on Monday before being promptly dispersed by police in Cairo amid heavy security presence, with rallies supporting the deal and celebrating Sinai Liberation Day allowed to take place.

Security forces had tightened their presence in central Cairo ahead of the planned protests, which were set to take place at three separate locations in the capital; the Journalists Syndicate and the Doctors Syndicate in downtown and at Behouth metro station in Giza, all under the slogan “Egypt Not For Sale.”

However, activists decided to move the protests from those locations, with minor marches taking place in other areas of the city.

The largest protest took place in the afternoon in Giza's Dokki district and was dispersed by security forces using teargas, with dozens of protesters reportedly arrested.

According to press reports, some of the protesters dispersed by police at the Dokki march have sought refuge at the nearby headquarters of the Nasserist Karama Party, with security forces besieging the building.

According to the freedom for the brave Facebook page, more than 150 protesters were arrested on Monday.

Local media outlets have reported that security forces in Cairo have been randomly stopping people in the streets and checking their mobile phone's online applications to see whether they were participating in any protests.

Egypt's press syndicate condemned on Monday what it described as "harassment attempts" by "regime supporters" to storm its headquarters in downtown Cairo.

The syndicate said in a statement that "some people dressed like central security forces tried to storm the syndicate headquarters," adding that the assailants "were let through by police even though all roads around the syndicate were locked down in order to prevent protests."

It is unclear whether the "harassers" were members of police forces.

The protests came 10 days after several thousand people gathered in Cairo for the 'Land Friday' demonstration to protest the maritime border agreement, which places the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir within Saudi territorial waters.

Army forces were deployed on Sunday to secure major public buildings, while air force planes put on air shows above Cairo and other governorates on Monday for Sinai Liberation Day celebrations.

Sinai Liberation Day marks the final withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai Peninsula as well as the two disputed islands.

Navy ships also paid their respect for the national holiday by sounding their sirens off the coast of Alexandria near the Unknown Soldier Memorial in Manshiya district.

Some pro-regime protests took place in Cairo's downtown squares of Tahrir and Talaat Harb, as well as Giza's Mustafa Mahmoud Square, where participants held up images of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Saudi flags to show their support for the island agreement.

The Future of Homeland Party, which came in second in the Egyptian parliamentary elections, organised a concert attended by hundreds of people in front of Cairo's Abdeen Palace to celebrate Sinai Liberation Day.

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