Egypt court imposes gag order on island protesters case

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 May 2016

Scores of people have been arrested in recent weeks around Egypt following protests against the government's decision to acknowledge Saudi Arabia's sovereignty over two Red Sea islands

Egypt protesters
Egyptian protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Cairo on April 25, 2016, against the handing over of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia (AFP)

An Egyptian court imposed a media gag order on Saturday on the case of protesters arrested during demonstrations against a recent Egyptian-Saudi islands deal.

Scores were arrested in the capital Cairo and other governorates over the past two weeks during protests, as well as from their homes and in cafes, against Egypt's decision to acknowledge Saudi Arabia's sovereignty over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

The Dokki misdemeanour court adjourned the trial of 86 people rounded up from the rallies last week until mid-May and ordered a media gag order on the case.

The detainees face charges including "protesting without permit, disturbing public order and security" and "joining a terrorist organisation," in reference to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

A controversial 2013 protest law bans all but police-sanctioned protests. Thousands of youths have been imprisoned in the past years under the bill.

Egypt’s decision to transfer the islands into Saudi hands after a process of maritime demarcation has sparked widespread public outcry, with some critics accusing the government of "selling the islands." Egypt insists the islands belong to Saudi Arabia.

Thousands demonstrated on 15 April against the decision in what were believed to be the biggest protests by non-Islamists against President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi since he came to office in 2014. A second wave of the demonstrations was held on 25 April.

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