Quiet streets in Egypt on Friday despite protest call, dozens arrested

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Friday 11 Nov 2016

Security in main squares was intense in anticipation of possible protests

Tahrir square
An Egyptian policeman is deployed in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. In anticipation of protests against economic austerity measures (AP)

Egypt's main squares and streets were quiet on Friday apart from the notable presence of security forces, despite anonymous calls for protests against "harsh economic conditions" which had been endorsed by pro-Muslim Brotherhood Facebook pages.

Although the protest calls had not gained the support of political parties or many activist movements, there were minor gatherings of pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups across the country.

Earlier this month, Egypt's government announced several measures aimed at reviving the country's ailing economy, including a full currency float and a cut to energy subsidies. The decisions came amid shortages in some basic commodities and food price hikes.

Security authorities arrested around 300 protesters nationwide on Friday, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported, citing a security source.

According to Ahram, 50 people were arrested in Cairo, and 40 in Giza during small protests in the areas of Mansouria, Omraniya, and Kirdasah.

In Beheira governorate 98 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested.

Another 110 protesters were arrested in different provinces, including Alexandria, Minya, Beni Suef, Kafr El-Sheikh and Suez, in protests which lasted for only a few minutes before being dispersed, or were far from major cities or city centres. 

In Cairo, two photojournalists and one reporter were arrested, according to Khaled El-Balshy, the head of the freedoms committee at the Egyptian press syndicate.

"Two of them have been released, while one photojournalist is still being examined by the national security apparatus at Omraniya police station, and we [the committe] communicated with the Giza security directorate in attempts to free him," El-Balshy told Ahram Online.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail hailed Egyptians "who chose stability, reform, development and construction, and refused any calls against those goals," in an interview with state TV on Friday.

Some downtown coffee shop owners told Ahram Online that they were advised to close on Friday, while building doormen were told by security forces to report any tension or unusual activities.

Ahram Online reported quiet streets in downtown Cairo from Thursday night onward, after the government decided to close Tahrir Square's metro station. Police sirens could be heard as security vehicles patrolled downtown neighbourhoods.

Most shops around Tahrir were closed amid an intensive security presence, with barricades, dozens of armored trucks, and male and female riot police deployed all over central Cairo.

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