Egyptian protesters take cover from tear gas fired by riot police as they demonstrate on April 25, 2016 in Cairo against the handing over of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia (AFP)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday that Egyptian authorities are trying to stifle any public discussion of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s policies following a security clampdown on protests on Monday.
Hundreds protested against a recent decision by Egypt to acknowledge Saudi Arabia's sovereignty over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.
Freedom for the Brave, an Egyptian activist group tracking protester arrests, said that 239 people were arrested at demonstrations nationwide.
“It seems that the only public demonstrations El-Sisi will allow are the ones that support him,” HRW added in its statement.
The group also highlighted preemptive arrests of activists in the wake of the calls to the 25 April protests.
The arrested include leftist activist Haitham Mohamedein, currently detained pending investigations into joining an “unlawful group” as well as Ahmed Abdallah, director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
HRW’s statement also highlighted the arrest of journalists while covering the protests. At least 43 journalists were detained on Monday, most of whom have since been released. Seven remain detained.
The rights group criticised the 2013 legislation that requires a permit from the interior ministry prior to protesting.
“The authorities should release all those held solely for peaceful expression, and parliament should amend the repressive law on public assembly,” the statement read.