Actvists postpone protest against Egypt-Saudi island deal to Saturday

Ahram Online , Monday 9 Jan 2017

Activists and political parties hope to hold their protest on Saturday without the interior ministry resorting to the court of urgent matters to stop them protesting

File photo: Egyptians protesting against the strategic Red Sea islands agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, April 2016 (Photo: AP)

Protests scheduled for Wednesday against an Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea islands deal were postponed to Saturday, after officials eventually agreed to receive the protest notification as mandated by law, a spokesman for an Egyptian political coalition told Ahram Online on Monday.

"The Sayeda Zeinab police station's sheriff called our lawyer yesterday and said he agreed to receive the protest's notification," said Khaled Dawoud, the spokesperson for Egypt’s Democratic Coalition, which comprises a number of leftist political parties.

Dawoud explained that the protest was postponed from Wednesday to Saturday to adhere to the 72-hour prior notification mandated by the law.

Earlier this week, a group of opposition parties said Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab police station refused to receive their notification for the protest.

"We are against the [protest] law, but we are trying to avoid the arrest of more youths and to avoid the experience we had on 2 January when 12 youth were arrested," Dawoud stated.  

The protest can still be cancelled if the interior ministry appeals in front of a court for urgent matters and the judge rules in favour of the ministry.

The contentious April 2016 maritime border demarcation agreement between Cairo and Riyadh would place the Egyptian-controlled Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir under Saudi Arabian sovereignty.

The parties calling for the protest include the Egyptian Popular Current, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Dostour Party, and the Karama Party.

According to a controversial 2013 law, authorities have to receive notification 72-hours prior to a protest or else it would be deemed illegal and those participating in it are liable to prison terms and heavy fines.

Last week, shortly after the cabinet's decision to approve the deal and refer it to parliament, 12 people were arrested for illegally protesting against the decision near the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo.

The maritime border demarcation deal sparked widespread public outcry and a number of protests.

Dozens of protesters stood trial for demonstrating without permits. Most have been released from jail after paying hefty fines.

Egypt’s High Administrative Court has set 16 January 2017 to rule on the government’s appeal against an earlier June ruling by an administrative court halting implementation of the deal.

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