Rare anti-government protests break out in Egypt


Hundreds protested in central Cairo and several other Egyptian cities late on Friday against President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption, witnesses said.

The protests came in response to calls for al-Sisi to step down by Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor, who accused al-Sisi and the military of corruption.

Mr El-Sissi has dismissed the allegations as "lies".

Officers in civilian uniforms confronted the demonstrators who tried approaching Cairo's Tahrir Square, where mass protests started in 2011, which toppled Hosni Mubarak.

He confirmed that they didn't receive any reports of casualties by live or rubber bullets. Unauthorized protests are not allowed in Egypt.

Under the rule of general-turned-president Sissi, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.

The willingness of the protesters to defy police and laws that all but ban public protests suggests Friday could be a turning point, however small.

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Small protests were also held in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, Suez on the Red Sea as well as the Nile Delta textile town of Mahalla el-Kubra, about 110 km (68 miles) north of Cairo, according to residents and videos posted online.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi arrived in New York Saturday morning to participate in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) that is set to kick off on Tuesday.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights said security forces reportedly rounded up at least four dozen people in Cairo and elsewhere in the country.

This is a tense time both for Sisi and the Egyptian people. "The police didn't use lethal force." he said.

Dalia Fahmy, senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy in NY, said those on the streets on Friday were different from the crowds who took part in the 2011 protests that brought down Mubarak.

"Now the ball is in the government's court", said Shama, the analyst.

President Sisi is scheduled to give a speech before the UNGA on Wednesday, where he will touch Egypt's vision, achievements and stances towards regional and worldwide situations that are discussed, especially in terms of global peace and security, said presidency spokesperson Bassam Rady.