|Date: Sep 26, 2019|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|More than 1,100 detained in Egypt after protests|
|Egypt arrests journalists, blocks websites|
CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have detained more than 1,100 people, including several high-profile individuals, since the weekend, when protests were held in several cities calling on President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to quit, human rights monitors said Wednesday. Those reported detained in the past two days include one of Egypt’s most prominent opposition figures, a former spokesman for a candidate in last year’s presidential election, and a renowned writer.
Defying a ban on protesting without a permit, hundreds took to the streets in Cairo and other cities Friday in response to calls for protests against alleged government corruption. The protests continued in the Red Sea city of Suez Saturday.
Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said his own group and two others - the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms had jointly documented more than 1,100 arrests.
Several hundred of those are under investigation for charges including using social media to spread false news, undermining national security, joining a banned terrorist group, and protesting without a permit, lawyers say. The Interior Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Khaled Dawoud, a leading member of the Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of opposition parties and figures, was detained late Tuesday in Cairo, Eid said.
Also detained late Tuesday was Hazem Hosny, a former spokesman for the short-lived 2018 presidential campaign of ex-military chief of staff Sami Anan, said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a fellow professor at Cairo University, citing Hosny’s family.
Sayyid said Hassan Nafaa, a prominent writer and analyst who also teaches at Cairo University, has been missing since 1500 GMT Tuesday, citing Nafaa’s family.
Security forces have stepped up their presence in main squares in major cities and have been conducting spot checks of mobile phones for political content.
Sisi came to power after leading the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, following mass protests against him in 2013.
Protests in Egypt have been rare under Sisi, who has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent that rights activists say is the most severe in the country’s modern history.
President Sisi’s supporters say the tough measures were necessary to stabilize Egypt after the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak.
The protests have rattled financial markets, with the Egyptian stock market’s main index falling nearly 11 percent in trading between Sunday and Tuesday.
Wednesday morning, the Arabic hashtag “Sisi is not my president” was trending with more than 40,000 tweets. Several Twitter hashtags have been used to rally support for the protests, while pro-Sisi hashtags have also appeared.
The protests took place after a former civilian contractor for the military, Mohammad Ali, posted a series of videos accusing Sisi and the military of corruption.
Sisi dismissed the allegations as “lies and slander.”
Ali has called for mass protests Friday.
Egypt arrests journalists, blocks websites after protests
Agence France Presse
CAIRO: In the wake of protests calling for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's ouster, Egypt came under fire Tuesday for arrests of journalists and was accused of blocking news websites.
A New York-based press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said three Egyptian journalists were arrested for covering protests which followed a football match in Cairo on Friday night.
The group also said that several websites were disrupted, including those of news outlets BBC and the U.S.-government funded Al-Hurra television. Safaa Faisal, Egypt's BBC bureau chief, confirmed to AFP that the news site was inaccessible on Monday without any specific explanation from authorities.
However, Makram Ahmed, head of Egypt's Supreme Media Regulation Council, had told BBC that authorities may have blocked some sites including BBC Arabic for "inaccurate coverage" of the protests. Many users have also reported difficulties with accessing popular app Facebook Messenger, according to CPJ.
"Egyptian authorities must release all journalists arrested for their protest coverage, unblock news websites and communication apps, and allow journalists to report freely and safely," it said.
In a related development, the Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of liberal and leftist opposition parties, called for a "national dialogue" and for the release of all those arrested over the protests.
Rights groups say around 600 people have been arrested, including several opposition leaders, activists and family members detained from their homes.
Amnesty International said security forces had "carried out sweeping arrests of protesters, rounded up journalists, human rights lawyers, activists and political figures in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests from taking place".
The BBC and Al-Hurra had been added to a list of 513 other websites already blocked in Egypt, it said. On Sunday, award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry was taken into custody after she attended judicial investigations into the arrests of protesters.
Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets Friday and Saturday in Cairo and other cities for the rare anti-Sisi protests, held in defiance of a ban on demonstrations.
The dissent on the streets came on the back of an appeal by an exiled Egyptian businessman in Spain to topple Sisi after levelling corruption accusations against him. Security forces, caught by surprise, responded firing tear gas and rubber bullets in cities such as Suez to disperse the protesters.