Egypt’s Police Break Up Protests Over Islands

Egypt’s Police Break Up Protests Over IslandsEgypt’s Police Break Up Protests Over Islands

Egyptian security forces in Cairo on Monday dispersed demonstrators protesting Egypt’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, reported state-owned news outlet al-Ahram.

Riyadh has been a key ally to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi since a military coup backed by popular protests ousted Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first democratically-elected president, in 2013, Deutsche Welle reported.

However, Sisi’s decision to hand over the islands’ territorial rights to the kingdom drew condemnation, with thousands protesting the move on April 15.

“Protest in Cairo chants anti-Sisi slogans. Protest was almost immediately, violently broken up,” human rights activist Iyad el-Baghdadi wrote on Twitter.

Egyptian human rights activist Mona Seif told Reuters that people waved at protesters from balconies, marking a shift from previous protests.

“There is a different kind of momentum that wasn’t there for the past two years,” said Seif.

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday, Sisi warned Egyptians against “forces of evil” attempting to destabilize the country.

“I see there are people calling once again for damage to our security and stability ... Our responsibility is to protect security and stability, and I promise Egyptians that no one will terrorize them again,” the former military general said.

Sisi’s regime has been characterized by a significant increase in jailed activists and journalists, ranking Egypt at 159 out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Monday also marked “Sinai Liberation Day”, when Israeli forces left the peninsula in 1982, effectively handing full territorial control to Cairo in the wake of the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty.