Small but rare protest in Cairo after online call for dissent

by Reuters
Friday, 20 September 2019 21:42 GMT

CAIRO, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Small groups of protesters gathered in central Cairo late on Friday shouting anti-government slogans, responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption, Reuters witnesses and residents said.

Protests have become very rare in Egypt following a broad crackdown on dissent under President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who took power after the overthrow of the former Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Security forces moved to disperse the crowds but youth kept protesting in side streets, several witnesses told Reuters. There was a heavy security presence in downtown Cairo and on Tahrir Square where mass protest started in 2011 which toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Authorities could not be immediately reached for comment. A pro-government TV anchor said only a small group of protesters gathered to take videos and selfies before leaving the scene.

Mohamed Ali, a building contractor and actor turned political activist who lives in Spain, called in a series of videos for the protest after accusing Sisi and the military of corruption.

On Saturday, Sisi dismissed the claims as "lies and slander".

Sisi won two elections with 97% of the vote in 2014 and 2018, but his popularity has been dented by economic austerity measures.

Sisi's supporters say dissent must be quashed to stabilize Egypt, after a 2011 uprising and the unrest that followed, including an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians.

They also credit him with economic reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund. (Reporting by Cairo newsroom Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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