Egypt police arrest 382 protesters calling for Sisi ouster: Rights group
At least 382 people have been arrested in Egypt in the wake of a recent spate of demonstrations against the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a rights group says.
The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said on Monday that it had directly documented 249 cases of arrest over the past nine days.
Another 133 had been documented by other rights groups or lawyers, it added.
Egypt’s public prosecutor recently said it had ordered the release of 68 minors in connection with the demonstrations.
Anti-government protesters have braved a heavy-handed crackdown by the police in the past few days.
Apart from the capital Cairo, protesters have also taken to the streets in the governorates of Giza, Damietta on the Nile Delta and Luxor in the south.
Several videos posted online purportedly show security forces firing live bullets to disperse the angry crowds.
On Saturday, family members and medical sources said a protester had been killed in clashes with the police in a village south of Cairo.
A major grievance against the Sisi administration has to do with his decision to order the demolition of ‘illegal’ construction nationwide. People are required to pay a fine to legalize their home ownership.
In an apparent reference to the protests, Sisi on Sunday praised Egyptians for enduring tough economic conditions and said some were trying to exploit Egypt's challenges to undermine the country.
“They choose the difficult conditions to offend and sow suspicion among Egyptians about what we are doing – that this is at their expense and against them,” Sisi said during the inauguration of a petrochemical plant north of Cairo.
Exiled businessman Mohamed Ali, who has influenced the anti-Sisi protests since last year in online videos, has intensified his efforts recently.
The prominent opposition figure has accused the government of wasting money on lavish construction projects.
Last year’s protests sparked a wide-ranging crackdown by the police and security forces. Amnesty International said at least 4,000 people had been arrested.
Since his election in 2014, Sisi has overseen a broad crackdown on political dissent, which was extended with a wave of arrests last September.
Security services tried to preempt the latest wave of protests by launching a campaign of arrests that included political figures and high-profile activists.
Egypt declared as unauthorized all demonstrations in 2013 after Sisi, then defense minister, led a military coup and ousted the democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi.