Authorities arrested more than 350 since protests in favor of the resignation of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi accused of corruption began Friday, a Cairo-based non-governmental organization (NGO) reported.
Citing a statement from the NGO, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported Monday:
The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) said 356 people had been arrested since protests began on Sept. 20.
Mahienour El-Masry, an Egyptian activist and human rights lawyer, as well as journalists and students, were among those arrested, the statement said.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in central Cairo and several cities on Sept. 20 against Sisi.
The protests stemmed from calls for President Sisi to resign by Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor, who accused al-Sisi and the military of corruption.
In New York, a group of about 60 Egyptian Americans gathered Sunday in support of the anti-Sisi rallies in Egypt. The demonstrators were chanting loudly and boisterously for Sisi to resign outside the New York hotel where the Egyptian president is currently staying, the Middle East Eye (MEE) noted. Sisi is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this week.
Dalia Wassef, an Egyptian American protest organizer, told MEE.
We are Egyptians from all walks of life. We are not part of any organization. This was just a spontaneous grouping of people. We are here to protest against Sisi’s brutal, corrupt regime and call for democracy in Egypt.
Echoing Wassef, a different protester who identified himself only as Ali, told MEE that it was vital for Egyptians to “come together and work towards getting rid of this guy.”
“Whether you are Islamist or liberal, we all have to get rid of him. He has no legitimacy,” Ali added.
In 2013, then Egypt’s military chief Sisi led the military’s overthrow that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president, following protests against his rule. Sisi has been ruling Egypt as the president since.
For the first time since Sisi officially took power in 2014, tear gas was fired to disperse protestors in Egypt over the weekend. The incident marked some of the first demonstrations since the former minister of defense, and subsequent military chief Sisi took power 2014.
Last Friday, hundreds of Egyptians filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square – a vital site of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution — demanding that Sisi step down. Demonstrations spread to other parts of Egypt. Allegations of corruption against the Sisi administration triggered the protests.
The embattled president dismissed the allegations as “lies and slander,” BBC reports.
Under his tenure, Sisi has dealt with jihadis like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in the Sinai with a heavy hand. BBC, however, reports that “he has overseen what human rights groups say is an unprecedented crackdown on dissent that has led to the detention of tens of thousands of people.”
The British news outlet added:
Egyptians voted to approve constitutional changes in April that could extend Mr Sisi’s term in office until 2030, on a turnout of 44%. He won 97% of the vote in 2018’s presidential election when he faced no serious opposition.
On Monday, Sisi is reportedly expected to meet U.S. President Donald Trump for bilateral talks at U.N. headquarters.