Thursday, September 26, 2019

Egyptian Forces Arrest 1,400 People After Anti-Sisi Protests

from Wall Street Journal

 Crackdown is one of the largest on political opponents in years, rights groups say

Egypt’s security forces have arrested some 1,400 people in recent days in one of the largest crackdowns on political opponents in years, rights groups said, amid protests calling for President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s removal.

The protests began this past weekend in Cairo and other cities, representing one of the most serious challenges to Mr. Sisi’s autocratic rule since the former military chief came to power following a coup in 2013.

Mr. Sisi’s government has jailed thousands in an effort wipe out political opposition in recent years, but the arrests this week stood out due to the sheer number rounded up in a matter of days.
Amid calls for more demonstrations on Friday, the government has deployed security forces in central Cairo in the vicinity of Tahrir Square, which was the center of the protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Among those arrested in the clampdown this week are protesters from around the country, leading opposition figures and academics, as well as a number of people who had no apparent connection to the protests.

Among them was Khaled Dawoud, a journalist and former head of the liberal Constitution Party, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a human-rights group that also confirmed the number of those arrested.

A government spokesman couldn’t be reached to comment. Egyptian officials haven’t commented on the arrests. Hundreds of those detained were referred to prosecutors, while the whereabouts and status of hundreds of others could not be determined. Some were later released. Egypt has laws banning protests and incitement against state institutions.

Some analysts said the detention of a number of people with no apparent connection to the protests suggested panic on the part of authorities ahead of the expected Friday protests.

“It’s a nervous breakdown by somebody who has clouded vision,” said Hisham Kassem, a prominent former newspaper editor and political analyst, referring to Mr. Sisi.

Among those detained in recent days was Mahinour El-Masry, a prominent human-rights lawyer from Alexandria, who was active in the 2011 uprising against Mr. Mubarak. Others arrested included two prominent political-science professors, Hassan Nafaa and Hazem Hosny. Mr. Hosny was involved in the campaign of a retired general who was arrested after attempting to challenge Mr. Sisi for the presidency in 2018...

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