Update: Interior Ministry issues warning not to join Friday protests against Egypt-Saudi island transfer
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The Interior Ministry has issued a warning not to join protests mass protests planned for Friday against a decision to transfer two islands to Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

While it respects the right to freedom of expression within the framework of the law, the ministry said in a statement posted to its Facebook page Thursday afternoon, officials had received information that the Muslim Brotherhood was calling for marches with the goal to incite chaos and pit citizens and security forces against each other.

“The ministry calls on citizens not to heed such calls, and warns against any attempts to deviate from legitimacy,” the statement read, adding that the ministry would take the necessary legal measures to maintain security.

The Muslim Brotherhood had announced it would join protests on Friday against the “sale of Egypt’s land and history” after the decision to transfer two islands to Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

“It has become clear that we are dealing with a group of criminals … and it is time to unite against them,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s statement read. “Let Friday be the spark of anger that will not be subdued unless Egypt is liberated.”

There have been multiple calls by different groups to join mass protests on Friday in light of a wave of anger resulting from the transfer of sovereignty of Egyptian islands of Tiran and Sanafir, following a maritime border deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The April 6 Youth Movement has also called for protests on Friday across Egypt’s main squares, dubbed “Over our dead bodies.”

“Tiran and Sanafir are our right,” the group said. “It is the right of our fathers and grandfathers who died there.”

On their part, the Muslim Brotherhood said the “crime of selling Egypt,” serves Zionist interests and has been hailed by Parliament, the government and the media.

In a speech on Wednesday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the ongoing controversy that ensued following the announcement of the deal, saying the islands belong to Saudi Arabia, and that the agreement is based on a presidential decree issued in 1990 that was sent to the United Nations.

He said the government has been studying the issue since 2014 and has sought counsel from everyone with relevant experience and clearance. Sisi explained the move was not announced publicly before now so as not to create too much instability.

After his attempt to settle the debate, Sisi concluded by instructing people not to talk about the issue anymore, and to leave it for Parliament to discuss.


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