Police arrested dozens night from cafes, private residencies and streets across Egypt’s governorates late Thursday night in apparent synchronized security raids, according to the Freedom for the Brave campaign’s Facebook page.
Raids were conducted in Cairo’s downtown and Heliopolis districts and in the governorates of Giza, Gharbeya, Menufiya and Sharqiya.
In Alexandria and Giza, police entered private residencies, arresting several individuals, including prominent labor lawyer and Revolutionary Socialists member Haytham Mohamadeen, according to lawyer Ramadan al-Zoghby.
On Friday evening, the Nasr City Police Station released all but three of those arrested Thursday night that the station held in its custody, according to Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) lawyer Sameh Samir. Mohamed Moustafa, Mahmoud Zayed and Mohamed Soltan remain detained at the station.
Earlier Friday, the ECESR filed an official complaint to protest Thursday night’s arrests, according to Samir.
As no Egyptian state institution had disclosed information regarding those arrested early Firday, lawyers began canvassing police stations, Samir stated on his Facebook. However, police stations responded to lawyers’ requests with intransigence. “The answer is always, ‘We have no one here,’” Samir wrote.
Police arrested cartoonist Makhlouf at the Falah cafe on Qasr al-Ainy street and released him shortly afterward, the cartoonist stated on his Facebook account.
Thursday night’s raids are the most recent following those police conducted in downtown Cairo in January ahead of the January 25 revolution’s fifth anniversary.
In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, police arbitrary searched 5,000 private residencies in downtown Cairo, according to Interior Ministry sources. Police combed through the digital archives of citizens’ laptops, tablets and phones while also searching personal belongings for anything judged to be a threat to the state.
Tensions between the state and public are running high as calls mount for mass demonstrations on April 25 to protest Egypt’s sovereign transfer of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanifir to Saudi Arabia.
The calls are an extension of mass demonstrations that occurred on April 15 where thousands took to Egypt’s streets to protest the countries’ new maritime border agreement. Signed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz earlier this month during the Saudi king’s visit to Egypt, the agreement ceded Egypt’s sovereign control over the Red Sea islands to the Gulf of Arabia country. Protesters have often foregone officials’ description of the agreement as a transfer, calling the decision a sale.
During King Salman’s visit, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian parties signed more than 20 agreements, notably a deal for the supply of Egypt’s petroleum needs over the next five years, which is estimated to be worth US$20 billion, according to the privately owned Youm7 newspaper.
At least 98 protesters face charges following what has become known as the Friday of the Land protests, according to a report by the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). The legal status of another 21 persons still held in custody is unknown.
AFTE’s report states police arrested 387 protesters in 17 governorates during the demonstrations, 268 of whom police subsequently released.
Anonymous sources told the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper that Sisi directed security forces to not allow protesters the freedom to demonstrate seen on April 15. However, the president’s office issued an official statement to impugn this report, stating the newspaper published misleading information from unidentified sources.