The Freedom for the Brave campaign reported that 168 protesters, activists and journalists have been arrested on Monday during demonstrations against the Egyptian government that were met with a heavy security response.
The demonstrations were organized in protest of the transfer of sovereign control of the Red Sea Islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Protesters also called for the release of detainees arrested in a series of police raids and roundups that commenced Thursday night.
Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) lawyer Halim Heneish reported to Mada Masr that 100 protesters are currently being held in Dokki Police Station, which continues to receive detainees. Lawyer Mohamed Eissa reported on social media that all female protesters have been released from the station, but that minors are still being held in detention.
Meanwhile, approximately 200 protesters and political party members have begun to leave the Nasserist Karama Party after a standoff with police forces, who have encircled the building since just after 3 pm. Member of the Egypt is Not for Sale campaign Mohamed al-Kharzagy, who remains in the party’s headquarters, told Mada Masr that most people have left the building without obstruction from the police.
In one of several demonstrations called for by the Nation’s Future Party, pro-government supporters have also gathered in Abdeen Square, which has been closed to celebrate Sinai’s liberation.
Monday’s demonstrations kicked off in the Giza’s Nahya district but police quickly used tear gas to disperse the assembled crowd, chasing protesters through the area’s side streets. Police arbitrarily arrested 15 people following the dispersal, according to the Freedom for the Brave campaign. Laywer Ahmed Abdel Naby told Mada Masr that the detainees have emerged in Giza’s Agouza Police Station.
Shortly later in the afternoon, around 100 people gathered in Messaha Square, also in the Giza governorate, with demonstrators chanting for the downfall of military rule. Protesters moved to the neighboring Dokki Street after security forces began dispersing the demonstration using tear gas and had conducted multiple arrests, according to Mada Masr reporters on the ground.
Later, protesters regrouped in Giza’s Ard al-Lewa district before being simliarly dispersed by security forces. Eyewitnesses reported police arrested dozens in the vicinity.
Danish journalist Stefan Weichert, Norwegian journalist Harald Hoff and French journalist Jenna Le Bras were also briefly detained by security forces, according to social media reports. Le Bras tweeted that she had been released from the Dokki Police Station along with French journalists François Hume-Ferkatadji, Samuel Forey and Etienne Bouy, who had also been arrested in Dokki.
Al-Shorouk journalists Ahmed al-Bardeeny and Mohamed Magdy were also arrested while covering the protests before being released, the privately owned newspaper reported. Five other journalists were detained in downtown Cairo earlier Monday, four of whom were released shortly afterward, according to a statement by the Journalists Syndicate. The statement added that journalists were also prevented from entering the syndicate.
Syndicate board member Mahmoud Kamel stated on his Facebook page that security forces refused to let Khaled al-Balshy, head of the syndicate’s freedoms committee, into the Dokki Police Station where journalists were being held. Balshy told Mada Masr that five of 11 detained journalists were released from the station, with other releases pending.
Journalist Basma Mostafa was arrested near Tahrir Square at approximately midday, along with six other people, according to Mostafa’s husband Karim Abdel Rady, a lawyer at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Mostafa was later released with fellow journalist Mohamed al-Sawy, Abdel Rady reported on social media.
Mostafa worked on a report published by the privately owned Dot Masr news website earlier this month detailing accounts of government questioning provided by relatives of slain “gang members” whom the Egyptian government claimed to be responsible for the murder of Italian doctoral candidate Giulio Regeni.
The Freedom of the Brave campaign reported that five members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party were also arrested in front of the Doctors Syndicate.
Members of the Egyptian Popular Current Party, Dostour Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party met at the party’s headquarters at 1 pm to jointly plan the day’s movements. Dostour Party member Maha Mekkawy told Mada Masr that party members left to join protests in Messaha Square at 3 pm but returned to the party’s headquarters after police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Police followed the fleeing party members and protesters, surrounding the building with weapons pointed at the windows while arresting those attempting to enter inside, stated Mekkawy. At 6 pm, the protesters and political party announced they would begin a sit-in until police left the area.
Attempting to end the standoff, Mekkawy and several other figures inside the headquarters negotiated with an officer from the Dokki Police Station, who claimed Muslim Brotherhood members had sought refuge inside the building. The officer’s request to review the identification documents of everyone inside the building was reviewed.
Monday’s demonstrations against the transfer of sovereign control of the islands to Saudi Arabia coincide with the 34th anniversary of Sinai’s liberation. The agreement between the Saudi Arabia and Egypt earlier this month sparked widespread criticism, leading to nationwide protests on April 15, the largest demonstrations to take place in Egypt in two and a half years.
In the lead-up to the protests, police conducted a series of impromptu raids that began Thursday night. Before Monday’s protests began, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) reported that founder of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms Ahmed Abdallah was arrested from his New Cairo home at around 4 am on Monday.
Hundreds of pro-government supporters gathered to celebrate Sinai’s liberation in a display of support for the regime. Buses bearing the Nation’s Future Party’s insignia transported dozens to a celebration in Mohandiseen’s Mostafa Mahmoud Square. Regime supporters also gathered in Talaat Harb Street, holding Saudi Arabian flags, photos of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and military boots.
Areas in downtown Cairo were placed under strict security control as police forces cordoned off the Journalists Syndicate. The Doctors Syndicate headquarters was also encircled by security forces, and the Sadat metro station was closed to the public.
Meanwhile, military jets and helicopters could be seen across Cairo’s skies on Monday in a military air show celebrating Sinai Liberation Day.