- Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez witnessed the biggest protests across eight cities on Friday.
- Battles waged on social media between opponents and supporters of President Sisi
- The protests were supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and other domestic political parties.
A number of Egyptian political parties and groups— including the Muslim Brotherhood— supported protests on Saturday, following a series of other street protests in various Egyptian cities against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. At the same time, Human Rights Watch called on the Egyptian government to refrain from suppressing protests and repeating “past violence.” The organization also called on Egyptian judicial authorities to release the arrested protesters as soon as possible.
Egyptian protests took place in eight cities on Friday evening. Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez witnessed the biggest protests. In these protests, the opposition chanted slogans calling for Sisi’s resignation.
One of the most notable reactions is from the Muslim Brotherhood group, which has been severely repressed since Mr. Sisi’s coup in 2008. The group’s Facebook statement said the protests were a sign of the Egyptian army’s confrontation with its people. The statement said Egyptians could no longer tolerate corruption and despotism.
During the coup d’état, Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi was ousted and imprisoned. He recently died in prison. Mr. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the overthrow of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood was declared illegal. Thousands of its supporters were jailed and hundreds of its members were executed.
In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party and the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist Party issued separate statements on Saturday in support of recent protests against Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. The Egyptian Social Democratic Party accused Sisi’s government of “corruption, murder, and torture.”
Also on Saturday, many Egyptian activists on social media tried to launch a Twitter storm with the hashtag “Tahrir Square.” Tahrir Square is one of the central squares of Cairo, where protests were concentrated against former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Opponents were also trying to enter the square during Friday’s protest, but riot police fired tear gas into the area. Eventually, some succeeded in coming into the field and chanting against Sisi.
By contrast, some supporters of the Egyptian president also tweeted, trying to write about his “achievements.” ISIL also carried out widespread propaganda against the Egyptian government on Saturday, according to sources. The group released material urging Egyptians to join ISIL in the fight against Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
Despite widespread domestic reactions, Egyptian protests did not receive much international response, with the exception of Human Rights Watch. The UAE response has backed the Egyptian government and has described some of the protests as “propaganda by the Muslim Brotherhood.” Currently, Sisi is visiting the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly.
Saturday’s protests are the result of the revelations and a face-to-face call from Mohammed Ali, an actor, and businessman. Mr. Ali is in self-imposed exile in Spain and says he has been an Egyptian Army contractor for five years. He claims the government has wasted millions of dollars, and the corruption of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s family has made him lose a lot of money.
In a video he posted on Facebook, Mr. Ali made “revelations” against al-Sisi’s government and made many accusations. For example, he said he built a palace for al-Sisi at a military center. Eventually, a series of “revelations” prompted Abdul Fateh al-Sisi to personally respond to the allegations at a conference last week and defend himself in an unprecedented way. He directly accused Mohammad Ali of lying and “defaming.”
Soon after, Egyptian state television also broadcast an interview with Mohammed Ali’s father, in which the father of the exiled dissident accused his son of lying. Finally, in a video released Friday morning, Mr. Ali urged Egyptians to take to the streets to end the “corrupt” Sisi regime and called on security forces not to deal with the people. This invitation led to widespread protests.