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The New Arab Staff

Anti-Sisi protests erupt in Egypt's Suez ahead of planned demonstrations

Demonstrations are expected on September 20 [File Photo: Getty]

Date of publication: 19 September, 2020

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Footage that emerged online showed protesters chanting against Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Friday, a days ahead of planned September 20 demonstrations.
Protests erupted in Egypt's Suez city on Friday, local media reported, with dozens of demonstrators calling for the downfall of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi days ahead of planned September 20 call for action.

Footage that emerged online showed protesters chanting against the president.

Chants including "We will not sleep, we will not rest, fall Abdelfattah, fall" and "We are not afraid, between us is September 20" echoed through the streets of the city, referencing a call to demonstrate by dissident Egyptian construction contractor Mohammed Ali.

A number of arrests were made at the site of the protests, according to local opposition television channel, Makameleen.

Ali’s call to action sparked the protests, which come as Egypt struggles to navigate through harsh economic conditions.

The Spain-based dissident urged Egyptians to take to the streets on September 20, the first anniversary of demonstrations one year ago.

The 45-year-old businessman triggered a major scandal in Egypt in September 2019 when he revealed details of autocratic President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s corruption.

In a series of videos watched by millions of Egyptians, Ali, whose company had previously worked with the Egyptian army, said that Sisi had built a number of luxurious palaces and residences for himself and his family using public funds, at a time when austerity measures were being imposed on ordinary people and poverty rates in Egypt were increasing.

Sisi appeared on television to answer the allegations but did not deny them, saying that he built the palaces for the state and would continue to "build and build and build".

Anti-Sisi hashtags started by Ali quickly became the top trending Twitter hashtags worldwide, and thousands of Egyptians took part in protests in Cairo and other cities, braving the risk of arrest. The scandal became known as 'Palacegate'.

Sisi’s government responded with repression, detaining thousands of people, and the protests fizzled out. While Ali’s exposure of financial corruption posed a major challenge to Sisi, his videos were often rambling and he failed to present a coherent opposition political programme.

Ali himself said that he was inexperienced in political life and announced his retirement from politics at the end of last January, saying that people had failed to protest against Sisi on ninth anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

Read also: Sisi uses coronavirus to enshrine new powers at the expense of his people

However, in May, Ali announced on Twitter that he "wanted to talk" to the "great Egyptian people" again, adding that he prayed that "the darkness would be lifted [from Egypt]" and that "Egypt would once again return to its owners, the people, God willing".

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