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The New Arab Staff

Egypt plans pro-Sisi demonstration to counter anti-regime protests

Egypt is currently witnessing rare protests against authoritarian President Sisi [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 September, 2020

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Opponents of authoritarian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have called for large-scale demonstrations on Friday.
The Egyptian regime is organising a huge event in support of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday to counter protests calling for his resignation.

Security forces have called on the heads of political parties and MPs to mobilise supporters for a gathering in Cairo to back Sisi, sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

Supporters will be bussed into the capital in vehicles rented by the Nation's Future Party, the sources said, referring to the one of the country's largest political parties which uncritically backs Sisi.

Attendees will also be given free meals, the sources added.

The event is still awaiting final approval from the president and security forces want to ensure there will be enough people present at the pro-Sisi rally, the sources said.

The planned gathering echoes a pro-Sisi demonstration that took place in late September last year to counter a rare burst of anti-regime protests.

Last year's "Palacegate" demonstrations were sparked by allegations of widespread corruption and economic mismanagement by the president and the Egyptian military. 

Mohamed Ali, a former military contractor-turned-whistleblower, shared a series of videos online alleging the misappropriation of public funds to build lavish palaces and hotels for the presidency and military.

Ali, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, called last week for further nationwide protests starting on 20 September, the first anniversary of the "Palacegate" movement.

Anti-regime protests have been ongoing in Cairo and several other towns and cities in Egypt since then, with slogans calling for an end to Sisi's rule prominent on both the streets and social media.

Hundreds of demonstrators have been detained in response, echoing the arrest of more than 4,000 protests, lawyers and civil society figures in just a few weeks last year.

Activists have called for renewed protests for a "Friday of Rage" this week.

Security and military forces have erected security cordons in central Cairo and impoverished areas surrounding the capital and are making random checks and arrests in an attempt to stymie potential protests, sources said.

The rare protests are relatively small. Many Egyptians have been deterred from shows of dissent by a thorough crackdown since Sisi took power.

Sisi, a former general and defence minister, rose to power following a 2013 military coup against Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi.

In addition to corruption, inequality, and authoritarianism, many Egyptians have recently been angered by government plans to demolish thousands of unlicensed buildings across the country, potentially leaving their residents homeless.

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