HRW urges Sisi to respect right to peaceful protest

'The world is watching': HRW urges Egypt's Sisi to respect right to peaceful protest
2 min read
21 September, 2019
Rare anti-government protests broke out in several Egyptian cities late on Friday calling on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to step down.
Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Cairo and other Egyptian cities. [Getty]

Egyptian authorities must uphold the right to peaceful protest and release those detained, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday, as rare protests broke out on Friday against the rule of president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, after demonstrations broke out in a number of cities across the country, calling for the removal of Sisi.

Regime forces also made arrests in a number of cities that saw protests, including Alexandria, Al-Mahalla and Suez, sources told The New Arab. 

Demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi. 

"President al-Sisi's security agencies have time and again used brutal force to crush peaceful protests," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. 

"The authorities should recognize that the world is watching and take all necessary steps to avoid a repetition of past atrocities," he added, calling on security forces to abide by international standards for law enforcement during demonstrations.

Read more: Dozens of Egyptian pro-democracy protesters detained in sweeping arbitrary arrests

The protesters were responding to a call by a self-exiled businessman who has claimed corruption by the military and government.

In viral social media videos posted over the past weeks, Mohamed Ali has alleged his contracting business witnessed the large-scale misuse of public funds in the building of luxurious hotels, presidential palaces and a tomb for Sisi's mother, who died in 2014.

The allegations came as economic reforms and austerity have squeezed Egypt's lower and middle classes badly.

Under the rule of general-turned-president Sisi, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.

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