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Hundreds of protesters call for Egypt President Sisi to step down

Hundreds of protesters call for 
Egypt President Sisi to step down

AFP
Cairo
Protests erupted overnight in Cairo and other Egyptian cities calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in a rare show of dissent quickly quashed by authorities. Hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets late Friday, chanting slogans including “Leave, Sisi!” and demanding the “fall of the regime”.
At least 74 people were arrested, a security source said, with plain clothed police patrolling sidestreets of downtown Cairo.
After overnight clashes with the protesters, security forces on Saturday maintained tight control of Tahrir Square -- the epicentre of the 2011 revolution that unseated long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The country effectively banned protests under a 2013 law and a state of emergency is still in full effect.
“I think it’s safe to say that the events of the past few weeks, including the development last night, pose the most serious legitimacy crisis facing Sisi,” Nael Shama, a Cairo-based political analyst, said.
The protests came on the back of an online call put out by Mohamed Aly, a disgruntled exiled Egyptian businessman, demanding Sisi be toppled. The construction contractor has been posting videos from Spain that have gone viral since early September, accusing Sisi and the military of rampant corruption.
The president flatly denied the allegations last week at a youth conference and sought to assure Egyptians that he “was honest and faithful” to his people and the military.
In Aly’s latest video posted early Friday morning on his growing social media accounts, he urged Egyptians to head to the streets after a highly anticipated Super Cup football match between Cairo powerhouses Al Ahly and Zamalek.
“No one shouted bread, freedom, social justice like in 2011, they escalated straight to ‘Leave’ from the first minute,” Shama noted.
Thousands shared footage on social media documenting the demonstrations, which sprang up in several cities including sizeable crowds blocking traffic in Alexandria, Al-Mahalla, Damietta, Mansoura and Suez.
Shama, who wrote a book on Egypt’s foreign policy, said the “totally organic” nature of the small-scale protests was “unprecedented”.
“This is the first time people take to the streets in many years but I am not sure it will be the last,” he added. 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.
Sisi led the military ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and won back-to-back landslide elections after running virtually unopposed.

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