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Rights group urges restraint after protests against Sissi

An international rights group has called on Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest and to immediately release those detained, hours after the country saw rare protests against President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.
Late on Friday, hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets in the capital Cairo and other cities. The protesters chanted slogans demanding the ouster of the ex-general, who took power in 2014, one year after he led the military overthrow of the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.
Protests are rare in Egypt amid a crackdown on opposition and freedom of expression. Thousands of secular and Islamist opposition figures have been detained or sentenced to prison.
“President [Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi] should direct the state security forces to abide by international standards for law enforcement during demonstrations,” Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.
Citing media reports, HRW said that security forces had chased and rounded up protesters and surrounded Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
“President [al-Sissi’s] security agencies have time and again used brutal force to crush peaceful protests,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
“The authorities should recognize that the world is watching and take all necessary steps to avoid a repetition of past atrocities,” he added.