Egypt detains 110 in protests against Saudi Arabia island deal

Published 16.04.2016 00:00
Updated 16.04.2016 15:52

A total of 110 people were arrested by the Egyptian authorities on Friday for protesting against Cairo's recent decision to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, according to the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Demonstrators, an NGO.

According to a statement issued by the NGO, 110 people -- including a number of lawyers -- were arrested for demonstrating in eight different provinces, including Cairo and Giza (58), Alexandria (18), Daqhaliya (11), Ismailia (8), Aswan (5), Suez (4), Hurghada (4) and Sohag (2).

An official security source at the Interior Ministry, who asked not to be identified due to ministry restrictions against speaking to the media, told state daily Al-Ahram that security forces had arrested some 100 people for participating in Friday's demonstrations.

The demonstrations were held to protest a maritime border agreement inked last week between Cairo and Riyadh, according to which the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran -- which for decades had been considered Egyptian possessions -- were put within Saudi territorial waters.

The agreement has caused outrage among much of the Egyptian public and the country's embattled political opposition.

On Friday, thousands of Egyptians gathered outside the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate's Cairo headquarters -- and in other parts of the capital and in several other provinces -- to demonstrate against what they described as the Egyptian regime's "surrender" of the two islands to its oil-rich patron.

Protesters also chanted slogans demanding that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi step down.

In some areas, clashes were reported between protesters and security forces, according to local witnesses.

On Friday, witnesses told Anadolu Agency that security forces had carried out random arrests in the vicinity of the journalists syndicate in an effort to preempt demonstrations.

The Interior Ministry, for its part, has not officially announced the number of people arrested for taking part in Friday's protests.

On the eve of the demonstrations, which were supported by a number of opposition groups, the ministry had warned the public against taking part in any "illegitimate" protests.

Tiran Island (80 square kilometers) and Sanafir Island (33 square kilometers) both lie at the entrance of the Strait of Tiran and are therefore of considerable strategic significance.

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