Rare Anti-Government Protests Erupt in Egypt

Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Cairo and other Egyptian cities late on Friday and shouted anti-government slogans, responding to an online call for a demonstration against government corruption, Reuters witnesses and residents said.

Protests have become rare in Egypt following a broad crackdown on dissent under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Mr. el-Sisi took power after the overthrow of the President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

Security forces moved to disperse the crowds but youths continued protesting on side streets, several witnesses said. There was a heavy security presence in downtown Cairo and in Tahrir Square, where the protests started in 2011 that toppled the longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Small protests were also held in Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast, Suez on the Red Sea as well as the Nile Delta textile town of Mahalla el-Kubra, about 70 miles north of Cairo, according to residents and videos posted online.

Authorities could not be immediately reached for comment. A pro-government TV anchor said a small group of protesters gathered to take videos and selfies before leaving the scene.

Mohamed Ali, a political activist who lives in Spain, had called for the protest in a series of videos after accusing Mr. el-Sisi and the military of corruption.

On Saturday, Mr. el-Sisi dismissed the claims as “lies and slander.”

Mr. el-Sisi won two elections, in 2014 and 2018, but his popularity has been dented by economic austerity measures.

His supporters say dissent must be quashed to stabilize Egypt, reeling after the 2011 uprising and unrest that followed and the rise of an Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians.

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