Police, protesters clash in Cairo over islands
Police fired tear gas and birdshot yesterday to disperse hundreds of demonstrators calling on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step down over his government's decision to surrender control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The clash in Mesaha square in Cairo's Dokki district took place as thousands of police and soldiers were deployed yesterday across the Egyptian capital ahead of the planned demonstrations over the islands, a thorny issue which has already sparked the largest protests since el-Sissi assumed power nearly two years ago.
Following the arrest of dozens of activists and journalists in recent days, riot police backed by armoured vehicles yesterday took up positions in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's 2011 uprising, They also deployed on the ring road, downtown and at a square where hundreds of Islamist protesters were killed when security forces broke up their sit-in in August 2013.
Many of the protest organizers' gathering points were sealed off by police, including the doctors' and journalists' unions in central Cairo. Pedestrians near the Press Syndicate were stopped by police, who asked for IDs and about their destination before turning many of them away. Minivans loaded with plainclothes policemen were also deployed in the likely flashpoints.