Middle East

Egypt’s Brotherhood, prominent leftist call for rallies

Protest calls follow parliamentary approval of deal that would see Egypt cede two islands to Saudi Arabia

15.06.2017
Egypt’s Brotherhood, prominent leftist call for rallies CAIRO, EGYPT - JUNE 13: A group of journalists stage a protest against approval of a maritime border demarcation agreement that transfers the sovereignty over two Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, in front of the headquarters of the Journalists' Union in Cairo, Egypt on June 13, 2017.The Egyptian parliament’s legislative and constitutional committee on Tuesday approved a maritime border demarcation agreement signed in April of last year between Cairo and Riyadh. Under the agreement’s terms, sovereignty over two Red Sea islands -- Tiran and Sanafir -- would be transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. The deal was approved by most committee members, with 35 lawmakers voting in favor and eight against. ( Ahmed Al Sayed - Anadolu Agency )

By Rabie al-Sukkari and Mustafa Eid

CAIRO

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and a former leftist presidential candidate are urging Egyptians to take to the streets Friday to protest parliament's approval of a controversial border demarcation agreement that would see sovereignty over two Red Sea islands transferred from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

“Egyptians must stand united against this agreement,” Hamdeen Sabbahi, who unsuccessfully ran in Egypt’s first post-coup presidential poll in 2014, declared at a news conference on Wednesday evening at the Cairo headquarters of the leftist Egyptian Democratic Party.

He called on members of the public to hold demonstrations in public squares across the country following Friday prayers to “express our rejection of the current regime” of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Following Wednesday’s press conference, Sabbahi led a protest march -- accompanied by dozens of journalists and activists -- near Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square (located close to Egypt’s iconic Tahrir Square) that was quickly dispersed by security forces.

Shortly afterward, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, too, issued calls for “a Friday of rage” against the maritime border demarcation agreement.

“We’re calling for a renewed wave of protests against al-Sisi and his putschist regime,” according to a statement issued by the group.

When serving as defense minister in 2012, al-Sisi led a military coup that saw Mohamed Morsi -- Egypt’s first freely-elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader -- ousted and imprisoned.

In the wake of the coup, the Brotherhood was officially banned and dubbed a “terrorist group” by Egypt’s post-coup regime.

On Wednesday, Egypt's parliament approved the border demarcation agreement, which was initially signed last year between Cairo and Riyadh.

If implemented, the deal would effectively transfer sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands -- Tiran and Sanafir -- from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

The move comes despite widespread popular opposition and a January ruling by Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court that rejected the islands’ proposed transfer to Saudi Arabia.

In April of last year, Cairo first announced plans to transfer the two islands, located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba between Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, to Saudi ownership.

News of the deal prompted a public outcry amid accusations that al-Sisi was “selling” Egyptian territory to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which since the 2013 coup has given billions of dollars to Egypt to shore up the country’s ailing economy.

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