Egyptian state security forces detained dozens of young people in the early hours of Tuesday, 3 October, in Marsa Matrouh province who protested against the deteriorating decade-long socioeconomic conditions, hours after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced his intention to run for a third term in forthcoming December elections.2
“Demonstrations broke out in Alexandria street, the major commercial street in the northwestern capital city [also named Marsa Matrouh] against the rising prices and human rights abuses we have been surviving, following a concert of a popular singer,” a local tribal source told The New Arab on condition of anonymity.
“Both Mostaqbal Watan (A Nation’s Future) party and Homat Watan (Homeland’s Defenders) party [known for being loyal to the Sisi’s regime] had earlier gathered thousands of young people to attend the concert as part of an event intended to commemorate the memory of the October War,” the source explained.
“Boxes of groceries and money gifts were distributed among the attendees after the concert, as tribal leaders and senior members of the two parties gave speeches in support of Sisi’s nomination,” the source added. “At that moment, and, in less than 10 minutes, many of the young attendees flew into a rage, shouting anti-regime slogans against the rising prices of basic commodities and repressive security measures taken against the locals for months now.”
Egypt has been facing one of its most severe economic crises in modern history, with inflation hitting a record of nearly 37 per cent and rising prices of essential commodities that turned ordinary products into a luxury for most low and middle-income brackets.
“As security forces attempted to disperse the protests, tribal leaders talked to the authorities out of arresting protesters, promising to convince them to back off and end their riots,” another local source said, adding that before the dawn of Tuesday, “dozens were detained on their way home, either individually or in groups.”
While videos went viral of the protesters tearing up the pictures of Sisi, the interior ministry said in an official statement that “several young men had been arrested after in Marsa Matrouh after fighting over taking pictures with Libyan poets,” who seemingly attended the event, without elaborating further.
The coastal city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is known as a favourite local tourism hub.
The exact number of detainees remains unclear as no official comment has confirmed or denied the locals’ narrative.
They burned his picture. Dozens of residents of the city of Marsa Matrouh, northern #Egypt, demonstrated, chanting against #Sisi, demanding “the overthrow of the regime.”
— Dr.Sam Youssef Ph.D.,M.Sc.,DPT. (@drhossamsamy65) October 2, 2023
A growing state of discontent has been going on among the locals after the government forcibly confiscated lands they had lived in for decades in the province, located on the main highway from the Nile Delta to conflict-torn Libya.
Legally, the Bedouins of Marsa Matrouh mostly have no ownership rights. Instead, they have customary proprietorship with no legal document.
In July this year, a police officer was referred to a criminal court for allegedly shooting dead an Arab tribe member in an incident marred by contradictory accounts.
Local and international rights groups have frequently criticised the current regime of general-turned-president Sisi for overlooking the worst human rights record witnessed in the country’s modern history.