Over 100 people were arrested over the weekend for opposition activity, according to lawyers and people close to the detainees who spoke to Mada Masr.
One hundred and fourteen people were arrested from locations in Cairo and Alexandria on Friday for participating in demonstrations held in solidarity with Palestine, said Mohamed Lotfy, head of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Further arrests were also made at dawn on Saturday and Sunday.
Another two people were arrested on Saturday in relation to their roles in the now-closed campaign of presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawi, according to campaign manager Mohamed Aboul Diyar.
Of the 114 arrested for protesting, 70 people were arrested in Alexandria and 44 people were arrested in Cairo, said Lotfy, telling Mada Masr that the ECRF had received calls to report the arrests. Some protesters, including Samy al-Gendy from Helwan and Mohamed Aboul Maged from Boulaq, were arrested by security forces who conducted raids and took them from their homes.
As of yet, it is unclear what awaits those detained for protesting. Some of those arrested in Cairo are due to be presented on Sunday to the Supreme State Security Prosecution, said lawyer Hoda Abel Wahab of the Arab Center for the Independence of Judges and the Legal Profession, who is acting in their defense. The prosecution could either decide to hold them pending investigation, or give orders for their release.
Others in Alexandria were released shortly after their arrest, said defense lawyer Mahienour al-Massry, adding that it’s not yet clear how many are still being held in detention facilities.
Friday’s protests were held after state-aligned parties and entities invited the public to attend demonstrations in designated areas to show solidarity with Palestine and support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s leadership during the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.
Crowds in Cairo, however, headed to Tahrir Square, where protests have not been seen for almost a decade, while chants at protests in Cairo and Alexandria refuted calls to endorse Sisi. Some of the protesters were arrested from the scene and security forces instructed the crowds to go back home.
“The same authorities that called for citizens to demonstrate in support of the Palestinian people were arresting some of those who participated in these demonstrations, and some of their homes were raided without reason or justification,” said a statement issued Sunday by the campaign of presidential candidate and Social Democratic Party head Farid Zahran.
“We call on the relevant authorities to immediately release all who were arrested in recent days,” Zahran’s campaign continued.
Diyar, meanwhile, told Mada Masr that police officers arrested two members of Tantawi’s campaign for nomination — Abdel Gawad and Ahmed Aboul Azm — from the street in Qalyubia, where the two men were walking after attending a mutual friend’s wedding.
Beshoy Tawfiq Saad, a member of the campaign office and its youth secretary, was also arrested at dawn on Saturday, according to Diyar, who also told Mada Masr that 142 people have been arrested in total for participating in Tantawi’s campaign.
Since Tantawi announced his intention to campaign to qualify as a presidential candidate on the December ballot, his efforts have been plagued with security harassment and arrests. Members of Tantawi’s family were arrested before the campaign launched, while participants faced arrest throughout the course of campaigning and supporters seeking to endorse Tantawi’s nomination were subject to harassment by Sisi’s supporters, obstructing them from registering that they backed the opposition contender.
*The number of people arrested on Friday has been corrected from 103 to 114 after publication.