Hundreds of Egyptians staged protests in Cairo and other cities against President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, as #TahrirSquare hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter shortly after the protests began.
Rare protests broke out on Friday in Cairo and other Egyptian cities calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah el Sisi but police quickly responded to them.
Dozens of people joined night-time demonstrations around Tahrir Square – the epicentre of the 2011 revolution that toppled the country's long-time autocratic leader.
Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of the country's first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.
TRT World spoke to Safei-Eldin Hamed of the Center for Egyptian American Relations for his analysis.
Amid a heavy security presence, including riot police and plainclothes police officers, protesters were rounded up.
Several protesters were arrested and police fired tear gas at demonstrators around the square.
Under the rule of general-turned-president Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of opposition as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.
Footage of the demonstrations, in which dozens chant "Leave Sisi", was shared online using the hashtag #TahrirSquare, which was trending worldwide.
Tear gas canisters thrown at fleeing protestors in #Alexandria #Egypt #ارحل_يا_سيسي #جمعة_الغضبpic.twitter.com/lDtKtukEsE— Asma (@LibyanBentBladi) September 21, 2019
Along the road overlooking the Nile, close to the square, AFP journalists reported seeing small groups of people chanting anti-Sisi slogans after the rapid dispersal.
The protests come on the back of Mohamed Ali, a disgruntled exiled Egyptian businessman, demanding the toppling of Sisi.
The construction contractor has been posting viral videos from Spain since the beginning of September, accusing Sisi and the military of rampant corruption.
Sisi flatly denied the allegations last week at a youth conference assuring Egyptians he "was honest and faithful" to his people and the military.
More from Egypt tonight, because, wow. This is Mahalla which you could argue is where the Arab Spring really began, on April 6, 2008. pic.twitter.com/n5JRqZrZge— Liz Sly (@LizSly) September 20, 2019
In his latest video posted early Friday morning on his growing social media accounts, Ali urged Egyptians to head to the streets after a highly anticipated football match between Cairo powerhouses Al Ahly and Zamalek in the Super Cup.
Widely shared videos online have also shown scattered protests varying in numbers in Alexandria, Al-Mahalla, Damietta, and Suez.
The ouster of Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed Morsi became the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history by winning the first post-revolution presidential election in 2012.
In 2013, Morsi said the Egyptian uprising that broke out on Jan. 25, 2011 “achieved – and will continue to achieve – its goals.”
However, he went on to warn the public of covert attempts to "steal" the uprising and subvert its goals.
On June 30, 2013, tens of thousands of people – egged on by the media – took part in anti-Morsi demonstrations, while Morsi’s followers hit the streets in support of the embattled president.
Three days later, the army ousted and imprisoned Morsi in a coup led by then-Defense Minister Sisi.
The following year, Sisi was elected president.
Following Morsi’s ouster, the authorities launched a relentless crackdown on political dissent, killing or imprisoning thousands of Morsi’s supporters and members of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Dozens of youth were also given the death penalty for "politically-motivated" charges and violence took place after the coup.
Morsi died in June while standing trial for similar politically motivated charges.
Eight years on, however, protesters’ demands for “bread, freedom and social justice” have gone largely unmet, according to critics of Egypt’s current regime.