CAIRO: At least 239 people were arrested in different governorates during protests Monday against the transfer of sovereignty of two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia that accused the regime of selling the country’s land.
The figure was the latest update provided by the Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters late Monday; however including a number of names that were announced released.
Included on the list were three French journalists, F. Hume-Ferkatadji, Jenna Le Bras and Samuel Forey. A Danish journalist Stephan Weichert was also said to have been detained; all later reported via their Twitter accounts, that they had been released.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported Monday that at least 17 journalists were detained; while the Al-Bedaiah news website announced spotting some 46 journalists were arrested, from which seven remain in detention so far.
Basma Mostafa, a Dot-Masr Journalist, was reportedly arrested near Tahrir Square; her husband Karim Abdel Rady, a lawyer at the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said later on his social media accounts that she had been released along with another journalist.
Activists and journalists reported on social media that security forces blocked all streets leading to the Journalists’ Syndicate, one of the gathering points of the opposing protests, although pro-government demonstrators were allowed to stand around the syndicate.
A tweet by Photojournalist Roger Anis showing intensive security measures blocking all streets leading to Journalists’ Syndicate
— ROGER ANIS (@Rogeranis) April 25, 2016
The Journalist’s Syndicate is set to hold an emergency meeting Tuesday to discuss attempts by security forces and pro-Sisi demonstrators to storm the headquarters, assaults and arrests of journalists, according to Mahmoud Kamel, a Syndicate Board member, on his Facebook page.
In a Monday statement, the syndicate demanded the Interior Ministry and security agencies “to rapidly release journalists who are still in detention,” saying that “police’s role is to protect journalists…not to arrest them.”
Around 100 youth are detained at Dokki police station, according to Lawyer Mohamed Eissa who stood outside the police station for over nine hours without being allowed to even know the names of the detainees inside, according to his social media account.
Forces reportedly dispersed gatherings in Dokki district using tear gas bombs.
On the other hand, demostrators supporting the decision to move control on the uninhabited islands of Sanafir and Tiran to the Kingdom also gathered repeating supporting chants, carrying Saudi flag and pictures of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Monday demonstrations defending Egypt’s ownership of the islands came on coincidence with the anniversary of the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from Sinai in 1982.
Sisi has also faced a wide public backlash over the decision to declare the islands Saudi territory, forcing him to speak and defend the decision, denying that he had “sold” any of the country’s land.
Since then, activists have been sharing documents on social media, arguing the two Islands were originally Egyptian, and not, as government claims, only under Egypt’s control per a Saudi request.
On April 15, thousands of protesters took to the streets, in one of the largest gatherings the country has seen in more than two years. Dozens have been randomly arrested from cafes and in house raids since on suspicion of organizing protests.
In both protests this month, although the second was said to be smaller after curbed by forces, social media took the lead in updating news about protests, point of gatherings and number of arrests.
Sisi has previously warned against “evil forces” trying to destabilize the country, urging Egyptians not to trust or depend on social media as source of information and news.