Egypt on 'high alert' ahead of planned protests during COP27
Egypt has been placed on a 'state of high alert' after activists urged Egyptians to take to the streets on 11 November to protest against deteriorating economic and human rights conditions and Sisi's political policies.
Protests against President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's Egyptian regime are expected to occur during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP 27, which will be held at a Sharm El-Sheikh resort in South Sinai from 6-18 November.
Security measures have already been implemented as of last week to identify would-be protesters. Plain-clothed police have been checking IDs and searching mobile phones of suspected activists, mainly their social media accounts, on the streets of Cairo and other cities in the country.
Police in downtown Cairo have started stopping pedestrians to check the contents of their mobile phones. This has become a usual measure around the month of Jan when we approach the anniversary of the uprising. Apparently this year it's happening earlier courtesy of #COP27— Sanaa (@sana2) October 18, 2022
"Protests are not likely to be dispersed by security force with hostility for being held during the COP 27, which puts the regime in a real dilemma," a high-level security source told The New Arab on condition of anonymity.
He also remarked that there are differences inside the security apparatus over what to do.
According to the source, the interior ministry is reluctant to use excessive violence against protesters, fearing that it will antagonise the masses like during 28 January 2011 dubbed 'the Friday of Fury,' when protesters outpowered police forces, causing them to withdraw from the streets during the revolution.
A joint operation room involving senior officers from the ministry of interior and Egypt's intelligence agencies has been following the situation while the ministry's cybercrime division has been monitoring activities on social media accounts of activists, politicians and sympathisers of the now illegal Muslim Brotherhood group.
Egypt's social media is witnessing some calls for protests on 11.11 as the country hosts #COP27. Gov't reacted as usual by hysterical checkpoints in vital streets arbitrarily picking ppl to open their phones for unlawful checks into their contents. pic.twitter.com/h7C8ztFHs8— Amr Magdi (@ganobi) October 20, 2022
It remains unclear whether Egyptians will go down the street given the heavy legal restrictions imposed over the past decade, namely anti-protest and anti-terrorism laws, that curbed protests.
In 2013, interim President Adly Mansour ratified the anti-protest law, which banned gatherings and protests without prior written consent from the authorities. Since then, hundreds of activists have been detained or sentenced to prison under this notorious law.
Since taking power in 2014, Sisi has governed the country with an iron fist and has frequently been accused of overseeing "the worst crackdown on human rights, freedom of expression, and media in Egypt's modern history" by local and international rights groups.