Exiled businessman Mohamed Ali urges post-Friday prayer protests across Egypt

Exiled businessman Mohamed Ali urges post-Friday prayer protests across Egypt
Mohamed Ali, whose viral videos revealed alleged corruption in Sisi's government, has told protesters to avoid Tahrir Square.
3 min read
27 September, 2019
Mohamed Ali has rallied protesters against alleged corruption [YouTube]
An exiled Egyptian businessman whose viral videos sparked protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for fresh protests after Friday prayers this week.

Mohamed Ali, a former military contractor now living in self-imposed exile in Spain, became "more popular than Netflix" in Egypt this month after releasing a series of viral videos that uncovered allegedly endemic corruption in Sisi's government and military.

Sisi and his military appropriated millions of dollars worth of public funds to build luxurious palaces and villas, Ali alleged.

The allegations inspired thousands of people to protest on the streets of Cairo, Suez, Damietta and other Egyptian cities on Friday and Saturday last week.

The rare displays of dissent against President Sisi, whose regime has presided has put a chokehold on protests over the past few years, have sparked a mass arrest campaign.

More than 2,000 people have been detained since Friday, according to the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights. 

Official figures put the number of arrests at 1,000 people.

In a new video released on Thursday night, Ali reitirated his call made earlier this week for a "million-man" protest on Friday.

Rather than taking to the streets at night as they did last week, demonstrators should protest after the afternoon Friday prayers, he said.

Read more: Something had to give in Egypt

While it is not possible to know whether demonstrators will heed Ali's call - or whether protesters will gather at all, given the scale of the crackdown so far - those that did protest last Friday did so at the time designated by the exiled businessman.

Ali also urged protesters to avoid gathering in Tahrir Square, the central Cairo landmark that became global household name after Egypt's 2011 revolution.

Instead, demonstrators should gather in a variety of locations, he said, including at the "feet of the pyramids" in Giza.

The Egyptian police have reportedly stepped up their presence in central Cairo and particularly around Tahrir Square in recent days, where they have been accused of conducting random, illegal searches of the mobile phones of passers-by.

Fear caused by the extent of repression in Sisi's Egypt is one of the few things preventing the country from erupting into full-scale revolt against Sisi, Dalia Fahmy, Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University and Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Policy Change, told The New Arab on Thursday.

"Since coming to power, Sisi has consolidated power around himself, choking any voices of dissent. He has eliminated political parties… independent media but moreover has arrested many activists. The 2011-era 'Generation Protest' is now known as 'Generation Jail' according to Amnesty International," she explained.

"Sisi has [detained] 60,000 political prisoners, there have been mass arrests, forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings. Sisi has created such a culture of fear. The average Egyptian cannot risk the high cost of attending a protest."

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