Outraged Egyptians take to Twitter to demand army statement after sweeping pro-democracy protest arrests

Outraged Egyptians take to Twitter to demand army statement after sweeping pro-democracy protest arrests
A hashtag which translates to 'where is the army's statement' emerged on Egypt's Twittersphere.
2 min read
21 September, 2019
Protests broke out Friday evening [AFP]

Egyptians online are demanding an end to the army's silence after dozens were arrested in the wake of anti-Sisi protests on Friday evening.

Hundreds of Egyptians took to Cairo's Tahrir Square demanding the resignation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, prompting authorities to carry out sweeping arbitrary arrests across the country.

But despite the developments, both the army and Sisi have so far remained silent – with the president himself continuing a trip to New York to speak at the United Nations General Assembly.

A hashtag which translates to “where is the army’s statement” emerged in Egypt, where people demanded the army breaks its silence on Friday's assault on pro-democracy demonstrators.

“If this country has a leader, appear and let us hear your voice”, one user tweeted.

“We are waiting, oh army”, another user said.

“Where is the army’s statement? Where? #LeaveSisi” an activist said on Twitter.

Users that appear to be spam bots have infiltrated the hashtag, with accounts that have only been active for less than a day tweeting in support of the army.

“The army are our brothers and neighbours” one account tweeted.

The demonstration came in response to calls for protests by a self-exiled Egyptian businessman who recently claimed large-scale corruption by the military and government.

Security forces attempted to break up the gathering in Cairo, with skirmishes taking place between police and protesters in the roads leading up to Tahrir Square.

Protesters were seen on videos posted to social media calling for Sisi's resignation, as well as chanting: "The people demand the overthrow of the regime" - a chant popularised during the Arab Spring protests of 2011.

Tear gas was deployed by police in the roads leading to the square to disperse protesters who were chanting anti-Sisi slogans, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language service.

"The numbers of those arrested across a number of demonstrations in Cairo are between 400-500," lawyer Amr Imam, who was an eyewitness, told The New Arab's Arabic site.

Civil rights group the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms also confirmed that dozens were arrested in the capital city.

The group, which documents arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances in Egypt, urged protesters to get in touch if they witnessed any arrests.

Regime forces also made arrests in a number of cities that saw protests, including Alexandria, Al-Mahalla and Suez, sources told The New Arab. 

Demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi. 

Under the rule of general-turned-president Sisi, who led Morsi's ouster, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.

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