Egypt President Sisi Warns of Action against Anti-Government Protests

Egypt President Sisi Warns of Action against Anti-Government Protests
Sun Apr 24, 2016 20:41:01

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has warned that security forces will respond firmly to planned anti-government demonstrations over his decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia.

"I see there are people calling once again for damage to (Egypt's) security and stability," Sisi said in a televised speech on Sunday, adding,"Our responsibility is to protect security and stability, and I promise Egyptians that no one will terrorize them again."

He also called on people to defend the country against the “forces of evil” a day before the protest, noting that the North African country should remain stable and that efforts to degrade it “won’t be successful” if people stand united.

Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar also said that the country’s “security and stability... constitute a red line and no attempt to damage them will be tolerated.”

"Security services... will confront with extreme rigor any attempt to disturb public order," he added.

The remarks came as people are expected to take to streets across the country on Monday, in defiance to a ban on unauthorized protests, to express their opposition to the president’s recent decision to hand over the control of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Protests against the agreement first broke out on April 15, with protesters setting out from 30 mosques in Cairo after Friday prayers.

Egyptian police have made dozens of arrests, including 56 people in Cairo, over the past few days ahead of the Monday protests.

The Egyptian government has been under fire since it announced in a statement on April 9 that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall within the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia based on a maritime border agreement signed with Riyadh the previous day.

Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the opposition Egyptian Popular Current, has already filed a 10-page complaint at a Cairo administrative court over the contentious deal. He said he had documents that prove the islands are Egyptian territory and cannot be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

Tiran Island is located at the entrance of the Straits of Tiran, which separate the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba. Its strategic significance lies in the fact that it is an important sea passage to the major ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel.

Israel briefly took over the island during the Suez Crisis in late 1956, and once more between 1967 and 1982 following the Six Day War.

Sanafir Island is in the east of Tiran Island, and measures 33 square kilometers (13 square miles) in area.

The ownership of the two islands was handed to Egyptian control in 1982, when Tel Aviv and Cairo signed the so-called Camp David peace accords, Press TV reported.

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