Egypt loosens security after thwarting calls for protests

Tahrir Square was reopened after it was blocked off by Egyptian security forces. (AFP)
Updated 28 September 2019

Egypt loosens security after thwarting calls for protests

  • The subway and Tahrir square are reopened
  • El-Sisi is warning against “deceitful” attempts to undermine his rule

CAIRO: Egypt has loosened security measures in the capital, Cairo, a day after it sealed off the main square and downtown thoroughfares to thwart a possible protest against the country’s president.
Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the pro-democracy uprising in 2011, was reopened Saturday to normal traffic, as were subway stations in the area that had been closed the day before.
Headlines in pro-government dailies ran comments from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi warning against “deceitful” attempts to discredit his rule.
Egypt has witnessed a harsh security clampdown following rare demonstrations in several cities last weekend, which were broken up by police.
Lawyers say more than 2,000 people have been arrested since then, though Egypt’s general prosecutor said his office has questioned no more than 1,000 people over the latest protests.


Al-Sistani calls for new election law as two more protesters killed in Baghdad

Updated 12 min 40 sec ago

Al-Sistani calls for new election law as two more protesters killed in Baghdad

  • Al-Sistani emphasized support for the demonstrators in his weekly religious sermon
  • His comments came as protesters called for large protests to take place on Friday

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s most influential Shiite religious leader called Friday for a new election law that would restore public confidence in the system and give voters the opportunity to bring “new faces” to power as two protesters were killed in ongoing confrontations with security forces in a central Baghdad square.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani emphasized support for the demonstrators in his weekly religious sermon, saying none of their demands have been met so far and that electoral reform should be a priority.
His comments came as two protesters were killed when police fired live ammunition and tear gas at hundreds of protesters who removed concrete barriers and streamed into Khilani Square, which has been at the center of clashes for the past days.
Friday’s deaths brought to three the number of protesters killed in the past 24 hours.
At least 320 people have been killed and thousands have been wounded since the unrest began on Oct. 1, when protesters took to the streets in the tens of thousands outraged by what they said was widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services despite the country’s oil wealth.
Demonstrations have mostly been taking place in Baghdad’s Tahrir and Khilani squares and the predominantly Shiite southern provinces, following tough measures by Iraqi security forces to calm down on protests.
The powerful cleric, who’s opinion holds major sway over Iraqis, said a fair electoral law should give voters the ability to replace current political leaders with “new faces.”
“Passing a law that does not give such an opportunity to voters would be unacceptable and useless,” he said in his weekly sermon Friday.
“If those in power think they can evade dealing with real reform by procrastination, they are mistaken,” Al-Sistani said. “What comes after the protests is not the same as before, so be careful,” he warned.
He said corruption among the ruling elite has reached “unbearable limits” while large segments of the population are finding it increasingly impossible to have their basic needs met while top leaders “share the country’s wealth among themselves and disregard each other’s corruption.”
“People did not go out to demonstrations calling for reform in this unprecedented way, and do not continue to do so despite the heavy price and grave sacrifices it requires, except because they found no other way to revolt against the corruption which is getting worse day after day, and the rampant deterioration on all fronts,” he said.
On Monday, Al-Sistani said he backed a roadmap by the UN mission in Iraq aimed at meeting the demands of the protesters, but expressed concern that political parties were not serious about carrying out the proposed reforms.