The controversial agreement that gave away the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia has led to massive criticism and outrage among the Egyptians. Critics, journalists, and activists accused Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of “selling Egypt” to Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid.
In response, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protests on April 15 (Land Day) and April 25 (Sinai Liberation Day) against the agreement, calling for the “Downfall of the Regime.” The demonstrations were the first huge movement against the al-Sisi regime that included different political affiliations and groups. The Egyptian security forces led arrest campaigns of activists and journalists who opposed the transfer of the islands.
The Egyptian courts have fined tens of the protesters while others were handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years. In addition, a court sentenced seven defendants to eight years in prison each and fined them.
On the other hand, al-Sisi defended the agreement in a televised speech in April, saying that “Egypt does not sell its land to anyone and it does not take anyone’s land.” Moreover, the Egyptian cabinet assured in a statement that the strategic islands are Saudi, adding that Saudi Arabia requested Egypt to protect them in 1950, and they have been under Egypt’s control since then.