Egyptian security forces are preparing to launch an extensive campaign of arrests ahead of the eighth anniversary of the 25 January revolution.
According to Egyptian security sources, the campaign will target members of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as liberal and left-wing opposition movements. It is expected to be focussed on governorates close to Egyptian capital Cairo, especially Beni Suef and Faiyum – where the Muslim Brotherhood is popular – as well as Giza governorate, with a special focus on youth and university students.
The Ministry of Interior also plans to raise the terror alert in order to avoid any protests inspired by France’s recent “Yellow Vests” protests, the New Khalij reported. This will include inspecting social media to monitor any calls for demonstrations, as well as expanding surveillance.
A few days ago, Reuters quoted sources from the internal intelligence service as saying there is extreme caution about the potential for protests, with industrial equipment dealers in Cairo prevented from selling yellow vests.
A shop assistant in downtown Cairo explained, “They prevented us from selling [yellow vests], and said that the ban will continue until after January 25,” which marks the eighth anniversary of the revolution that overthrew then-President Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power as part of the Arab Spring.
Another shop assistant said, “They forced us to sign declarations to prevent the sale of yellow vests”, adding that “whoever sells a vest will be in big trouble.”
Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power following a military coup in July 2013, the authorities have arrested thousands of regime opponents, including Islamists, jurists, and others.
According to Amnesty International, the crackdown on freedom of expression has reached alarming new levels unparalleled in Egypt’s recent history under Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rule.
“It is currently more dangerous to criticize the government in Egypt than at any time in the country’s recent history. Egyptians living under al-Sisi are treated as criminals simply for peacefully expressing their opinions,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.
“The security services have been ruthless in clamping down on any remaining political, social or even cultural independent spaces. These measures, more extreme than anything seen in former President Hosni Mubarak’s repressive 30-year rule, have turned Egypt into an open-air prison for critics.”