Hundreds gather at Egyptian Journalists’ Union to protest Saudi islands deal

Hundreds of protesters converged on the Journalists’ Union building in downtown Cairo on 13 June, as Egypt’s parliament prepared to discuss a the controversial decision by the military regime to sell the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia. Security forces stormed the building and seized at least six protesters, according to reports from Egyptian activists.

Well-known laywer Khaled Ali, who is also the leader of the left-wing Bread and Freedom party, took part in the protest. Ali was one of a group of lawyers who challenged the decision to sell Tiran and Sanafir in court, winning a rare victory after a judge ruled that the sale would be unconstitutional. In a speech broadcast on Facebook, he said:

We will defend Tiran and Sanafir as Egyptian, whatever the obstacles and challenges. Egyptian will remain free and independent.”

Ali is among many activists to have been recently targeted by the Sisi regime. He was summoned for questioning by police on 22 May. Many young activists from his Bread and Freedom party have been seized in dawn raids or summoned by the police for questioning in recent weeks. Local independent news website Mada Masr reports that activists from other parties and organisations including the Dostour Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6 Youth Movement have also been targeted by the police in the recent series of raids.

The crackdown on opposition groups has also extended to the media. Independent news website Mada Masr was  recently blocked by the Egyptian security forces and as the police assault on the Journalists’ Union unfolded, the Revolutionary Socialists said that the security forces had also forced their website offline.