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October 19, 2019
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Huge protests erupt against Sisi in Egypt

CAIRO, Egypt: Thousands of protesters marched in cities across Egypt on Friday, demanding the resignation of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting “rise up, fear not, Sisi must go” and “the people demand the regime’s fall” late on Friday.

Protests were also reported in the capital Cairo.

Officers in civilian uniforms confronted the demonstrators who tried approaching Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where mass protests started in 2011 which toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Scores of people were arrested in the capital and tear gas being used on demonstrators.

The protesters came after self-exiled Egyptian businessman and actor Mohamed Ali accused President el-Sisi of corruption and called on people to take to the streets and demand the leader be removed. El-Sisi has dismissed the allegations as “lies”.

“If el-Sisi does not announce his resignation by Thursday, then the Egyptian people will come out to the squares on Friday in protest,” Ali said in a video posted on Tuesday.

Ali first began posting his videos on September 2. His latest videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times and has turned him into a public figure in his homeland.

In a video on Friday that was published as protests were gaining momentum, Ali encouraged people to stand strong and continue demanding their rights.

“God is great… enough already, I want to come back to Egypt. I miss Egypt and my people. May God strengthen your resolve,” he said.

Yehia Ghanem, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst, said he “definitely” believes Friday’s protests represent a different level of momentum among Egyptians.

“What is happening in Egypt now is a long-overdue movement to rid the country from tyranny,” he said.

Friday’s protests were a rare public display of dissent in the country. Egypt outlawed all unauthorised demonstrations in 2013 after el-Sisi, as defence minister, led the military’s overthrow of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests.

Since el-Sisi came to power, economic austerity measures have been introduced, helping to reboot an economy battered by the 2011 Arab Spring.

The poverty rate has soared. According to official statistics released in July, one in three Egyptians lives in poverty.

Political experts say Friday’s protests were very different from the ones in 2011.