Mass arrests in Egypt to quell anti-government protests

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

ISTANBUL / CAIRO (AA) – At least 20 opposition figures and academics have been arrested across Egypt amid a wider crackdown on dissidents, opposition sources said Wednesday.

The string of arrests came ahead of planned Friday protests against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who came to power in 2014 after a coup which ousted the country's first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. Morsi died earlier this year during trial after spending several years in custody.

Last week, hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against rising economic hardships due to ongoing austerity measures.

Nour Farhat, a professor of law, said in a Facebook post that on Tuesday evening academic Hazim Housni was arrested and his whereabouts are still unknown.

Farhat demanded his immediate release and access to lawyers.

The Istiklal Party, which is backing anti-government protests, said in a statement that 20 senior members of the party have been arrested including Magdy Qorqor, the secretary general.

Expat opposition figures also confirmed arrests.

Hamza Zouba, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, said Hasan Nafaa has also been arrested. Nafaa was taking part in popular Arab Spring protests against Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled the country for nearly three decades.

Anadolu Agency was unable to get a comment from Egyptian authorities on the arrests.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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