Protests against Egypt-Saudi island deal indefinitely postponed

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Protests scheduled for Saturday against an Egyptian-Saudi Red Sea islands deal were “indefinitely postponed” as a court ruling changed the location of the protest from outside the cabinet headquarters to Fustat Garden, a spokesman for an Egyptian political coalition told Ahram Online Saturday.

The protests were to condemn a contentious April 2016 maritime border demarcation agreement between Cairo and Riyadh that would place the Egyptian-controlled Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir under Saudi Arabian sovereignty.

The postponed protests met a number of legal and bureaucratic obstacles, including being rescheduled from Wednesday, 11 January, to Saturday, 14 January, after officials at a local police station initially refused to receive the protest notification, which is mandated by law to deem the protest legal.

On Wednesday, a court for urgent matters issued the change of protest location ruling after Egypt’s interior minister, Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar, filed a change of location lawsuit, citing that the location would be difficult to secure.

Spokesman for Egypt’s Democratic Coalition, which comprises a number of leftist political parties, Khaled Dawoud said the coalition is appealing the change of location verdict.

“Meanwhile, we are calling for the public to attend the ruling session at the [high] administrative court on Monday [16 January],” Dawoud stated.

The parties that called for the protest include the Egyptian Popular Current, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Dostour Party, and the Karama Party.

According to a controversial 2013 law, authorities have to receive notification 72 hours prior to a protest, else it would be deemed illegal and those participating in it are liable to prison terms and heavy fines.

Last week, shortly after the cabinet’s decision to approve the Red Sea islands deal and refer it to parliament, 12 people were arrested for illegally protesting against the decision near the Journalists Syndicate in Downtown Cairo.

The maritime border demarcation deal sparked widespread public outcry and a number of protests. Dozens of protesters stood trial for demonstrating without permits. Most have been released from jail after paying hefty fines.

Egypt’s High Administrative Court has set 16 January 2017 to rule on the government’s appeal against an earlier June ruling by an administrative court halting implementation of the deal.

Source: Ahram Online

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