For the first time since the start of the 2011 Arab Spring, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday to call for the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose regime began in 2014.
Security forces used tear gas to disperse the mobs of protesters. Clashes took place in some cases. Demonstrations also took place elsewhere around the country, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), in Alexandria, Suez, and the town of Mahallah el Kubra, north of Cairo.
At least 74 arrests were made, the AFP news agency reported.
The protests were sparked by calls from Egyptian ex-pat actor and business leader Mohammed Ali, who posted videos on the internet accusing el-Sisi of corruption. “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 last week.
Mohammed Ali, who lives in Spain, has been posting the incitement since September 2, according to a report published Saturday by Al Masdar News, accusing the president of living in luxury while most Egyptians are poverty-stricken during a time in which the government has enacted fiscal austerity measures. El-Sisi has called the allegations “lies and slander.”
El-Sisi came to power with the ouster of a Muslim Brotherhood president after mass protests ended his single year of rule in 2013, just two years after former President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign by mass protests in Tahrir Square.