Protests against Egypt’s Red Sea islands transfer to Saudi Arabia

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Cairo, April 15 (IANS) Hundreds of Egyptians gathered Friday afternoon outside the press syndicate here to protest against the official transfer of two controversial islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

The protesters chanted slogans against giving up what they believe to be “Egyptian territory” to the oil-rich kingdom, claiming the Egyptian leadership gave up Tiran and Sanafir islands in return for Saudi aid, reported Xinhua.

Meanwhile, police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters in Cairo, nearby Giza and coastal Alexandria cities, while some protesters were reportedly arrested.

Police warned citizens on Thursday against taking part in the protests after the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group announced participation, yet liberal activists joined the Friday protests outside the press syndicate here.

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Last Saturday, the cabinet announced, during Saudi King Salman’s visit to Cairo, a maritime border demarcation accord that put the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir in Saudi waters.

The transfer of the two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia has triggered criticism against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Seen as Saudi political and economic support for Egypt, the king’s visit saw the signing of investment agreements worth $25 billion with the most populous Arab country.

Saudi and Egyptian officials said Tiran and Sanafir belong to the kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Saudi Arabia asked Egypt in 1950 to protect them.

The agreement will be referred to the parliament to be debated and ratified.

On Sunday, several Facebook and Twitter pages under title “The land is honor,” have been launched.

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The Brotherhood, group of the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi has issued a statement on Thursday urging people to protest across the country.

The interior ministry on Thursday urged Egyptians “not to get carried away by tendentious calls for protests” and warned against “any attempts to break the law.”

The ministry added in a statement that it would take “all decisive legal measures” to maintain security.

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