Egypt has been the scene of mass protests against the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the past week, with demonstrators defying heavy-handed police crackdown across the North African country and demanding his resignation.
The protests continued across Egyptian cities and rural areas for the seventh consecutive day on Saturday over corruption and deteriorating living conditions in the country, with protesters holding placards and chanting slogans against Sisi’s government.
The demonstrations, which regularly start after noon prayers, have over the past days drawn thousands of people to the Egyptian capital of Cairo, and the governorates of Giza, Damietta on the Nile Delta and Luxor in southern Egypt.
The rallies came a year after a limited protest movement was launched by Mohamed Ali, a prominent opposition figure and a former military contractor who accused Sisi’s government of wasting money on lavish construction projects.
The protests last year sparked a wide-ranging crackdown by Egypt’s police and security forces, with Amnesty International saying at least 4,000 people had been arrested during the unrest.
Ali, who is living in exile, called on Egyptians in a video posted on Facebook last week to take to the streets across the country again, saying, “This is our chance to liberate our country.”
“Every day, our numbers are rising. There is no difference between Christian and Muslim … secular or liberal, we are the people of Egypt,” he added, urging people to participate in the nationwide rallies.
Security services tried to pre-empt the latest wave of protests by launching a campaign of arrests that included political figures and high-profile activists.
Local online news outlet Mada Masr reported that at least 150 people had appeared before the state security prosecutor, including 14 minors, this week.
Several videos were also posted online, purportedly showing security forces firing live bullets to disperse angry protesters in Egypt.
Media reports said at least one protester was killed on Friday after thousands of people defied a police crackdown to demonstrate against Sisi’s government.
The victim, identified as Sami Wagdy Bashir, 25, was killed in al-Blida village in the Giza governorate, and three others were also wounded.
Egyptian nationals also staged anti-Sisi demonstrations in other cities across the world, including in Milan, Amsterdam and Sydney. The German city of Munich was also due to host a mass rally on Sunday.
Egypt declared as unauthorized all demonstrations in 2013 after Sisi, as defense minister, led a military coup and ousted democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptian authorities have since imprisoned and prosecuted thousands of people, intensifying a nationwide crackdown on critical voices.