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Banned movement plans protest in Cairo over islands deal

April 6 movement calls for Friday rally in Tahrir Square, claiming Egyptian ownership of islands given to Saudi Arabia was 'won by blood, not maps'
An Egyptian supporter of the April 6 movement during a march towards the Superior Court building on 6 April, 2013 (AFP)

A mass demonstration against the handing over of two islands to Saudi Arabia is being planned in Egypt by the country’s banned April 6 youth movement.

Under the banner “Over our dead bodies” the rally will congregate on Tahrir Square after setting off from 30 different mosques after Friday prayers, organisers have said.

The April 6 group was formed in 2008 and mobilised to protest against then-president Hosni Murbarak. Since then it has been designated a terrorist organisation by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and many of its leaders are behind bars awaiting trial.

Egypt handed over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia in a deal announced last week. The move was criticised by many as being illegal.

“Our right to this land is won by blood, not by documents and maps,” wrote organisers on the event’s Facebook page, which shows images of Egyptian soldiers in Tiran on 6 June, 1967.

“We gave more than 100,000 martyrs in our wars with Israel to restore this land. Tiran and Sanafir are our right, Egypt’s right, the right of our children and of our ancestors who were killed there. This right must be returned, even over our dead bodies.”

Translation from April 6: Remove your political affiliation before you go down tomorrow. You are an Egyptian refusing the sale of your land

Translation: I didn’t vote for Sisi - we will go down and remove him tomorrow #OverOurDeadBodies

The Muslim Brotherhood, banned in Egypt alongside the April 6 Movement, has also protested the move by President Sisi.

"The Muslim Brotherhood hereby declares unequivocally that no one has the right to abandon the property and resources of the Egyptian people in exchange for a fistful of dollars, or in exchange for support for government policies sanctioning murder, detentions, violations, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings," the movement said in a statement.

It is not clear, however, whether the Muslim Brotherhood will have a showing at Friday's planned protests.

Hamdeen Sabahi, the former presidential candidate who ran against Sisi in elections in 2014, has announced that he will take part in the demonstrations.

The Revolutionary Socialist movement also plans to take part in the planned protests, as do al-Dustour (the Constitution party) and the Popular Current party.

The April 6 group has also been protesting against the islands deal outside universities in the country.

The Interior Ministry told Egyptian news site al-Bawaba that it had not received any official requests to hold protests, either in Cairo or any of the provinces, and stressed that it would enforce the anti-protest law on “anyone disturbing public safety".