'Go to Giza': Egyptian whistleblower Mohamed Ali calls for protest at pyramids
Tycoon-turned-whistleblower Mohamed Ali has urged Egyptians to protest on Friday at the country's iconic pyramids in Giza, a week after his videos led to widespread demonstrations calling for the fall of president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
"Our target doesn't have to be Tahrir Square," Ali said in a video released on Thursday evening. "Let's not clash with the officers. All Egypt is Tahrir Square."
'The entire world will have their cameras there'
- Mohamed Ali
"For example, the residents of the neighbourhoods around the pyramids, march on the pyramids and the Sphinx. There is no better place. It's spacious and comfortable to gather there. The entire world will have their cameras there."
Ali has also called on people to protest immediately following Friday prayers, in the same way that Egyptians had turned out in masses demanding the fall of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak on 28 January 2011, which was dubbed the 'Friday of Rage'.
The 43-year-old businessman has gained a popular following since he started posting videos in early September from self-exile in Spain, revealing what he says are details of state corruption.
His latest calls for protest came as Sisi returned to Egypt from the United States where he attended the United Nations General Assembly. Upon his arrival in Cairo, Sisi told a group of supporters who had gathered to greet him that they had “no need to worry” of a repeat of the 2011 uprisings.
"Why are you all up so early on a Friday? There's nothing to worry about at all. You must know that Egyptians have become so aware of how reality and facts are being fabricated. What happened before won't happen again," he told the crowd, which included journalists, a priest and a man with a turban worn by Al-Azhar scholars.
'Why are you all up so early on a Friday? There's nothing to worry about at all'
- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Several key metro stations leading to downtown Cairo have reportedly been shut down "for maintenance", a familiar state procedure when protests are expected.
An MEE correspondent in Cairo reports that pro-government rallies have been planned, including one in an area near Rabaa Square, organised by the pro-Sisi political party Nation's Future Party. Government employees will be transported to various locations by bus and provided with a meal.
Riot police have closed all roads leading to Tahrir Square, and all bridges leading from Tahrir Square to Giza, with heavy security presence in the downtown area, the correspondent says.
In a sermon at a local mosque, the imam preached about the "dangers of rumours", reading from a handout that was posted online by the Ministry of Endowment.
Another correspondent in Cairo reported heavy security outside Al-Salam Mosque in Nasr City, with police surrounding the mosque.
In the city of Mansoura, a correspondent said there is also a heavy police presence with security checkpoints set up around the entire Dakahalia governorate.
Football matches planned for Friday have been rescheduled for Saturday "for security reasons", the Egyptian Football Association announced in a tweet.
More than 2,000 arrested
Last Friday, protests calling for the fall of Sisi and the end of military rule erupted across several cities in Egypt following a Super Cup football match.
Eyewitness testimony and footage posted online showed Egyptian police violently quelling protesters and firing tear gas during anti-Sisi demonstrations.
In Suez, protesters told MEE that they fought back against the police.
“We started to gain more and more ground, until they had to flee to the side streets. We threw their tear gas canisters at them. They seemed shocked,” said Kareem, a 25-year-old student at Suez University.
Over the past week, more than 2,000 Egyptians have been arrested following the protests, the majority of whom are under the age of 25, according to the latest figures released by the Cairo-based Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.