Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in several cities in Egypt in a rare demonstration of dissent against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Late on Friday, demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo and sang slogans such as "The People Demand the Fall of the Regime" and "Leave Sisi" and repeat the songs that were heard in the same place more than eight years ago and have overturned the longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
Hundreds of people marched to the coast in Alexandria While protesters demolished a large placard by the president in the port city of Damietta, a former general who led a large-scale raid arrested thousands of dissidents and banned protests
The protests came as Sisi traveled to the United States to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
Here's what you need to know about Friday's protests:
Protests have been reported in at least eight cities with the largest crowd in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.
Videos and photos of the protests were shared on social media under the #Tahrir_Square hashtag, which was in fashion worldwide on Friday.
– Francesca Cicardi (@FraCicardi) September 20, 2019
إسكندرية يا دولة ….
أنا منالبلادي …
دي يل حاجة عندنا ….
مسيرات بعشراتال رنيش …
تعرف تعد لغاية كام يا سيسي? # ندعو_الجيش_بلاش_دم_تاني # السيسي_بيفرفر # ارحل_يا_سيسي # ارحل_ياسيسي # الشعب_يريد_اسقاط_النظام # ميدان_التحرير pic.twitter .com / tY5yp0Elbe
– Haytham Abokhalil (@ haythamabokhal1) September 20, 2019
Unauthorized protests are banned in Egypt, and police have quickly fired tear gas at Cairo Square. According to the Egyptian Commission on Rights and Freedoms, at least four people were arrested in the capital, while a journalist was arrested in the city of Mahalla.
The AFP news agency reported being arrested by at least 74 people.
No victims were reported. Al Jazeera is prohibited from reporting from Egypt.
What triggered the protests?
The protesters responded to a call from exiled businessman Mohamed Ali, who called on the Egyptians to take to the streets after a highly anticipated football match between Al Ahly and Zamalek in Cairo] In a series of videos on Facebook and Twitter Ali, who has spent 15 years as an army contractor, has accused el-Sisi and his associates of wasting public money on vanity projects, despite growing poverty.
"Sisi has taken lower-level corruption to a new level, building five villas for Sisi's adjutants and a palace for the President in a military camp in Cairo," he said from Spain, where he is currently self-imposed ,
El-Sisi denied the allegations last week as "slander". At a youth conference, he said he was "honest and loyal" to Egypt and the military.
"Mohamed Ali is currently probably the most popular man in Egypt," quoted Mohamad Elmasry, chair of the media and journalism program at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, as saying that millions of people who viewed and used his online videos Sisi hashtags.
"This is a legitimate threat to the el-Sisi government – if it were not a legitimate threat, el-Sisi would not have come out and directly responded to Mohamed Ali. At last week's youth conference, Elmasry said it was" unprecedented "That El-Sisi has been put on the defensive by an Egyptian like this."
Sami Hamdi, Editor-in-Chief of The International Interest, said: "The fact that dozens of people could actually enter Tahrir Square is on is already an incredible achievement for the people to protest against Sisi. "
El-Sisi took over after a military coup the power overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 a After weeks of protests, he was with the following year 97 percent of the votes were cast and re-elected in 2018, with the only other candidate being an advocate of it.
Analysts say the popularity of the 64 year-old leader has been weakened in recent years due to austerity measures and rising poverty rates.
Official statistics from July show that 33 percent of Egyptians lived in poverty, up from 28 percent in 2015 and 17 percent in 2000. Other estimates put the number higher.
"The Egyptian government and Sisi have ruthlessly crushed every protest, and the fact that people are ready to take to the streets tonight, in my opinion, speaks for the tremendous frustration, the enormous rage, the ordinary Egyptians Sisi, "said analyst Bill Law in the UK.
Who is protesting?
The crowd consisted mainly of young people.
Dalia Fahmy, senior fellow at the New York Center for Global Politics, said on the streets on Friday. Unlike the crowds that took part in the protests in 2011 that overthrew Mubarak. She described them as younger people who "did not recognize the benefits of the revolution" and were disappointed with poverty and austerity measures that "paralyzed daily life."
"Much of the population does not live with the trauma of the revolution or the memories of the revolution in the way the older generation did, they have a group of young people with different needs and different future perspectives come in, "she said.
"We could be in a crescendo moment that causes people to break the fear barrier," she said.
How did the government react?
There was no official comment from the Egyptian government and the state media reported the protests.
The situation around Tahrir Square in Cairo was reportedly quiet.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Egypt to release those arrested during the protests and to call on the United Nations to press Egypt to respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly. Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at HRW.
"Authorities should recognize that the world is watching and take all necessary steps to avoid a repetition of past atrocities."