Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has made it a priority to prevent political dissent since he took power after a military coup in 2013, just two years after the Arab Spring forced out former President Hosni Mubarak. But the lockdown didn't hold Friday, as hundreds of people stepped out into the streets in Cairo and at least eight other cities throughout the country to protest alleged government corruption.
The demonstrators reportedly chanted slogans like "the people demand the fall of the regime" and "leave Sisi," which stirred memories of the 2011 movement.
Friday's protests were nowhere near as large as those that occurred during the Arab Spring, but the fact that they took place at all is significant — unauthorized protests are illegal in Egypt and after the 2013 coup, security forces killed more than 1,000 people and arrested tens of thousands of others, so those that participated did so at great risk, The Wall Street Journal reports. At least 56 people were arrested and police used tear gas to try to disperse the crowds.
The protests were a result of a call by exiled businessman Mohamed Ali, who accused Sisi of corruption. Ali, who said he worked as a building contractor for the army for 15 years, said he built five villas for Sisi's aides and a palace for the president in a military camp in Cairo. Tim O'Donnell