Middle East

Egypt steps up raids ahead of revolution anniversary

Protesters in Egypt in 2011 Image copyright AP
Image caption Activists have called for protests to mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolution on 25 January (file photo)

Egypt's security forces have stepped up raids ahead of the fifth anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

At least five people have been arrested in recent days, including activists accused of running Facebook pages supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and calling for protests.

The offices of an independent news website were also raided and its managing editor was detained.

Officials have warned against protests marking the 25 January revolution.

Operations have intensified in recent weeks and several other people have been reportedly arrested.

Sites popular with activists have also been shut down to prevent anniversary gatherings.

'Ruin the country'

Two of those detained were identified as a 26-year-old man responsible for 41 Facebook pages and a 22-year-old woman who managed six sites, interior ministry spokesman Abu Bakr Abdel Karim was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Facebook and other social media sites have been used to organise protests and rallies, and several groups have called for demonstrations on the anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Mubarak in 2011.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Sisi's security forces have cracked down on opposition

"The administrators of these pages were arrested on charges of inciting against state institutions and spreading the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as calling for marches on the coming 25 January," Mr Abdel Karim said.

"The ministry will continue to stand against these terrorist pages that have long incited violence against state institutions and made fun of the major incidents experienced by the country recently."

Security forces also raided the offices of the independent news website Masr al-Arabiya. Its managing editor Ahmed Abdel Gawad was reportedly released after being arrested on Thursday.

Authorities have expressed concern over protests and Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has warned that another revolution could "ruin the country."

Religious leaders have also warned against protests.

As former armed forces chief, Mr Sisi led the army's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, an ex-Muslim Brotherhood official, in 2013 following mass protests.

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and 40,000 are believed to have been jailed in a crackdown on dissent. Most of them have been supporters of the Brotherhood, which was banned in 2013.

But secular and liberal activists have also been prosecuted for breaking a 2013 anti-protest law that gives the interior ministry the power to ban gatherings of more than 10 people.

Last year, the government approved a anti-terrorism legislation which activists said further eroded basic rights and enshrined a permanent state of emergency.

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