Calgary Herald



CAIRO Police fired tear gas and birdshot on Monday to disperse hundreds of demonstrat­ors calling on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step down over his government’s decision to surrender control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The clash in Mesaha square in Cairo’s Dokki district took place as thousands of police and soldiers were deployed Monday across the Egyptian capital ahead of the planned demonstrat­ions over the islands, a thorny issue which has already sparked the largest protests since el-Sissi assumed power nearly two years ago.

Riot police backed by armoured vehicles on Monday took up positions in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s 2011 uprising. They also deployed on the ring road, downtown and at a square where hundreds of Islamist protesters were killed when security forces broke up their sit-in in August 2013.

Monday’s demonstrat­ions are the second wave of protests this month against the decision to give up control of the islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. On April 15, about 2,000 people protested in downtown Cairo over the islands.

Egypt says the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, off the southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula, belong to Saudi Arabia, which placed them under Cairo’s protection in 1950 because it feared that Israel might attack them.

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