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Egypt sentences dozens to prison over Saudi islands deal protests

Egypt sentences dozens to prison over Saudi islands deal protests

Egypt

A court in Egypt has sentenced dozens of activists to two years each in prison for protesting against a decision last month to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

There were 33 defendants present in the Cairo courtroom to hear the verdicts, while the rest were out on bail.

Government officials said they were convicted of breaking a 2013 law that effectively bans street protests and disrupting traffic.

Nearly 300 people have been arrested and charged for taking part in demonstrations on April 15 and 25 against Egypt’s surprise decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Critics say President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi “sold” the uninhabited islands, Tiran and Sanafir, in return for the investments.

But the Egyptian government maintains that the islands always belonged to Saudi Arabia, and were only being looked after by Egypt since the 1950s.

Both secular and Islamist activists called for people to demonstrate against the transfer of the islands.

President Sissi has faced mounting criticism over the islands decision, and the protests were the largest since he was elected in 2014.

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