Egyptian Activist Arrested Amidst Red Sea Island Row

Published June 23rd, 2017 - 05:00 GMT
Khalil, 67, had been a leader of Egypt’s student movement during the 1970s. (AFP)
Khalil, 67, had been a leader of Egypt’s student movement during the 1970s. (AFP)

The Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested a prominent leftist activist known for his vocal opposition to a controversial maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“Kamal Khalil was arrested after the [security] authorities searched the home,” Khalil’s wife, Iman Hilal, said on her Facebook page on Thursday.

Hilal says she lodged a complaint with Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq after her husband was whisked off to “an unknown location” without any explanation.

The Egyptian authorities, meanwhile, have yet to issue any official comment on the activist’s arrest. 

Khalil, 67, had been a leader of Egypt’s student movement during the 1970s and was arrested for taking part in Egypt’s so-called “Bread Uprising” in 1977 during the presidency of Anwar Sadat.

He was subsequently arrested several more times due to his political views.

Khalil was briefly detained by security forces last week while participating in a demonstration outside the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate’s Cairo headquarters, held to protest parliament's approval of the border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia. 

Last Wednesday, parliament approved the controversial agreement, which was initially signed last year between Cairo and Riyadh.

If implemented, the deal would effectively transfer sovereignty over two uninhabited Red Sea islands -- Tiran and Sanafir -- from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

In April of last year, Cairo first announced plans to transfer the two islands, located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba between Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, to Saudi ownership.

News of the deal prompted a public outcry amid accusations that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was “selling” Egyptian territory to Saudi Arabia, which since Egypt’s 2013 military coup has given Egypt billions of dollars.

*Reporting by Mohamed Mahmoud; Writing by Ali Abo Rezeg


© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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