In Egypt 31 jailed over protest against islands handover to Saudis

The 31 detainees were among what rights lawyers said was a total of almost 400 people arrested and referred to prosecutors on April 25.

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Egyptian journalists hold up their cameras outside the Egyptian Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt April 28, 2016, during a protest against the interior minister following the arrest of colleagues for covering anti-government demonstrations. play Egyptian journalists hold up their cameras outside the Egyptian Press Syndicate in downtown Cairo, Egypt April 28, 2016, during a protest against the interior minister following the arrest of colleagues for covering anti-government demonstrations. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
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A Cairo court on Saturday sentenced 31 people to two years imprisonment, after they were arrested during attempted protests last month against the handover of two strategic islands to Saudi Arabia.

Another 20 absentee defendants were also sentenced to two years imprisonment on the same charges of protesting without permission and attacking police.

The 31 detainees were among what rights lawyers said was a total of almost 400 people arrested and referred to prosecutors on April 25.

Activists had planned protests that day against the handover of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

But they were largely foiled by a heavy police deployment and a campaign of arrests of suspected activists over previous days.

Protests have been all but banned in Egypt since a few months after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi - then head of the armed forces - ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

An ongoing crackdown has seen the arrests of a prominent rights lawyer, Malek Adly, who planned to file a court case against the handover of the islands.

Amr Badr, the editor of an opposition news site; and four members of a performance group who mocked the deal were also arrested.

The arrest of Badr and a colleague in a raid on the Journalists Syndicate building has led to a stand-off between the government and the union.

This has led to a demand for the sacking of the interior minister.

Earlier protests on April 15 over the handover of the islands were the first major non-Islamist street protests against al-Sissi in two years.

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