Egyptian security forces have been deployed in several areas across the main Egyptian cities, preparing themselves for possible anti-regime protests called for by exiled opposition figure Mohamed Ali, Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.
Ali, a former close contractor for the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who has fled Egypt, has revealed several cases of corruption and called for anti-Sisi protests on 20 September of last year. He is calling for similar protests on 20 September this year.
Witnesses and sources told Anadolu Agency that many police and army officers have been deployed to Cairo's Tahrir Square, Alexandria and Suez. They also set up military checkpoints at many crossings and highways across the country.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian authorities closed cafes, mainly in and around the centre of Cairo, and launched an arbitrary detention campaign.
An Egyptian news website reported that clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out should protests go ahead. Associated disruption to transportation and business operations is also likely.
Nader Saad, spokesman for the Egyptian Ministerial Council, denied in a televised statement the closure of cafes, stressing: "This is merely propaganda."
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Ali expects that Egyptians will take to the streets despite the security restrictions, due to the multiple economic crises they are facing, the diplomatic failure regarding the Ethiopian Dam, and the campaign against unlicensed homes.
Ali's call for anti-Sisi protests went viral on social media, while some warned of responding to such calls made by the opposition from abroad, which are always followed by widespread detention campaigns aimed at the protesters.
One week ago, activists posted videos of protesters gathering in Giza and Alexandria protesting against the law allowing for the demolition of unlicensed homes. This pushed the government to announce some changes to the law.
Hundreds of protesters gathered last week, west of Cairo, protesting against the killings of youth by the police. The Public Prosecution announced it would investigate the incidents.