Hundreds of people have gathered outside Qatar’s embassy in Cairo to protest against what they called the Gulf state’s unwarranted interference in Egyptian internal affairs.
The protesters, comprised of groups from Sout el Shab [The Voice of the People], Ana Masry [I am Egyptian] and the Popular Resistance Movement – a group of retired military personnel – burned Qatari and Turkish flags and chanted slogans against Al Jazeera on Saturday.
They distributed flyers calling Al Jazeera the mouthpiece of Qatar, saying that Egypt must be saved from sedition and national security must be protected against international interference.
The protesters also called for the expulsion of Qatar’s ambassador and demanded the permanent closure of Al Jazeera in Egypt.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Fadel Fahmy said the protesters chanted slogans supporting the Egyptian military and General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army chief who helped depose President Mohamed Morsi, and proclaimed: “We’re not Syria, we’re not Libya!”.
He said the protesters pledged to continue demonstrating until their demands were met.
The protest appears to be the first permitted by the Egyptian Interior Ministry following the introduction of a controversial law restricting the right to protest, Al Jazeera’s correspondent said.
The groups would have had to notify the authorities of their plans, including the slogans they would use, how long they would protest for, where they would be and the groups involved.
“The Interior Ministry would have known about it,” Al Jazeera’s Fahmy said.
Among other rules, the new protest law requires organisers to notify the ministry three days before holding a demonstration, while also setting prison terms and high fines for violators.
Meanwhile, two Al Jazeera journalists arrested in August during the pro-Morsi protests in August remain in prison.
Mohammed Badr, a cameraman for Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr, has been given a court date of December 7.
Abdullah Shami, a correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Arabic-language channel, has not yet been given a date.
Three other Al Jazeera journalists also arrested at the time were deported in September.