Egyptian security forces dispersed protests against the authoritarian rule of Egyptian president Fattah el Sisi with tear gas on Monday, deterring potential large demonstrations, security sources said.
Earlier this month thousands of Egyptians angered by Sisi’s decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia called for his government to resign, during the largest demonstration since the former military general took office in a 2014 coup.
Security forces on Monday moved to prevent a repeat scenario, blocking roads in Cairo leading to a central meeting point and dispersing a march in the Dokki neighbourhood with tear gas, a witness said.
Protesters said the marches were a sign of growing dissent.
"There is a different kind of momentum that wasn't there for the past two years," said activist Mona Seif, adding that the dispersal of protests was reminiscent of the early days of the 2011 uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
"People were waving at us from the balcony," she said.
Videos and pictures posted on social media showed tear gas being used at a protest in the Imbaba district. Some chanted "The people want the fall of the regime" - a slogan from the 2011 uprising.
Aircraft and helicopters circled over Cairo during the protests.
Security sources said scores of people were arrested both in Cairo and outside of the capital, including six in the northern port city of Damietta and 12 in the Nile Delta industrial town of El Mahalla El Kubra on Monday.
The Interior Ministry said it could not provide an immediate figure for how many protesters had been detained.
The protests coincided with a national holiday celebrating the final Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula in 1982.
Sisi faces ongoing criticism for a government accord putting the uninhabited Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir in Saudi waters.