President Abdel Fattah el Sisi played down repeat protest call against his rule on Friday, as security forces tightened controls in the centre of the capital and closed off entrances to Tahrir Square.
As Egyptian police arrested nearly 2,000 people since last week, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi told supporters not to worry about calls for further protests against his rule on Friday. Security forces tightened controls in the centre of the capital and closed off entrances to Tahrir Square.
Protests broke out on September 20 in Cairo and other cities following online calls for demonstrations against alleged corruption by Sisi and the military.
Sisi, who has been in New York for the past week attending the UN General Assembly, returned to Cairo on Friday morning, where he was greeted by religious dignitaries and a crowd of supporters.
Asking them why they were up so early on a Friday, the first day of Egypt's weekend, he said: "The situation isn't worth it. You need to know that the Egyptian people are very aware... Don't worry about anything."
Sisi also appeared to repeat his earlier rejection of allegations of corruption posted online by Mohamed Ali, a former contractor and actor, in the run-up to the protests.
Ali's videos have attracted a wide following.
In a recent video, contractor Ali, who said he had worked for the military for 15 years, called for new protests on Friday.
An Egyptian rights groups said on Thursday the number of people arrested in the wake of last weekend's protests has risen to nearly 2,000 amid fresh calls for new rallies demanding Sisi step down.
Rare protests erupted in Cairo and several other provinces last Friday with hundreds of Egyptians taking to the streets. The demonstrations followed corruption allegations levelled by Ali.
Sisi dismissed the accusations as "sheer lies and defamation."
Police quickly dispersed the protests, but they were a startling display of street unrest.
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights said on Facebook that 1,915 people were arrested between last weekend and early Wednesday. Among them are 96 juveniles, the statement said.
Prosecutors said in a statement late on Thursday that security forces arrested some foreign nationals in Cairo, including a Palestinian belonging to the Islamic Jihad group. Detainees also included a Dutch national, they said.
Prosecutors suggested some protesters had been duped, warning people against taking part in "plots in which they will be used to harm their country."
On Wednesday, authorities arrested three prominent activists including a former spokesman for a presidential candidate and the chairman of an opposition political party.
State-run local media have launched a campaign to discredit protesters as traitors who seek to instigate chaos. Egyptian security authorities have imposed tighter measures on Tahrir Square and downtown Cairo, the main scene of Egypt's uprising of 2011.
Eight human rights groups issued a statement demanding the immediate release of political activists and the lifting of restrictions on freedom of expression.
"The protests also are a reaction to the president's accumulated policies since his assumption of office, which have achieved neither political nor economic stability," read the statement.