CAIRO - Egypt celebrated the 34th anniversary of Israel’s handover of the Sinai peninsula Monday, amid pro-government celebrations and smaller anti-government protests over a decision to return two small Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
Egyptian Air Force planes flew over Cairo in formation to celebrate Israel’s 1982 return of the Sinai peninsula, as stipulated by the 1979 U.S.-brokered Camp David peace accords.
Scores of pro-government demonstrators turned out in various locations in Cairo to celebrate what Egyptian media refer to as “Sinai Liberation Day.” Security forces were on alert in key locations, guarding bridges, government offices and Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square.
A number of opposition groups, including the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, had called for large anti-government demonstrations to protest the government’s proposed return of two small islands in the Red Sea, off the coast of the Sinai’s large resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.
Al Jazeera TV (Arabic), which the Egyptian government alleges is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, showed grainy video of a small protest in Giza, which was reportedly dispersed with tear gas.
Al Jazeera also showed video of a protest in the Giza district of Dokki against the return of the islands. Several hundred people appeared to have turned out, chanting slogans against the handover.
Small protests were also reported in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria, and in Damanhour, north of Cairo.