Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has issued a rare apology after a police officer beat a lawyer, sparking a general strike by the country's lawyers.

The Lawyer's Syndicate issued the call for a strike that began Saturday. They said it was to protest a deputy police chief who attacked a lawyer in the country's Nile Delta.

In statement Sunday, el-Sissi said: "I apologize to the Egyptian lawyers and to all Egyptian citizens who have been the subject of any abuse."

In Egypt, police and powerful security agencies act with near impunity against opponents or those trying to engage in unwelcome political activity. Rights activists report a return of torture, abuses and arbitrary arrests surpassing even the 29-year rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in Egypt's 2011 revolt.