Middle East

Egyptian rights group says 237 protesters arrested in Cairo

Egyptians demonstrate against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Mesaha square in Cairo's Dokki district, Monday, April 25, 2016.  Police fired tear gas and birdshot on Monday to disperse hundreds of demonstrators calling on el-Sissi to step down over his government's decision to surrender control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Mostafa Darwish)

Egyptians demonstrate against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Mesaha square in Cairo's Dokki district, Monday, April 25, 2016. Police fired tear gas and birdshot on Monday to disperse hundreds of demonstrators calling on el-Sissi to step down over his government's decision to surrender control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Mostafa Darwish)  (The Associated Press)

An Egyptian coalition of rights groups says police arrested at least 237 people during protests in Cairo the previous day against a government decision to hand over to Saudi Arabia control of two strategic Red Sea islands.

Rights lawyers Gamal Eid and Mohammed Abdel-Aziz — both members of the Front for the Defense of Egyptian Protesters — said on Tuesday that all those detained were in custody by midnight Monday. They say the number of those still held could be lower since police have been intermittently releasing the detainees.

It's unclear if anyone has been referred to prosecutors.

Thousands of police were deployed across much of Cairo on Monday to stifle plans for mass demonstrations called to protest the government's decision to surrender the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.