President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi celebrated national Police Day at the Police Academy on Saturday, a day originally marked on January 25. Since 2011, this day also commemorates the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, a revolution that stemmed from alleged human rights abuses by police forces.
Saturday's celebrations come amidst high security alerts that have been put into place in anticipation of potential protests by Sisi’s opponents. Army troops have been deployed to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 uprising and a favorite location for socially and politically-motivated protests since then.
Security sources said the president is scheduled to convene with the Supreme Police Council to offer his congratulations on the event and “discuss the security strategy for the upcoming period.” The celebrations were also being attended by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail.
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, whom Sisi ousted from government in 2013, has called for continuing protests against his government. But observers have seen limited chances for wide-scale protests as thousands of activists from the Brotherhood and other political stripes are serving time in prison over multiple charges mostly related to unlicensed protesting and violence.
Security forces have escalated arrests for advocates of the January 25 protests over the past few weeks. Meanwhile, many media figures and politicians allied with Sisi’s government have been vocal about the punishment protestors would receive, arguing that celebrations should be for Police Day alone, rather than for the popular uprising.
Sisi had already advised against protesting on that day during a speech in December, asking why the advocates of demonstrations would want to “ruin” the country.