protests sisi cairo
© Reuters
People gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square on September 20 as part of antigovernment protests.
Rare antigovernment protests have broken out in several Egyptian cities, with demonstrators calling for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to step down.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights on September 21 said dozens of people were arrested, including at least two journalists, but that no casualties had been reported.

Many of the small street demonstrations were quickly dispersed by riot police using batons and tear gas.

In a rare show of dissent since Sisi's government previously cracked down on opponents, hundreds of people in the city of Suez took to the streets for the second night following a call online to demonstrators to show their opposition to the president.

A self-exiled businessman, Muhammad Ali, who has claimed corruption by the military and government without providing evidence, issued the call for Egyptians to take to the streets in protest.

Sisi, a former army general, has overseen a fierce crackdown on political opposition, silencing critics and jailing thousands.

He led the overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president while defense minister in 2013.

His government passed laws after previous protests that effectively outlawed all public demonstrations.

Several hundred demonstrators rallied on September 21 in the capital, Cairo, near Tahrir Square -- the site of the main protests that led to the toppling of longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

A security source told AFP that at least 74 were arrested in Cairo. AFP journalists reported that security forces fired tear gas to break up protests in the capital.

Human Rights Watch called on Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest.

Earlier in the week, Sisi dismissed allegations of corruption, calling them "sheer lies."