Egypt's Sisi warns against protests on anniversary of 2011 revolt

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks to the media after the signing ceremony for a deal to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant between Egypt and Russia at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned critics on Tuesday not to hold protests on Jan. 25 to mark the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, saying a new revolt risked destroying the country.

Opposition groups including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, families of political prisoners, and left-wing activists are calling for mass demonstrations on Jan. 25, 2016 -- which marks five years since the start of an 18-day uprising that ended autocratic president Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year grip on power.

“Why am I hearing calls for another revolution? Why do you want to ruin (Egypt)? I came by your will and your choice and not despite it,” Sisi said in a speech marking the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, which this year falls on Dec. 23.

“Look around you to nearby countries, some of which I don’t like to name, which have been suffering for 30 years and have not been able to come back. States that have been destroyed do not return.”

As the armed forces chief in mid-2013, Sisi ousted Mohamed Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood member and Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, amid widespread unrest over his turbulent rule.

Sisi then banned the world’s oldest Islamist movement and jailed thousands of its members. Rights activists say he has steadily rolled back the freedoms won in the 2011 revolt.

A law has been passed banning Egyptians from protesting without permission, a move activists say is unconstitutional and aimed at preventing a repeat of the mass protests that have toppled two presidents in the last five years.

Street protests have all but dried up since the protest law was passed as activists who have held even small, peaceful gatherings were detained.

Reporting by Mostafa Hashem and Ali Abdelatty; Writing by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Mark Heinrich