Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Demonstrators gathered in cities across Egypt on Friday night and early Saturday to call for the resignation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, leading to the arrest of dozens of protesters.
The Middle East Eye described the protests as the largest since Sisi took control of the country in 2014 after the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi. The New York Times reported that though the protests were small -- hundreds gathered in Tahrir Square -- it was unusual for demonstrations to happen at all in the country.
Demonstrations also took place in Alexandria, Suez, Gharbiya, Mahala, Mansoura and Damietta.
"The people want to topple the regime," some shouted in Cairo. Others shouted "down with Sisi" and "leave now."
Ahead of the protests, critics used social media to decry corruption in the Sisi regime and the ruling class. The Times reported that the regime fills the country's prisons with political detainees, blocks hundreds of websites and stifles the press.
"President al-Sisi's security agencies have time and again used brutal force to crush peaceful protests," said Michael Page, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The authorities should recognize that the world is watching and take all necessary steps to avoid a repetition of past atrocities."
The demonstrations took place after Sisi traveled to New York for next week's United Nations General Assembly.
Witnesses observed riot police using tear gas to disperse a group of protesters in Cairo, arresting about 20 to 25 people who were later released. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights watchdog group said there were 36 arrests across the country.