The Administrative Court in Alexandria referred a lawsuit on the Red Sea islands to the State Council in Cairo.
Gamal Khattab, head of the Freedoms Committee at the Lawyers Syndicate in Beheira, requested in his lawsuit claim that the recent maritime demarcation deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia be put up for a public referendum.
The deal, which was signed in early April during the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to Cairo, transfered the sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia. This prompted anti-government protests in mid- and late-April which resulted in the arrest of hundreds, now released on bail.
“The demarcation deal has caused a division among Egyptians, raised their doubts and defied the Constitution,” Khattab said. “Egyptians have the right to know the truth behind this accord by voting on it in a public referendum based on the Constitution.”
He referred in his claim to Article 151 of the 2014 Constitution, which states the right of previewing foreign agreements related to reconciliation, alignments and border sovereignty for public referendum after the approval of parliament. However, the deal was signed and announced without having any of these approvals.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made a public speech on 13 April in which he called on Egyptians, including media outlets, to not discuss the case again, arguing that the whole matter is now in the hands of parliament, which will in turn discuss the agreement and has the freedom to approve or refuse it.
One of the lawyers, who advocated for the case of Egyptian sovereignty over the islands and has been given mandates to file a lawsuit that proves their Egyptian sovereignty, Malek Adly was arrested on 5 May and was charged with attempting to overthrow the regime, spreading false rumours, and inciting demonstrations among other charges.