CAIRO - Riot police and armored vehicles filled the otherwise empty streets of central Cairo early on Friday as security forces built up a heavy presence in anticipation of popular protests over deteriorating economic conditions.
A little-known group calling itself Movement of the Poor has called for Egyptians to protest on Nov. 11 against deepening austerity.
The calls had been made since August, but gained traction on social media last week after Egypt raised fuel prices and floated its currency - a move welcomed by bankers but bemoaned by ordinary people as the latest blow to their diminishing spending power in a country that relies on imports.
Tahrir Square was empty save for armored vehicles equipped with tear gas canister launchers, dozens of riot policeman and high-ranking officers. Authorities shut down the Sadat metro station to prevent demonstrators reaching the square famed for its political protests.
There was a similarly heavy security presence in other areas of Cairo, such as the Shubra district, and other major cities across the country including Alexandria, Suez, and Minya.