'Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has played down a call for protests against his rule, saying there were "no reasons for concern" even as the army and the police tightened security in the capital, Cairo, and other major cities.
The dismissal on Friday came as rights groups said nearly 2,000 people have been arrested in a broad crackdown following last week's small but rare demonstrations against el-Sisi, who took power in a 2013 coup.
"There are no reasons for concern. Egypt is a strong country thanks to Egyptians," the president told reporters with a smile, shortly after his return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In Cairo, security forces closed off entrances to Tahrir Square, the hub of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocratic leader, Hosni Mubarak. There was a heavy police presence around the square and at some junctions in the city centre.
Egypt's Interior Ministry, in a brief statement on Thursday, warned it would "confront any attempt to destabilise social peace in a firm and decisive way".
Last week's protests were in response to a call for action from Mohamed Ali, an Egyptian businessman who accused el-Sisi of wasting public funds on vanity projects despite widespread poverty. The former military contractor, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, has called for a "million-man march" and a "people's revolution" to topple el-Sisi.
In a new video on Thursday night, Ali urged protesters not to clash with security forces and said Tahrir Square must not be the focus of the "Friday of Salvation" protests. "All the squares in Egypt are Tahrir Squares," he said.
El-Sisi, who came to power after leading the military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, has rejected Ali's allegations. He has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent that has extended to liberal as well as Islamist groups and has effectively banned protests.'
Read more: El-Sisi plays down protest call as Egypt tightens security
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