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Saudi-Egyptian island deal sparks anger

BBC News BBC News 11/04/2016
Map © BBC Map

Egypt's decision to cede sovereignty over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia has sparked anger from some commentators online.

The move comes while Saudi King Salman is on a rare visit to Egypt during which he has announced plans for Saudi aid and investment for Egypt.

Some Egyptians have been expressing outrage at the decision on the islands.

But some Saudis have taken the opportunity to boast of their country's new possessions.

An Egyptian government spokesman told the ONTV channel the decision on the islands had come after 11 rounds of negotiations by experts from the two countries over more than six years, the Associated Press reports.

But some Egyptians were quick to see the deal as a sign of the country's weakness, saying Egypt had effectively sold the islands.

Well-known satirist Bassem Youssef mocked the deal in a tweet suggesting President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was selling the islands to the highest bidder in the style of someone conducting an auction.

Other users commented that the giving up of the islands had led to a loss of legitimacy for President Sisi, and that it may even be in contravention of the constitution.

Memes also appeared mocking the perceived blind loyalty of supporters of President Sisi, as opposed to the criticism levelled at previous Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

One joke circulated on Facebook goes that in answer to the question of whether the islands are Egyptian, "if Morsi sold them, they're Egyptian, but if Sisi sold them, they're Saudi".

Some Saudi tweeters, in contrast, seemed to relish the opportunity to needle their Egyptian counterparts.

Saudi Tweeter @_naiif10 mockingly used an Arabic hashtag meaning "Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian" and asked: "Will you keep quiet or shall we move the pyramids to the Empty Quarter [in Saudi Arabia]?

While another Saudi user, @QG_7H, posted several idyllic pictures of the islands and said "Now I'm planning a visit to our islands in the north, Tiran and Sanafir... Lovely views".

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