By Hana Saada

Is a new crisis looming in Egypt amid protests calling for El-Sisi ousting?

September 22, 2019

"Hey [Donald Trump], your favorite dictator is on his way to NYC, keep him there, Egyptians don't want him back," pro-democracy activist Iyad el-Baghdadi wrote on Twitter.

A series of demonstrations videos have been widely circulating online with many social media users changing their profile photos to plain red in solidarity with Egypt's protesters who piled into Cairo's Tahrir Square calling for the departure of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, amid security forces quickly rushing to the scene dispersing them.

Similar demonstrations broke out in different cities in the country in a rare move unseen since years. Early in its reign, the Egyptian government imposed strict procedures and harsh crackdown on dissent in the wake of the military coup that ousted former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, showing no mercy and tolerance with anti-coup protesters in Cairo.

Morsi, the standard-bearer for the Brotherhood’s political aspirations, passed away, on June 17th, 2019, due to a heart attack while on trial after almost six years of 2013 military-backed coup which ousted him. The bloody coup gave emergence to the then former defense minister and supreme commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces, increasing the military’s already substantial influence.

Meanwhile, and following the military’s takeover under the leadership of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s current president, Morsi was imprisoned inside the notorious Scorpion section of Cairo’s maximum security Tora prison, along with other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, who suffered from an intense crackdown. El-Sisi, also, blacklisted Morsi's the organization as a terrorist group.

Despite the restrictions imposed by el-Sisi in a bid to cement his hold, footages of anti-Sisi demonstrations across Egypt are still widely surfacing online, while the hashtag #MidanAl Tahrir (The Square) trending on Twitter in tandem with the events. More than 600,000 tweets about the protests have been posted.

According to news outlets, repressive measures were introduced against the rallies that took place in several Egyptian cities after self-exiled Egyptian businessman and actor Mohamed Ali accused el-Sisi of corruption, calling for his departure. Police used tears gas to disperse protesters and void the square.

Ali encouraged people to stand strong and take into the streets demanding the restoration of their rights. He broadcasted a series of videos that went viral last week, accusing the military of spending billions from the public treasury for their personal benefit whilst Egyptians are suffering from poverty. He accused el-Sisi of constructing a 7-star hotel at a cost of around 2 billion Egyptian pounds ($120 million) as a favor to Sherif Salah, a military general, via a direct order, and not a tender.

"If el-Sisi does not announce his resignation by Thursday, then the Egyptian people will come out to the squares on Friday in protest," Ali said in a video posted on Tuesday.
"God is great ... enough already, I want to come back to Egypt. I miss Egypt and my people. May God strengthen your resolve," he said.

In response, el-Sisi dubbed these declarations as “slander and lies” , adding that these videos aimed at undermining the confidence “between him and the people.”
“Yes, I build presidential palaces and I will continue to build them but not for myself… I’m working to build a new Egypt.”

“And I say to every mother and every man who trusts in me… and I say to the people: your son (referring to himself) is honest, faithful and sincere, and this is not a response to anyone, but this is something known about me for a long time,” he stated.

For their part, pro-government channels said small group of protesters had gathered in central Cairo just to take videos and selfies before leaving the scene. Another pro-government channel said the situation around Tahrir Square was calm and that footages circulating are old from previous protests.

El-Sisi toppled Morsi a year after his election as President of Egypt in 2012, following the ousting of Hosni Mubarak who was forced from power. Morsi won 51.7% of the vote. Thus, his rule was cut short a year later when Egypt’s military under the leadership of the then Defense Minister Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi seized power in a coup on 3 July 2013.

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