Unprecedented Anti-Sisi Protests Break Out in Egypt
For the first time since Sisi assumed power after leading the military’s overthrowal of former President Mohammad Morsi in 2013 Egyptian citizens took to the streets calling for the end of Sisi’s reign.
Protests ripped through key Egyptian cities over the weekend after videos posted by Egyptian actor and building contractor Mohammad Ali accusing Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi of corruption went viral on social media.
The now self-exiled Ali made allegations that Sisi and other Egyptian high-ranking military officers were involved in financial corruption and wasteful spending on luxuries. Ali accused Sisi of spending millions on luxury presidential palaces and hotels while Egyptian citizens suffered through poverty. Ali himself has worked as a building contractor with the Egyptian military for more than 15 years before he showed up on social media, alleging the complicity by the Sisi regime.
Protests Become Violent
Riot police in the Egyptian capital of Cairo used tear gas to disperse crowds Friday at Tahrir Square, a central location for demonstrations. Protests against Sisi are unprecedented since the Egyptian President took office after toppling former late Islamist president Mohammad Morsi under mass pressure during the June 2013 revolution.
President Sisi refuted the corruption allegations by dismissing them as merely “lies and slander.” The president’s remarks and Ali’s allegations of corruption and lavish spending come as the country has gone through recent economic hardships compelling the Egyptian government to impose austerity measures.
On Friday protesters called for Sisi to leave office, chanting “Sisi out.” Besides Cairo, protests took place in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, Suez City and the El Mahalla El Kubra town to the north of Cairo where locals took to the streets.
Gorgeous pic.twitter.com/II0Ia38yJi Egypt protests against Sisi
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) September 20, 2019
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) September 20, 2019
Twitter has suspended the account that was posting the Mohamed Ali videos alleging corruption in Egypt (the videos that have catalyzed the protests against President Sisi). Unknown whether they’ve done this at the request of the Sisi government. (Reposted with working link.) https://t.co/EYSmHDyXhS
— Steve Lookner (@lookner) September 23, 2019
Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Saturday calling for the release of all protesters arrested over the weekend and drew on Egypt’s violent history in recent years of mass killings of protesters to urge Egypt to follow international rule of law.
Arab Spring and Since
President Abdel-Fatah Sisi, who served as defense minister of Egypt under the former government took office for the second time in 2018’s elections, winning 95% of the votes. In April 2019 an amendment to Egypt’s constitution passed allowing Sisi to extend his term as president until 2030.
In 2011 the Egyptian revolution overthrew President Hosni Mubarak who ruled Egypt for 30 years. One year later, a presidential election brought to power the first democratically elected president of Egypt Mohammad Morsi. Morsi, who died a few months ago in prison, belonged to the outlawed Islamic Brotherhood of Egypt.