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Egyptians react to Sisi's interview on social media

Sisi has been encouraging dialogue on social media sites during his presidential campaign, and Egyptians have taken him up on the offer
Sisi faces his interviewers across the table (AFP)

The campaign of Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, whose first televised interview was aired late on Monday, has so far proved keen to reach out to supporters over social media.

Twitter users report that Sisi conducted a live chat over Twitter and Facebook at 12:30pm on 2 May using the unofficial hashtag of his campaign, تحيا_مصر , which means ‘Long live Egypt’.

On 3 May the social media campaign expanded with the announcement of Sisi’s official Instagram account, where he has shared pictures of himself in open-necked shirts and kissing a child from "Arab tribes" he met with on 15 April 2014.

A popular comment on these pictures is simply "long live Egypt".

The campaign’s use of social media has not been entirely unproblematic so far.

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One of the channels that broadcast Sisi’s interview on Monday reported that campaign officials are warning that some users of the hashtag are exploiting Sisi’s name, and are using it to collect donations.

They have urged users to report any such activity to Sisi’s official pages on Facebook and Twitter.

Sisi faced critique for not focusing enough on policy, and for his reaction to one of the interviewer’s perceived overuse of the term "military" as well as his military rhetoric:

Translation: Did Sisi really just compare military operations in Sinai to America’s war in Afghanistan? Or did I mishear?

One commentator warned Western media to avoid being skewed by an English-speaking bias:

Many were vocal in support of the former general’s performance during the two-hour questioning, in both English and Arabic:


 Translation: I was impressed with Sisi’s debate yesterday…action and not words. If Sisi implements just half of what he says…

Others, meanwhile, expressed disinterest in the whole proceedings:

Longer analyses of Sisi’s first performance are being published in established news outlets ahead of Tuesday night’s second interview.

A body language expert told Yanair-net that Sisi had shown himself to be "a sensitive character" and "a democratic dictator".  

She remarked on how he lowered his tone of voice when discussing "emotive" topics like the future of Egypt.

Al-Rai al-Yaum offered a more political analysis, extracting three key points that it said will characterise "the coming period of Sisi’s rule".

Firstly, the columnist predicts that "after he accedes to power", Sisi will keep stability and security at the top of his priorities.

Secondly, the writer highlighted his posturing against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Thirdly, the writer stressed the importance of Sisi’s revelation that he has faced assassination attempts.

According to the article, Sisi was interviewed as president and not as a presidential candidate. The proof of this was in his reaction to his interviewer’s frequent use of the word "military", whereby he said that he would not allow the word to be used further.

Sisi’s stressing of stability and security indicate, according to the commentator, that Sisi’s rule will be characterised by "an iron fist".  

The analyst said the mention of assassination attempts is significant because it could be used as a pretext for a further crackdown.

The article raises the spectre of the 1954 assassination attempt on president Gamal Abdel Nasser, after which eight Muslim Brotherhood members were executed, among them the organisation’s leading intellectual figure Sayyid Qutb.

Based on Monday’s debate, the analysis concludes that "Sisi as president will be far removed from the democracy that many in Egypt are striving for".

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