Egyptians have once again launched a massive online campaign of criticism against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, pointing the finger of blame at the mastermind of the July 2013 military coup for the country’s ailing economy.
People in Egypt renewed online criticism of Sisi with the Twitter hashtag “Leave, Sisi” on Saturday, shortly after he seemed to mock a similar campaign a few weeks earlier.
“I’m trying to get you out of this rut and you do a hashtag saying ‘Leave, Sisi.’ Am I saddened or am I not saddened?” he said at a youth conference at Cairo University.
The hashtag was the top trend in Egypt on the social media platform later in the day with more than 50,000 tweets. The same hashtag trended last month with nearly 300,000 tweets over several days, but then subsided.
The government in Cairo has implemented painful austerity measures, including price hikes in fuel, electricity, drinking water, and subway fares.
An opposing online campaign defending Sisi’s policies appeared but drew less online support.
In July 2013, Sisi led a military coup against Mohamed Morsi — Egypt’s first democratically-elected president — after the fall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, which led to Morsi’s ouster and imprisonment. He then won a presidential election.
In March this year, Sisi won another election, practically a one-man show, with a turnout of 41 percent, lower than the 47 percent recorded four years earlier, a potential setback for the military chief-turned-president, who had sought to portray the election as a referendum on his efforts to overhaul Egypt’s economy over the past years.
There has been mounting anger in Egypt about the economic reforms and the austerity measures introduced in line with an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to grant the country a $12-billion, three-year loan to support government reform programs.
Terrorism has also plagued the once-booming tourism sector of Egypt.
People also blame Sisi for wasting billions of dollars in aid from wealthy Arab states of the Persian Gulf region through launching mega projects such as the controversial expansion of the Suez Canal.
Sisi’s critics believe he has presided over the most oppressive political crackdown in Egypt’s modern history, citing the jailing or alleged intimidation of opponents before the latest presidential election, and the arrests of journalists and online activists.
Sisi’s administration has been cruel on the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most prominent political party in Egypt, which is now outlawed. Many members of the party have been given harsh sentences while tens of thousands have been arrested awaiting trial. Brotherhood affiliate Morsi has been given a death sentence.
The crackdown on the Brotherhood has sparked widespread criticism around the world.