As the sixth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution came and went, the enthusiasm and determination to resist the rule of the military leader, Abdul Fatah Al-Sissi appears to have waned.
This year the demonstrations were low-key affairs with the numbers of protestors in Western capitals at the lowest levels and with armed police in Cairo surrounding the Tahir Square preventing groups from gathering to mark the day.
Dr. Nihal Abosaif of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council told the Muslim Eye, “Frustration and fear are two key elements preventing people from joining marches to protest at Sissi’s oppressive rule.”
She went on to say, “Egyptians that live in the West are fearful of demonstrating even in democratic countries. Often they cover their faces or turn their back to cameras for fear they will be harassed if they return to Egypt.”
Added to the climate of fear is the splits with the opposition movement, some of which has been designated as ‘terrorist’ by the Sissi regime. In particular, the Muslim Brotherhood movement has been banned. Egyptians caught ascribing the Brotherhood could face lengthy prison sentences or even the death penalty.
Dr. Nihal told Muslim Eye, “More than 50,000 Egyptians are in prison and now the security forces are not even trying to arrest people. There are more than 4,000 forced disappearances on record where people are kidnapped, held in secret locations and even killed without trace.”
Many government opponents have fled to London and Istanbul where endless hours of debate and counter debate occupy private television networks dedicated to tackling issues facing the Egyptian people.
The popularity of channel such as ‘Al Hiwar’ and ‘Al Mukamilin’ means that ordinary Egyptians, even those who support Al Sissi, tune to these programmes to avoid the false government narratives and to get a more representative picture of the political and economic situation within the country.
Talk show host Mohammed Nasser presents a show which is a mixture of analysis, sarcasm and reflection on the differing approaches to the attempt to remove or replace the Egyptian regime.
Younger members of the opposition movement argue that alliances within Sissi’s ranks should be made to weaken Sissi, but the old guard maintain the battle to remove ‘the dictator’ must not lead to making any compromises.
Both sides know that the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House seems likely to embolden and strengthen Sissi’s leadership. The co-operation to combat terrorism is code for the war against the Muslim Brotherhood and elements of the Islamic State who appear to operating in the Sinai desert.
Egypt currently receives $1.3 billion in military aid that was briefly suspended under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2013, following the ouster of then-Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, but was fully reinstated in 2015.
Trump views el-Sissi - who was one of the first world leaders to congratulate him on his election win this past November - as a strong, decisive leader in the Middle East and North Africa and has even called him a "fantastic guy."
The new US president has also said he considers the Muslim Brotherhood a dangerous organisation. Trump, who calls himself tough on "radical islamic terror," has said el-Sissi could cooperate on regional security issues.
Significantly, Trump has expressed hope that el-Sissi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be his administration's strongest allies in the Middle East and North Africa.
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