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  • Small groups of protesters gather in central Cairo shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo, Egypt September 21, 2019.

    Small groups of protesters gather in central Cairo shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo, Egypt September 21, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 September 2019
Opinion

Sisi took power in Egypt during a 2013 military coup that ousted then President Mohammad Morsi from office. 

Egyptian President Abdul-Fattah El-Sisi is facing a growing campaign of dissent from his countrymen as protests have spread to several cities across the North African nation.

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Driven by grievances over economic austerity and allegations of official corruption, the protesters have called on the military strongman to step down from the presidency after more than five years in power. 

The Egyptian security forces have not taken lightly to these new protests, as over 1,300 people have been detained since the start of these demnstrations, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Last Friday, a few hundred people took to the streets of Cairo and other cities, shouting “Leave, Sisi”, after a series of videos by an activist accusing the government of corruption gained traction online.

The rare outburst of anger was enough to damage Egypt’s image of stability under Sisi, who took power after removing President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass demonstrations against the Islamist leader.

Making matters worse for the Egyptian President, investors have been unnerved by a call for further protests on Friday, with Egypt’s dollar bonds falling and the main stock index wiping out its 2019 gains in just three days.

Authorities have meanwhile rounded up hundreds of suspects. Security forces have stepped up their presence in major cities and have been conducting spot checks of mobile phones for political content.

Sisi, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, indirectly accused the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of stirring up the protests, saying “political Islam” was to blame.

Analysts say it won’t be easy to curb dissent without addressing its economic and political causes. Many Egyptians distrust government promises after three years of austerity agreed with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $12 billion loan.

Since then, Egypt has introduced valued-added tax, devalued the currency and raised the prices of electricity and fuel.

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