Egypt on 'high cyber security alert' after online petition against Sisi emerges
Egyptian authorities have launched "a state of high cyber security alert" after an anti-regime group of expatriates established an online petition against President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, as well as the Egyptian parliament and senate, a high-level security source told The New Arab.
The group behind the petition, named "Egypt's Technocrats", called for suspending the upper and lower houses of parliament and "withdrawing confidence" in Sisi's rule over failures "to manage several state files, especially the economy."
According to the source, who spoke anonymously since they are not authoritsed to speak with the media, the director of Egypt's general intelligence agency, Abbas Kamel, and heads of other security organisations held a meeting this week to figure out means to combat the group's petition.
Of the ideas on the table include hacking online accounts of those circulating the petition or reporting them to the social media platforms, as well as using "online trolls" loyal to the Sisi-dominated regime to target anyone sharing the petition.
"This threat is considered the most alarming to have emerged among citizens living abroad, who amount to about 10 million," the source said.
"Egypt's Technocrats" was formed outside the country in 2021 by a number of prominent Egyptians.
In 2013, a protest movement named "Tamarod" (revolt) was one of the main drivers behind the nationwide demonstrations against late president Mohamed Morsi, who was then-president and a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was criminalised in Egypt in 2014.
"Tamarod" had reportedly collected 22 million signatures for a similar petition that had called for Morsi to step down.
But according to the source, this time since the current petition is digital and not on paper, making it harder for the authorities to control its circulation.
"Egypt's Technocrats" stated 19 reasons why they were seeking to withdraw confidence from Sisi and the two parliaments.
They include the price hikes of basic commodities, inflation, the recent wide-spread layoff of workers at state-run factories, rising poverty, the lack of proper health care and education and the presence of over 60,000 political detainees and prisoners.
Meanwhile, the initiative of "Egypt's Technocrats" has already attracted social media activists at the time when the hashtag "withdrawing confidence from Sisi" has been trending over the past 24 hours.
One social media user tweeted in English:
Another user wrote in Arabic, while retweeting the petition form posted by the group's account, "It's a duty for every free Egyptian to contribute and interact [with the move] as long as we couldn't take to the streets."
In December 2013, Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour approved an anti-protest law that sparked an outcry among activists and local and international rights groups for its restrictions on peaceful protests.