Egypt's sham parliament pledges loyalty to embattled President Sisi amid calls for anti-government protests

Egypt's sham parliament pledges loyalty to embattled President Sisi amid calls for anti-government protests
Egyptian parliamentarians have stood up for one minute at the opening of their latest session to show support for scandal-hit Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, amid calls for new protests.
3 min read
01 October, 2019
The speaker of the Egyptian parliament told MPs to stand up [Twitter]

Members of the Egyptian parliament stood up for one minute on Tuesday in a show of support for embattled President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

At the latest session of the Egyptian House of Representatives, Speaker Ali Abdel Aal called on representatives to stand for one minute to "show support for President Sisi and his project to build the modern Egyptian state and for the Egyptian armed forces and police".

This came as Egyptian security forces were on high alert on Tuesday following the latest call by exiled construction contractor Mohamed Ali for Egyptians to demonstrate against President Sisi's alleged corruption.

Mohamed Ali, who fled Egypt to Spain earlier this year, ignited a protest movement in Egypt last month, after revealing in a series of videos that President Sisi had contracted his company to build several luxurious palaces for himself using public money.

The palaces were built at a time when the Egyptian government was imposing tough austerity measures on the public.

The scandal has been dubbed "Palacegate". Sisi acknowledged that he had been building palaces but said he was building them for the Egyptian state rather than himself.

Protests calling on Sisi to resign took place on Friday 20th and Friday 27th September.

Friday is a day off for most workers in Egypt. Egyptian security forces have responded with a campaign of repression, arresting thousands of activists and closing off any public squares and streets where protesters might congregate.

In his latest video, Ali called on protesters to demonstrate on Tuesday afternoon, saying that police could not close off streets and squares during a working weekday. A Twitter hashtag he launched for the occasion, #We’re_going_down_at_three_o’clock, quickly became the most trending hashtag in Egypt.

Security forces and armoured vehicles were seen deploying in large numbers in Tahrir Square and nearby areas on Tuesday to prevent the possibility of protests taking place.

A New Arab correspondent said that security forces had also fired sound bombs to intimidate potential protesters.

The Egyptian parliament has very little power and is dominated by Sisi loyalists who are not affiliated with any political party. "Opposition" parties in the parliament have also stated their loyalty to Sisi.

Bahaa Abu-Shaqa, the head of the Wafd Party's delegation to the parliament, said that his party supported Sisi "in his national project to build a modern state in Egypt".

The parliament has previously approved changes to the constitution allowing Sisi to remain in power until 2030 and passed laws severely limiting the work of NGOs.

The upstanding members of parliament's show of support for Sisi is the latest in a series of symbolic gestures which have happened since the "Palacegate" scandal broke.

Pro-Sisi rallies have also been held in Cairo and Alexandria, with some people reporting that they were forced to attend.