Sisi’s invitation to CNN anchor to interview Egyptians sparks mixed reactions on social media

Sisi’s invitation to CNN anchor to interview Egyptians sparks mixed reactions on social media
Egyptian social media users have over the past few days been divided over president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s invitation to a famous CNN anchor to interview the Egyptian people about their views on conditions in the country.
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
16 February, 2022
Social media divided over Sisi's invitation to the CNN anchor to interview Egyptians. [Getty]

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s invitation to a CNN anchor to interview the Egyptian people about their views on conditions in he country has sparked mixed reactions from Egyptians on social media.

"We welcome you and tell you, you have a chance to roam Egypt and talk to the people and view the Egyptian stance,” Sisi told the network’s Abu Dhabi-based emerging markets editor John Defterios .

Defterios, a high-profile economics reporter and editor, was moderating a ministerial panel during the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) held in Cairo this week, when Sisi addressed him as he concluded his remarks to the panel attendees.

Thousands of Egyptians have been complaining of deteriorating economic conditions witnessed during Sisi’s rule, especially the high prices of basic services and commodities.

Last December, Sisi announced that newlyweds would not receive free food rations, while those already receiving subsidies would be eligible to have them for two family members only. The decision sent shockwaves across the country.

Sisi’s remarks to Defterios, which lasted for less than 30 seconds, have been met by mixed reactions on social media, between those who saw Sisi as being transparent and open to criticism and critics who mocked his initiative. 

One Twitter user sarcastically said:

Having previously deported journalists (including NYT & Guardian’s) junta chief to @CNN : come to #Egypt , go wherever and talk to whoever you like to see (excellent) situation 🧐

Will reporter be able to get into prisons filled with rights activists, Mr. Sisi?

— هيفاء خلف الله (@haifaa_k) February 14, 2022

Currently, there are about 25 Egyptian reporters behind bars, some of whom have already received sentences. Others are detained without charge, in a country described by press freedom groups as being among the most prolific jailers of journalists.

Around 500 other local and international news outlets and websites are now blocked in Egypt; among them are The New Arab and Human Rights Watch.

One Twitter user said: “If the CNN correspondent is walking on the street asking you about your opinion in Sisi’s rule, what would you like to say? Be as good as your word, Sisi.

Another challenged the CNN reporter to ask Sisi a question about a specific detainee while attaching the man’s photo.

Can you ask Sisi about this guy who was arrested just because he held a sign saying 'Get out, Sisi?'

— ﮼وضوح (@Eriel_224) February 15, 2022

Sisi’s regime has been accused by local and international rights groups of overseeing Egypt's worst crackdown on human rights in decades, with thousands of his critics behind bars. Some have allegedly suffered medical negligence and been left to languish, while dozens of others have been executed.

Others, meanwhile, supported Sisi’s initiative.

One tweeted: “A strong statement from the president that means to go [down the street] and be professional and the people will judge.”

الرئيس #السيسي
يطلب من مذيع "سى إن إن"
التجول بمصر والتحدث مع الناس ورؤية الموقف في مصر في ختام كلمته بمؤتمر "إيجبس 2022" بالقاهرة #السيسي
تصريح قوي من الرئيس يعني انزل ع الارض وخلي عندك مهنيه والشعب هو اللي يحكم ✋

— #αℓℓємвαу153 (@ll_153) February 14, 2022

Another wrote: “Sisi is a mentor and his achievements talks [on his behalf]…Long live Egypt. Long live Sisi.”

#فخامة_الرئيس_السيسي 🇪🇬 لـ مراسل"سى إن إن" : عندك فرصة تنزل وتلف مصر وتتكلم مع الناس وتشوف الموقف المصري#السيسي_معلم_وانجازاته_بتتكلم#تحيا_مصر_وعاش_السيسي

— Dr.Gehan ELSayed Mohamed ⁦🇪🇬⁩⁦⁦🇪🇬⁩⁦🇪🇬⁩ (@GehanELSayedMo3) February 14, 2022

Last month, Egypt had entered into a major arms deal with the US worth $2.5 million. A few days later, however, the US administration withheld $130 million in security assistance to Egypt over human rights concerns.