Sisi’s invitation to CNN anchor to interview Egyptians sparks mixed reactions on social media
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:
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.
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.”
Another wrote: “Sisi is a mentor and his achievements talks [on his behalf]…Long live Egypt. Long live Sisi.”
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.