'Let them eat cake' former mufti tells hungry Egyptians

'Let them eat cake' former mufti tells hungry Egyptians
Egypt's former mufti has told Egyptians who can't afford to eat meat to stop complaining and have a slice of cake instead.
3 min read
09 Jul, 2018
Ali Gomaa has constantly expressed unrelenting support for the Sisi regime [Getty]

Egyptians should stop complaining about skyrocketing  meat prices and eat cake instead, the country's former mufti has said.

Ali Gomaa - a cleric the Egyptian state heavily relies on for stanch support - defended Cairo's austerity measures using mixing his religious credentials with a bizarre take on nutrition in a recent TV interview.

"You all complain that meat is too expensive and you say 'oh so what are we going to eat?'" he said.

"No, we shouldn't be talking like that! Allah created us needing 3,000 calories a day... 3,200 calories a day."

He then went on to completely disregard basic nutrition advice and spoke about the calories in cake, saying this is a suitable alternative to meat.

"A piece of cake is 900 calories. So if you ate two pieces, that's it, as if you have eaten breakfast or dinner or whatever else."

Gomaa's outreach to justify the hike in prices using fact-deprived nutrition made him subject to mockery on social media.

The human body does not need 3,000 calories to survive - each grown adult has a set amount of calories they need to eat depending on various biological and external factors, but it is usually set well below the figure given by Gomaa.

Calories themselves do not signal how healthy or nutritious food is, as macronutrients between different foods that have the same amount of calories can differ greatly.

Considering much of Egyptian cuisine is vegetarian, vegan or can be veganised, he seemed to show a lacking of knowledge of the plethora of nutritious alternatives to meat-based cuiside his own culture has to offer.

To the relief of his viewers, a slice of cake is not 900 calories. The average slice of cake has 300 calories.

Despite his humorous attempt to lecture the Egyptian public on nutrition using pseudo-science, Gomaa's comments have been viewed as highly insensitive to the millions of Egyptians who have seen their living standards fall in recent years.

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi defended the latest austerity measures introduced in the country, and which activists and economists say hits the poorest the most. 

The government recently said it would raise the price of electricity and tap water as part of a wider initiative to qualify for a three-year $12 billion IMF loan, which Egypt secured in 2016. A new round of subsidy cuts is also expected soon. 

Sisi said late Tuesday in televised remarks that the country spends 330 billion Egyptian pounds ($18.6 billion) annually in fuel, food and electricity subsidies. Each family receives about $60 per year, he said. 

His comments came hours after the government announced it would slash electricity subsidies, pushing up the average cost by 26 percent.