Joy, anger and mockery greet Sisi announcement
- 27 March 2014
- From the section Middle East
Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's presidential bid split media comment between supporters of the armed forces chief and those of the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
On social media, the Brotherhood and its supporters treated the news as proof that last year's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi's was a coup, while the field marshal's backers praised his "sincere" speech.
Some young activists ridiculed his emollient tone and the poster that served as his backdrop.
Egyptian state television broadcast his speech and followed it with a positive profile of the field marshal, and the speech dominated evening talk-shows on private and state-run channels.
Magdy el-Gallad, the presenter of the private CBC TV's We Need To Understand programme, said the speech was "carefully prepared and of high quality".
State TV breakfast programmes interviewed members of the public who backed the bid. Many believed that there was "no alternative to Sisi", or that he was the "most qualified person to lead the country".
Muslim Brotherhood TV channels did not report the field marshal's announcement or comment on it.
'On the threshold'
All newspapers led on the news, with private dailies seeing Field Marshal Sisi as the frontrunner.
"Sisi embarks on the presidential path," said Al-Tahrir under a large photo of the former defence minister, and Al-Watan agreed that Sisi was "on the threshold of the presidency".
Al-Youm al-Sabi noted that this was the first resignation by a commander-in-chief "in the history of the military", illustrating its front page with two pictures of Field Marshal Sisi - one in uniform with the caption "today", and the other in a suit entitled "tomorrow".
'More than wonderful'
Twitter came alive with comment as soon as the field marshal started his speech on Wednesday night, with the hashtag #Sisi in English and Arabic trending heavily.
His political supporters with major Twitter followings praised the speech.
Activist Hazim Abdul Azim called it "sincere" and a "more than wonderful statement", while Mustafa Bakri tweeted: "The field marshal's speech... sets the priorities for rebuilding the modern democratic state and addresses security and economic challenges."
The only candidate in the presidential race, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, was also positive, but warned that the election must be free.
"I welcome the candidacy of Mr Abdul Fattah al-Sisi; we seek a fair and transparent election that guarantees the state's neutrality and the people's right to choose their president of their own free will," he wrote.
The Brotherhood and its supporters, on the other hand, denounced the news.
Brotherhood website Ikhwanonline said Field Marshal Sisi's announcement was "a clear confession that lacks no evidence of his plotting against constitutional legitimacy, his coup against elected President Dr Mohammed Morsi, and his cancelling of the people's will and the Egyptian people's decision".
Mr Morsi's prominent supporters on social media agreed. Dr Bassim Khafagi tweeted: "The coup criminal proved he only acted to stage a coup, that the coup was nothing more than personal ambition. He performed an injustice, and injured and imprisoned people to fulfil the dream of one person."
Referring to the day when millions of people took to the streets to demand Mr Morsi's resignation, TV presenter Ahmed Mansour wrote on Facebook: "Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's nomination for the presidency entrenches the military coup and asserts that the 30 June play has entered a new chapter among its farcical chapters."
Some online activists ridiculed the announcement as no surprise, and mocked the field marshal's gentle tone and the poster that was hung behind him for the announcement.
"Can you believe it - I'm surprised," tweeted activist Nawara Negm.
Esraa Nasr asked: "The fact Sisi will run for president is no surprise, the fact he speaks like [radio presenter] Osama Mounir is no surprise, but what is the garden in the background: is he in a field?"
"Vote Awatif," tweeted blogger Amr Ezzat. "Awatif", which means emotions in Arabic but is also a girl's name, was used on social media to describe the timbre of Field Marshal Sisi's voice.
Ezzat's tweet was retweeted dozens of times, and the hashtag #Vote_Awatif was created in Arabic.