Egypt: Circulation of a petition calling on Sisi to step down puts security on high alert

Egyptian authorities have put the country in a state of high security alert after circulation of an online petition calling on Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to step down.

According to the London-based The New Arab, ‘Egypt’s Technocrats’, as the expats who launched the petition are known as, have asked for the upper and lower houses to be suspended and Sisi to step down.

They have also called for withdrawing confidence from Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s regime, due to an array of failures, including mismanagement of Egyptian economy.

Al-Sisi has embarked on several vanity projects which have cost the country a considerable amount of money with very little return.

In this context, the well-known actor Amr Waked retweeted a post by Mahmoud Wahba, attaching the petition that calls for withdrawing confidence from Sisi and his parliament, demanding the dictator to step down.

Then, Amr Waked tweeted on Wednesday, saying: Withdrawing confidence from Al-Sisi is a trend on Twitter for 3 days. You have to know that this is a great indicator!

In 2014 the government extended the Suez Canal at a cost of $8 billion with the claim that post renovation the revenue would increase to $100 billion a year. However, revenue fell from $5.5 billion to $5.1 billion in 2015 and have never risen sufficiently to repay the loan instalments taken out to fund the project.

The petition for withdrawing confidence from Sisi and his parliament included reasons from the reality of Egypt’s worsening political, economic, and social situation, such as: the hiking prices, waste of the rights of the farmers and dismissing factory workers, displacement of the Egyptian youth due to lack of jobs, food, education, and medical treatment.

Among the points stated in the petition were also: demolition of homes, expropriation of property, detention of 70,000 innocent people without trial, torture of citizens, betrayal of the people, Sisi’s commitment of high treason for waiver of Egyptian territory (including Tiran and Sanafir and Sinai), waiver of Egyptian rights to the Nile River and gas fields, etc.

According to an anonymous security source who shared information on the petition with the New Arab, Egypt’s chief spy Abbas Kamel and other heads of security agencies held a meeting to decide what to do about it.

Some suggestions included hacking the accounts of people circulating it, targeting them with pro-Sisi trolls and reporting them to social media platforms.

The government considers this to be the most alarming threat from citizens abroad, added the source.

Egypt is one of the most repressive regimes in the world, with over 60,000 political prisoners who are systematically tortured. Extrajudicial executions and forcible disappearances are rife in a bid to control free speech.

However, the government has struggled to control expats living abroad, many of whom have used platforms in countries with greater freedom of expression to criticize the government.

Authorities have instead arrested and forcibly disappeared their family members inside Egypt to bully them into silence.