scorecardTrump's 'favorite dictator' just rounded up 2,000 people peacefully calling for an end to military rule
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Trump's 'favorite dictator' just rounded up 2,000 people peacefully calling for an end to military rule

Trump's 'favorite dictator' just rounded up 2,000 people peacefully calling for an end to military rule
DefenseDefense3 min read

FILE PHOTO: Small groups of protesters gather in central Cairo shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo, Egypt September 21, 2019.REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo


Small groups of protesters shout anti-government slogans in Cairo, September 21, 2019.

  • At least 2,000 people have been arrested for calling to an end to the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, according to rights groups and reports from Egypt.
  • The protests began after a former military contractor and actor living in exile went viral for videos in which he said Sisi built ornate palaces for himself while ordinary Egyptians struggle with poverty.
  • Sisi took control of the country in a military coup in 2013. President Donald Trump called Sisi his "favorite dictator" at the G7 summit in September.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

At least 2,000 people calling for an end to the autocratic military rule of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have been arrested since protests started on September 20.

Political rivals and ordinary citizens alike have been jailed, The Wall Street Journal's Jared Malsin and Amira El-Fekki reported Friday. Sisi came into power in a military coup that forced out democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, who died in court in June.

Al-Jazeera reports that political scientist Hassan Nafaa was jailed after calling for Sisi's ouster on Twitter.

Read more: Protester is called Hong Kong's 'tank man' for standing between crowd and police aiming guns

"I have no doubt that the continuation of Sisi's absolute rule will lead to disaster, and that Egypt's interest requires his departure today before tomorrow, but he will only leave with public pressure from the street," he wrote Wednesday

Opposition leader Khaled Dawoud and academic Hazem Hosny have also been arrested, Al-Jazeera reported, as have journalists and foreign nationals, according to Human Rights Watch. Pro-government contingents have blamed the protests on foreign intelligence services.

As Human Rights Watch reports, detainees are being held in secret prisons where their legal representatives are not allowed.

Trump's favorite dictator

Sisi, who President Donald Trump called his "favorite dictator" at the G7 summit earlier this month, has cracked down brutally on dissent while in power, shutting down hundreds of websites, censoring media, and imprisoning thousands.

According to Human Rights Watch, during the current protests the government has blocked websites covering politics and the news, including BBC Arabic, in order to prevent information from spreading and has blocked some social-media platforms protesters use to communicate.

Middle East Eye reports that metro stations leading to downtown Cairo are out of service and that roadblocks and checkpoints have cut off access to Tahrir Square.

Staff at one of Cairo's major hospitals told Middle East Eye that Egypt's Interior Ministry instructed them to report the names of protestors who came to the hospital for treatment.

'All Egypt is Tahrir Squares'

People gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt September 20, 2019.  REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh


People gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, September 20, 2019.

At the center of the protests is Mohamed Ali, a former contractor for the Egyptian military, who has called for a million-person march in cities throughout Egypt.

Ali, who says that Sisi has used public funds to build elaborate homes for himself, has gone viral in a series of videos encouraging demonstrations throughout Egypt, including the famed pyramids at Giza.

"All Egypt is Tahrir Squares," Ali says in one video, referencing the Cairo square where protests calling for the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak occurred during the Arab Spring in 2011.

"March on the pyramids and the Sphinx. There is no better place. It's spacious and comfortable to gather there. The entire world will have their cameras there," Ali says, according to Middle East Eye.

Sisi admitted to building the palaces but claimed they were for all Egyptians. Egypt has been plagued by poverty - one-third of Egyptians now live in poverty, an increase during Sisi's rule, according to The Journal - and a decline in tourism due to instability, making the extravagant spending all the more galling for many.