On September 20, the Egyptians were again on the streets in Cairo, Alexandria, Al-Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Mansoura, Mahalla El-Kubra, Suez, Damietta, and as far as Aswan. Anger spread like a wildfire, to 15 cities across the country. To the screams of "Sisi get out!", protesters demanded the president resign and his regime fall. Defying the ban on demonstrations that had been in place since the military coup of July 2013 that deposed the late President Mohamed Morsi, the young protesters tried to confront, night after night, the police forces, which did not hesitate to fire live ammunition along with tear gas grenades.
Cairo’s legendary Tahrir Square was quickly sealed off and at least 516 demonstrators were arrested in Cairo and other cities across the country, according to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. This local human rights NGO immediately issued an alert number on social networks to prevent forced disappearances.
What detonated this wave of protests was a series of viral videos, posted since mid-September on social networks by Mohamed Ali, former actor of B-series films who became a BTP subcontractor for the Ministry of Defense... and finally skipped town. From Catalonia, where he took refuge with his family, this young businessman posted “Mohamed Ali Secrets" on his Youtube channel, with a plot like that of a soap opera, filled with twists and turns. He accused Marshal Al-Sisi of wasting public money on his future palace and the army of spending billions of Egyptian pounds on real estate projects, including a luxury hotel in a suburb of Cairo.
His company, Amalk Contractors, did indeed carry out work on the construction site of the sumptuous presidential residence under construction in the new capital fit for a Pharaoh, but he was not paid. That is a loss of 25 million Egyptian pounds (1.4 million euros, $1,54 m.) that stuck in his throat! His revenge would have no limits! Episode after episode, Ali recounts the sumptuous life of Al-Sissi and his clan, illustrated by excerpts from the President's speeches in which he asks the Egyptians to tighten their belts, "for the building of a great Egypt"!
Was it a coincidence of the calendar? On the same day Al-Sisi flew to New York to attend the United Nations Assembly, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech on September 25, Mohamed Ali called for the first time on Egyptians to express their anger in the streets after the football match between the two major teams in the capital. A whistleblower for some, a puppet for others, this person who now thinks he is a leader posted a new video in which he asks Egyptians to participate in a “million-person march" on Friday, September 27, in all the country's major cities. "I was as surprised as you were to see how many people were on the streets (...) this revolution of the people. (...) We must unite (...) and organize ourselves to go down to the main squares. We have until Friday to get there," he said before demanding the authorities release those arrested during the first demonstration.
Mohamed Ali has had his 15 minutes of fame on youtube and also in the international media, as in Spain's El País, which shows the "millionaire hidden in Barcelona" sitting on his blue Ferrari (more chic than red)
However, this unprecedented full-scale attack on Marshal Al-Sisi and his entourage of capitalists in uniform left the Egyptians in a wait-and-see situation. Speculation has proceeded well: Mohamed Ali's revelations about conflicts between generals to capture shares in lucrative projects and companies "privatized" by the army have reportedly caused a furious anger among officers who were excluded from these business opportunities. Opponents of the military regime, for their part, hastened to rush into the breach.
From his exile in Lebanon, the popular Ayman Nour, president of the social-liberal "Revolution's Tomorrow Party", called for the establishment of a democratic transition with elections to be held as soon as possible.
From his bed at Maadi Military Hospital, Samy Annan, a retired general sentenced to 10 years in prison in January 2018 for running for President without the permission of his peers in the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, broadcast on social networks a "call to the living forces of the army", urging "the sons of the armed forces to protect the will of the people. “
In any case, the President made no comment on these demonstrations. When the first videos were broadcast, Al-Sisi simply refuted them at the 8th National Youth Conference... organized hastily, according to some sources, to give him the opportunity to respond publicly to his detractor.
"These are lies and their purpose is to break the will of the Egyptians and to make them lose all hope and self-confidence (...) I have built palaces and I will continue to do so. But not for me! Not for me, for constructing the state, for Egypt! (...) Every old woman in her house is praying for me and believes me,“ he said, as he took in his grasp the audience hand-picked to witness his words at a workshop entitled: “The influence of the media on the dismantling of the state through the spread of lies." It was a wolf's response to the shepherdess, punctuated by the paternal tremolo, not to mention the usual rhetoric about "the threat to national security" and the sacrifices needed to "build a state"!
But behind the scenes, the little pharaoh's anger was unleashed on Major General Abbas Kamel, head of the General Intelligence Service (GIS, attached to the presidency), who passed it onto Egypt's ambassador to Spain, as well as on the head of the National Security Service, accused of having let the sulfurous Mohamed Ali escape. In short, a battle is raging again between two competing intelligence services, both involved in the murder of Giulio Regeni, a young Italian doctoral student whose body was found badly tortured on February 3, 2016, in a ditch along the highway that links Cairo to Alexandria....
Egyptians continue left in suspense following successive episodes of this incredible soap opera, which was also played out in the street but not with the expected result. Mohamed Ali's gestures finally only had the effect of a wet firecracker. However, it is certain that the pot has been boiling for some time in Egypt, even though society is facing unprecedented repression.