Egypt's rival camps wage online battle over Sisi
Encouraged by rare protests that erupted last week in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, Sisi opponents have bombarded social media platforms with fiery content under the Arabic-language hashtags #Sisiyouarefinished and #Sisileave.
But they've faced fervent counter-attacks from the president's backers, using #longliveSisi and #theywantchaos.
The Internet is the only space in Egypt where the authorities have not yet silenced critics and in the past week, sites like Twitter and Facebook have morphed into battlefields.
"Walls of Freedom": immortalising the Egyptian Revolution
The book "Walls of Freedom" presents readers with images of the street art of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. The English-language photo book is published by the activist and street artist Don Karl (aka Stone). In Egypt, the work has fallen victim to censorship. Wafah Al-Badri offers his impressions of "Walls of Freedom"
"Honour for the Unknown": this wall painting on Mohamed Mahmoud Street depicts a homeless child who lost his life on Tahrir Square during the revolution. The painting is the work of Ammar Abu Bakr, who says, "Our walls show the truth, and the book 'Walls of Freedom' serves as our tool to share the events of the revolution with the world."
The book "Walls of Freedom" was published in 2013 and shows works of graffiti dealing with the Egyptian Revolution and the events that followed after 2011. The book was published in English by Don Karl, who hails from Berlin, in collaboration with the Egyptian designer Basma Hamdy.
Just as the pharaohs of bygone days immortalised themselves with images on the walls of their temples, modern-day Egyptian artists preserve the memory of the events surrounding the January Revolution on the walls of their cities with graffiti and wall murals. Alaa Awad painted this work of graffiti in memory of thousands of football fans who lost their lives in 2012.
The streets surrounding Tahrir Square have become a gallery for street artists. The graffiti depicted here bears the title "Egyptian Identity" and was painted by Ammar Abu Bakr and Alaa Abd El Hamid. The Arabic calligraphy was provided by Sameh Ismael and the poem was written by Ahmed Aboul Hassan.
In 2011, Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo was the site of bloody clashes between demonstrators and the security forces. Now it is a central part of this art gallery of the revolution. It features a work of graffiti by Abood with the title "State vs. Freedom." Basma Hamdy photographed the piece and published it in "Walls of Freedom."
This is the work of Ammar Abu Bakr and Farik, who belong to the "No Walls" movement. The trompe-l'oeil of a street scene is painted on the blocks of a barricade put up during the revolution to prevent demonstrators from storming the Interior Ministry.
The photographer who works under the pseudonym "El-Zeft" captured this image and named it "Peace Machine." The book "Walls of Freedom" features some 750 photographs and expressive works of graffiti by close to 100 artists. The publication of this book was forbidden in Egypt because it supposedly incites the reader to engage in violence against the government.
Portraits of the heroes of the revolution: "The police would remove a work of graffiti even if it served to honour one of their own men – just as they removed my graffiti of General Batran, who lost his life during the first attacks of the revolution," says Ammar Abu Bakr.
This work of graffiti by the artist Hanaa El Degham ironically portrays the queues of Egyptians waiting to vote. The queue is just as long as that of Egyptians having to wait for gas cylinders, often resulting in skirmishes between those waiting.
Activists have taken inspiration from a series of viral videos posted on Facebook by Egyptian entrepreneur and actor Mohamed Ali, accusing Sisi and the military of corruption. His videos, filmed from his exile in Spain and shared millions of times, sparked shock rallies last Friday where protesters clashed with police and called for Sisi's ousting.
Some demonstrated in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak.
"The call for peaceful demonstrations on Friday is not a call for destruction, devastation and chaos, but a call for hope," Egyptian scientist Essam Heggy, who works in the U.S. with space agency NASA, wrote Thursday on Twitter.
But pro-Sisi politician Mustafa Bakry slammed online opposition activists as "traitors", blaming the unrest on the Muslim Brotherhood – outlawed as a "terrorist organisation" since 2013 but long one of the country's most organised political forces. "The Egyptian people will not be the instrument for your return to power," he tweeted.
Mohammed Morsi, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member, became Egypt's first civilian, democratically elected president in 2012. But the following year, the military – led by Sisi – ousted him following mass protests against his divisive rule.
Social media networks played a central role in Egypt's 2011 uprising, but Sisi has tightened Internet controls since being elected president in May 2014. Shortly after Friday's rallies, the popular Facebook Messenger app and news sites were hit by disruptions.
The 2011 uprising was partly triggered by a Facebook page created in solidarity with a young Egyptian tortured to death by police officers in 2010.
Political science professor Mustafa Kamel al-Sayed said that the protests "this time have no leader, they're spontaneous". But disgruntled businessman Ally’s railings against Sisi's alleged graft from exile in Spain have created a focal point for protesters.
Pro-government media have launched a fierce campaign against both Ali and the Muslim Brotherhood. Foreign channels considered close to the Brotherhood, like Qatar's Al Jazeera broadcaster, have also been targets.
On Saudi-run channel MBC Egypt, boisterous pro-Sisi host Amr Adib has slammed Ali and aired footage of him allegedly in a drunken stupor.
Egyptian celebrities and key Sisi backers have also chimed in on social media, posting videos and photos showing their support for the president. They include famous belly dancer Fifi Abdou, who posted an Instagram clip criticising those she said want to create "chaos" in Egypt.
On YouTube, a video emerged of Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel-Wahab at a concert in Saudi Arabia, where her husband joins her on stage to express their backing for Sisi and the Egyptian army.
In March, the pop star was temporarily suspended from Egypt's musicians union after joking about the lack of free speech in the country. Last year, she was sentenced to six months in prison but acquitted on appeal after suggesting drinking from the Nile River leads to illness.
Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 1,500 people since Friday's protests, according to rights groups. The broadening crackdown has also seen prominent critics detained including lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists. (AFP)