Social media users in Egypt and the Arab world responded to Al-Sisi’s presidential bid announcement with a very offensive viral hashtag that swept Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is Egypt’s resigned Minister of Defence, presidential hopeful, and leader of the military coup that ousted the country’s first democratically elected civilian president Mohamed Morsi. Since the coup, the regime installed by Al-Sisi has committed at least 36 massacres, the most bloody of which was the Rabaa massacre which led to the killing of thousands of unarmed civilians in one day.
Angry social media users in Egypt and the Arab world resorted to the hashtag to express their contempt. The hashtag reads #انتخبوا_العرص which in Arabic refers to a highly offensive insult meaning “the pimp; or the guardian of vice.” English-language users also used a literal translation of the hashtag #elect_the_pimp, which has also been translated to German and French, among other languages.
In its fourth day, according to keyhole real-time tracker, the hashtag achieved more than 105 million impressions, 21 million reach, 17,000 users, and 61,000 Tweets.
The inventors of the hashtag explain in their Facebook page that it is meant as an offense to the coup leader who oversaw the killing of thousands of civilians and unseated a democratically elected president. Despite Al-Sisi’s numerous promises that he was not seeking power, he is now running for president. The offensive hashtag in their view denotes Al-Sisi’s betrayal of the president who appointed him and a violation of his oath of office.
The hashtag has now become a major chant in the ongoing anti-coup protests across Egypt. It has also been extended to the streets, painted on walls, banknotes and public means of transportation.
Supporters of Al-Sisi launched a counter hashtag titled “I will elect Sisi”. However, it did not achieve the same reach as the offensive hashtag. The pro-Sisi hashtag got more than 470,000 impressions, 461,000 reach, and 82 users, and one hundred tweet, according to Keyhole tracker.
A pro-Sisi presenter slammed the campaign, and said it aims at “moral assassination” of Al-Sisi before the elections.