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What Sisi's 'for sale' speech reveals about his personality

In his speeches, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi tries to shape his unique national character through which he tries to appear close to the masses. He does so via a traditional approach, going against the norm and what seems to be deviations from the words in front of him. However, Sisi’s appearances have turned into a puzzle, the pieces of which are hard to put together. In addition to this, the fact that he is constantly going against the norm has actually made this the norm. He exaggerates his expressions and they do not match his gestures and body language.

An analysis of his recent “If I could put myself up for sale” speech was conducted by Al-Khaleej Online. It concluded that Sisi surprises everyone with statements that he knows are shocking, and he does so often. In this speech, he said that if he could put himself up for sale, he would. The audience were forced to clap monotonously after this shock that was unnecessary and did not fit the situation. All that was expected of the president was the application of the logic of sale, privatisation and commodification to the management of Egypt’s struggling economy.

Al-Sisi suffers a fundamental dilemma when addressing the masses, manifesting itself in the form of extreme fabrications that are intended to appear spontaneous, but they don’t. For example, in the part where he expressed his willingness to sell himself, he started by using hand and arm gestures that suggest determination and confidence, but then, suddenly, he cowered and used gestures implying a need for sympathy. He acted as if he shed an invisible tear, relying on the fact that it was not apparent to the naked eye. He then resorted to a moment of silence in order to bring about another round of applause.

He has an amazing ability to display signs of emotional agony, such as lowering his head and shedding a tear. This is because it is consistent with his timid nature, his low voice and his unsocial or introverted manner in the presence of leaders of major countries. Hence, Sisi was forced in this speech to fake expressions of strength and confidence by means of hand and arm gestures, which are easy to practice in order to perform on stage.

What is striking is his tendency to swear oaths in order to stress his astonishing statements about his dedication and sacrifice; “I swear to God,” he exclaimed before expressing his willingness to sell himself. He has also used such expressions in the past, such as when he said that he wished he were the victim of an attack that targeted soldiers in Sinai rather than the actual victims themselves. However, these oaths and vows are usually hesitant and do not have any real expression on his face, hands or body.

In his speeches, Sisi uses contradictory descriptions of the people. Sometimes he refers to them as “us” and other times he refers to them as “the people”. In this speech, he refers to “the people’s mobile phones”, and then asks them, “Who are you?” He uses the different words at different times and in different contexts.

According to Al-Khaleej Online’s analysis, Sisi’s speech was marked with a clear statistical tone, as he mentioned a number of facts and numbers, which came in the form of requests for payments and donations via mobile phones, stating the resulting amounts that could be gathered through this. He also made promises to make residential achievements, but the masses are not touched by such language because of its weakness. However, listing numerical data is usually used to overlook poor performance and a lack of achievement.

Al-Sisi used clear authoritative language as well, where his ego was displayed strongly, and he used gestures, such as wagging his finger repeatedly, to evoke authority. His speech reached the peak of serious authoritative language and expressions when he made demands such as, “If you really love Egypt, you will only listen to me.” He made sharp hand gestures that display firmness and which send a clear message of intimidation and a threat to eliminate any opponents.

Source: Alkhaleejonline, 25 February, 2016

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