Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has described the 2011 Egyptian revolution as “the wrong cure to the wrong diagnosis”, according to the Egypt Independent.
Speaking at the 29th Armed Forces Educational Symposium, Al-Sisi argued that the Arab Spring that toppled Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, had achieved insufficient change due to a lack of understanding among the people of what the problems in the country were.
2011 was the wrong cure to the wrong diagnosis. People had the wrong vision that if we remove this [president] and bring this [president], the magic wand will solve their problems. Now I am being very honest when I say: now, the enemy is not visible. He lives among us.
He went on to reference the arrest of former Egyptian officer Hisham Al-Ashmawy, who took up arms against the Egyptian military in the Sinai desert after the coup that deposed democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. Al-Sisi compared his detention to the death of Armed Forces commander Ahmed Al-Mansi who was killed in the Sinai.
“Both were people, and both were policemen. But one of them got confused and possibly betrayed, while the other knew what it took to protect a country,” he claimed. “One we salute, and the other, we want to catch in order to punish.”
He concluded by calling on Egyptians to support and protect the country from internal threats.
“All I ask from Egyptians is to protect this country the way they protected it, through knowledge and patience. We have to keep building, and every time you are sad, build more,” he declared.
Since the 2011 revolution, Egypt has witnessed a dramatic suppression of freedom and an increase in regulatory legislation; action justified by the government as necessary for “national security”. The Muslim Brotherhood party, which played an instrumental role in the revolution and was subsequently elected to power, has since been banned and declared a terrorist group.
The Egyptian government has also launched a crackdown on anyone suspected of opposing President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi or his policies and has implemented laws that affect vocal media organisations, journalists and NGOs.
In the Sinai, where the Egyptian military is targeting militants and Daesh cells, the government has promoted the narrative that its counter-insurgency efforts are successful and heroic. However, it has severely restricted access to the region for media and human rights workers seeking to monitor the situation in the eastern province, and has moved to punish anyone who deviates from the official line.
In August, Sinai expert Ismail Iskandarani was sentenced to ten years in prison for reporting critically on operations in North Sinai. Last month, television presenter Hossam El-Shorbagy also had his house in the city of Arish, North Sinai set on fire, an act in retribution for his role as a journalist.