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Critics mock Sisi for saying freedom of speech ‘stops’ when Muslims are offended

October 29, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi Cairo, Egypt on 13 September 2014 [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Social media users are mocking the Egyptian president online after he said freedom of expression should stop if it offends Muslims.

“And if some have the freedom to express what is in their thoughts, I imagine that this stops when it comes to offending the feelings of more than 1.5 billion people,” he said on the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s birthday.

Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi made the comments as the row between France and Muslim-majority nations heats up after caricatures of the prophet were published in France.

France has insisted that publishing the cartoons is justified under freedom of expression.

Yet as a number of critics pointed out, there is no such thing as freedom of speech in Egypt, where some 60,000 political prisoners languish in jail and the government maintains a tight leash on the press.

During the televised remarks, Al-Sisi said that he rejects violence or any form of terrorism from anyone in the name of defending religion.

READ: Turkey summons French envoy over insulting cartoon

Rights advocates have said that religious minorities fare worse under the current Egyptian government than any other in history.

The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar called for criminalising anti-Muslim actions.

Al-Sisi’s remarks follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to fight Islamist separatism and his support for the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a speech about the French school teacher Samuel Paty who was beheaded in a gruesome terror attack earlier this month.

Anti-French boycotts and protests have taken place across the MENA region with the supermarket chain 4 Shopping Mall removing French goods from its shelves

Calls for boycott of French products - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Calls for boycott of French products – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]