Egyptians call for 'Day of Rage' over 'Sisi corruption'
The slogan synonymous with the Arab Spring protests, #the_people_demand_the_fall_of_the_regime, became Egypt's top trending hashtag on Thursday following the release of viral videos levelling major corruption accusations against the President and calling for his arrest.
Mohammed Ali, who ran a construction business and now allegedly in self-exile in Spain, released a spate of videos accusing Sisi of squandering billions worth of government funds to build extravagant residences for himself and the armed forces.
Ali also alleges the government owes him hundreds of millions of pounds for projects his company was commissioned to build, including luxurious palaces for Sisi.
In a video published on Thursday evening, Ali called on all Egyptians to take to the streets on Friday evening after the football match between Cairo's Al-Ahly and Zamalek, to "express their rejection of Sisi".
He also called on the defense minister to acknowledge the protests and force Sisi to step down, or arrest him.
Many are sceptical that the millions participating in the online furore following Ali’s videos will materialise demonstrations on the street, however the level of online dissent has not been witnessed in years.
On Friday, another call for protest, #Friday_of_rage became among the top trends on Twitter globally, with people posting photos of Egypt's 2011 uprising alongside comments such as "let's do it again".
Fridays are traditionally days of mass protest in Arab and Islamic countries.
Alongside his video dispatches, Ali launched the hashtag #ThatsEnoughSisi, which was tweeted more than one million times, becoming the number one Twitter hashtag worldwide for two days in a row.
The prospect of mass protests on Friday have caused Sisi to consider cancelling his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York, scheduled for Saturday, so he can hold emergency meetings to quash the unrest, according to government sources.
The wave of criticism of the regime's mismanagement and corruption poses the biggest threat to Sisi’s rule since the protests following his coup that ousted Mohammed Morsi in 2013, high-level government sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.
Another source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that many high-ranking members of the military and state institutions have turned against Sisi who they now consider a "burden" on the state, and have been waiting for the right moment to attempt to overthrow the autocrat.
Various instances of Sisi's personal corruption have angered officials, including having his son Mahmoud promoted to senior levels of the General Intelligence Service, while forcibly retiring other employees.
Fears have also been rising over Sisi's personal appointment of the country's top judges, sparking criticism that the judiciary will lose independence.
The move came as part of sweeping constitutional changes which extend the president's term in office and give the military even greater influence over Egyptian political life.