Trump says 'Egypt has a great leader' despite protests

Trump dismisses 'Palacegate' revolution against Egypt's 'favourite dictator' Sisi
2 min read
24 September, 2019
Trump praised Sisi for bringing 'order' to Egypt after taking power in a coup, describing him as a 'great leader'.
Trump has called Sisi his 'favourite dictator [AFP]
US President Donald Trump on Monday shrugged off protests calling for the ousting of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, terming him a "great leader".

Sisi's regime has been rocked by protests that eruped nationwide on Friday last week in response to allegations that the president and military appropriated millions of dollars of public funds to construct luxury residences.

In a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Trump told the Egyptian president he had nothing to worry about.

"Everybody has demonstrations," he said. "No, I'm not concerned with it. Egypt has a great leader."

"He's highly respected," Trump claimed.

Trump earlier struck a different, but similarly genial, tone when he referred to Sisi as his "favourite dictator".

Sisi came to power in 2013 when, at the head of the military, he overthrew Egypt's first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a coup.

He has since been elected president twice in landslide elections that have been widely criticised by human rights organisations who say Sisi's regime has crushed dissent and imprisoned opposition figures and activists.

In Egypt's 2018 presidential election, Sisi's only opposition was an ardent supporter.

Trump on Monday offered support to his "friend" Sisi, saying he had done "absolutely amazing" things in a "short period of time".

"When he took over not so long ago, it was in turmoil," he said. "And it’s not in turmoil now."

Sisi went on to blame the protests on "political Islam".

Public protests have been rare since the 2013 massacre of more than a thousand Morsi supporters in Cairo's Rabaa Square.

When Egyptians called for a "Day of Rage" last week in response to corruption allegations, many analysts claimed demonstrators were unlikely to turn out.

Instead, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Cairo, Suez and other cities, on Friday and Saturday and refreshed the central rallying cry of Egypt's 2011 revolution: "The people want the fall of the regime."

More than 500 people have been detained since Friday in what has been dubbed the "Palacegate" revolution.

Among those detained is award-winning human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry.

Mohamed Ali - a former government contractor whose videos alleging endemic corruption in Sisi's regime went viral this month, sparking the protests - has since called for a "million-man march" to overthrow the president on Friday.