Egypt TV draws criticism for documentary on Sisi's rival
Egypt’s state television has drawn scathing criticism from media loyalists of Abdul Fattah Al Sisi, the frontrunner in this spring’s presidential elections, for airing a documentary on his leftist rival following Al Sisi’s announcement that he would run for the presidency.
“This is a scandal for Egyptian TV,” said Ahmad Moussa, a pro-military TV host. “Couldn’t Egyptian TV have found another time to broadcast this report?” Moussa asked on his show on the privately owned station Sadaa Al Balada.
Al Sisi, 59, announced in a TV address on Wednesday that he had stepped down as defence minister to stand for president.
He has been widely popular in Egypt since July last year when he led the military’s ouster of democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi following massive protests against the Islamist leader’s troubled one-year rule.
Al Sisi’s only rival so far for the country’s top post is Hamdeen Sabahi, the leftist politician, who came third in the 2012 presidential vote won by Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“It is absurd that Egyptian TV broadcast a report on Sabahi describing him as a brave struggler immediately after Al Sisi’s announcement of standing for the presidency,” said Moussa. “This confirms that television is controlled by the Brotherhood.”
Other TV personalities were sharply critical of the state broadcaster.
State television has called the criticism “unjustified”.
“The report was aired based on our adherence to impartiality and objectivity because Egyptian television is the people’s television,” the official broadcaster said in a statement on Friday.
“It is regrettable that media people, who should be objective and accurate, have launched such an unjustified attack.”
The announcement of Al Sisi’s presidential bid triggered massive celebrations in the streets and loyalist TV stations.
In a sign of her joy over the ex-general’s announcement, celebrated belly dancer-turned-TV presenter Fifi Abdu let out a cry of joy while presenting a live show on Wednesday night on the Saudi-owned private TV channel MBC Misr.
Al Sisi is expected to win the elections, likely to be held in May.
His supporters see him as being capable of re-establishing security and re-invigorating the economy, which has deteriorated since a 2011 uprising unseated long-standing president Hosni Mubarak, who is also an ex-army officer.
Al Sisi’s secular critics, however, question his commitment to democracy and human rights.