By Randa Darwish
“I’m trying to get you out of this rut and you do a hashtag saying ‘Leave, Sisi’. Should I be saddened or not?”
This is what the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi said on Saturday during a youth conference at Cairo University in regard to an online campaign pressuring him to resign.
It took Egyptians a few hours to revive the hashtag around a month after it was first-launched. It quickly began to trend as Egyptians joined an online chorus asking for Sisi to resign.
This did not last long. After the hashtag saw more than 50,000 tweets in 24 hours, Egyptian activists noticed it was removed from the Twitter trends list in a very obscure step.
Translation: “Someone explain to me how this hashtag reachede more 145K tweets and it is not on the trend list? Do the Emiratis have powers that allow them to do this [control Twitter]?”
And as Twitter Middle East regional headquarters are based in Dubai, the first was to blame for such a step was the UAE government who strictly controls media and internet in the country.
Translation: “As usual and for the second time, Dubai-based Twitter Middle East removes hashtag: “Leave, Sisi” from the trends, simply because it contradicts the policy of the UAE government. Is it part from Twitter’s policy to be in compatible with the UAE policies? Politicizing Twitter.”
This was also attributed to the strong relations between the UAE and Egypt, as UAE played a strategic role in supporting Sisi after the military removed former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and Sisi took the office in 2014.
Also, Egypt joined the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in their anti-Qatar ally and cut all diplomatic ties with the country accusing it of supporting terrorism and aligning with Iran against their interests.
Rumors in regard to Twitter meddling in politics and being controlled by governments have been on the rise recently. The latest was by US Donald Trump who accused Twitter of shadow banning Republicans.
In response, Twitter dismissed accusations saying they do not ban people based on their political views, however, they faced technical issue in the search and it was resolved,
Egyptians have been struggling to survive with regular price hikes, in addition to the lack of health services, government services, education as well as an economic crisis, since Egypt floated their pound in 2016. This all came seven years after the January 25th, 2011 revolution, in which Egyptians ended 30 years of dictatorial Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
And now, with “Sisi, Leave” campaign, Egyptians are hoping to revive their revolution for more justice and dignity.