It’s common for politicians to appeal to histories of struggle and poverty to boost their standing with the common people. Think Donald Trump claiming he’s a self-made man, or Britain’s Margaret Thatcher famously becoming prime minister from humble beginnings as the daughter of a grocer.
It’s equally common for those claims of normality to fall flat on closer inspection. Trump is the inheritor of a large family fortune and business empire. And when she was prime minister, Thatcher famously failed to correctly guess the price of a pint of milk, a slip that made her appear rather alien to the travails of the everyday worker.
And this week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi also enrolled in the school of political hard knocks – to widespread mockery in his country.
The General told a crown that he had also struggled through tough times – because he had once lived for ten years with only water in the refrigerator.
He made the comments at the opening of a youth conference in Sharm el Sheikh. “I swear by Great God, I spent 10 years with only water in my refrigerator, and nobody heard anything about it,” he told an audience. “And I'm from a very wealthy family.” Link to comments
“I'm sorry that I have to say this about myself, but it is pride and bashfulness,” he continued. “Depending on yourself only, it is not easy."
Unsurprisingly, the response to the comments were merciless in their mockery of the president. The hashtag #Sisi’sFridge was quickly trending across the Arab world.
So your dad gave you 30 million after his death, which you donated to the Tahya Misr fund... He couldn’t even bring you one kilogram of cucumber for your fridge while you were suffering?
The best comment on the lie by Sisi was by journalist Mohammad Nasser. He said he could had sold the refrigerator and bought some meat.
For sale: a refrigerator, used by the doctor of the philosophers. Used only for water in 10 years.
The comment is just the latest in Sisi’s illustrious history of laughable statements, which have included encouraging grandmothers to sell their earrings for Egypt and pledging not to eat or sleep until Cairo’s slums are cleared.
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