Friday, March 11, 2016

Azza al-Hanawi criticizes the neo-Pharaoh

In the land of the Pharaoh, it is difficult to be Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron). Either you compromise your dignity ready to bow down to the altar of the tyrant or get out to the Sinai to save yourself from his evil.

The latest Pharaohnic figure to rule Nile Delta is President Abd el-Fatah el-Sisi. He has put tens of thousands of Muslims behind the prison for being opposed to his illegal power grab. He has executed many of his opponents, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood that had won elections multiple times in Egypt's only free election.

Egyptian broadcaster Azza al-Hanawi is known as one of the only voices in the Egyptian media who is willing to criticize President Abd el-Fatah el-Sisi. She has been criticized and warned previously for her boldness to speak her mind.
Last Sunday, during her program, Cairo News, al-Hanawi criticized the president in an unprecedented manner when covering one of his latest speeches. "We have witnessed a speech by Hitler," she said during an interview with Osama Shahata, who is linked to the el-Sisi administration.  "This a declaration of a dictatorship in the country," she said. To emphasize her point, she even satirically made a Nazi hand gesture when speaking to Shahata. 

In the speech in question, the president offered to "sell himself" in order to help the country financially. In response, opposition members offered to sell him on eBay.

In the same speech, el-Sisi also requested that all Egyptian citizens work to improve the economic situation in Egypt, and even demanded that they only listen to him and no one else.
 “There isn’t one issue that you have resolved since you came … There are only a couple of months left until your two-year mark and you promised Egyptians that they would see a different Egypt within two years. We are waiting.”

Hennawy addressed Sisi by saying, "You tell people to work and you don't do anything," the controversial broadcaster retorted, and claimed that since his rise to power, el-Sisi hasn't solved a single problem. The interviewee responded in kind and told the broadcaster regarding her strong allegations that "you are speaking about your president as if he isn't you're president. We are a nation that finds itself in a difficult situation."

"As the president requests the nation to work, he must also work," al-Hanawi responded. Throughout the program, she spoke about rampant corruption, alleging that it is worse than terror; issues in the prison system; and the war on human rights workers in the country.

Her strong remarks, spoken on a state-affiliated channel, caused an uproar on Egyptian social media pages and other media outlets, especially in the Egyptian Broadcasting Authority, known by the nickname "the explainers."

Despite worsening economic and political conditions, the media remains careful about criticizing President Sisi and instead direct their criticism toward other bodies, such as the cabinet or parliament, while offering advice or pity to the president. In an opinion piece on March 1, Al-Masry Al-Youm columnist Mohamed Amin wrote that the president is working alone, in the absence of a functioning parliament, as well as the absence of a government.

Azza has been suspended last Thursday. It was not her first time. In November 2015, Hennawy was suspended and referred to internal disciplinary investigations for criticizing Sisi and his government in light of the floods in Alexandria and the Delta. She was also suspended under the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi for criticizing his administration.

I am glad that when free Egyptian men are too scared and are willing to hide under the skirt, there is at least a woman to speak her mind freely.

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