A woman is heckled as she argues that the media should be a platform for the youth to express themselves at a conference organized by a popular campaign supporting presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The conference, organized by “The Egyptian People,” one of the popular campaigns supporting Sisi, is set to discuss the future of the media and its challenges under a Sisi presidency.
“I don’t want the media to only show someone saying ‘Long live Sisi,’ I want them to show the youth who oppose him and ask why,” she tries to explain amid the commotion.
She explains that her children have turned on her because she supports Sisi and the military. “Sisi’s campaign should listen to the youth,” she pleads. “I am trying to relay to you how the youth think and why they protest at universities.”
“Because they are funded,” someone yells.
Another attendee approaches the podium where she is standing, bearing a defiant look and chanting “Long live Egypt,” in protest at the suggestion that anti-Sisi youth should be heard.
Another offers friendly advice, telling the woman that she needs to raise her childrens’ awareness, as “they are only scared of tomorrow.”
Many of these staunch supporters of the former field marshal also appear to have a soft spot for former president Hosni Mubarak.
In reference to Mubarak, journalist Mohamed Faris uses the term “ousted president,” as he addresses attendees. Many of them respond, yelling, “He stepped down, he was not ousted!”
This back and forth continues intermittently throughout the speaker’s address, and is interrupted by someone who attempts to ease the tension by chanting “Long live Sisi.” This seems to remind them of their common sentiment for the presidential candidate, after which they all join in agreement, “Long live Sisi.”
While speakers affirm they all took part in the January 25 uprising and spent 18 days in Tahrir Square, Tarek Zeidan, head of the Thawra Party, concludes the conference with a disclaimer, saying “Hosni Mubarak gained my respect after I learned that he tried to prevent bloodshed during the uprising.”
The conference starts an hour and 45 minutes later than scheduled, and the dozen or so waiting listen to “Boshret Kheir,” a catchy song in which Emirati sensation Hussein al-Jasmi urges Egyptians to vote, on loop. A few use this time to pose next to Sisi banners flashing peace and CC signs.
Despite the conference title: “The media: Prospects and challenges facing the presidential candidate,” panelists’ discussions focus less on the media during a Sisi presidency and more around the ways it can support him.
“We need to stand behind Sisi,” journalist Mahasin Senousi, also the spokesperson for the “Egyptian People” campaign, says. “It is not that we are against Hamdeen Sabbahi, but at the end of the day there will only be one president.”
Senousi claims the role of the media in both the January 25 and June 30 revolutions cannot be denied, but that there have been “blunders” over the past three years. She adds that some media figures have admitted their mistakes — in chanting “down with military rule” for example — and rectified them.
Panelists agree that there needs to be a “charter of honor,” and regulations under which the media can operate, emphasizing its role in building and strengthening Egypt.
All speakers conclude their addresses by urging listeners to head to the polls next week and pledge their votes to the former field marshal. Their addresses are constantly interrupted by chants of, “We love you Sisi,” and “Sisi you are real, like the Nile and like the dam,” instigated by a group of women from the campaign wearing Sisi pins, one of them waving an Egyptian flag upside down.
Journalist Jailan Balbaa praises Sisi, saying he saved Egypt from a Zionist and American conspiracy.
“The young people who chant against the military surely don’t understand,” she said. “They need to read up on history.”
The evening closes with a rendition of a song without music in praise of the presidential hopeful, after which “Boshret Kheir” is blasted again, as attendees dance their way out of the conference hall.