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Maverick media figure Tawfiq Okasha to give up parliamentary seat, leave the country
Tawfiq Okasha

Notorious maverick television figure Tawfiq Oksaha came out swinging at National Security and General Intelligence Sunday night, saying he has been the target of harassment, and will resign from parliament and seek political asylum in Germany.

In an interview on ONtv with Youssef al-Husseiny, Okasha criticized what he described as a “security mentality” which runs the state and is “uncreative and incapable of development.”

A staunch supporter of the state since and incendiary critic of the figures associated with the January 25 uprising, Okasha’s relationship with the state has ran into some bumps in the last few months.

Okasha said that dreams of a democratic state that peaked on June 30 after 60 years of “a one-man show and democracy charade,” were crushed by the realization that “someone still wants us to continue on this 60-year-old path.”

In 2012 he was taken off the air and faced charges of insulting Morsi on his channel, Al-Faraeen.

He conceded in the interview that he had been close with the security apparatus before Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, that they used him as a “front man, someone they can hide behind,” since he had a large following and was against the Muslim Brotherhood.

“My relationship with security was like yours,” he said to Husseiny. “You and all media personalities before June 30.”

“I wasn’t a friend to security,” retorted Husseiny — himself an unapologetic supporter of Sisi and critic of the Muslim Brotherhood — to which Okasha replied, “Everyone was.”   

Okasha claimed that the security apparatus kept close ties with him when he had a role to fulfill, but now he is unwanted.

In his account, the relationship went sour when Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, who Okasha claimed “watched the June 30 protests on TV in his pajamas,” took office in March.

Okasha said that Abdel Ghaffar does not care for the country but only about retaining his position, and it is this that has led to the mounting violations by police forces against citizens, “of which I am one.”

Okasha said he had first sensed “betrayal” when he was arrested in August and briefly detained as he was leaving Media Production City for outstanding sentences assault. He linked the move to critical comments that he had made regarding the Interior Ministry on his Facebook account.

“I was arrested like a terrorist over a nonsense case that had been dropped,” he said.

Okasha claimed that National Security are in control behind the scenes of the parliamentary elections and new parliament, referring specifically to the Support Egypt Alliance headed by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif al-Yazal.

“The people on the scene are not the ones in control,” Okasha said. “They are driven by National Security, they are doing their PR for them.”

He repeated his decision to leave the country and submit his resignation as MP from Germany where he owns a house.

Okasha first declared that he would leave the country on his television station after a meeting of MPs that he had called for at the parliament on Saturday was sabotaged by security closing the gates to the building.

However, independent MP Raafat Temraz from Sharqiya who was present at the meeting told Mada Masr that Okasha’s allegations are false.

Okasha had called for Saturday’s meeting to bring together independent members of the parliament to form a coalition. He then appeared on Saturday night as a guest on one of his channel’s shows — as he often does — claiming that security closed the building gates with chains and told attending MPs that there was nobody inside.

Temraz asserted that the meeting proceeded with complete cooperation from security, however. Temraz speculated that the reason for the turnout of only around 20 members was its association with Okasha, a controversial figure who had announced his intention to run for speaker of the parliament.

Temraz says that he only heard of these allegations on television like everyone else and did not witness anything like it.

Temraz explained that the coalition of independents that they are seeking to form is intended as an organization mechanism to make sure the independents have as much of a representation as party members, clarifying that it does not prevent members from joining other established coalitions.

Over half of the recently elected parliament are made up of nominally independent candidates. The Supporting the State alliance led by retired General Yazal has been in negotiations with independent candidates as well as partisan blocs to establish a majority in the next parliament.