“The shit host backpedals,” is the new hashtag going viral on social media in Egypt, referring to TV host Ahmed Moussa’s online blunder.
Moussa, a staunch supporter of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ran an impromptu Twitter poll on the president’s popularity, only to find just 20 percent of the votes were in favor of Sisi’s candidacy for a second term.
A screenshot circulated online of Moussa’s poll, which he held on his personal Twitter account, showing 80 percent of respondents saying “no” to the question: “Do you support Sisi’s candidacy for a second presidential term?”
The poll was followed by an avalanche of tweeps mocking Moussa, and his sometimes uncalculated support for Sisi.
Moussa’s Twitter account has been closed since then, and he quickly claimed it was hacked. The associated Sada al-Balad website reported that hackers, known for their animosity toward the Egyptian government, took over his account from Turkey.
Moussa’s latest ordeal has put an end, for now, to his short life on Twitter, which Sada al-Balad described as attracting much attention from a loving public, shortly after he created an account on August 25.
Meanwhile, Twitterland declared itself free from Moussa’s love affair with the government.
Here are some highlights of the Twitter-fest over Moussa’s poll:
“Look Moussa, Twitter is not Sada al-Balad. So there won’t be pre-staged interventions here to do you favors. Got it?”
“Sisi’s online army can work on Facebook, but here people are cultured and make judgements out of 140 characters. They are aware and they are the ones who will bring you down.”
“From now on you can call me Ahmed Moussa the hacked,” is one of the contributions to Moussa’s parody account.
“The leader of the 19 percent revolution,” a Tweet declared, playing on Egypt’s anti-colonial 1919 revolution.
Moussa presents the Ala Mas’ouleyati (on my responsibility) show on the Sada al-Balad channel, one of the most viewed political shows in Egypt.
This is not the first saga concerning the controversial TV host, but previous backlash against him was of a more physical nature. His opponents attacked him with eggs during a visit to London in 2015, and he got hit on the back of his neck during a visit to Paris in 2014. Moussa often accompanies Sisi on his foreign trips as part of his media delegation, including recent visits to France and Russia.
Moussa almost served a two-year prison sentence last year for insulting politician Osama al-Ghazaly Harb, but an appeal saved him.
A more rigorous poll on Sisi’s performance was published by the independent polling company Baseera on August 15. The poll indicated that 82 percent expressed approval of Sisi’s performance, down from 91 percent in a previous poll. On whether they would elect him again, 66 percent of those surveyed said yes, while 13 percent said no, and 21 percent said it would depend on the other candidates.
Those less than 30 years old among respondents were the least enthusiastic about voting for Sisi, with only 51 percent saying they would elect him if he were to run for president again, while only 53 percent of university graduates said they would vote for him, compared to 71 percent with a lower educational level.
Nagla Rizk, economic professor and director of the Access to Knowledge for Development center at the American University in Cairo conducted research in 2013, which indicated that Twitter has traditionally been a social networking site with lower public participation, and has tended to be based on more focused, information-based conversations.
However, “despite the brevity of its posts, Twitter had also grown to become a more politicized public space for a smaller community,” she adds. Until 2013, Twitter had a penetration of less than 1 percent in Egypt, while Facebook was at more than 16 percent.