As record numbers of Egyptians took to the streets to demand the resignation of Mohammad Mursi, crowds also gathered online for a virtual mudslinging match against the embattled president.
Thousands turned to sites like Twitter and Facebook to comment on Mursi’s speech in the early hours of this morning – and few held back in their criticism.
“Mursi is dying, but we still need to be in everywhere in the streets before his sheep start appearing,” tweeted Mohammad Khairy, a chemical Engineer living in Egypt.
“Weak opposition or no opposition is what makes #Mursi's sheep happy. #Egypt #DownWithMursi,” tweeted another.
Some of those critical of the president use the nickname 'sheep' as they believe Mursi is a slave to the Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance council.
Angry tweets limited to 140 characters were perhaps not as colorfully expressed as the words of Ehab Khouli, member of the National Salvation Front opposition group.
Khouli appeared as a guest on Egypt’s Sada el-Balad TV channel following Mursi’s speech – and he could do little to conceal his emotion.
“There is no sane man in the world… or a country’s president [that] encourages his supporters [to commit] terror acts… All blood is forbidden,” screamed Khouli on air. “I swear I’m not returning home until Mursi leaves… Any patriotic honorable citizens should go [protest] in squares.”
Others took a more sarcastic tone in their criticism of Mursi’s speech. Some Twitter users recommended snacks to eat while watching, while others attempted to mute their TVs to observe his body language, or said they fell asleep.
Some counted the amount of times Mursi repeated the word “legitimacy” – with estimates ranging from 40 to 45.
“I stopped counting how many times Mursi mentioned the word ‘legitimacy’ in his speech,” tweeted Nervana Mahmoud, an Egyptian writer and blogger, who has over 11,500 followers on the microblogging site. “Tonight Mursi is not just illegitimate, he is also a clown.”
Amid some levity, few could deny the seriousness of the situation in Egypt.
Bassem Youssef, the country’s most famous TV satirist, cancelled his weekly TV show in anticipation of the upcoming events. “There will be no episode this week, this is a no laughing matter,” he tweeted.
Not all social media users were critical of Mursi. One tweeted that the “opposition are criminals and the hypocrites of the Islamic country.”
Yet many social media users spoke out against the president.
Haitham Yehia, an Egyptian blogger who has a large followership on Egypt, said he thought that Mursi’s speech would be one of his last.
“I felt he was almost taking his last breaths, looking for any of his final cards to play and win over the army,” Yehia told Al Arabiya.
“The main point that I got from the speech, and tweeted about, was that it had an obvious and clear incitement towards violence,” he added.
Yehia, like several commentators on social media, said Mursi’s words reminded him of some of Mubarak’s final public remarks.
“After hearing Mubarak’s second speech, which is quite similar to Mursi’s speech from yesterday, a small portion of the public decided to give Mubarak a chance, and there was a huge split in the Egyptian street,” he said.
“Mursi tried to play a similar game yesterday during his speech, but he did not get the same results. The entire thing turned against him.”
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