Hamdeen Sabahi, crying wolf over the Egyptian elections

Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi has resorted to all sorts of attacks and threats of withdrawal recently

Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
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Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi has resorted to all sorts of attacks and threats of withdrawal and has accused the state and its apparatuses of being biased towards presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. However as he does that, we realize that the opposite is true.

It all started when Sabahi announced his presidential bid as his campaign continuously hinted at withdrawing and marketed the idea that the state is biased towards Sisi. This is in addition to other forms of comprehensive attacks which made any act look like an act of bias towards Sisi. The question thus became: will Sabahi withdraw from the presidential elections or not? This also became the main talk of people in cafes and forums as each began to say that he has information that Sabahi will withdraw from the race.

This state of “intimidation” made the government, state and its apparatuses very careful. One example of this is when a governor was sacked by the country’s prime minister for publically supporting Sisi. Another example occurred when Cairo officials ordered that Sisi posters around the area be removed as the election had not officially begun. Can you imagine the uproar had the state removed Sabahi’s posters? We would have heard accusations that the state tore up his posters in support of his competitor.

Imagine the reaction if Sisi made an appearance n a talk show. There would be accusations that he is violating the electoral law regarding the date of when the electoral campaign begins. The other candidate however appeared on a talk show on Thursday night and talked about his electoral program. No one commented on that.

This state of “intimidation” continued as the problem of Sabahi’s lack of recommendation forms surfaced. There were reports that the candidate’s campaign worked to collect recommendation forms so he can engage in the presidential race. The campaign has denied these charges. It’s also been said that the campaign refused to appeal the authenticity of the presented recommendation forms , and this is its right as it chose to keep itself away from engaging in any struggles.

The question, however, is what if real estate publicity department offices opened on a day off so that the Sabahi campaign can resume registering its recommendation forms? Wouldn’t the other campaign turn the world upside down? Wouldn’t an activist here or there accuse the state of working in favor of one certain candidate? Wouldn’t a lawyer accuse the state of working on a day off and of providing employees with low incomes at a time when the state is suffering from economic burdens? How come nothing of the sort happened when the state helped Sabahi finish his recommendation forms?

Intimidation has succeeded at forcing the state of being biased to Sabahi so it denies the accusation that it’s biased to Sisi. It seems that in this case, intimidation has led to a reverse reaction. After all this, can we say the state is biased towards Sisi? Or that intimidation pushed it to be biased towards Sabahi?

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on April 27, 2014.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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