A former Egyptian army contractor whose online videos last year inspired rare street protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said he will step back from politics after his calls for mass anti-government rallies on the ninth anniversary of Egypt’s 25th January 2011 uprising “failed”.
Mohamed Ali, who has accused the president and the military of corruption, said in a video statement on Saturday that he will also close his Facebook page as there will no longer be use for it.
“Today was a turning point for me. I showed you [Egyptians] the type of corruption and arrest campaigns that have been taking place,” Ali, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, said in the video.
“Talking about this any longer is unnecessary.”
Ali said the lack of response to his latest call pointed either to the Egyptian people’s satisfaction with the current government or high levels of fear over possible repercussions.
In a rare show of dissent, thousands of people rallied in cities across Egypt in September last year, demanding the resignation of el-Sisi following a call for protests by Ali, an actor and businessman who says his company used to carry out projects for the Egyptian military.
In response, authorities launched the “biggest crackdown” under el-Sisi’s rule, according to Amnesty International, rounding up more than 2,300 people.
Arabic media on Saturday reported that security forces were deployed across the capital, Cairo, and several other major cities in anticipation of possible protests.
Egypt outlawed all unauthorised demonstrations in 2013 after el-Sisi, as defence minister, led the military’s overthrow of democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi following mass demonstrations.
Since then, Egyptian authorities have imprisoned and prosecuted thousands of people, according to human rights groups, with a nationwide crackdown intensifying after el-Sisi was first elected in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote.
Some Egyptian activists have warned of the danger protesting poses to the lives of demonstrators, given what they called a tight grip on security by authorities.
On January 25, 2011, the Egyptian people began their revolution that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak.