Egyptian dissident quits politics after unanswered protest calls


Madrid (AFP)

A self-exiled Egyptian businessman said he was quitting politics after his calls for protests against President Abdelfattah al-Sisi to mark the anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising went unheeded.

Mohamed Ali, a construction contractor and fledgling actor, burst onto Egypt's political scene in recent months when videos he posted on social media accusing Sisi and the military elite of corruption went viral.

Amassing millions of views in Egypt, Ali's videos sparked rare, small-scale anti-Sisi demonstrations across the country in September.

In the lead up to the ninth anniversary on Saturday of the massive 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, he again called on Egyptians to demonstrate against Sisi, but no protests took place.

"I am closing my Facebook page... I am going back to my business and acting jobs and will not discuss politics again," said Ali in a video late Saturday.

He said his decision was prompted by the people's inaction, which he believes shows "approval of the regime" or "fear of taking to the streets".

Heavy security had been deployed across Cairo in the lead up to the anniversary, particularly around Tahrir square -- the epicentre of the 2011 uprising.

Egypt effectively banned protests under a restrictive law in 2013 and a renewable state of emergency remains in force.

Rights groups say this has allowed the government to crush dissent.

Egyptian authorities arrested some 4,000 people in the wake of the September protests, including well-known academics, activists and lawyers, rights groups say.

The crackdown is one of the worst since Sisi took power in 2014, according to activists.