Pro-Sisi newspaper calls the MP an ‘unruly leftist’ as colleagues in parliament initiate proceedings against him for criticising constitutional amendments aimed at strengthening Sisi’s rule last year.
Egyptian parliamentarians are taking aim at a dissident lawmaker who has got himself into hot water by publicly criticising the Sisi regime in a series of videos posted on social media.
Ahmed Tantawi was called an ‘unruly leftist’ by the pro-government outlet Ahram and could be stripped of his parliamentary immunity if the almost completely pro-regime legislative body has its way.
In an hour and a half long video message on Facebook, Tantawi criticised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, who took power in a coup in July 2013, for amending the constitution to increase the term length of the presidency, as well as increasing the maximum number of terms a president can serve to three.
He also attacked Sisi’s austerity measures because of their disproportionate impact on the working and middle classes.
The video comes weeks after tens of thousands took to the streets in a rare expression of dissent against Sisi. Those protests were called for by self-exiled Egyptian dissident Mohamed Ali who fled the country over what he alleges is massive corruption within the Sisi regime and military.
Following Tantawi’s video, Sisi’s supporters accused him of violating the constitution and allying himself with Egypt’s banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood group.
“Tantawi's video sent messages to outside forces which aim to spread instability and chaos in Egypt,” said lawmaker Sami Ramadan according to a report in Ahram.
Ali Badr, another lawmaker said: "Tantawi is fond of inciting against the state, and that his video aims to serve the Muslim Brotherhood channels broadcasting from Turkey and Qatar to push citizens to lose confidence in the state and political leadership."
If MPs successfully strip Tantawi of his immunity, he might be subject to the same treatment others who have opposed Sisi have faced. Dissidents in Egypt have faced imprisonment without trial and a small number have managed to escape the country into exile.
In the six years since taking power, Sisi has shut off most spaces for dissent in Egyptian society by arresting and imprisoning anyone who dares speak out against his rule.