CAIRO May 27 Egyptian media castigated the
public for a low turnout in a presidential election which
former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win, with
one commentator saying those who failed to vote should be shot.
Many journalists support Sisi, the man who toppled Egypt's
first freely-elected president last July. And with Sisi
seemingly assured of victory, he needs a good turnout to shore
up his legitimacy.
Egypt's army-backed government declared the second day of
voting on Tuesday a holiday in a bid to get more voters onto
"What do you want? I'll kiss the feet of (your parents)...
Should I take my clothes off and go live on air in the nude in
order for people to believe?" asked popular television
commentator Tawfiq Okasha on private channel al-Faraeen.
Asked what should happen to a woman if she chose to go
shopping or cook on the holiday instead of voting, he slammed
his hand on the desk and shouted: "She should be shot with a
gun. She should shoot herself with a gun."
The popular uprising which toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011
raised hopes that the Egyptian press would no longer blindly
back the country's leaders and would instead take a critical
look at their performance.
Egyptian media, both state and private, have hailed Sisi as
a saviour since he ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi after
mass protests and cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood.
Mubarak's former military intelligence chief became so
popular that his image appeared on posters, t-shirts and even
But the short lines outside polling stations in various
parts of Cairo on Wednesday suggested the personality cult had
waned as Sisi prepared for many challenges, from a stubborn
Islamist insurgency to an energy crisis.
In some cases voters were nowhere to be found. The polls
close at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT), an hour later than planned.
"We are looking for a popular vote that will make it clear
to the world that this is the will of the people," said Lamees
al-Hadidi, a popular talk show host on a private news channel.
Two private Egyptian television channels flashed news
urgents on Tuesday quoting officials at the supreme election
committee saying that those who do not vote could be fined and
referred to the public prosecutor.
After Mursi's overthrow, security forces launched a major
crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, cheered on by the media.
Both consider the Brotherhood a terrorist group.
Several Egyptian journalists interviewed by Reuters said it
was their national duty to defend the state because the
Brotherhood posed a threat to its existence.
Mostafa Bakry - an Egyptian commentator who once said
Americans in Egypt should be killed in the streets if the United
States ever harmed Sisi - joined the frenzied media call for a
high turnout to give Sisi a strong mandate.
"Anyone who doesn't go down to vote, you are giving the kiss
of life to those terrorists," Bakry shouted as he pointed his
finger at the screen on privately owned Al-Nahar television.
"Go out (to vote), and those who don't go are traitors,
traitors, traitors, who are selling this country."
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Michael Georgy and