Egyptians online mock dancing outside polling stations

Women dancing outside a polling station: Are these elections or a bachelorette party?

Egyptians online mock ‘dancing’ outside polling stations

Egyptian 2018 elections

A man dances as women sing national songs in front of a polling station during the second day of the presidential in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Egyptians were voting Tuesday on the second day of a lackluster election that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is virtually certain to win after all serious rivals were either arrested or intimidated into dropping out of the race ahead of balloting. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

March 27, 2018 – As Egyptian televisions hailed Egyptians who dance in celebration outside polling stations, social media users mocked the phenomenon.

Loud speakers blasting nationalist songs have provided continuous dance tunes to voters gathering around polling stations, as per state and privately-owned television reports.

Channels have specifically focused on the voters’ dances on the second day of the election. Staunch pro-Sisi TV host Ahmed Moussa boasted that Egyptian voters “do not elect, but rather celebrate”, as he broadcast videos of dancing voters.

However, several social media users did not share the host’s pride in this phenomenon. Several users circulated memes on dancing voters.

Voting in Egypt’s third presidential election since the 2011 uprising started on 26 March and will continue until 28 March. Incumbent President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is widely expected to win, as he stands against a sole contender; little-known party leader Moussa Mostafa Moussa. Movie memes

Some comics used dancing scenes from popular Egyptian movies to draw parallels with the voters. One used a photo from a scene in a movie titled “The Dancer and the Drummer”, where a belly dancer was dressed up and ready to dance, while the drummer says: “Focus, we are only a couple of days ahead of the election”. (https://bit.ly/2GAUvW5)

Another used a photo of a woman dancing from another movie with the caption: “A painting titled: the first moments in the presidential election.” (https://bit.ly/2Gx3pnf)

A photo of Egyptian belly dancer Dina, running as she dons her belly dancing costume, was used, with the caption: “Hurry before the polling station closes”. (https://bit.ly/2I784cB)

Videos and photos of voters dancing outside the stations were also utilised in the meme frenzy. A photo of a group of women dancing outside a polling station was widely circulated on social media on 26 March, with the question: “Are these elections or a bachelorette party?”, attached to it. (https://bit.ly/2unTL1r)

Dancing outside polling stations has been a hallmark of polls in Egypt, especially since Sisi led the military ousting of former Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

Egyptians and Arab singers have been actively producing nationalist, pro-army songs since then, often used as anthems of the consecutive votes.

Egyptian pundits criticise BBC coverage of presidential polls

Egyptian 2018 elections

A man gestures as he rides a motorized vehicle showing a poster of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during the second day of the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

March 27, 2018 – Egyptian pundits have criticised the BBC coverage of the three-day presidential elections, saying that it needs “a serious professional revision”.

Veteran writer Mamoun Fandy (@mamoun1234, 59.7K followers) tweeted in Arabic: “Has the BBC abandoned all the professional criteria in order to keep its office in Cairo running. It is a shame to have this kind of coverage; it is even a scandal.” (https://bit.ly/2DYtZR0)

The Egyptian-born American writer was commenting on a BBC report that quoted some voters as saying that President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi “has offered sacrifices that no former president has ever made”.

The opposition writer has apparently regarded the report as an attempt by the BBC to ease tension with the Egyptian authorities that recently broke out after the British broadcaster aired a documentary on human rights violations and enforced disappearance in Egypt.

“I only comment on the BBC coverage, but I will not comment on the election because the results are known months ago, and there will be no surprise. The BBC coverage needs serious professional revision. Having an office in any country does not worth abandoning the criteria of an institution whose capital has always been its long-standing professionalism.” Fandy said in another tweet on 26 March.

Some users reacted to Fandy’s tweets and criticised his remarks.

“Is the BBC required to only provide lies and falsifications,” user @yehia_Saber_she wondered?

The writer responded by saying that the BBC “should only cover the event. However, the way the report and the headline were written made the station close to the Egyptian media culture”.

Replying to Fandy’s tweet, chief of the BBC Cairo office, Safaa Faisal, defended the report, saying: “Dr Fandy, I am sorry to say that your criticism is unfair and untrue.”

“We only put our editorial standards into account and the Cairo office is not subject to any bargain,” Faisal added.

Moreover, Hafez al-Mirazi, a former TV host with Qatari Al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic TV, also wrote in the same vein.

“If you followed the coverage of the Cairo-based BBC Arabic reporters on the Egyptian presidential election or any other event, or their weekly programme ‘Egypt’s time’, you will not find anything that would anger anyone, unlike the coverage of the British correspondents,” Al-Mirazi said in a post on Facebook on 27 March. (https://bit.ly/2DY8EqZ)

Al-Mirazi ascribed this difference to the BBC Arabic management’s “decision to avoid trouble in order to keep the staff jobs, especially that salaries in Egypt are the lowest in the entire Arab world”.

In February, Egyptian authorities criticised the BBC for what they called a “fabricated report” on enforced disappearance, as the documentary featured a mother who alleged that her daughter, Zubeida, had been forcibly disappeared and tortured by Egyptian authorities. Zubeida later appeared on a talk show on a private TV channel denying her mother’s statements.

Egypt cartoons between satire, support for presidential vote

Egyptian 2018 elections

Voters sing national songs as they prepare to enter a polling station during the first day of the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, March 26, 2018. Polls opened on Monday in Egypt’s presidential election with the outcome ‚Äî a second, four-year term for President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi ‚Äî a foregone conclusion, in what is seen by critics as a signal of the country’s return to the authoritarian rule that prevailed since the 1950s. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

March 27, 2018 – Egyptian cartoonists have taken up their pencils to sketch out the apparent polarisation over the ongoing presidential election, divided between satirising a vote with results seeming to be a foregone conclusion and sending a message of support for the ongoing polls.

A number of state-owned and private newspapers have featured cartoons in which efforts are focused on either rallying support for voters to participate or highlighting the patriotism of Egyptians who have voted.

A key theme among these pro-government cartoons seems to be that voting, or more specifically a high voter turnout, constitutes a strike against terrorism and insurgents in Egypt. Beating insurgency

In one cartoon featured in private newspaper Youm7 on 26 March, a large hand appears to be bringing an equally large shoe on three figures dressed in black clothing and balaclavas.

The words Presidential Election 2018, and “going down” appear on the cartoon, suggesting that as Egyptian go down to vote, the shoe is “going down” to strike the insurgents portrayed in the picture.

Another cartoon sends a similar message in state-owned Al-Akhbar daily; a man is standing in a line of voters and rolling up his sleeves in a threatening manner, while a bearded man in traditional Islamic attire, apparently a jihadist with a mark of a slap on his face, says: “Please stop, I give up… Bless the hands.”

“Bless the hands” is a reference to a popular song that came out in support of the Egyptian army in 2013, following the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former president Mohamed Morsi.

The cartoon appears under a caption that reads: “Each electoral vote constitutes a slap in the face of the enemies of the nation.”

The words “polling station” appear on a sign behind the man with rolled up sleeves, suggesting that voters beat the jihadist into denouncing his opposition to the army and the government. Certain victory

Meanwhile, cartoonists in private newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm appear to have taken a different approach.

One cartoon in the 26 March issue appears to poke fun at the apparent certainty surrounding the results of the election. A man is depicted asking a fortune teller: “I have a question that’s been driving me crazy… I wonder who is going to win the election.”

Another cartoon in the same issue shows a man standing in front of his refrigerator, looking alarmed, as a voice from outside appears to be shouting at him: “I see you, you with your fridge open drinking juice who hasn’t gone out to vote!”

The cartoon seems to be commenting on the purportedly heavy-handed tactics employed by some to encourage people to cast their ballots.

Though President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s victory is largely certain, a large turnout would consolidate his popularity, and a series of campaigns have been launched to encourage such an outcome.

Voting began on 26 March and is set to continue until 28 March, with Sisi contending against the little-known head of the Ghad Party, Moussa Mostafa Moussa.
Source: BBC Monitoring Middle East, March 27, 2018
Description of source: BBC Monitoring Middle East provides comprehensive coverage of international news, providing unique insight into world affairs from the Middle East region. Every day, journalists from BBC Monitoring scan information and commentary from the region’s media, including television, radio, internet, news agency and press sources, selecting significant political and economic reports. Country of origin: United Kingdom
© 2018 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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