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Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi gives first ever TV interview
Former defence minister covers a wide range of topics - from the Muslim Brotherhood to his family and upbring
Passant Darwish, Tuesday 6 May 2014
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A poster announcing the interview for 4 May showing anchors Hadidi (Right) and Issa (Center) - CBC and ONTV decided to postpone airtime to Monday 5 May

The privately owned TV stations CBC and ONTV aired the first half of a pre-recorded interview with presidential hopeful Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Monday evening.

The former defence minister, who is expected to win the election held on 26-27 May, discussed a number of issues with ONTV’s Ibrahim Eissa and CBC’s Lamis El-Hadidi, including assassination attempts, his family, the Muslim Brotherhood and how he would deal with the opposition.

The first question El-Sisi was asked was why he had been silent in the past few weeks, sticking only to round-table discussions with representastives of various social groups.

"The silence was necessary, if I was representing to Egyptians a hope or a hoped-for future, then I had to be a good role model to represent the Egyptians," he said, referring to an election rule that barred candidates from campaigning before 2 May.

When asked if he would continue to maintain a low profile if elected Egypt’s president, he said he wouldn't, as he would be repeating the mistakes of previous regimes. He said that previous regimes did not communicate with the people, adding that people have to "know and understand."

El-Sisi, who resigned recently from the military to run for president, said that he couldn’t respect himself if he had a prearranged plan to "hijack" Egypt’s presidency when he gave the 3 July speech announcing Morsi’s ouster.

"Neither would I be respecting the people if I did so."

"Any responsible Egyptian who is capable of stepping in to save the nation, must do so … the country is being targeted from inside and out," El-Sisi said, explaining his decision to run for the presidency.

He said that there were signals that people wanted him to run for president.

"I do not talk much and I took the side of millions not because I was interested in power."

El-Sisi told his two interviewers that he decided to run for president when he detected an effort to "destroy the state," forcing him to heed the calls of the people.

"On the constitution referendum days, people went out to vote for the constitution, but also their demand for me to run for president was clear," El-Sisi said, in answer to what gave him indication that people wanted him to run.

He also said that he sensed people’s wishes for him to run through following army reports of the general opinion and the media. El-Sisi said that he has not been privy to such reports after stepping down from his post.

Taking off the fatigues

On leaving the army, El-Sisi, who rose through the ranks for the army since the mid 1970's to become minister of defence in August 2012, said "I did not take permission [from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces], I informed them, as the military chief is a top position and does not take permission," El-Sisi declared proudly.

El-Sisi said the army told him they loved him, so they didn’t want him to leave and run for president, but they said they loved the country more, so they didn’t have any other option but to let him leave.

He also explained that he chose to announce his presidential bid [last month] in military uniform to pay tribute and "say thank you" to the army.

He insisted that the army has not ruled Egypt in the past 30 years and wouldn't start doing so if he became president.

El-Sisi also said that he has not been running the country ever since Morsi’s ouster, as claimed by critics.

"I am only the defence minister," is the phrase he used to describe himself when he was in office, speaking with anyone he met either from Egypt or outside.

Although he said he didn’t have a say in the ruling of Egypt, El-Sisi said he insisted on two decisions during cabinet meetings: deciding on the minimum and maximum wage for workers and increasing social insurance for the poor.

The cabinet only agreed on these decisions because of the logic of the arguments behind them, he added.

Nasser

To those who compare him to the late president, El-Sisi said: "I wish I was like Nasser. Nasser was not just a portrait on walls for Egyptians but a photo and voice carved in their hearts."

El-Sisi told El-Hadidi and Eissa that he decided to join military school following the defeat of the Egyptian army at the hands of Israel in the six-day war in 1967 after he was moved by the deep impact of the loss on the psyche of the Egyptian people.

Assassination

El-Sisi said he has faced two assassination attempts.

When asked if the assassination attempts would dissuade him, if he became president, from going to the streets and being around people, El-Sisi said he would be amongst people "carrying out the responsibilities demanded by the presidency post."

When El-Hadidi pointed out that El-Sisi has only received people for his presidential campaign and hasn't done any visits, he said, "the campaign just started yesterday."

The Muslim Brotherhood

"Yes. Just like this," El Sisi said in answering a question by Eissa on whether people should vote for him for president on the basis that he would finish the Muslim Brotherhood as a group.

He said that it wasn't just him but all "Egyptians reject reconciliation with the Brotherhood."

Khairat El-Shater, the Brotherhood strongman, who is now on trial, "threatened on 23 June 2013 that fighters from Libya, Syria and Afghanistan would enter the country if anything happensed to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. I told him whoever raises a weapon against the army, we will obliterate him from the face of the earth," El-Sisi told the anchors.

He added that all terroristsin the Sinai Peninsula could be eliminated in "an hour’s time" but that it took longer to isolate the militants there because the army wanted to minimise harm to "women, children and the elderly" in Sinai.

El-Sisi said that the army would increase its support of the police in fighting "terrorism" if he becomes president.

The presidential candidate stressed that Egyptians should pay very close attention to choosing not just the president but also the coming parliament. "What we went through [voting the Brotherhood] was a result of relying on emotions," he added.

Protest Law

El-Sisi waived a question by El-Hadidi on whether he would heed calls by some for pardoning 25 January activists jailed for breaking the law, saying : "We will make that call when we cross that bridge."

The protest law punishes violators with up to three years in jail and hefty fines for protesting without police permits.

El-Sisi said "he would take whatever decision needed to protect the country from terrorism," in an answer to questions from the anchors on whether he would pass an anti-terrorism law if elected president.

Upbringing

"I’m an Egyptian Muslim who loves his country, his religion and people, I was born and raised in one of the most ancient districts in Egypt [Al-Gamaliya] with cultural diversities," El-Sisi said when asked to define himself.

He added that the neighbourhood was near the old "Jews Alley", an old district in Cairo, where Jews used to live before they left Egypt en masse in the 1950s. El-Sisi said that no one was questioned when entering the Jewish Synagogue and no one thought of harming anyone. He also said he grew up hearing nearby church’s bells go off every Sunday for mass as a normal thing.

Family

El-Sisi said that he sees in his wife the insight of Egyptian women and how much they fear for the country. He added that his wife approved of his decision to run for president, telling him, "you don’t have any other option, we love you but the nation will be lost."

When asked about his children, El-Sisi said he has three sons, Mahmoud, Mostafa and Hassan, as well as a daughter, Aya.

He affirmed that despite two of his sons occupying governmental posts -- Mahmoud in Egypt’s General Intelligence and Mostafa in Administrative Control Authority -- El-Sisi said he did not intervene in getting them these jobs. As proof of his hatred of nepotism, El-Sisi revealed that his youngest son, Hassan, took the foreign ministry entrance exam twice, once when El-Sisi was head of military intelligence and again when he was defence minister, and that Hassan failed both times.

Electoral Programme

"We have 12 million people out of work. We have to work," presidential hopeful El-Sisi added after saying he and the Egyptians would have to work around the clock to develop the country in order to make up for lost decades.

El-Sisi said he would not rule the country as an intelligence officer because he was first and foremost an army officer who was trained as such to lead in any field.

"I will focus on security, stability and development, encompassing education, health and food security," he said, adding that Egypt’s problems wouldn't be solved in a fortnight.

"Egyptians don’t have a problem with patience," El-Sisi said, after being asked how long it would take for Egyptians to feel any change. He said that Egyptians had a problem with trust, "when [Egyptians] feel that there is real change on the ground they will be the most patient people in the world."

Islam

"The religious discourse in the entire world has deprived Islam from its humanity," El-Sisi, a self-declared devout Muslim, said.

When asked if he would interfere if someone referred to Muslims in a "wrong way," he said that the topic required a lot of discussion. "In Islam there was a civil state, not an Islamic one," he said.

Army rule, opposition

The army has not ruled Egypt in the past 30 years, he said in response to a question about concerns of the onset of military rule, given his military background.

"The army will not be involved in politics but will continue to help in economic developmental projects," he said.

In response to questions on whether he would accept criticism, he said he would tolerate it.

When asked if he would accept transgressions from the opposition, El-Sisi responded with a question: "Why would there be transgression? I treat people well, why should there be transgression?"

El-Sisi said that the concept of oppostion offence was wrong and "should be corrected" through him being a role model as well as through interaction and communication.

He said that the state should contribute in "correcting" people’s ethics through using mechanisms such as the media, the family and religious institutions.

"It will take time, but we should start," he said, adding that the president has a "coordination role" to play in this process.

The stations plan to air the second half of the interview on Tuesday.

CBC and ONTV also plan to interview El-Sisi's only rival, veteran Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahi next week.

 

Osman Sharnouby and Marina Barsoum contributed to this story





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14



Ahmed
07-05-2014 04:18pm
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You will be able to do it
Dear Mr. El sisi, I saw your interview on the TV on Monday and Tuesday. I admired your personality and your strong will to change the conditions, in which Egypt lives today. We, the Egyptians abroad said many times that Egypt needs a revilution in the way of thinking and standards for all Matters of life, as we see and live here. The devolpment of a country is surely over 90% an organisations matter and I feel with your experience and know how, you will be able to bring this changes in Egypt. We have a lovely country with endless possibilities and wealthes but Egypt still ein poor country. We nevercould found an answer for this matter. I beleive, that with your wisdem, works and good teams you will be able in a couple of years to bring Egypt forwards and that all Egyptians have a good life. The Egyptians abroad surely will help and assist in all branches of work and human activity. I wish you the best luck, Health and honest and faithful team members. Kind Regads from Switzerland
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13



Ruth
06-05-2014 06:45pm
229-
595+
from Nasser to CC
I'm not from MB and never voted fro MB.I'm against the Dictators,Tyrants,operresors & autocrate corrupt Egyptian rulers.The common thing in every dictator and autocrate is to rule the country at gun point.Their slongs is with us or against us.If you are against us you have no right to live.For Dictators the only solution of every problem is repression and gun.As long as Egyptian Dictators are concerned beside the above,they all wished to whipe off MB from Egypt the only orgonized voice that can chellenge them.If CC whishs to eliminate MB it only proves that he is going to be next Dictator like previous one from Nasser till Mubarak.But CC must not forget the fact that in the era of social media,you can not supress or deceive people as longer as the previous dictators did.
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Faraz
06-05-2014 07:53pm
50-
408+
@Allen
Mr CC, sorry, Mr Allen, please wake up now, everyday is not Sunday.You must come out from 30th June illusion.Yes we came out against mismanagement of Morsy and MB not in love of SCAF or CC.We thought that CC is with us and will support us for a better democratic and inclusive Egypt,an Egypt for All.But the SCAF ,the Tamarod and some liberals deceived us.So don't count the 30th june demonstration in favour of CC.When the actual plans of CC revealed, we realised our mistakes.So you should admit now media propaganda can not make Egyptain always fools.
Allen
06-05-2014 07:16pm
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47+
"Ruth" you are in denial because your posts are an embarrassment even to you.
You are Muslim brotherhood with a fake Anglo name, pretty much as consistent as it can get for an MB.
Bubbly
06-05-2014 07:12pm
23-
281+
@Ruth
Fully agree,our next president have all the required qualities and ambitions that qualifty to be a good Dictator and Autocrat ruler .For such rulers, freedom of free speech,opinion,opposition,free media are always a threat to "national" security (national means its personal) .To make the "National" security more strong they declare "emergency laws" that last till they last.So as long as CC will be in presidency there will be a " National" security threat so forget about freedom,speech,opinion,media,human rights,democracy, free n fair elections.
12



Ben Aly, Mansourah
06-05-2014 05:34pm
510-
298+
My Future President
In spite of the bad interview, it shows his resolve to end terrorists falsely called Islamists. His education, background and recent acts against enemies of Islam highly qualify him for the job. I care for his safety.
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11



Allen
06-05-2014 05:18pm
277-
291+
As predicted the brotherhood is gasping frantically with meaningless posts, they know they are finished
Not even Qatar wants you guys any more, they are deporting the MB hate preachers one by one. Your evil terrorist organization is finished. Egypt will rise from it all and build itself a peaceful future it deserves. Great interview by your General.
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Farhan
06-05-2014 07:26pm
20-
92+
Brotherhood is in 80 countries, tiny midget like Sisi can not harm them
He can just kill innocent unarmed people on the roads.
10



BE Macomber
06-05-2014 04:29pm
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Tenants of Freedom?
Leadership in a free society demands inclusivity of all factions. Defining the deep state under a junta is not justice nor rule by the people. Not surprising is the pattern of a despostic govt.to instill fear & persecute any intelligent opposition.
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9



Joseph Levi
06-05-2014 04:27pm
0-
1+
Read
Read now.
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8



Mocan Abdelk-Aziz
06-05-2014 01:36pm
14-
6+
Bad Interview
I was expecting more professional and objective interview to know Mr. Sisi background. Thanks Mr. Ibrahim for correcting some meaningless questions of Ms. Hadaddy.
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7



Farid
06-05-2014 12:36pm
0-
9+
Egyptian patience... Seriously ???
"Egyptians don’t have a problem with patience," El-Sisi said..." Sriously?!? Everyone want things to be done "yesterday", but when you ask someone to do something, you hear "bokra" LOL
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6



Adly Ibraheem, Helwan
06-05-2014 11:34am
13-
7+
Good Answers Silly Questions
What happened to our media icons? They showed their insensitivity and ignorance of realities.
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5



Khaled
06-05-2014 09:25am
143-
779+
Scaredy Cat
Mr CC is one of most fearful soul on the earth.Yes he's even scaryed of his own image.He knows can't face or anwser the live questions.He knows his crimes very well and he is afraid of his own crimes and people will never forget it.A public leader,a national hero never afraid of his own people,he lives among the people and never claims of imaginary love of the people.If People love you why are afraid of oppoistion ? Why if silent he voice of independent media and journalists, why gundown peacefull protesters.
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Farhan
06-05-2014 05:24pm
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198+
@Alassin ... He is the real terrorist
He passes every definition of terrorism.
Farhan
06-05-2014 04:33pm
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55+
Hero for what ? For killing own unarmed citizens ?
You people should be ashamed of yourself. Thank God I don't live in Egypt.
Alassin Egypt
06-05-2014 11:30am
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National Hero
Killing terrorists males him hero for me. One-by-one Egypt will free ME from BH of kazabeens and its offshoots of criminals. They ahve no choice other than blow up themselves are killed.

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