Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi addressed a number of questions on key social, economic and political issues asked by ordinary Egyptians at a national youth conference held in New Cairo on Saturday.
The president's answers came during the “Ask The President” session at the eighth National Youth Conference, which was held at El-Manara International Conference Centre in New Cairo.
Answering a question on reforming education, El-Sisi said that education is part of forming and re-building the Egyptian character.
“The current education is a one-way education. This can’t work,” he said, stressing that “a real education” would lead to a character that is difficult to control with modern technology.
The educational system is not enough to rebuild character, the Egyptian president also said. The media, religious institutions - the mosque and the church - and the family have a role in the process of rebuilding character, he added.
Around 435,000 questions were submitted to the organising panel over a four-day period. The session was moderated by Ramy Radwan, a well-known DMC TV presenter. The president fielded questions from citizens via video clips
On the threat of terrorism, El-Sisi estimated that there are currently 250,000 fighters in the region.
“We, as Egyptians, should be united to face terrorism,” he said. "Our police and army officers are taking the hit,” he added.
The president spoke to Egyptians who had shared videos on social media that have made allegations of mismanagement of state funds, which the president described in an earlier session in the conference today as lies and fabrications.
“Look at the past ten days and see…you [Egyptians] were the ones who were sharing them [the videos]. This remark is not meant as an admonition to those who circulated the videos," he said.
“The son of Egypt [El-Sisi] that has sacrificed himself and his children and his grandsons on 3 July …you pay him back by doing this?” he commented.
“We weren’t ready for this development in communication [20 years ago]. I am not worried because this is normal; however, we need to raise awareness to the young ones who didn’t face the problems we faced in the past seven years,” El-Sisi said.
He stressed that the state would hold those who defame the state accountable according to the law.
He described Egyptians as the “valve of security” against terrorism, cautioning that terrorism will “stay with us for a while.”
“What passed was very difficult. We are not shaky. Why? Because we have God with us. The do-gooders have God with them. The corrupt don’t have God with them,” he said.
El-Sisi also said religious preachers should take a more proactive stand against those who “spread false news.”
“Religious [preachers] do not see the problem,” El-Sisi said, while discussing the necessity of reforming religious discourse, a key issue he advocates.
Reforming religious discourse “can only happen through determination, belief, and action,” he said.
El-Sisi also addressed questions about the region, describing it as “a body…which was coherent until crisis hit Syria, Libya, Yemen…and the attempts in Egypt.”
“If Egypt is lost, the whole region will be lost,” he said.
Answering a question on the recent Sudanese revolution, El-Sisi said that changes in any country usually have negative and positive impacts.
Discussing talks between Egypt and Ethiopia on the impact of constructing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), he said they were not affected by the Sudanese revolution.
“There is a continued coordination between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in water talks,” he said.
He said that Egypt is seeking an agreement with Ethiopia that minimises what he described as the unescapable harm that will be caused to Egypt by the GERD’s construction.
“We want to agree on the time period for filling the reservoir of the dam,” he said, adding that the dam will reduce Egypt’s Nile water share, which he said was around 55 million cubic metres.
“Iraq before 1990 used to get water estimated at 100 billion cubic metres. Now it receives 30 billion cubic metres only. Do you know now what happens when a nation state is weakened?” he said, adding that his main goal in office was strengthening the Egyptian state.
On the long-awaited municipalities' elections, El-Sisi said he expects them to be held by the end of 2019 or by early 2020.
“We hope for not less than 25 percent representation of youth in municipalities,” the president said.