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Egypt's billionaire Naguib Sawiris stirs ire calling for 2-year protest ban

Egypt's second richest man calls for protests and sit-ins to end, and for Egyptians to return to work, sparking criticism on Twitter

Ahram Online , Saturday 31 Aug 2013
Naguib Sawiris
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Business tycoon Naguib Sawiris has come under fire after tweeting Saturday that banning protests and sit-ins in Egypt is the only solution for getting the country back on its feet.

“There is no solution for this country’s growth but stopping protests and sit-ins for two years to take our breath and build our state,” the country’s second richest man stated on his Twitter account.

Sawiris’s tweet fueled controversy as hundreds of tweeps weighed in to crticise the Egyptian billionaire, accusing him of being against freedom of expression.

Sit-ins have often been used by workers as a main catalyst to promote their demands. Protests by Egyptian workers have formed a backbone to mass popular uprisings over the last two years.

Sawiris was silent when workers of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) protested in March against a travel ban placed by the prosecutor general at the time on the CEO of OCI, Nassef Sawiris (Naguib’s young brother), and his father, the former CEO of OCI, Onsi Sawiris, due to a tax dispute with the Egyptian government.

Ahram Online tried several times to reach Sawiris by phone for comment, but he was not available.

Sawiris's tweet Saturday was not his first controversial statement. He tweeted in May 2011, "Good morning Egypt! Can we have one day with no strikes, demonstrations, riots and sit-ins?? Give Egypt a break!"

"Egyptians wake up ... work overtime ... agree on stopping strikes and demonstrations until next elections to restore stability and security," he also said in the same year.

Naguib, the eldest of three billionaire brothers, said in July that he and his family would be "investing in Egypt like never before" after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass popular protests nationwide 30 June.

"There are two opinions, one that the people who went down on 30 June should go back to the squares. My point is we should go back to our work and build our country," he told Reuters in July.

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