Nada Barakat, who is 30 years old (the average age of most of the Sisi campaign team), works within the campaign PR unit and is also a part of the English web team.
Ahram Online: When did you join the El-Sisi campaign?
Nada Barakat: I joined on the 3 May 2014, once it became a legally permissible to start campaigning. The campaign respects Egyptian law in all its undertakings.
AO: When did you start supporting El-Sisi and why did you choose to support him over Sabahi?
NB: I have been supporting El-Sisi since December 2012 when the Muslim Brotherhood attacked people outside the Itihadiyya presidential palace and El-Sisi made a public appearance with the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim.
In response to the attacks, El-Sisi expressed the need for all Egyptians to stand up and protect one another. It was at this point I realised that the country would not pick up unless we restored the government's institutions. From then until 30 June 2013, I witnessed people – friends -- being attacked and injured. I decided we could not continue with Morsi and it was clear that no one except El-Sisi could stand up to the Brotherhood.
In only one year he has managed to restore the spirit of Egyptians and bridged rifts between government institutions. Prior to 30 June, Egyptians were lost and fearful. El-Sisi gave people back their dreams and hopes for a better future.
I chose not to support Sabahi simply because I do not see any other candidate except El-Sisi. With all due respect for Sabahi, (whom I voted for in the last elections given the limited choice and my resolve to not vote for anyone connected to the old regime) El-Sisi is the only real contender. El-Sisi has proved himself to me through his success in government, the army and in winning the respect of world leaders. He is, as we have seen, willing to sacrifice his life for this nation.
AO: What was it about the campaign and El-Sisi’s character that attracted you?
NB: After meeting him personally I believe he is extremely intelligent and progressive in this thinking. He is fair, and is able to draw a balance as he had a sense for the people. He is very loyal to his word and never says something without being able to deliver. His meticulous precision in all that he does is supported by wisdom and logic.
AO: Can you describe the campaign experience? Do you meet and liaise directly with El-Sisi on a regular basis?
NB: Definitely we liaise directly with him; it is a friendly campaign perhaps less stressful than traditional campaigns. It is comprised of majority of young people, aged between 22-35 years of age, contradicting the assumption that El-Sisi’s supporters are predominantly of the older generation. We are inexperienced compared to the people El-Sisi could have worked with, but he put trust our qualifications and us. I cannot tell you how much I have learnt during in one month alone.
AO: What were you doing prior to joining the campaign? Should El-Sisi be elected, do you expect to be involved in the presidency and if so how and in what capacity?
NB: I am a journalist by trade. I do not believe we will be part of the presidency. We were not informed about future postings and we are not expecting this. I joined the campaign with the sole purpose of ensuring Egypt gets the next leader it deserves.
AO: Has your opinion changed about El-Sisi given recent criticism surrounding his campaign?
NB: My opinion has not changed. I know the rationale behind every vague criticism; not everything in the media is true. A lot is far from the reality.
AO: How do you respond to campaign critics who are denouncing El-Sisi’s lack of campaigning and public interaction and his intended political agenda while acting president, namely his plans for Egypt’s economic crisis discussed in his first televised interview?
NB: He has met with all sectors of the community and is communicating well. I am optimistic about El-Sisi’s economic programme as he has enlisted the support of key economic experts and has established a solid plan, which incorporates vital developments initiatives. He has a vision.
AO: Freedom of expression is another key public concern. How do you foresee freedom of press and association under El-Sisi?
NB: El-Sisi respects all citizens. As a fair man I am confident he will not suppress or act unjustly and will simply abide by the country’s legislative practices. He respects the law and in his recent interviews he has stressed upon the importance of media and how they should act within an integral framework.
One must bear in mind when considering recent judgments, El-Sisi is just one man; he is not the entire government. There are many institutions involved in the process. He was not the sole person involved in creating and applying the law and cannot be held entirely responsible. He was not involved in any judicial decisions, only the judicial hierarchical system was involved. I must point out the judiciary is an independent institution and its matters are handled independently from any other institution.
AO: How do you foresee human rights policies under El-Sisi?
NB: El-Sisi is a very pious Muslim and I believe he would respect the human rights and freedom that Islamic doctrines dictate.
AO: What do you think are El-Sisi’s successes to date? And what about his failures?
NB: El-Sisi managed to save Egypt from social and political turmoil. He created bonds with Arab nations and most importantly he is endorsing a new diplomatic effort with Ethiopia to rescue Egypt from the water crisis. He respects everyone and gives people credit when due. Just two days ago in a TV interview he did with Nahar and Dream channels, he gave credit to Sadat for his efforts in the October war. Not everyone is willing to acknowledge others' good works. Also he really respects and empowers Egyptian women. I believe he will restore women’s rights.
I do not see that there were any failures.
AO: How do you think El-Sisi’s presidency would differ from previous Egyptian presidents?
NB: He has the people's love and adoration and hence they are willing to be more patient with him than anyone before. So even if El-Sisi has to make tough decisions such as cutting subsidies, Egyptians will tolerate the hardship out of their love and respect for the man that saved our country. El-Sisi is the only man that they will stand beside. It is people's trust in him that will allow him and the nation to progress.
He is clear on how he will deal national security...no one should play with the nation's security. The law is what regulates El-Sisi’s behaviour and actions, not his personal preferences.
AO: What do you make of public comparisons between El-Sisi and Nasser; do you see similarities?
NB: It's the people’s love; they are leaders that both have respect for Arab unity. They would do anything for their people. Abdel-Nasser was also really in touch with the people. A famous statement by Nasser suggested that love for people makes people love in return. It is the same with El-Sisi, the love from people in the street is beyond imagination. Just last week I was walking in small alleys of downtown Cairo where pictures of El-Sisi covered the streets and little shops. They put these pictures up out of love and admiration, totally unrelated to the elections. Our generation -- people in their 30s and younger -- have not seen this kind of love for someone in government before.
AO: Do you think a government under El-Sisi will be all-inclusive, with MPs from all ideological backgrounds, including Islamists?
NB: The parliament is subject to free elections. It's the people’s will. It has nothing to do with El-Sisi; ultimately it is the people's decision.
AO: Do you think he will complete his four-year term in office? Are you optimistic about his tenure?
NB: Yes I am optimistic, God willing and may God grant him health, but I am fearful for his security, may God protect him from all the threats he is facing. I believe he would have a very successful four-year term.