Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Road to Egyptian Presidential Elections 2024: Arrests, Controversy, and the Case Against Ahmed Al-Tantawy "Updated"

Earlier this week, popular Egyptian TV host Amr Adeeb has been wondering on MBC Misr why there is no talk about the upcoming 2024 Presidential elections in Egypt and why there are no presidential hopefuls like in the United States. 

It is unknown whether Adeeb was speaking seriously or what he meant by this talk, but interesting discussions about the Egyptian Presidential race have been happening on social media in the past few weeks, even before Ramadan.

In the past three days, news about the upcoming Presidential elections in Egypt has been front and centre following the arrest of Egyptian former MP Ahmed Tantawy’s relatives at Kafr El-Sheikh governorate in a mass arrest campaign that started on 19 April.

Ahmed Al-Tantawy 

Tantawy had declared his intention to run for the Presidency from Beirut in April after hinting about the matter in late March, where he had been staying since August 2022.

He also announced his intention to return to Cairo on 6 May to start working on his campaign.

According to human rights lawyers Nasser Amin and Khaled Ali, 13 men, including two of Al-Tantawy's maternal and paternal uncles, were arrested on charges related to joining a terrorist organization, inciting protests, and possessing 70 Pro-Tantawy publications.

Updated on 11/5/2023: Egypt's High State security ordered the release of Ahmed Al-Tantawy's maternal uncle and another man in the same case "Alaa Anis" pending investigation. 

Updated #2: Ahmed Al-Tantawy arrived in Cairo safely and met with his family. He said that he will take time off, about 5 days to spend time with his family and rest. After 5 days, he will start a tour of public and private meetings. 

I wonder if he is going to join the national dialogue that technically will start next week. 

The former leader of the Karma Nasserite Party declared in a video uploaded on 5 May that he would return despite what happened, adding that it was the third time his family had been targeted in recent months.

The news was covered internationally through wire services as well as human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch.

It also came at an ironic time when Egypt was launching a political national dialogue aimed at showing the country as democratic and open to others' views and opinions.

Needless to say, the arrest of Al-Tantawy's relatives undermines the goals and messages the national dialogue wants to send, which should technically start next week.

The 43-year-old politician released another video in which he answered questions in an interview with journalist Mostafa El-Asr.

The video is about 1.5 hours long, and honestly, he and his team need to rethink their strategy regarding long videos, especially in our time. Updated on 5/11/2023: The videos were spilt into smaller videos on his YouTube account. 

As someone who works in the media, I totally understand that this video, in Arabic, answered a lot of questions about why he left Egypt last year and stayed in Beirut, as well as his vision for what he would do on the first day as President if elected. Spoiler: He will work on constitutional amendments and appoint a vice president from the army.

Yet El-Asr forgot to ask him a question about a certain important issue that could clear the air.

Right after Tantawy announced his intention to return to Egypt and run for office, someone searched his old parliamentary activity and found something that could cause a problem for him if he tries to present himself as a progressive young alternative to Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for anyone.

We found a video of him during a discussion about the amendments to the Female Genital Mutilation “FGM” law, rejecting the prison sentence of doctors who practice it illegally, where he clearly said he was totally against the prison penalty, underestimating the FGM by comparing it to tonsillectomy!!

For me, it was surprising but not shocking to see such a stance from the former parliamentarian. It is surprising because he is a Nasserite and was a member of the 25/30 bloc that leans to the progressive left in the parliament and thinks about FGM in that way.

It was not shocking because we are speaking about a parliamentarian representing a Nile Delta constituency.

Al-Tantawy represented two constituencies in Kafr El-Sheikh. He says he comes from an affluent family, which explains how he is funded despite being a journalist working on blocked websites.

I can imagine that his upbringing in a conservative family played a role in his political views, in addition to his later adoption of Nasserism.

The father of two little girls may be opposed to female genital mutilation (FGM), yet he does not consider it to be a dangerous or life-threatening procedure for girls, nor does he seem to recognize its implications for women's health.

As a result, some feminists have launched an online campaign to cancel him, although it is unlikely that he will be silenced.

Nonetheless, his stance on this issue is politically dangerous, given the time and place. I am quite surprised that El-Asr did not ask him about this matter. 

Now while some may have shown sympathy towards Al-Tantawy following the arrest of his relatives, this does not necessarily translate to support for his political aspirations.

In fact, Tantawy faces a bigger challenge in reconciling his views with those who feel that he is unsuitable to lead Egypt towards democracy, given his association with Nasserism.

Many in the pro-democracy #25Jan camp view Al-Tantawy with suspicion, and question whether a Nasserite can lead Egypt towards a more democratic future.

Many see him as a potential Hamdeen Sabhy or Moussa Moussa - a guest star who adds a veneer of legitimacy in the 2024 presidential elections.

Some even say that we can’t take him seriously.

As a citizen of Egypt, I would like to see Tantawy present an economic plan alongside his political agenda that realistically addresses the country's economic challenges with the use of numbers and data.

If Al-Tantawy is serious about his candidacy, he will need to devote more time to these critical issues in addition to responding to his critics.

On a side note, it is anticipated that Tantawy will release another video tomorrow from Beirut, in which he will announce his plans to return to Egypt.


  1. Thanks for the summary. I appreciate that someone still blogs summaries of what is going on in TV and social media. Useful to people like myself who no longer watch TV and have deleted their Facebook and Twitter accounts. From what you wrote it sounds like he is opposed to prison sentences to doctors who participate in FGM rather than opposed to the criminalization of FGM. Granted you mentioned that he did equate it to tonsillectomy which is not a very good thing to say but it is still not clear, does he really think FGM is something minor like a tonsillectomy? which is outrageous of course or does he offer different punitive solutions such as loosing license, community service, etc..?

    1. It was not clear because it seems that he had a fight with other MPs including women MPs and guess who too !? Mortada Mansour !!! That is why I want to hear to what he really thinks for real concerning the matter. I want someone to ask him for real.

  2. Out of all what he claimed, one item attracted my attention which was selecting his vice president from the army! for that, he disqualifies himself in my opinion.


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