On Egyptian streets Abdel Fatah al-Sisi – the top general who ousted ex-president Mohamed Morsi last summer – reached superhuman status months ago. Now the digital world has caught up: developers have released a Sisi-themed arcade-style game for Android users, billing the strongman as an Egyptian superhero.
Super Sisi sees a two-dimensional version of Egypt’s likely next president fly through a cartoon Cairo, attempting to save the country. In real life, Sisi’s picture looms over most main roads in Cairo, with many seeing his leadership as the answer to three years of political instability. In the game, Sisi’s avatar flies over the pyramids and the river Nile dodging bombs and explosives – a plotline that might remind some of a real-life wave of militant attacks aimed at soldiers and policemen.
The game is the latest in a string of unlikely memorabilia aimed at cashing in on Sisi’s cult status. Elsewhere, Sisi’s face adorns tat ranging from underpants, fast-food packaging and, most famously, chocolates – at least until police raided the patissiers who made them last month.
But popular culture has not all been favourable to the man many expect to be elected Egypt’s next president in late May. In late March hundreds of thousands took to social media to express disgust at the general. Using the slogan “vote for the pimp”, it was a reminder that many Egyptians revile Sisi for his role in a crackdown that has seen at least 16 000 political dissidents arrested since regime change last July, and thousands killed.
After months of speculation as to whether he would stand for the presidency, Sisi resigned from the military in March, paving the way for a return to strongman leadership for Egypt.
Sisi had been spoken of as a potential head of state after he removed Morsi last July, following days of mass protests against the Islamist-slanted government.
A poll from late March by Egypt’s leading pollsters, Baseera, suggested that 39% of Egyptians would vote for Sisi in an election. This dwarfs support for the two other well-known candidates currently in the race – the rightwing football club chairman Mortada Mansour and leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi, who moulds himself in the image of Egypt’s 60s autocrat, Gamal Abdel Nasser. But it is a marked drop from Baseera’s February poll, which gave Sisi 51%. Most voters say they are yet to decide, but their choice is already limited by the withdrawal of two leading candidates who say that the race will be neither free nor fair.
Patrick Kingsley for the Guardian