By Rana Shenawi
Egyptians received news of Donald Trump’s victory on Nov. 9 with mixed reactions, ranging from celebration to disappointment to outrage.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his supporters welcomed the news of Trump becoming the 45th president of the United States while Egypt’s liberal activists expressed their shock and concern on social media platforms.
Sisi was the first world leader to congratulate Trump on his victory in the U.S. presidential elections, saying: “Egypt hopes Trump’s presidency will breathe a new spirit into U.S.-Egyptian relations.”
Sisi met the two presidential candidates in New York during the United Nations General Assembly in September. He said he had no doubt that “Trump would make a strong leader” after the meeting. While Hillary Clinton raised the issue of human rights in Egypt, Trump told Sisi, “under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on.” Despite Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign, many Egyptians welcomed his victory, arguing it could be a positive development for Egypt.
“We, in Egypt, love Trump not Hillary because she is an enemy of the Middle East and we were scared of her presence. Trump’s relationship with us is nice and we had hoped for him to win,” 56-year-old accountant Hani Nasr told Reuters. When asked how he felt about Trump’s anti-Muslim comments, Nasr said: “These are just words that are spoken during an election campaign. He will not implement any of it.”
Clinton, who served as the U.S. Secretary of State during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, is unpopular among many Egyptians, who saw her as a long-standing supporter of the overthrown dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Sisi supporters consider Clinton too sympathetic with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned after Islamic President Mohamed Morsi was removed by a military coup in 2013.
“Trump’s victory is in Egypt’s interest as it spells the end of the U.S. administration’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Emad Gad, a member of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, in Al-Monitor’s Egypt Pulse.
In contrast, Egypt’s liberals and political activists shared on social media their disappointment at the outcome of the U.S. election Khaled Dawoud, former spokesman of the liberal Dostour Party, explained that under Trump’s administration, the United States will care less about human rights in Egypt.
“This is the democracy our leaders in the Arab world want to deprive us of! Rulers don’t stay longer than their term in office, nor do they change laws to extend their presidency. It is the people that decide! Egypt will not rise without democracy,” said Ibrahim Eissa, Egyptian TV host and journalist, in Egypt Pulse.
Trump’s presidential victory could be either a blessing or a curse for world leaders and citizens around the world. Despite his many negative comments during his campaign, Trump still won some people’s hearts and minds whether in the United States or worldwide. Only time will tell if President Trump will damage America’s reputation or improve its relations with other nations.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons