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State TV anchor suspended for anti-Sisi comments, again

Controversial state television anchor Azza al-Hennawy was suspended on Thursday for criticizing President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during an episode of her show on Al-Qahera Channel, which aired on Sunday.

The president of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, Essam Al-Amir, ordered the formation of a committee on Tuesday to assess Hennawy’s professionalism and objectivity during the episode, and the committee later recommended that Hennawy be suspended.

On Sunday, Hennawy compared President Sisi’s now infamous speech on February 24, in which he told Egyptians to only listen to him, to the speeches of Adolf Hitler. Hennawy addressed Sisi by saying, “There isn’t one issue that you have resolved since you came … There are only a couple of months left until your two-year mark and you promised Egyptians that they would see a different Egypt within two years. We are waiting.”

Hennawy warned that many Egyptians now want to leave Egypt and relinquish their citizenship. She added, “The president orders the people to work. He should work first … Egyptians are working but the state leadership are not working.”

In response, some media personalities launched a campaign against Hennawy, including Tamer Amin who ridiculed Hennawy for her weight. On Wednesday, Amin sarcastically called on Maspero head Amir to place a set of scales at the door of every studio so that “each anchor knows her weight and size.” He also called on Hennawy to get her eyesight checked so that she could see whether the president is working or not.

However, others came to her defense, such as author Alaa al-Aswany who stated on his Twitter account that Hennawy was brave for stating what many Egyptians say in secret.

Meanwhile, lawyer Samir Sabry filed a lawsuit against Hennawy to the General Prosecution, accusing her of insulting the president and inciting against the state. Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek referred the case to State Security Prosecution for further investigations, according to Youm7 newspaper.

Despite worsening economic and political conditions, the media remains careful about criticizing President Sisi and instead direct their criticism toward other bodies, such as the cabinet or parliament, while offering advice or pity to the president. In an opinion piece on March 1, for instance, Al-Masry Al-Youm columnist Mohamed Amin wrote that the president is working alone, in the absence of a functioning parliament, as well as the absence of a government.

In November 2015, Hennawy was suspended and referred to internal disciplinary investigations for criticizing Sisi and his government in light of the floods in Alexandria and the Delta. She was also suspended under the rule of former President Mohamed Morsi for criticizing his administration.

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