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On September 25, 2023, Egypt's National Election Authority announced that presidential elections – originally planned for 2024 – would be held between December 10-12, 2023, with the winner declared on December 18. On October 2, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced his run for reelection "to complete the dream of a new presidential term." Sisi assumed power in a 2013 military coup, before being elected to his first four-year term in 2014 and then reelected in 2018. Constitutional amendments passed in 2019 added two years to his second term, granting him the right to run for a third six-year term.
So far, seven other candidates have declared their intention to run, although none is considered likely to win. One of the most prominent candidates is Ahmed Tantawi, former head of the Dignity Party and a past member of the Egyptian House of Representatives.
Tariq Abdelhaleem, an Egyptian-born pro-Al-Qaeda cleric residing for decades in Ontario, Canada, has published multiple Telegram posts warning against the elections, dismissing Tantawi as a "collaborator" with the Gulf states who is no better for Egypt than Sisi, and expressing pessimism over the possibility of unseating Egypt's military dictatorship without bloodshed. Harshly condemning Sisi as an anti-Islamic dictator with no legitimacy, Abdelhaleem declared that only those who reject democracy and pacifism, such as jihadis, have a true right to govern Egypt.
Both Sisi And Tantawi Will Destroy Egypt, Serve Israel
In an October 1 Telegram post titled "Egypt: For Sale in the Display Window," the Egyptian-born jihadi cleric wrote that the choice between reelecting Sisi or choosing Tantawi – whose victory he dismissed as "science fiction" – is "a rotten, humiliating choice which causes the death of the nation and destroys the country," as well as serving the interests of "the entity," Israel. According to Abdelhaleem, the only question is who will control Egypt's economy and exploit its people – the military and Sisi family, or a group of businessmen representing the Gulf states. He added that "the people perishes in both cases and the entity wins in both cases." Blaming Egyptians' pacifism, cowardice, and "hatred of death" for the current state of the country, he commented about those who hope for the victory of the "Gulf collaborator" Tantawi: "A stupid nation with no good in it."
In another post, Abdelhaleem wrote that after ten years of Egypt's "systematic sabotage and destruction," Sisi's role has ended, to be replaced with "the lackeys of the Gulf and the West," while the "grinder of the people continues operation at full strength."
Change Is Unlikely, Only Solution Is Removing The Regime Completely
Since "the entity is the one dominating Egypt" regardless of whether Sisi or Tantawi wins, the only solution, according to the jihadi cleric, is "removing the regime completely and rejecting any collaboration, whatever its source." He suggests – while viewing it as unlikely to occur – releasing all political prisoners by force and appointing former Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail to temporarily lead the country "until relief will come," noting that Abu Ismail is also not ideal since he "surrendered to the blemish of democracy."
On October 2, Abdelhaleem wrote that although he "does not mean to hurt anyone's feelings," the truth is: "No change will occur. Sisi will not leave power. Tantawi will travel abroad to live a life of luxury in a sister country. The army and the police are a single hand." He warned Egyptians not to raise their hopes, calling hopes of change "delusions which we experience in dreams."
Sincere Muslims Have No Stake In Egyptian Elections, All Candidates Are Evil
On the same day, the Egyptian-born cleric published a post as a "testimony for the sake of Allah," declaring that the "futile show" of elections is a competition "between parties that do not belong to Allah's religion and do not work to establish His shari'a in Egypt or to return Allah's religion to sovereignty over its people." Therefore, Abdelhaleem asserted, it "is not a Muslim's battle," but a struggle "between genuine evil, some of which is apparent and obvious and some which is hidden and concealed." He added that those who wish to exercise their "right of false hope and delusional progress" can vote "until the time of the coming calamity arrives," and that he is only "a spectator and observer from afar" with no horse in the race.
Regime Change Through Elections Is Impossible, Change Will Only Come When Blood Flows In The Streets And Muslims Sacrifice Their Lives For Allah
In another post, Abdelhaleem wrote that he is "astonished, frightened, and saddened" that most Egyptian intellectuals "believe that it is possible to change a fierce, secularist, dictatorial military regime via ballot boxes." The jihadi cleric insisted that recent "human experiences" have proven that peaceful regime change is impossible and "there is no alternative to force," noting that Mohamed Morsi was inaugurated president of Egypt on June 30, 2012 after being elected democratically, but on the same day the following year, mass protests erupted against his government, culminating in his deposal by force.
Sharing a screenshot from Egyptian television reporting that Sisi "acceded to the call of millions of Egyptians" by announcing his candidacy in the upcoming elections, Abdelhaleem wrote: "By Allah, this nation deserves everything that happens to it […] There is a huge flaw in your intellects and your faith in Allah's practices." The jihadi cleric asserted: "No change will happen in Egypt through wooden [ballot] boxes. Change will come when blood flows in the streets like rivers, and people sacrifice their lives to support Allah, not over the price of a kilo of tomatoes. Otherwise, congratulations on your destruction and demise."
Sisi Has No Legitimacy, Those Who Reject Pacifism, Nationalism, Democracy Are The Ones With The Right To Govern Egypt
In an October 3 post, Abdelhaleem declared that "we are not opponents of Sisi," defining "opposition" as predicated on the existence of two equally legitimate groups both accepting the authority of shari'a, with one promising to provide a better life for the people. However, Sisi lacks legitimacy, as he "wages war on Allah, His Messenger, and the adherents of His religion, and spreads obscenity and debauchery," making him not even a Muslim according to shari'a. Furthermore, Sisi robs the people of their rightful property, kills wrongfully – making him "a saboteur by worldly standards – and illegitimately gained power by force. The jihadi cleric continued: "We are the sole possessors of the shari'a-based right to lead Egypt," clarifying that he and those of like mind are the only ones with "Islamic legitimacy […] which does not declare pacifism or celebrate adulterers and sinners on the grounds of nationalism," while legitimacy based on liberalism and democracy is "beneath the Muslim's feet." Reiterating that jihadis are the only ones with the right to govern Egypt, he concluded: "Comprehend this so that Allah may have mercy on you."
One of the most prominent clerics supporting Al-Qaeda, Abdelhaleem was endorsed by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in 2015, when the latter included him among the six jihadi clerics to whom he addressed an open letter. Based in Ontario since the 1980s, he continues to lash out against the "tyranny" of the government in his native Egypt, asserting that jihad is the only solution to the problems of Egyptians, while opining that they deserve their suffering, since they are too cowardly and complacent to take up arms against the regime.
 Telegram, October 1, 2023.
 Telegram, October 2, 2023.
 Telegram, October 3, 2023.
 See MEMRI JTTM Reports: Canada-Based Ideologue Tareq Abd Al-Halim Remains An Influencing Figure For Al-Qaeda And Its Supporters, February 25, 2021; and Fatwa By Canada-Based Pro-Al-Qaeda Cleric Justifies Muslims Residing In The West, Dubs Entire World 'Abode Of Unbelief' Except Taliban-Ruled Afghanistan, June 28, 2023.
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