Super Sisi's cult status takes off with video game

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 5:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 April, 2014, 8:01am

On Egyptian streets Abdel Fatah al-Sisi - the field marshal who ousted former 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 smartphones, 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 mirrors real-life militant attacks against soldiers and policemen.

The game is the latest in a string of unlikely memorabilia aimed at cashing in on Sisi's cult status; Sisi's face adorns cheap goods such as underpants, fast-food packaging, and even chocolates - at least until police raided the manufacturers last month.

Yet popular culture has not all been positive for the man many expect will be elected Egypt's next president next month.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people took to social media to express disgust at the soldier; using the slogan "vote for the pimp", it was a reminder that many Egyptians revile Sisi for his role in a crackdown, following last July's regime change, which has seen at least 16,000political dissidents arrested and thousands killed.

Sisi was first spoken of as a potential head of state after removing Morsi following days of protests against the Islamist-slanted government. He ended months of speculation by resigning from the military last month, paving the way for a return to strongman leadership for Egypt.

Analysts say it remains to be seen how authoritarian a Sisi presidency will be. "The real test comes post-election," Michael Hanna, an analyst of Egyptian politics at The Century Foundation think tank, in the United States, says. "Will a president Sisi - with the backing of the military, and with what he would consider a popular mandate - then decide he can make decisions?"