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Donald Trump? He's only imitating President Sisi, report Egyptian media

Trump said Sisi 'took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it'
US president-elect Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in New York on 19 September 2016 (AFP)

US president-elect Donald Trump is following in the footsteps of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, several Egyptian news websites have declared.

Headlines likening Trump to Sisi flooded Egyptian media platforms on Monday, from established newspapers including Al-Watan and Al-Masry Al-Youm to smaller and more sensationalist websites such as Vetogate.

Most headlines highlighted that Trump was imitating Sisi in his move to give up his presidential salary. But some went so far as to claim that Sisi's support for the president-elect had encouraged many Americans to vote for Trump.

Trump revealed during an interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl on CBS News on Sunday that he would be giving up the usual presidential salary of $400,000 and take just $1 a year.

Critics: Sisi needs to disclose finances

The president-elect is not the first US leader to extend this symbolic gesture  – Herbert Hoover and John F Kennedy did so - but several Egyptian newspapers argued that he was emulating Sisi.

Arabic news websites such as Arabi21 and Vetogate and newspapers such as Al Fajr and Sawt al-Umma also argued that Trump was imitating the Egyptian president.

Egyptian newspaper Sawt Al-Umma on Monday declared that: “In the footsteps of Sisi… Trump gives up his presidential salary.” Meanwhile, Alf Fajr said: “Trump unveils a huge surprise for his people… following in the footsteps of Sisi.”

'In the footsteps of Sisi… Trump gives up his presidential salary'

- Sawt Al-Umma

Sisi announced in 2014 that he would give up half his 42,000 Egyptian pound salary “for the sake of Egypt".

But several Egyptian politicians have since criticised the president for not disclosing his personal finances, despite it being a constitutional requirement under Egyptian law, reported Arabi21. Donald Trump has faced similar criticism in the US for not going public with his tax returns.

Abdel Rahim Ali, television host and editor of Albawaba news website, claimed on Alnahar TV on 9 November that Trump had said: “President Sisi is my role model and I will definitely be putting my hands in his.”

Translation: Trump unveils huge surprise to the American people.. follows in the footsteps of Sisi.

Has Sisi made the guest list?

Arabi21 reported that, after the US elections, several Egyptian news websites announced that Trump’s spokesperson had declared Sisi to be top of the guest list for the president-elect's inauguration ceremony in January.

One newspaper claimed Sisi’s support for Trump had prompted some Americans to vote for him.  

One day after the US elections, Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan reported that Trump’s foreign policy adviser Walid Phares had said in a phone call during a talk show on Sada al-Balad: “President’s Sisi’s support for Trump attracted the whole of the American people to vote for him [Trump].”

Sisi expressed confidence in Trump's leadership and was the first Arab leader to congratulate the president-elect on Wednesday, saying he hoped Trump would "pump new life" into Egyptian-American relations.

Trump: Sisi is 'a fantastic guy'

For his part, the US president-elect has touted the “chemistry” the two politicians shared during a special meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

'He took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it'

- Donald Trump, US president-elect

Trump went on to describe Sisi as “a fantastic guy”, praising his handling of the Egyptian military coup of July 2013 that removed Egypt’s first civilian president Mohamed Morsi from power, a bloody transition that saw more than 1,000 protestors killed.

“He took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it,” Trump said.

Trump also praised Sisi's “strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism" and that under a Trump administration "the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead".

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