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Egypt's President Accused of Fat-Shaming an Entire Country

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi did ask his people to lose weight, but he says it's because they're 'family'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 26, 2018 8:17 AM CST
In this Dec. 16, 2018, photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi rides his bike in a suburb of Cairo.   (Egyptian Presidency via AP)
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(Newser) – Egypt's president is denying that he fat-shamed his own people after his recent calls for Egyptians to lose weight prompted a torrent of jokes online. In televised comments Wednesday, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said, "How can I shame my own family? Egyptians are my family. How can I watch them (putting on weight) and stay quiet?" He noted the "incredible" number of jokes in response to his call and, chuckling, suggested people "take it easy with the jokes at my expense." The remarks that spurred the outrage came on Dec. 15, when el-Sissi ripped into Egyptians for not walking enough and told them to put in place better health habits, the AP reports.

"The second I walk into any place I look at things you cannot possibly imagine I would notice, and I ask myself, 'What is this? Who are these people? Why are these people not looking after themselves?'" he said. Egypt has one of the world's highest rates of obesity, per the AP. Millions of people rely on government-subsidized bread and other staples, and the price of healthier foods has soared following recent austerity measures. In fact, el-Sissi's critics say his slam on citizens' weight issues is elitist and that he hasn't put forth any solid plans to deal with poverty or to encourage physical fitness. El-Sissi has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years, and he has often bristled at criticism.

(Read more Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi stories.)

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