CAIRO — In Sayeda Zainab Square a few kilometers from Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, dozens of street vendors offer their goods to shoppers and employees working at public sector institutions around the square. Amid this crowd, dozens of banners and posters in support of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi block the view of shop signs and catch the attention of passersby, as the country gears up for presidential election March 26-28. But results seem to be a foregone conclusion, as Sisi's only challenger — Ghad Party head Moussa Mostafa Moussa — is avoiding the spotlight and had even been campaigning for Sisi prior to his 11th-hour registration as a candidate.
During the past few weeks, the proliferation of pro-Sisi banners, most of which include the name of the company, shop or local cafe owner responsible for hanging it, has widely stirred up sarcasm among Egyptians, both offline and online. Social media was rife with comments about the abundance of banners in the streets. Mohamed Abdulkhalid, a social media activist with tens of thousands of followers, wrote on Facebook March 7, “We’re not walking the streets of Egypt; rather, we're in Sisi’s Instagram account.” Another activist, freelance writer Abdalla Essa, posted a photo of a scene in the well-known coffee house from the comedy show "Friends" with a banner in the background reading, “Gunther and all Central Perk staff support Sisi.”