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Egyptian Media Encourages Voters To Get To Polls — Or Else

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Egyptian authorities added a third day of voting tomorrow in the country's presidential election. Backers of candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are worried about underwhelming voter turnout. Sisi is the former military chief who led the popular coup against Egypt's last elected president. Sisi is almost certain to win, but his legitimacy could rely on turnout. NPR's Leila Fadel reports.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: On local TV, pro-Sisi commentators are panicking. Turnout is the gauge for Sisi's support and the government's wide crackdown on dissenting voices. Television hosts and commentators yell at Egyptian citizens.

(SOUNBITE OF ARCHIVAL RECORDING)

FADEL: A well-known media figure, Amr Eldib, shouts, I'm willing to cut my veins right now so people go down and vote. Another commentator called those who don't vote traitors. And yet, another right-wing television personality says, a woman who decides to shop instead of vote should be shot or shoot herself.

The government's making it as easy as possible to vote. It's a national holiday in Egypt to encourage Egyptians to go to the polls and the subway system is free. Some private businesses closed early to allow people to vote. Now the election may be technically free, but it's going on in an atmosphere where opposing views aren't tolerated. More than 20,000 people characterized as political prisoners are languishing in jail. And protests are pretty much illegal. Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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