Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is being criticised for calling on his compatriots to lose weight.
In televised comments earlier this month, the general-turned-president railed about the number of overweight people he sees and told Egyptians that they must take better care of themselves.
Sisi said physical education should become part of the core curriculum at schools and universities and suggested TV shows should not let presenters or guests on the air if they are overweight.
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“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?” Sisi said on December 15.
Sisi’s critics said he was fat-shaming and taking an elitist approach to a problem whose roots lie to a large extent in poverty.
They also criticised him for not offering concrete plans to combat obesity and spread fitness.
Mohamed Zaree, a rights lawyer, said Sisi needs to enable Egyptians to lose weight rather than ordering them to exercise.
“He needs to make healthy food available at low prices, set up venues where people can exercise and allow emergency obesity operations to be performed under the cover of the state’s medical care system,” Zaree said.