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Egypt's Unelected General Unironically Elected TIME's "Person Of The Year," Handily Defeats Miley Cyrus

The official announcement about the reader's choice results came after days of misinformation in the Egyptian press about what the poll actually reflected.

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Yesterday, many Egyptians were elated when TIME announced that General Abdel Fattah El Sisi — who ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected President and oversaw violent crackdowns on opposition — had won the Person of the Year reader’s choice poll.

السيسي يفوز بلقب شخصية العام بمجلة تايم الأمريكية

مصراوي

@Masrawy

السيسي يفوز بلقب شخصية العام بمجلة تايم الأمريكية

/ Via

Long live #Egypt... #Sisi #Army #ThePeople

#تحيا #مصر. ...#السيسي#الجيش #الشعب

Ahmed.Hassan

@El3atar62

#تحيا #مصر. ...#السيسي#الجيش #الشعب

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In his first "election" as Egypt's leader, Sisi received almost 600,000 votes, or 26.6% of the online total. His top competitors — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (an Islamist-leaning leader who oversaw a violent crackdown on the Gezi park protests in May) and Miley Cyrus (no introduction needed) — followed with 206.% and 16.3% of the vote, respectively.

Many others on the Internet, however, were not only appalled at the outcome, but also frustrated with the poll's domestic politicization.

I think the @Time should publish in Arabic a statement telling our Egyptian local media the difference between #TimePOY and internet polls

Zeinobia

@Zeinobia

I think the @Time should publish in Arabic a statement telling our Egyptian local media the difference between #TimePOY and internet polls

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The Egyptian state and privately-owned media, which are notorious for recycling government misinformation, were quick to cover the story with a positive Sisi spin.

Actual headline in Shorouq: For the first time, Sisi pulls ahead of Miley Cyrus in Time's "Person of the Year" poll. http://t.co/KuRL9eDWHb

Gregg Carlstrom

@glcarlstrom

Actual headline in Shorouq: For the first time, Sisi pulls ahead of Miley Cyrus in Time's "Person of the Year" poll. http://t.co/KuRL9eDWHb

/ Via

They also confused Sisi's success in the magazine's online POY reader's poll with the official POY designation, which TIME will announce separately on December 11.

#Egypt newspapers are now reporting that #Sisi has won @TIME person of the year. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it an editorial decision?

Amir Beshay

@Amir_G_Beshay

#Egypt newspapers are now reporting that #Sisi has won @TIME person of the year. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it an editorial decision?

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and Egyptian news websites like ONA are claiming that General El Sisi won the #TimePOY publishing a fake @TIme magazine cover for him

Zeinobia

@Zeinobia

and Egyptian news websites like ONA are claiming that General El Sisi won the #TimePOY publishing a fake @TIme magazine cover for him

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Via @AlMasryAlYoum: #MB protest against choice of #Egypt's Sisi as @TIME Person of the Year (which hasn't happened) http://t.co/ZHuJUjpTE1

Amir Beshay

@Amir_G_Beshay

Via @AlMasryAlYoum: #MB protest against choice of #Egypt's Sisi as @TIME Person of the Year (which hasn't happened) http://t.co/ZHuJUjpTE1

/ Via

Since the military-backed ouster of Mohammed Morsi on July 3, General El Sisi's popularity has soared. Egyptian politics have polarized along pro- and anti-Morsi lines, leaving little room for opposition in a country long-ruled by authoritarian leaders.

بيجاما السيسي "@AymanM: Do you dream of Sisi? General Sisi picture on new women's PJs via @AlMasryAlYoum "

Ameera Ibrahimâ„¢

@Amyzzzzzz

بيجاما السيسي "@AymanM: Do you dream of Sisi? General Sisi picture on new women's PJs via @AlMasryAlYoum "

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A story on December 3 in the state-owned Al Ahram newspaper is a telling example of how the TIME poll was used to vilify Sisi's opposition — in this case the Muslim Brotherhood — and justify human rights abuses.

The article used the poll to justify Sisi's legitimacy and to vilify the Muslim Brotherhood as against Egypt's interests: "It seems that Egyptians are enthusiastically leading the campaigns to vote for Sisi on TIME and other social media sites, whereas the Muslim Brotherhood in and outside of Egypt are supporting Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan." The article continued to claim that Morsi had been a candidate in the beginning, but "the non-Brotherhood Egyptians" voted against Morsi and prevented him from participating. (Morsi was a runner-up in last year's reader's POY poll. Human Rights Watch lawyer and women's rights advocate Heba Morayef was also in the running this year for top 100 people.)

Many on Egypt's vibrant Twitter sphere responded to the politicized hysteria with typical snark.

Egypt's Sisi won Time POY poll, but editors have final say. Can't wait for conspiracy theories when he doesn't win!! http://t.co/rlYbFTUdhg

Ali Tahmizian

@AliTahmizian

Egypt's Sisi won Time POY poll, but editors have final say. Can't wait for conspiracy theories when he doesn't win!! http://t.co/rlYbFTUdhg

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Wouldn't surprise me if Islamists were banned from voting on @TIME's person of the year: http://t.co/BkqxpeOwYk #Egypt #Sisi

Patrick Galey

@patrickgaley

Wouldn't surprise me if Islamists were banned from voting on @TIME's person of the year: http://t.co/BkqxpeOwYk #Egypt #Sisi

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457 army conscripts locked in a room for 2 weeks with no toilet breaks forced to click repeatedly on Sisi as #TimePOY. Click ya dof3a

أبو كار

@Sarahcarr

457 army conscripts locked in a room for 2 weeks with no toilet breaks forced to click repeatedly on Sisi as #TimePOY. Click ya dof3a

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#Egypt's London embassy declare gleefully that el-Sisi is Time Magazine's 'Man of the Year' after beating off Erdogan and "Miley Sayres"

Jack Shenker

@hackneylad

#Egypt's London embassy declare gleefully that el-Sisi is Time Magazine's 'Man of the Year' after beating off Erdogan and "Miley Sayres"

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"He allowed 'democracy' to replace the true will of his nation but we feel sad for his departure. RIP Nelson Mandela". Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

Karl Sharro

@KarlreMarks

"He allowed 'democracy' to replace the true will of his nation but we feel sad for his departure. RIP Nelson Mandela". Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

/ Via

Others noted that controversial figures — like Hitler — had also attained this designation in the past. "You say Sisi is in Time Magazine. Well, look."

قالك السيسي في تايم ماجازين طب بص :)

Wael Abbas

@waelabbas

قالك السيسي في تايم ماجازين طب بص :)

/ Via

Commentators also called into question the poll's larger utility.

Does it matter that #Sisi, a murderous defender of virginity tests, has been voted @TIME #POY? I believe so: http://t.co/PMObINXOgv #Egypt

Patrick Galey

@patrickgaley

Does it matter that #Sisi, a murderous defender of virginity tests, has been voted @TIME #POY? I believe so: http://t.co/PMObINXOgv #Egypt

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+1 MT @GalalAmrG The fact that one of either Sisi, Erdogan or Miley Cyrus is going to be TIME's POY really shows what kind of year it's been

Nervana Mahmoud

@Nervana_1

+1 MT @GalalAmrG The fact that one of either Sisi, Erdogan or Miley Cyrus is going to be TIME's POY really shows what kind of year it's been

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I'm not sure all of Sisi's Egyptian supporters realize that being TIME's person of the year is not necessarily good http://t.co/YPyZX7mMfm

Evan Hill

@evanchill

I'm not sure all of Sisi's Egyptian supporters realize that being TIME's person of the year is not necessarily good http://t.co/YPyZX7mMfm

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As TIME readers await to see who the magazine will choose as the official 2013 POY, Egyptians have another question in mind: Will Sisi next run for President?

Bassem Youssef: I hope Sisi doesn't run for president and I hope he doesn't get pushed into it. #Egypt

Galal

@GalalAmrG

Bassem Youssef: I hope Sisi doesn't run for president and I hope he doesn't get pushed into it. #Egypt

/ Via

Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at miriam.berger+done@buzzfeed.com.

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