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Following accusations of censorship, Egyptian president begins nightly Twitter Q&A sessions

Following accusations of censorship, Egyptian president begins nightly Twitter Q&A sessions

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Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi this week announced that he will be holding nightly Q&A sessions on Twitter, as part of a broader effort to connect with the country's young, and increasingly disenchanted constituents. In a Facebook post published Wednesday, Morsi said he will field and respond to questions between 9 PM and 9:30 PM every night. He held his first session last night, answering eight questions with what the Guardian describes as "mostly prosaic" replies.

Fireside tweets

The move comes as an apparent response to mounting criticism over Morsi's recent crackdown on Egyptian journalists. Last week, Egypt's attorney general arrested Bassem Youssef — a popular satirist widely regarded as the Egyptian Jon Stewart — for allegedly insulting both Islam and Morsi. The arrest sparked controversy in both Egypt and the US, with Stewart publicly mocking the president on a widely-circulated Daily Show segment. The US embassy in Cairo came under fire from Egyptian authorities after posting a link to the clip on Twitter, prompting American diplomats to temporarily freeze the account.

Morsi has aggressively softened his stance in recent days, withdrawing all complaints filed against Egyptian journalists, and distancing himself from the litigation against Youssef, which was soon dismissed by a Cairo court. His Twitter-based outreach seems to be part of Morsi's broader efforts to cast his administration as a more open and democratically mature regime.

It also comes at an economically critical time for Egypt, as the country continues to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund over a proposed $4.8 billion loan. In branding himself as a more Western leader, Morsi may be looking to curry favor with foreign donors concerned over the direction of his administration.