Considering the coup and related protests that brought Sisi to power, limiting the freedom of the press, the right to protest as well as maintaining a strong influence within the military are extremely important aspects of Sisi’s agenda. Contrary to his aggressive policies towards certain social issues, Sisi remains a relatively reserved and conservative Muslim. In comparison to other leaders in the region, Sisi’s personal religion, as well as the religion of his nation, has held influence but not control over his foreign policy. Rather, his desire for a united and cohesive Arab world outweighs any contempt he may have for Shi’a majority nations (or other religious majorities).
Aggressive Counter-terrorism Measures lead to Suppressive Reforms
Since Sisi has accepted the presidency, Egypt has witnessed some of the most repressive reforms to date, leaving very little room for political or social dissent. This is emphasized in that “access within Egypt to over 100 media websites has been blocked; emergency laws have been reintroduced; recently passed laws on NGOs provide for prison sentences for a range of [minor] infringements; [and] judges have been penalized for challenging the government.” As noted in the general profile on Sisi, much of these harsh reforms have been enacted ‘in the name of fighting terrorism,’ when in reality, they’re enacted to preserve the presidency (and name) of al-Sisi. In limiting the freedom to protest and the freedom of the press; as well as those limitations listed above, Sisi has taken all measures possible to safeguard his control over what is said about him and his administration; publicly and privately.
Moderate Muslim ruling in a tense religious region
In comparison to neighboring countries in which there is commonly a head of state and a head of religion who each hold significant power, Egypt is led by only one executive, the president. As such, Sisi has largely left religion out of his policymaking for a number of reasons: First, he has grown up in an extremely diverse district in Cairo in which people of a variety of religious backgrounds live and work together. Secondly, after replacing the Muslim Brotherhood in his military coup in 2013, Sisi needed to distance himself as much as possible from his predecessor and the group he now labeled ‘terrorists.’ As a result, he has approached religion as a largely moderate Muslim, choosing not to participate in many religious debates (or wars) in the country and region.
Finally, Sisi has left religion out of his policy making as much as possible to appear as objective as possible in his crusade against political Islamists. Since assuming the presidency, Sisi has made ridding Egypt of extremists; primarily political Islamists from his perspective, his primary security objective. Accordingly, you can find more information about Sisi’s handling of ‘religious extremists’ in the security section as well as the general overview of his profile.