As the Syrian playwright Saadallah Wannous wrote, “What we see now is not the end of history.” The processes playing out in the Arab world today will take decades to reach their conclusions, so extreme pessimism is as unwise as wild optimism. Nevertheless, at this stage it seems that the most comprehensively defeated of the Arab revolutions is not Syria nor Libya but Egypt, where genuine popular frustration with Muslim Brotherhood incompetence was so cleverly exploited by the military and its business class and Saudi backers (very many supposed ‘secular’, ‘liberal’ and ‘leftist’ Egyptians fell headlong into the trap). The coup solidified a junta in power which has destroyed democracy and the chances of democracy for the foreseeable future, slaughtered and imprisoned supporters of the country’s first elected president, appointed Mubarak-era army officials to governorships of the provinces, revalorised the security services, intensified the siege of Gaza, unleashed a savagely xenophobic campaign scapegoating Palestinians and Syrian refugees, and promoted a cult of personality around the figure of General Sisi. The panegyric below comes from the pen of someone called Lubna Abdel Aziz, and was published in the state-owned Al-Ahram Weekly. It could have come from a German newspaper of the late 1930s.
He stands straight and tall, impeccably attired and starched from head to toe. His freshly washed countenance and youthful zeal shield a Herculean strength and nerves of steel. He wears the feathers of a dove but has the piercing eyes of a hawk. During our thousand days of darkness, dozens of potential leaders pranced and boasted, to no avail. The leader of the people should combine a love of country, a deep faith in God and the desire to serve the nation’s will.
Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s name lit up the darkness. He was called upon at a supreme moment in history; a kind of mysterious rendez-vous with destiny. He was a hero like no other! He aroused attention without exhausting it. Nothing that touched the common run of mortals made any impression on him. All in all, he is but a common man, with an almost aristocratic aura of a nobleman. Composed and cool, Al-Sisi is everyman’s man, with a sort of serene majesty on his brow. He is the chosen leader of the people because he is willing to be their servant.
Let the deaf, dumb and blind media and governments of the West say what they will, Al-Sisi submitted to the will of 33 million Egyptians in the street and 50 million in their homes, crying for salvation. The people led — Al-Sisi followed.
What the West cannot comprehend is the warm affinity between people and army in Egypt, which has endured for centuries. Gamal Abdel-Nasser is a recent example, even when he ruled with the firm grip of a military dictator.
Whatever else is going on in the rest of this vast universe, this much is certain — Al-Sisi has captured the imagination of all Egyptians, if not all the world.
He popped out of nowhere — almost — and his secret ingredient was hope. Napoleon Bonaparte once said “a leader deals with hope”, and the brand of hope that Al-Sisi deals, breathed new life into our withering, perishing dreams.
Are heroes born, made or chosen? Perhaps, all of the above. William Shakespeare believed, “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Our hero may be the latter, for he sought nothing, yet emerged unexpectedly, admired and beloved, and in full army regalia, smoothly assumed the role he was born for.
In the full vigour of his prime, he exudes a magic charm, afforded to a select few. His physical appearance — and appearance counts — is flawless. He wears the emblems of his rank on his shoulders as he does the legends of his ancient land, with gushing pride. But it is the swelling reservoir of love for his Egypt and his God that sealed the deal. We responded to this love a million times over. Therefore, for those who raise an eyebrow at the portraits, flags, pins, pictures, chocolates, cups and other forms of Al-Sisi mania that fill the streets of Egypt, it is only a fraction of the love and appreciation we feel for this strong yet modest, soft-spoken, sincere and compassionate leader. It is Kismet.
Shy and reserved, Al-Sisi is a man of few words and much action. We know little about the private life of Colonel General Abdel-Fattah Saad Hussein Al-Sisi, except that he is married with three sons and one daughter and he believes that is all we need to know.
He was born on 19 November 1954, to the right kind of father, in the right kind of district — Al-Gammaliya — right in the heart of the bustling city of middle-class Cairo. This is what gives him that sharp perspective into the hearts of his people, their pains, their aims, their wishes, their dreams. His father Hassan, an amiable accomplished artisan owns a shop in Cairo’s legendary Bazaar, Khan Al-Khalili, where he displays his craftsmanship of intricate inlay of mother-of-pearl and rosewood. Cultured and well-read, he owns a huge library filled with history books, and socialised with famous writers, poets, musicians, and theologians. Al-Sisi is one of seven children, four boys — a judge, a doctor, a businessman and an army general. All three daughters are married.
According to his brothers, Al-Sisi developed a love of books from their father. He was the one who saw the most and said the least. Even as a boy, they called him “the General”. There was little doubt he would join the army and make it his career, and what a distinguished career it has been. He studied in the UK in the General Command in 1977, and attended their Staff course in 1992. He spent a year in the US at the War College in Pennsylvania and became the youngest member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
He took over as defence minister in 2012, but by 30 June 2013, there was no doubt in his mind that he would do what is right. He responded to the 33 million voices clamouring in the streets. Yes, the Eagle had landed.
His bronzed, gold skin, as gold as the sun’s rays, hides a keen, analytical fire within. He challenges the world not with bellows and bravura but with a soft, sombre reproach, with an audible timbre of compassion.
There is almost poetry in his leadership, but the ardour of the sun is in his veins. He will lead us to victory and never renounce the struggle, and we will be right there at his side.
“To lead the people, walk behind them” – Lao-Tzu (sixth century Chinese philosopher)
6 thoughts on “Sisi’s Neo-Fascism”
This is a war against terrorism. Sisi is leading the way to save the world from Islamo-fascism. The only way and approach to deal with Islamists and Jihadists is to eliminate them – it is a hard solution but it has to be done to save the Middle East and World. Liberal and secular politics is the only way to save Egypt and the Arab world. Robin please be more forceful to condemn Islamists and Jihadis who have a design to take over the world and enforce the barbaric Caliphate which threatens everyone, Christians, Liberals, Intellectuals and including the Moslems too.
The revolution has only just began in Egypt the real revolution for all Egyptians.
There is nothing liberal or secular about your call for slaughter. Your comment is as blatant an exercise in fascist rhetoric as the propaganda vomited by Lubna Abdel Aziz.
This article which focud its words to say that what in Egypt just a coup, it is really fake , what happened and still happening in egypt the real mean ofrevolution against the darkness of brotherhoods thoughts , who destroy all meaning for democracy when the were leaded , the facist is Morsi and his grouo, who insist to stay while 40 millions went streets say no for brotherhood , SISI is just leader for the great army who take the side of egyptians and protected them of the terrorists and terrot , i am not one of who worship a person , but i only say what we feel in Egypt ,
o, so miltary officers taking over the state, establsihing a state of emergency, imprisoning the elected president and rounding up and murdering his supporters is NOT a coup. And 40 million people were in the streets (that’s seven million more than the also ridiculous figure of 33 million usually given by pro-coup hysterics). This is absurd, and you’re doing yourself a disservice by repeating such idiotic nonsense.
Jake Watson – excellent regurgitation of Israeli view!
The deep institution which, along with its descendant branches, has ruled Egypt since the military coup of 1952 has managed to do what I mistakingly believed the Egyptian people were too intelligent to allow: They managed, in one year, to divert the bulk of the anger directed at them on the twenty fifth of January, a product of decades of corruption, social injustice, economic inequality, power abuse, humiliating transgressions by internal security forces and pitiful states of healthcare and education, towards the Muslim Brotherhood.
As you said this diversion could not have been possible without existing frustration amongst the people and I add prejudice as well, not to mention a vital alliance with the private media whether formal or informal. The most surprising aspect of the entire fiasco is the excuses the people are giving themselves to justify the hypocrisy of not condemning the current crackdown on dissenters.
The rule of military fascism cantered around personality cults glorified to degrees rivalling the glorification of epic heroes from Homer’s Illiad is not new to the country or the Arab world in general. I just hoped we would have learned from our past experiments with the model.