News / Middle East

Egyptians Polarized Over Top Ruling General

Egyptians Polarized Over Top Generali
X
August 02, 2013 7:03 PM
Egyptian General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has emerged as the key leader in the interim military government. As VOA's Elizabeth Arrott reports from Cairo, the general rose from obscurity, was chosen by then President Mohamed Morsi to lead the armed forces last year, and then went on to unseat him.
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott
— Egyptian General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has emerged as the key leader in the interim military government.  The general rose from obscurity, was chosen by then-President Mohamed Morsi to lead the armed forces last year, and went on to unseat him.
 
To millions of Egyptians, the savior of the nation, the man who ousted President Mohamed Morsi, checked the threat of unbridled Islamism and steered Egypt back to its true path.
 
Massive banners of the general dominate rallies, as supporters chant his name.  Outside a tent in Tahrir square, woodcarver Ali el-Gazzar turned el-Sissi's image into a sculpture.

 “Thanks be to God to General el-Sissi,” he said, adding there would have been a civil war if God hadn't wanted him to exterminate terrorism.  

Since el-Sissi has come to dominate the political landscape, “terrorism" has become a code word for Morsi and his supporters, hunkered down in encampments in Cairo and around the country.  

Opponents of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, July 7, 2013.
Opponents of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, July 7, 2013.
So it's not surprising the the ex-president's Islamist base takes a different view of the general.

The same el-Sissi images can be seen in those encampments, only with a noose superimposed around his neck.

Former air force officer Ibrahim Suilam said there's a “cult of Sissi”. He finds the supporters' blind adoration appalling.

"The photos are propaganda and they make me feel disgusted," Suilam said adding that he's reminded that there is a person “who has stolen my will, stolen my freedom and killed my brothers.”

El-Sissi was a virtual unknown when Morsi picked him as defense minister last year.  At 58, el-Sissi was a relatively fresh face compared to the old guard military council that had continued to exert its influence even after Egypt's first freely-elected president came to power.
 
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at Nasr City, July 28, 2013.
Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at Nasr City, July 28, 2013.
Allegiances

But el-Sissi's allegiances were initially unclear. He said nothing when Morsi assumed extraordinary powers to push through a new constitution  - one that protected the powerful interests of the military.

And when el-Sissi said in April that “the hand that harms any Egyptian must be cut,” both pro- and anti-Morsi forces felt he was their man.
 
Then, on July 3, after days of mass protests against Morsi, the president was out, and General el-Sissi was seen as a future president.
 
Details of the military's concerns about the Islamist president have since emerged.  They lend some credence to accusations of behind the scenes meetings with anti-Morsi protesters who were fed up with increasing Islamism and a collapsing economy.

The military, which has vast business interests - some estimates are as high as a quarter of Egypt's output - saw it's domain in jeopardy as well.
 
Egyptians are reflected in pictures showing late Egyptian presidents Mohammed Naguib, left, Gamal Abdel Nasser, second right, Anwar Sadat, right, and Egypt's last King Farouk, second left, at a photo shop in Cairo, Egypt, May 22, 2012.
Egyptians are reflected in pictures showing late Egyptian presidents Mohammed Naguib, left, Gamal Abdel Nasser, second right, Anwar Sadat, right, and Egypt's last King Farouk, second left, at a photo shop in Cairo, Egypt, May 22, 2012.
History repeats itself

And in Egypt, it is an easy leap to imagine a military forays into politics.
 
From General Gamal Abdel Nasser, who led a coup against the monarchy, to Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, military men have ruled Egypt.
 
Activist in Cairo carries a sign that says: "Wait! Don't kill me. I'm not terrorist. I''m not even with the Muslim Brotherhood. I'm an Egyptian who loves my country. I'm a Muslim who loves my religion," Aug 2, 2013. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)Activist in Cairo carries a sign that says: "Wait! Don't kill me. I'm not terrorist. I''m not even with the Muslim Brotherhood. I'm an Egyptian who loves my country. I'm a Muslim who loves my religion," Aug 2, 2013. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
x
Activist in Cairo carries a sign that says: "Wait! Don't kill me. I'm not terrorist. I''m not even with the Muslim Brotherhood. I'm an Egyptian who loves my country. I'm a Muslim who loves my religion," Aug 2, 2013. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
Activist in Cairo carries a sign that says: "Wait! Don't kill me. I'm not terrorist. I''m not even with the Muslim Brotherhood. I'm an Egyptian who loves my country. I'm a Muslim who loves my religion," Aug 2, 2013. (Hamada Elrasam for VOA)
Even when frustration with Mubarak  led to his ouster - people welcomed The Supreme Military Council as their interim ruler.

Morsi was an aberration -  a member of an outsider group propelled by the ballot box to highest office, though he too resorted to tactics outside the lines of democracy.

It's a distressing dynamic for some, which keeps ordinary Egyptians removed from the workings of government.  Human rights researcher Priyanka Motaparthy.
 
“Going forward, input on these vital documents that are going to shape the face of Egyptian public life - the constitution, the right to demonstrate, the right to free media - all these need to be drafted and revised incorporating civil society's voice,” said Priyanka Motaparthy of Human Rights Watch.

As the adulation of el-Sissi continues in some quarters, it remains unknown whether he will give meaningful power to the people, or whether it will have to be reclaimed again.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 02, 2013 1:30 PM
El Sissi is an officer of the finest order. He proves to be a savior and will remain so if he keeps going in the path. Thank God his action has revealed the devil in the Muslim Brotherhood. He should stay around until there is no more sight of the vampire that wants to convert Egypt to an islamic empire.

In Response

by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
August 03, 2013 11:54 AM
God forbid that Egypt be turned into an islamic or islamist empire by a vampire! To Allah be the glory that He cut-off a false islamic prophet like Morsi. This is the era of a new dawn in Egypt. Bravo the peoples' GENERAL; Abdel Fattah El-Sissi. Bravo the no nonesense people of Egypt! Bravo the Intereme government of Egypt!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid