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.
    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

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.