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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid