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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid