Op Ed: What Americans need to know about General el-Sisi

by Ahmed Tharwat

General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is coming to visit the UN to speak, he most likely will present himself as the go to man, when it comes to war on terrorism and champion of “Cute Islam” not “Jihad Islam.” Since the general’s military coup that toppled President Morsi, the first elected civilian president, in Egyptian history, the general has:

  • committed a gross violation of human rights and massacres,
  • eliminated oppositions,
  • neutralized check and balance institutions:

Members of his security forces, particularly the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency, continue to routinely torture detainees (my nephew is one of them) and forcibly disappeared hundreds of people with little or no accountability for violations of the law.

The disappearance, torture, and death of Italian doctoral researcher Giulio Regeni, probably at the hands of security services, highlighted these abuses and caused a diplomatic rift between Egypt and Italy.

”el-Sisi’s name came on the political stage during the 2011 revolution, infamously known as the one who oversaw “Forced Virginity Tests” in the military security division which was  responsible for administrating  a barbaric virginity test on young female protestors, in 2012.

I interviewed two of the victims in Egypt telling in details how they were dragged in the street and enduring the humiliating the procedures in public under the eyes and their laughter of solder onlookers. Until today they never had their day in court, let alone a fair trial.

El-Sisi made it to the top after committing the biggest most deadly one day massacre in Egyptian history, where according to Amnesty International 1,000 unarmed people were killed in 12 hours.

Trump seems to be fascinated with strong leaders like Putin and other dictators in the Middle East. To understand General el-Sisi, Mr. Trump (who knows the importance of names, the man puts his name on anything and anywhere) needs to understand what names Egyptian put on their dictator. People living under dictatorial regimes have no political choices, and can’t exercise freedom of expression, where change is hard to come by.

Arab regimes are like Catholic marriages, you live with them,  until death do you apart. When people tried to change their regimes in Arab Spring, it turned ugly. Therefore, Egyptians if they can’t change their dictators, the least Egyptians can do is change the dicator’s names. Names are giving to us at birth to legitimize our existence, but they  can also be giving later in life to challenge out existence. The same is true with dictators. Nasser was just called the “Leader” on a good day and the “Catastrophe” on a bad day, Sadat went from Mr. “Yes” to the faithful leader, then became the Traitor. Mubarak was called “La vache qui rit,” the laughing cow, a famous brand of French cheese in Egypt.

However, no Egyptian leader has triggered so many names in such short period of time like General Abdel fattah el-Sisi. General elSisi was ‘elected’ after a military coup ousted the elected president Dr. Morsi and a year after committing the biggest massacre in Egyptian history.

After much hysterical propaganda to inflate the general’s ability and achievements, the general had three disastrous years in power. Now the general is looking for alliances, he is trying to position himself to the West as their trusted man in the Middle East, the man they can count on for the so-called “war on terrorism.”

General el-Sisi has become irrelevant at home and abroad. So, now he is coming to the UN to reinstate his relevance. “We need to export our war on terrorism expertise to the world” bragged one of el-Sisi’s advisor.

This is the Egyptian general, who with no vision and no political party except the Army, has turned Egypt into a police state. But before turning el-Sisi to a great hero, like what the West did with Sadat by decorating him with Noble Peace Prize, and giving him monikers like a man of courage, a man of peace.

Ignoring what Egyptian actually called their dictator is a grave mistake. Americans needs to understand what Egyptian call el-Sisi now and why. The first thing Egyptian dictators do when they take power; besides putting a praying mark on their forehead, is they put the name of the prophet –Mohamed- in front of their names. So Anwar el-Sadat, became President Mohamed Anwar el-Sadat, and Mubarak became Mohamed Hosni Mubarak.

However, elSisi didn’t have to add the name of the prophet to his name, he see himself as the Prophet himself, he is going to save Islam and Muslims from themselves. el-Sisi’s tenure started very well and promising; so the names that were giving to him at first were positive and hyper-nationalistic, but then went downhill from there and all hell broke loose.

Right after the military coup and cracking down on the Muslim brotherhood in the Rabaa massacre, elSisi was a hero for many Egyptians. They banked on him and decorated him with all sort of names, like,  Lion ( اسد) projecting power and vitality; our father, the Prophet(نبي) a god sent to save Egypt from the evildoers (brotherhood). Then elSisi got cocky, consolidated his power, and demand the people to only listen to him, calling himself the Philosopher (فيلسوف), Savior (منقذ).

El-Sisi started acting irrationally and trusted no one other than the military. Started mega fake projects that were never finished, to extort money from the gulf states and Egyptians.  The Egyptian dictator started acting above the law, politicizing the justice system, the police, the media and the military. Arresting thousands of Egyptians without trials, and getting rid of any opponents!

So Egyptians started wondering about their new hero, who they couldn’t protest against or muster any opposition to. So they started changing his names with names he deserves, names that are degrading and culturally inferior.  A Name like Candy (حلاوه), a name that is reserve for an uncouth woman, Date (بلحه,) name usually giving to insult and belittle people, then the most culturally degrading name, the Pimp, (معرص). This was for his willingness to say anything to anyone for getting what he wants, using his socially inferior speaking style, saying something and doing something else.

Egyptians have started disowning him, calling him Son of a Jew, (يهوديه ابن) for his blatant support for the Israelis against the Palestinians,. In particular, taking part in the suffocation of the people of Gaza. El-Sisi like Mubarak and Sadat before him he earned the name Traitor (خاين). Then came the name that hits him in the heart of his religious  pretense; the Infidel ( كافر), Thief (حرامي) for his Ponzi schemes to collect money for his henchmen under the banner “Long Live Egypt,” he earned ehe name Beggar (شحات) and Con artist (نصاب).

SOB (وسخة ابن) is a name degrading more to his mother, psychopath (سفاح), after committing the biggest massacre of Egyptian history at Rabaa and Nahda sit-in. But finally here is my favorite one, Awaad; (عواد ) a name of a folkloric figure, of a farmer who sold family’s land to indulge on his own lifestyle. He earned this name after a failed attempt to return (some say sell) two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia. “My mother taught me to never take what belong to others” he pathetically explained. This list is not, by any means, inclusive,  it goes on, as Egyptians are very resourceful!

So Mr. Trump,  be careful what you call your guest when he comes to visit the White House. Maybe you can put your own name on him… the Trump of Egypt!

Ahmed Tharwat View more

Ahmed Tharwat
Ahmed Tharwat is a TV Host and Producer. His show BelAhdan with Ahmed Tharwat airs on Minnesota Public Television Mondays at 10:30 p.m. You can find his blog In the middle at www.ahmediatv.com and on FaceBook, Twitter, Google, Plus, LinkedIn - @ahmediatv

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