A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Over the Top Sisi

 A colleague asked me today, "Is this satire?" Oh God, I would love to think so, but this piece on the Ahram Online site by Lubna Abdel Aziz, "Catch the Al-Sisi Mania," sounds only slightly more over the top than the rest of the state media these days. If it's satire, I'm surprised it's in state media; if it's not, we're getting into North Korea territory here. (And if you can no longer be sure if it's real or satire, it tells you how far it's gone.)
He stands straight and tall, impeccably attired and starched from head to toe. His freshly washed countenance and youthful zeal shield a Herculean strength and nerves of steel. He wears the feathers of a dove but has the piercing eyes of a hawk. During our thousand days of darkness, dozens of potential leaders pranced and boasted, to no avail. The leader of the people should combine a love of country, a deep faith in God and the desire to serve the nation’s will.
Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s name lit up the darkness. He was called upon at a supreme moment in history; a kind of mysterious rendez-vous with destiny. He was a hero like no other! He aroused attention without exhausting it. Nothing that touched the common run of mortals made any impression on him. All in all, he is but a common man, with an almost aristocratic aura of a nobleman. Composed and cool, Al-Sisi is everyman’s man, with a sort of serene majesty on his brow. He is the chosen leader of the people because he is willing to be their servant.
Let the deaf, dumb and blind media and governments of the West say what they will, Al-Sisi submitted to the will of 33 million Egyptians in the street and 50 million in their homes, crying for salvation. The people led — Al-Sisi followed....
It gets worse:
In the full vigour of his prime, he exudes a magic charm, afforded to a select few.  His physical appearance — and appearance counts — is flawless. He wears the emblems of his rank on his shoulders as he does the legends of his ancient land, with gushing pride. But it is the swelling reservoir of love for his Egypt and his God that sealed the deal. We responded to this love a million times over. Therefore, for those who raise an eyebrow at the portraits, flags, pins, pictures, chocolates, cups and other forms of Al-Sisi mania that fill the streets of Egypt, it is only a fraction of the love and appreciation we feel for this strong yet modest, soft-spoken, sincere and compassionate leader. It is Kismet....
Then it goes over the top:
His bronzed, gold skin, as gold as the sun’s rays, hides a keen, analytical fire within. He challenges the world not with bellows and bravura but with a soft, sombre reproach, with an audible timbre of compassion.
There is almost poetry in his leadership, but the ardour of the sun is in his veins. He will lead us to victory and never renounce the struggle, and we will be right there at his side.

“To lead the people, walk behind them”
Lao-Tzu (sixth century Chinese philosopher)
The Tao of Sisi.

There's one comment:
 As "a American" myself, and "a American" editor to boot, why am I dubious about "Fred's" command of English?

That "bronzed, gold skin, as gold as the sun’s rays," could explain why he's giving Tutankhamun's golden mask a ride (on a white horse, of course) in this poster, which may mix more metaphors and symbols than anything I've ever seen:
Except of course that Tut's mask is on a woman's body in a a wedding dress. The text is partially obscured and spelled colloquially, but the meaning seems to be "groom [guessing as the word is incomplete] is the male and the bride is the moon(?) and below: "and this is Egypt, oh Americans (you ghajar). (Not sure about the last letter, it looks more like or a 2 or 3. Ghajar means a rude or linguistically crude and abusive person and originally referred to gypsies.)
The photo does not show the entire poster. Perhaps it would make more sense if it showed it all.

Or not. Other suggestions welcome. And they've built some more pyramids. Or perhaps Sisi plans to.


Jonathan said...

The sense of the caption to the poster is 'A manly groom, a pretty bride"

Anonymous said...

Democracy in Egypt marches on to the drumbeat of the Dear Leader.