A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, September 28, 2012

42 Years After Nasser's Death: What Would Nasser Think of Morsi?

Nasser's burial mosque
Today marks 42 years since the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser on September 28, 1970. Several hundred supporters reportedly visited his tomb-mosque today: family members, nostalgic Nasserites, and ex-officials. The report says nothing about any seismic activity that might have been detected as a result of unusual spinning in the grave, but it would seem likely that Nasser would not rest comfortably if he knew a Muslim Brother was President of Egypt.

Nasser the Day Before He Died
Nasser died at the end of a critical, high-stress Arab summit which he hosted in the midst of the "Black September" crisis in Jordan. The photo at left was taken September 27, the day before he died, with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and PLO Leader Yasser Arafat. His sudden death evoked real mourning, not just in Egypt, but throughout much of the Arab world. He once loomed so large in the region that it is hard to realize he was only 52 when he died.

I ran this video before, but it captures something of the man's way with an audience, in which he jokes about meeting with the Supreme Guide of the Brotherhood, and scoffs at the idea that Egyptian women should wear the hijab. ("Let him wear it!" somebody shouts.) The video has English subtitles but watch the intonation and body language as he works the crowd. He may not have ever had to actually run for a real election, but he was a born politician.

So he would be amazed,I'm sure, to know Morsi is President. He might be far more amazed to know that Morsi was elected with 51.73% of the vote, just edging out his rival. Gone, perhaps forever, are the old days when the state newspapers could report with a straight face (though not all Egyptians could) that Nasser had been "re-elected," as here in 1965 ["99.9% Elect Gamal Abdel Nasser President of the Republic."] (To be fair, Nasser never claimed more than 99.9% of the vote. Saddam Hussein's last election before the US invasion officially got 100%.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yet when he died, millions came out to mourn the man.8