Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

From Islamists to generals in Cairo

This year there are no Islamists to be seen in Tahrir Square, and the hawkers of tourist googaws are selling tee shirts bearing the face of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army commander who oversaw the ouster of Morsi

From Islamists to generals in Cairo

T-shirt of Gen. Sisi next to one of 2011 Tahrir Square martyr. (Trudy Rubin / Staff)
T-shirt of Gen. Sisi next to one of 2011 Tahrir Square martyr. (Trudy Rubin / Staff)

One year ago, when I visited Cairo, there were thousands of bearded Islamist salifis gathering (peacefully) in Tahrir Square and a Muslim Brother, Mohamed Morsi, held the presidency after winning a fair election. Posters of Morsi  were visible everywhere I went. 

What a difference a year makes. This year there are no Islamists to be seen in the square, and the hawkers of tourist googaws are selling tee shirts bearing the face of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army commander who oversaw the ouster of Morsi. His face adorns posters, and chocolates – and in a photo-shopped pic making the internet rounds- has even been juxtaposed on a pair of men’s briefs.

It’s strange seeing the Sisi tee shirts hanging alongside others adorned with the faces of youths killed in the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising. Those youths died in an effort to oust a previous military-backed regime, that of President Hosni Mubarak, and bring in democratic elections. I’m certain those youths could never have imagined that a general would be hailed as the new national hero, praised for deposing the country’s first elected president. (I’ll write more about why this happened in future blogs and columns).

As if to demonstrate how dramatic is the counter – revolution, one of the key youthful architects of the Tahrir Square revolt, Ahmed Maher, is now in jail, arrested for violating a new anti-protest law that is being used not only to curb demos by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, but to curb the very young rebels who made the revolution.

This was not your every-day coup – there will be new presidential elections next year. But the odds are high that Sisi-mania will convince the general to run – in which case he will likely sweep the polls.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. In 2009-2011 she has made four lengthy trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the past seven years, she visited Iraq eleven times, and also wrote from Iran, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, China, and South Korea.

She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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