November 18, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5525

On The Eve Of Al-Sisi's Birthday, His Personality Cult Reaches Crescendo

November 18, 2013
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 5525

Since the ouster of the Mursi regime by Defense Minister General 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi in July 2013, expressions of support and admiration for Al-Sisi have been evident throughout Egypt. This admiration is expressed in campaigns urging Al-Sisi to run for president, and border on a personality cult, as reflected in naming buildings, babies and culinary dishes after him.

As part of this personality cult, Al-Sisi's supporters are organizing mass celebrations in Egypt's squares to mark his birthday, which will occur this year on November 19. In contrast, Al-Sisi opponents, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its supporters, intend to frustrate the celebrations and mark the day with mass demonstrations against what they call a military coup. A few Egyptian newspapers known for their hostility to the MB have reported that the movement does not intend only to demonstrate but to escalate the violence and spark chaos throughout the country by various means. The Egyptian interior minister announced a heightened security alert ahead of November 19 and warned that the security forces would act firmly against anyone violating the law.[1]

It should be noted that two other events will occur on November 19 that may exacerbate the tension between Al-Sisi's supporters and his opponents. First, this will be the second anniversary of the November 19, 2011"Muhammad Mahmoud Street incidents," in which demonstrators protesting against the Military Council's rule clashed with security forces and 41 of them were killed.[2] Additionally, an important football match will take place that day between Egypt and Ghana as part of the 2014 World Football Cup qualifying play-offs, and the MB reportedly intends to incite Ultras football fans to riots throughout the country.[3]

This report will review the Al-Sisi personality cult that has emerged in Egypt, including the calls that he run for president, as well as the preparations for his birthday celebrations and the reports on MB intentions to spoil the party.

The Al-Sisi Personality Cult: From Naming Babies After Him To Drafting Him For President

As mentioned, since Mursi's ouster from power there have been expressions of admiration for Al-Sisi verging on a personality cult: songs are written in his honor, chocolates and cakes are made in his image, a mosque has been named after him, brides wear pendants bearing his name or his image, sandwiches have been named after him, etc.[4]The photos below illustrate some of these phenomena:

A cake and chocolates decorated with Al-Sisi's image (Al-Jarida, Kuwait, November 2, 2013;see Facebook page)

Egyptian officers visit baby named after Al-Sisi (Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Egypt, July 29, 2013.)

Al-Sisi pendant (Al-Watan, Egypt, October 8, 2013.)

As part of the wave of pro-Al-Sisi sentiment, campaigns have also been launched championing him for president. A prominent campaign titled "Complete Your Good [Measure] and Choose Your President" announced in November 2013 that it had collected 17 million signatures in favor of his running for president.[5] Another campaign, titled "We Want Al-Sisi for President," announced in October 2013 that it had gathered three million signatures out of its target number of 35 million.[6]

Sign-up form for the campaign supporting Al-Sisi's presidential candidacy (See Facebook page)

Many Egyptian intellectuals and politicians have advocated Al-Sisi's nomination for president, including well-known Egyptian actor 'Adel Imam, who called him a popular hero who has entered the history books and is worthy to serve in this role,[7] and Egyptian writer 'Alaa Al-Aswany, who called him a national hero who rescued Egypt from civil war.[8] Other well-known Egyptian artists and intellectuals,including the movie actors 'Izzat Al-'Aali and Subhi Khalil, announced they were joining one of the leading campaigns advocating Al-Sisifor president.[9]Ahmad Shafiq, a former Egyptian presidential candidate, announced that he would back Al-Sisi if he ran for president, adding that campaigns in his support reflected his popularity among the people.[10] Wafd Party chair Al-Sayyid Al-Badawi said that if Al-Sisi decided to run no one would be able to beat him, and dismissed fears that Egypt would be under military rule or that Al-Sisi would abuse his powers, arguing that the new constitution being formulated would limit the extent of these powers.[11] On the other hand, the Tamarrud movement called upon Al-Sisi to stay out of the presidential race and allow the election of a civilian president. Nevertheless, even Tamarrud expressed admiration for Al-Sisi and his contribution to the Egyptian people.[12]

"Happy birthday,o leader, run for president; Egypt needs you" (source: see Facebook page)

Al-Ahram Editor: Al-Sisi Must Announce His Candidacy For President At Once

Al-Ahram editor 'Abd Al-Nasser Salama published two articles this month in which he called upon Al-Sisi to "bow to the people's will" and announce his candidacy for president, because, he said, Egypt has no other alternative. He urged Al-Sisi to start addressing the many challenges facing Egypt straight away, not only the military challenges but also the everyday problems, and thereby prepare the ground for his election. In a November 6, 2013 article, Salama wrote: "Now that the country has fallen apart from the security, economic, media and moral perspectives, and the race for the presidency has begun, it has become clear that Gen. 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi is the leading candidate. Most of the clever candidates will withdraw, except for a few publicity hounds and people who want to be annoying.

"We face complex [challenges], and I believe that meeting them is more important than appointing a president... Egypt's new president, 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi, must bow to the people's will announce at once that he will undertake to run for this post, in order to give the masses some hope for the future... Since we are at the beginning of a new phase that requires, perhaps more than anything else, a great deal of determination and resolve, I believe that the new president [Al-Sisi] must announce who his deputy and his advisors and aides will be. They too must also be from the ranks of the military... in order to ensure harmony within the president's [office] and also because military figures are the most acceptable to the public, for many reasons...

"We now urge the commander-in-chief of Egypt's military forces, [Al-Sisi,] to continue standing by the people, extract them from the present crisis, and take charge [of Egypt's affairs] on all levels: political, economic and security. I believe that announcing [Al-Sisi's] candidacy for president as soon as possible is the beginning of a comprehensive solution [for Egypt's crisis]..."[13]

In an article published two days later, he wrote: "Al-Sisi's accepting the post of president is in the interest of the Egyptian people and its future, for many reasons, and is not a personal interest [of Al-Sisi]. [If he] accepts [the post], it will be out of a sense of moral and social responsibility, and if he declines... it will be an act unbefitting of our military leadership as we know it, a leadership that preserves the interests of the state, heeds the nation's call and sets personal considerations aside.

"Whoever follows the public debates and arguments on the issue [of the presidency] finds that we always come up against an important question: what is the alternative [to Al-Sisi]? [When we contemplate this question] we find that we face a fait accompli that is no longer open to alternatives or proposals of any kind. Over the years our society lost its leadership and [now] it has found it again in the form of Defense Minister [Al-Sisi]. Our society yearns for a figure who is determined and resolute and does not hesitate to take decisions...

"If the man on the street has the patience to bear the disgraceful state of the country, it is because he has hope that a new leadership has arrived with a practical plan that has proved [its effectiveness] on the ground, not only on paper. And if the man on the street [is willing to] continue suffer in the next few months, it is because he regards this leadership as his salvation from [the state of] dependence and degradation. Therefore, these months [of suffering] must not last too long... and whoever is elected president must know this. He must take up the reigns of initiative at once, on all levels, without delay or hesitation..."[14]

Al-Sisi Supporters Organize Mass Celebrations In Honor Of His Birthday

As part of the Al-Sisi personality cult, his supporters have announced their intentions to mark his birthday withmass celebrations. One of the "Al-Sisi for president" campaigns urged all Egyptians to take to the squares on that day and also demonstrate outside Al-Sisi's home with the demand that he run for the presidency, thereby deterring the MB from demonstrating against him.[15] On November 15, 2013 it was reported that celebrations marking Al-Sisi's birthday had already begun.

Preliminary celebrations in honor of Al-Sisi's birthday (Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, November 15, 2013.)

"Al-Sisi is not a Pharaoh and will not be a Pharaoh; Save Egypt… We all love you" (source: see Facebook page)

Facebook invitation to Al-Sisi birthday event (source: Facebook page)

Reports: MB Gearing Up To Disrupt The Festivities

Egyptian newspapers known for their hostility to the MB have widely reported that the MB and its supporters intend to hold mass demonstrations on Al-Sisi's birthday in an attempt to disrupt the celebrations. The daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' reported that the MB plans to organize processions towards Al-Sisi's home and towards the defense ministry that will merge into a mass procession towards Raba'a Al-Adawiya Square.[16] The claimed furtherthat the MB intends to use the Ultras football fans to intensify the chaos during the important Egypt-Ghana football match that is to take place that day.According to the report, the MB plans to escalate its violence and stage riots and even terror attacks in the stadium's vicinity.[17] It was also reported that the global MB is planning, together with Turkish and Qatari intelligence,to escalate violence that day,provoke civil disobedience, shut down state institutions and target the Army and police with the help ofHamas and Al Qaeda elements.[18]

It should be noted that the Pro-Legitimacy National Alliance – the umbrella group of Mursi and MB supporters that helped recruit demonstrators for the sit-ins at Raba'a Al-'Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares against Mursi'souster, as well as pro-MB demonstrations throughout Egypt ever since– has indeed published an announcement calling for demonstrations starting on November 18, 2013 in memory of those killed in the Muhammad Mahmoud Street incidents. However,it called upon the demonstrators to keep to the vicinity of the homes of those killed and avoid gathering in Muhammad Mahmoud Street or Tahrir Square, in order to prevent violent incidents and clashes.[19]

Article On MB Website: The Birthday Celebrations – A Pharaonic Idea

Muhammad Gamal 'Arafa, a columnist on the website of the MB's Freedom and Justice party, attacked the planned birthday celebrations: "[Gamal] 'Abd Al-Nasser did not want to celebrate his birthday, but his hypocritical [followers] made this day a national holiday and continue celebrating it even after his death... [Anwar] Al-Sadat was not interested in his birthday, but his hypocritical [followers] in the press and the media urged him to mark it. Mubarak, who was the most corrupt, made a custom of celebrating his birthday and encouraged this, to the extent that we witnessed endless hypocrisy, and the papers of that dark period in Egypt's history published identical editorials celebrating the birth of 'the leader' Mubarak. Today the same hypocrites come and ask to celebrate the birthday of military chief Defense Minister Gen. Al-Sisi, which will occur on November 19, since he is the new leader who saved Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood over the bodies of 4,000 martyrs, both men and women...

"Egypt's problem is that we took our revolution [only] half way. We replaced the head but left the body. We forgot that the most dangerous thing in this body is not just the leaders of the 'deep state' [i.e., the state institutions that preserve their power even when the heads of the state are replaced], with their interests and influence, but also this Pharaonic notion that has spread throughout the body of the Egyptian regime since time immemorial – [a notion] which aims to build up the leader, so that these interested parties and those who created [the leader] will benefit from his rise [to power]. Will Gen, Al-Sisi repeat the mistake of his predecessors? Will his fate be the same as theirs?"[20]


[1]Al-Ahram(Egypt), November 17, 2013.

[2] On the first anniversary of the Muhammad Mahmoud Street incidents, a civilian was killed and dozens were injured in clashes between the security forces and demonstrators. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 19, 2013.

[3]Al-Dustour(Egypt), October 20, 2013; The Ultras are organized bands of extreme football fans, who have regularly participated in demonstrations alongside diverse political factions in Egyptsince the January 25 revolution.

[4] The Egyptian daily Al-Watanreported that the MB has threatened to destroy a mosque in the city of Qena named after Al-Sisi.

[5]Al-Dustour Al-Asli, (Egypt), November 7, 2013.

[6]Al-Masri Al-Yawm,(Egypt), October 7, 2013.

[7]Al-Masri Al-Yawm,(Egypt), October 11, 2013.

[8]Al-Ahram,(Egypt), October 29, 2013.

[9]Al-Dustour Al-Asli, (Egypt), November 8, 2013.

[10]Al-Wafd(Egypt), November 7, 2013.

[11], October 14, 2013.

[12]Al-Masri Al-Yawm,(Egypt), October 16, 2013.

[13]Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 6, 2013.

[14]Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 8, 2013.

[15]Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[16]Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), October 20, 2013.

[17]Al-Dustour(Egypt), October 20, 2013.

[18]Al-Watan(Egypt) November 12, 2013;Al Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 10, 2013.

[19], November 17, 2013.

[20], October 25, 2013.

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