Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1199, (29 May - 4 June 2014)
Tuesday,17 July, 2018
Issue 1199, (29 May - 4 June 2014)

Ahram Weekly

It’s destiny

“It is written.” None can escape his or her destiny and neither could he. This simple man of humble beginnings had his destiny shaped since birth, yet not even in his wildest dreams could he have imagined where it would lead.

His overriding passion was to join the army and so he did. At age 15, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi entered the Military High School, and quickly climbed the ladder of success, serving in every major post in the armed forces and reaching its zenith as Minister of Defense. There was little else he wished for, more than the safety and security of his country and his family. When both were violated and occupied by strange aliens, totally bereft of mercy, justice or humanity…..fate stepped in. Risking all, including his life, he freed his people from their inhumane bondage, from those they call the Muslim Brotherhood.

In Islam, it is called “Al Qadar” or the decree of God. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche referred to it as “Amor Fati” or the acceptance of the choice of fate and despite all talk of will power, there is futility in trying to outmaneuver an inexorable fate.

The myth of Al-Sisi as the saviour of the nation was born.

His compelling image, his courage, his sacrifice captured the imagination of Egyptians of all classes.  Much as he tried to resist the deafening clamour of millions, entreating, imploring, insisting he become their next president, he gave in to the will of his people. Stripped of his medals, his titles, his beloved uniform, he was hurled in the midst of a campaign trail. 

No politician, he knew no lies. With his life threatened from a million sources, he confined his campaign to closed meetings, speaking from the heart to groups, from all walks of life. He spoke of national security, of plans and projects, of a road map for the future, of trade, construction, tourism, industry, education. He spoke of employing the unemployed, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, all achievable goals, with hard work and determination.  Is he a dreamer?  Only of the possible dreams!

As an army man he is a pragmatist, he deals with logic, facts, order, efficiency, and unexpectedly, a wealth of knowledge flowed out. For the first time we caught a glimpse of what stuff this man was made of. He never speaks in the first person singular, always in the plural.  It is never “I”, it is always “We”….“together we shall return the glory of Egypt, if we roll up our sleeves and get to work”, for he has nothing to offer but “labour and toil”.

 A voracious reader, he has a zeal for knowledge and is a diligent student. He is obviously impressed with the amazing abilities of Winston Churchill, and remembers his 1940 speech on becoming prime minister: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

His belief in the power of the women of Egypt is unprecedented. No oriental man has ever expressed such exuberance, admiration or knowledge of her capabilities. Quoting the Holy Quran constantly, he may be describing her revered position in the Holy Book, so different from the concept of male Muslims.

In an assembly with members of the art community, he inquired about the great Egyptian actress Faten Hammama. When she rose to reach him, he jumped off his seat and said: “No, please, you stay where you are. It is I who shall come to you”…..a noble gesture, from a noble man.

British PM Churchill would often pass a poor, blind man by the House of Commons. He would touch his arm lightly and say: “Ian, this is Winston, how are you today?” Men of war are also capable of humane and lofty manners and of such rare virtues of grace under pressure.

Although he still keeps a shield over his private life, every now and then a flash of lightening reveals his deep, inner soul. It is when he speaks of his mother with such tenderness and his wife with such reverence that a fleeting brightness shines through, as he fights away a tear.

Honour follows those who flee it, but honour, integrity and sincerity run through his veins. He maintains his dignity in the face of the unavoidable. He faced adversity with firmness and majesty and a heart brimming with love for God and country.

During the days of chivalry, jousting was a common sport. For a knight to enter the competition, another noble knight has to be ready on the other side of the railings. Despite his knowledge of the power of his opponent, despite his awareness of an inevitable defeat, he enters the contest, knowing well he will lose, yet how would there be a joust without his ready presence? We salute this knight, Hamdeen Sabahi, we salute his audacity, his gallantry and his spirit, for he is no less brave, no less noble than the advantaged winner.

 An able administrator, he has the benefit of years of experience.

He will sit behind the wheel and drive off with ease. He will sit on the presidential chair and ably preside, while another president called Barack Obama is still learning and wobbling through the years.

“Goodness and greatness are seldom found in the same man!”  Has Egypt finally found one?

“The nation had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to give the roar.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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