Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is coming to visit the US in the first week of April. No, this is not an April Fool’s but it is the meeting of fools. The visit is the first official state visit for the Egyptian general at the invitation of President Trump.
Trump seems to be fascinated with strong leaders like Putin and other dictators in the Middle East. To understand General el-Sisi, Mr. Trump, who knows the importance of names, (the man puts his name on anything and anywhere) needs to understand what names Egyptians gave to their dictator. In fact people living under dictatorial regimes have no political choices, and can’t exercise freedom of expression, where change is hard to come by. Arab regimes are like a Catholic marriage, you live with it, until death do you part. When people tried to change their regimes in the Arab Spring, it turned out ugly. Therefore Egyptians, if they can’t change their dictators, the least they can do is change the dictators’ names.
Names are given to us at birth to legitimize our existence, but they can also be given later in life to challenge our existence. The same is true with dictators. Nasser was just called the “Leader” on a good day and a “Catastrophe” on a bad day. Sadat went from Mr. “Yes” to the faithful leader, then became the Traitor. Mubarak was called “La vache qui rit,” the laughing cow, a famous brand of French cheese in Egypt. However, no Egyptian leader has triggered so many names in such a short period of time like General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
General el-Sisi was elected after a military coup that ousted the elected president Dr. Morsi, a year after committing the biggest massacre in Egyptian history. After much hysterical propaganda to inflate the general’s ability and achievements, the general had three disastrous years in power. Now the general is looking for alliances and is trying to position himself to the West as their trusted man in the Middle East, the man they can count on for the so-called “war on terrorism.”
General el-Sisi has become irrelevant at home and abroad. So, now he is coming to reinstate his relevance. “We need to export our war on terrorism expertise to the world” bragged one of el-Sisi’s advisors. This is the Egyptian general, who has no vision and no political party except the Army which has turned Egypt into a police state. But before turning el-Sisi to a great hero, as the West did with Sadat, decorating him with the Noble Peace Prize and giving him monikers like a man of courage, a man of peace, as well as ignoring what Egyptians actually called their dictator is a grave mistake. Trump needs to understand what Egyptians call el-Sisi now and why.
The first thing Egyptian dictators do when they take power; besides putting a praying mark on their forehead, is they put name of the prophet –Mohamed- in front of their names. So Anwar el-Sadat, became President Mohamed Anwar el-Sadat, and Mubarak became Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. However, el-Sisi didn’t have to add the name of the prophet to his name, he sees himself as the Prophet himself, he is going to save Islam and Muslims from themselves. El-Sisi’s tenure started very well and promising; so the names that were given to him at first were positive and hyper-nationalistic, but then went downhill from there, and all hell broke loose.
Right after the military coup and cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood in the Rabaa massacre, el-Sisi was a hero for many Egyptians. They banked on him and decorated him with all sorts of names, like Lion projecting power and vitality; our father, the Prophet a god sent to save Egypt from the evildoers (brotherhood). Then el-Sisi got cocky, consolidated his power, and demanded people listen only to him, calling himself the Philosopher, Savior. El-Sisi started acting irrationally and trusted no one other than the military. He started mega fake projects that were never finished to extort money from the gulf states and Egyptians.
The Egyptian dictator started acting above the law, politicizing the justice system, the police, the media and the military, arresting thousands of Egyptians without trials, and getting rid of any opponents! So Egyptians started wondering about their new hero, who they couldn’t protest against or muster any opposition to. So they started changing his name with names he deserved, names that were degrading and culturally inferior. A name like Candy, a name that is reserved for an uncouth woman, Date, a name usually given to insult and belittle people; then the most culturally degrading name, the Pimp, this for his willingness to say anything to anyone for getting what he wants, using his socially inferior speaking style, saying something and doing something else.
Egyptians have started to disown him, calling him Son of a Jew for his blatant support for the Israelis against the Palestinians, in particular taking part in the suffocation of the people of Gaza. El-Sisi, like Mubarak and Sadat before him, earned the name Traitor. Then came the name that hit him in the heart of his religious pretense; the Infidel, Thief for his Ponzi schemes to collect money for his henchmen under the banner “Long Live Egypt”, which also earned him the name Beggar and Con artist. SOB a name degrading more to his mother, Psychopath, after committing the biggest massacre of Egyptian history at Rabaa and the Nahda sit-in. But finally, here is my favorite one, Awaad, a name of a folkloric figure, of a farmer who sold family’s land to indulge on his own lifestyle. He earned this name after a failed attempt to return, some say sell, two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia; “My mother taught me to never take what belong to others,” he pathetically explained.
This is not by any means inclusive …the list goes on, as Egyptians are very resourceful! So Mr. Trump, be careful what you call your guest when he comes to visit The Trump Tower at the White House.