Trump is the el-Sisi of America

February 1, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo



Ahmed Tharwat

General el-Sisi, in one of his bizarre revelations, told the Egyptian people that he is blessed by a divine wisdom. Everyone laughed, social media exploding with jokes and satirical postings, but apparently, Donald Trump isn’t laughing. He agrees with what General el-Sisi says and does!

After all, they both have many things in common! Donald Trump and General el-Sisi brought the worst and the best of their people.

Trump’s draconian Executive Order banning Muslims brought thousands of airport protests around the country demanding the welcoming of immigrants. Early last week and a day after his inauguration, I went to cover one of the biggest protests at the MN state capitol, the Women’s March. Almost 100,000 people showed up to protest Trump’s misogynist rhetoric and attitude toward women.

The morning was cold, misty and cloudy, little by little the crowd trickled down into the state capital. Women brought their families, children, friends and angry signs. It felt like Tahrir Square without the tear gas and heavy security presence. The chanting, energy, spirit and overwhelming joy of just being there was in itself a Tahrir moment. People at the state capital that day, like Egyptians at Tahrir Square, were charged and empowered by their togetherness.

Immersing in the spirit, I left my bag on the steps of the State Capital and stepped out to do some video shooting of the crowd. I roamed around talking to different groups listening to different grievances. People were so open and articulate. I came back later to pick up my bag and there were a few policemen standing on alert. I wasn’t sure what to do but realized any hesitation would look suspicious, so I calmly walked toward my bag. “Stay away please” one of the officers politely instructed me. “This is my bag,” I told him. “ …Owner is back, it is ok.,” the officer assured security on his phone. Everyone was relieved. For American security this was a safety issue, not a media exposure issue. He didn’t care if I had a camera or if I was covering the protest. When I covered the protest in Egypt the security stopped me and I took my camera. They didn’t care if I even had a bag. For Egyptian security, it was an exposure issue and not a public safety one.

The Egyptian despotic system is afraid of its own people finding out the emperor has no clothes on. Here the democratic system is not afraid of its own people. Americans aren’t as politicized and outraged as Egyptians. However, Trump and el-Sisi still have lots of similarities. Some leaders like Nasser, Kennedy and Eisenhower are transformative leaders, however both Trump and el-Sisi, you can call them the trans-inward leaders, those who want to take their country back and transform it inward, without a vision or sense of history.

Both leaders are fascist, xenophobic, misogynistic, paranoid, incompetent puppets of power around them. Both are leaders who bring the worst out of their respective people; Tribalism, anti-intellectualism, nativism and hyper-nationalism. Both are populists who demonize their opponents, and any voice of dissent. Both use religion as a veil for their crimes. Both came to power out of fear for real change. Trump and Trumpism was a reaction to the election of the first black president in the US and el-Sisi came after toppling 30 years of dictatorship and the election of the first civilian president in Egyptian history. Both demagogues are the project of counter revolution to a progressive movement. Both are appealing to the disfranchised, racists, xenophobes and angry voters.

El-Sisi has committed the biggest massacres in modern Egyptian history, imprisoned oppositions, suspended parliament, controlled media and, like Trump, thinks everything in Egypt is fake and he is the only one you should trust. “Don’t listen to anyone, listen to me,” el-Sisi advised Egyptians. Both think they are above the law, they spew lies and don’t have any regard for facts or rational thinking. Both struck a social contract with their base; I’ll deliver what you want ,make Egypt secular again, and America white again – and in return you believe in me, and accept my lies as facts.

Both leaders create a fake reality for their supporters in which they live waiting for their savior. Both are anti-intellectual who use a six-grader vocabulary to simplify complex reality to their base. Both are self-centered, maniacs who don’t take any responsibility for what they say or do. Trump uses tweets to attack and discredit oppositions. El-Sisi uses leaks and security controlled TV to discredit anyone who disagrees with him, sewing compromising videos, telephone wiretapping of private conversations, hacking and spying on social media; nobody is spared their wrath. Even people like Dr. Mohamed el Baradei, director of General Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the one who conspired with el-Sisi to legitimize his military coup, wasn’t spared.

Trump and el-Sisi both use patriotism and nationalist rhetoric to rally people around them.

“Let us make our country great again,” and “Egypt first” was used by el-Sisi to cover up his blunders and despotic regime. “I only look after Egypt” professed el-Sisi to his doubters about his failed foreign policy and re-alliances with historical enemies like Israel. Now Palestinians are the new enemy, and the same with Trump, Russians are our friends, NATO is out of control, Mexicans are the bad guys. For el-Sisi and Trump supporters, everything is fake, everyone is dishonest, actually their leaders are the only authentic fake ones.

To leave you with a positive note, Americans are getting angrier and outraged, from Black Lives Matter, to Minimum Wage rallies, these are the loud, the vocal, and most unified. There were signs that expressed people’s anger and dismay, all over the nation, signs that mocked Trump, joked, threatened, daring him, obscene and thoughtful ones, clever and outrageous ones, some written on posters, cardboard boxes, banners, hats, and even on a baby’s forehead. But one of the signs that captured the spirt of this was circulating all over the Ban Muslims protests, a sign that reminds us all of our banality, complacency and empathy. A sign that quoted some words of a Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller after the Nazis swiped Europe. “FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE MUSLIMS, AND WE SAID NOT TODAY… MOTHERFUCKER.”

I couldn’t have said it more articulately.









Ahmed Tharwat

Ahmed Tharwat is the Producer and Host of the Arab-American TV show BelAhdan. His articles are published in national and international publications. He blogs at Notes from America, and his articles appear in national and international publications. Follow him on Twitter @AhmediaTV.


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