My column today looks at a paradox: how a general, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who overthrew an elected Egyptian president in July, became a hero to young Tahrir Square revolutionaries who helped over throw the military-backed government of Hosni Mubarak.
Many Egyptians expect Sisi to become their next president, on the model of the 1960s hero Gamal Abdel Nasser.
So it was interesting to read an English transcript of a video, posted by the mostly defunct Freedom & Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (which Sisi ousted from power). It's supposedly a leaked (and unused) portion of an interview previously conducted with Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah El Sisi that shows reveals his interest in visions – and in running for president.
No one knows if this video is real or faked, and the MB certainly despises Morsi, but the transcript is hilarious and has been the but of jokes all day on twitter and facebook. Either it reveals the inner Morsi, or it shows what he will have to face – even as a powerful general – if he runs for the top job next year. Of course, the prominent satirist Bassem Youssef, saw his show yanked after a segment poked fun at Morsi. So it's unclear how much fun jokesters will have at Sisi's expense if he really ascends to power.
Here is a transcript of the video, translated into English:
Interviewer: Had you expected to take on the leadership of the Egyptian Army?
El-Sisi: The leadership of the Egyptian army, or something greater than that?
El-Sisi: I am of the people who've had a long history of visions. This is only for you.
Interviewer: Okay, I'll listen, I'll only write later.
El-Sisi: 35 years ago…well, I've stopped talking about visions 7 or 8 years ago, from 2006.
Interviewer: I understand this part…
El-Sisi: I stopped talking about these things. I said I wouldn't talk about it again. But I've always had visions…
Interviewer: You see yourself on the throne of Egypt?
El-Sisi: No, that's not it. I've seen a lot of things…
Interviewer: That happened?
El-Sisi: That happened afterwards…nobody could explain it. For 35 years, nobody could explain it.
Interviewer: Like what?
El-Sisi: But this won't be said.
Interviewer: Not in this interview, but whenever God wishes.
El-Sisi: For example, many years ago, I saw in a dream, that I was raising a sword, on which was written "No God but God" in red…this was 35 years ago…
Interviewer: "No God but God" colored red…?
El-Sisi: In red, yes – on the sword, raised like this. Another in which I had on my wrist, a watch, with a very big green star on it…and Omega, and people are asking "Why you? Why do you have this watch?" and I said this watch is named for me, it's an Omega, and I'm Abdel Fattah, so I put the Omega, with…the global nature, with Abdel Fattah. Not me, the dream, that's just an example. In another dream, I was told I would be given what nobody else had been given…
El-Sisi: In the dream, we'll give you what nobody else had been given. In another dream, I was with Sadat, and I was talking to him, and he told me "I knew that I would be the president of the republic", and I said to him "I also know that I'm going to be the president of the republic."
Interviewer: What do you feel when you see your pictures raised next to pictures of Abdel Nasser, and when Abdel Hakeem said you are an extension of the leader, and that you are the most capable of leading the country?
El-Sisi: There's a prayer I always say, that I could be that.