A committee formed by Egypt’s Ministry of Education to revise history textbooks for elementary and junior high schools has issued a recommendation to re-introduce historical and political figures that have been deliberately overlooked for years.
The committee has recommended that chapters fawning over the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, ousted by the January 25 Revolution be omitted.
The committee is made up of three history and one curriculum specialist. The director of the Egyptian Association heads it for Historical Studies, Adel Ghoneim. The committee submitted a report to the Egyptian Minister of Education, Ahmed Gamal al-Din Moussa, with recommendations on sections to be removed and the ones to be added, according the Egyptian daily al-Youm al-Sabee.
“The committee’s recommendations are to be implemented starting the academic year 2011/2012,” said a source at the ministry.
The ministry will add a chapter on the January 25 Revolution and will focus on the main reasons that led to the protests, the factors that triggered the success of the revolution and the ouster of the regime, and the role of downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where the main sit-in was staged by mostly youthful protesters.
In the same vein, the Center for the Development of School Curriculum and Educational tools has selected 3,000 photographs taken during the revolution in order to be added to the new chapter. The album also includes pictures of Egyptians who died at the hands of security forces.
The name and picture of Susan Mubarak, wife of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, will be removed from a chapter in one of the history text books as the most influential female figures in the history of Egypt. Mrs. Mubarak was an internationally know figure in her own right, focusing on social-development causes, and on philanthropies.
On top of the committee’s recommendations is correcting a major historical falsification that has for years, stayed in textbooks: that the late Gamal Abdul Nasser was Egypt’s first president after the July 23 Revolution that toppled the monarchy and established the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Mohamed Naguib, the actual first president of Egypt, will hence re-enter textbooks with a background on his role as the primary leader of the 1952 Revolution. There will be information regarding the main features of his presidency, which lasted from June 1953 till November 1954.
Mr. Naguib was forced to leave the presidency after a disagreement with Mr. Nasser, who succeeded him; Mr. Naguib was placed under house arrest for 18 years.
Another major historical misrepresentation, the report added, was that the late Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat was presented as one of the “heroes” of the 1948 Palestine War when, in fact, he had not fought in the war at all. Mr. Mubarak succeeded Mr. Sadat, who was assassinated by Islamists in 1982, as president.
One of the most important recommendations highlights the role played by Saad al-Shazli, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces during the October 1973 War, in which the Sinai Peninsula was liberated from Israeli occupation.
Even though Mr. Shazli is considered the main architect of the attack on Israel’s Bar-Lev defense line, focus in history textbooks has always been solely on the air strike carried out by Mr. Mubarak, then Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Air Force.
The report also recommended deleting all praise accorded to the former regime at the expense of historical accuracy. It also recommends the removal of the chapter about political reforms implemented during the rule of Mr. Mubarak. Apparently, this chapter also included several falsifications and only focused on pleasing the former president.
In the meantime, several lawsuits are being filed throughout Egypt to demand the removal of the names and pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Mubarak from educational establishments and all government institutions as well as changing the names of streets and squares named after them, the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported.
The name of Mrs. Mubarak is branded on 549 schools across Egypt and is representing several libraries, hospitals, and parks.
Several campaigns were launched on the social networking Website Facebook to call for replacing Mrs. Mubarak’s name with the names of mothers of the revolution’s martyrs or with simply the phrase “mother of the martyr.”
Without waiting for any official decisions or court rulings, Egyptian citizens have already embarked on a campaign to remove the names of the Mubaraks from several schools and streets and replacing them with names like “the revolution,” “freedom,” “January 25,” and “the martyrs.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid of AL Arabiya, who can be reached at: email@example.com)