“Egypt is the mother of all nations, and will remain in the heart of the world.”
This is a slogan oft repeated by Egypt’s presidential frontrunner Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as of late. He said it to his officers and soldiers prior to the Egyptian revolution of June 30 , 2013, and then he repeated it in public after the triumph of the popular revolution which was protected by the army. He used the same message, in different forms, when he announced his bid for presidency. This sentence might look like semantic overkill or a literal exaggeration, or might highlight his ability to pander to his audience.
However, the truth, as I discovered, is that this slogan emanates from Sisi’s heart, his strong belief that this is an achievable goal and his belief in the Egyptian people who surprised everyone, even Sisi himself.
“Egypt is the mother of all nations” is a slogan that accompanied us since our childhood days, it lived with us and we lived by it, and it is a sentence said by all the Arabs who love Egypt, which are many. The origin of this phrase may be deep in the past; it is a symbol of Egypt’s history and civilization, as well as its status in the region and in the world. This was what was at stake when the Muslim Brotherhood were in power; they failed to understand Egypt, its values and its contribution to human civilization and the human conscience, and attempted to reduce it and deal with it as a small governorate in line with their dream of the global Islamic state. This behavior and lack of understanding of the value and role of Egypt might be one of the main catalysts of their thundering fall. The Egyptians revolted for the honor of “the mother of all nations” and against those who lost their way and insulted their country.
The heart of the world
The value and the status of “the mother of all nations” was restored by its own children who refused to live in such a situation. Now we get to the second part of the slogan created by Sisi who said “will remain in the heart of the world.” The question is: how will Egypt be “in the heart of the world”? How will it get its rightful status among nations? How can it be in sync with the world, the world of the 21st century, not the 10th century?
I believe that the first step towards choosing a new model for Egypt is to forget other examples and work on creating a uniquely Egyptian modelAbdel Latif el-Menawy
I will start with politics before moving on to the economy. The question is: which model should Egypt follow, the Turkish or the South African? There is a real political debate between intellectuals, politicians and specialists about which model to adopt.
Each side has plenty of arguments to support their decision of which path to take, as each model has had examples of success. However, this is something we can explore at another time, also up for discussion in the future are issues such as the role of the army in the political system and the extent of the role of religious political powers.
The first step
I believe that the first step towards choosing a new model for Egypt is to forget other examples and work on creating a uniquely Egyptian model. A model that will steer the country forward out of the politically stormy waters it is currently in.
The Egyptian model was started by a thundering popular movement, followed by the response of the army to the call of those it pledged to protect. So, the army stood by the people, protected them and achieved their dream of regaining the country. The army set out a clear roadmap and respected it, and it was favorably received by the overwhelming majority in order to take them out of the dark tunnel. The Egyptian model will be completed by the presidential elections, after the popular approval of the constitution, followed by the parliamentary elections.
The second face of the model is economic policy, which needs a wider space to discuss, so I will limit myself to say here that Egypt needs extra efforts from its children and its brothers.
The country needs to focus on the building and construction industry, which is the most important to reactivate and develop the infrastructure. As for Egypt’s brothers, they should recognize that Egypt took the bullet for them, its people and its army, and eliminated a malignant tumor which could have reached them if it grew and spread. The least they can do is to stand by Egypt at this stage, so Egypt can become “the heart of the world.”
Egypt’s success in reaching the shores of safety and stability is important, not only to Egypt but to those brothers which were protected by the stand of Egypt’s people and army against the danger, which hasn’t been eliminated quite yet.
This article was first published in al-Jarida on April 12, 2014.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy