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January 14, 2016

Not in Western media: Most Egyptians support President Sisi (Part 2 out of 2)

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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(Cairo, Egypt) To understand the dynamics of the Western media apparent double standard on truth, we must revisit some essential historical background.

Egypt achieved independence in 1954. But unlike South Korea and Malaysia (I was a consultant to its leader Mahathir Mohamad), Egypt was never allowed to develop on its own terms without outside interference.

In fact, it has often been the co-opted stage for proxy cold wars among the global superpowers. The West's long-time support of Israel, for example, made Egypt into an enemy by default – even to this day, a prosperous and developed Egypt is automatically considered a threat to Israel.

In 1956 France, Great Britain and Israel invaded Egypt. In 1967, when the country had still not recovered from that first invasion, Israel attacked again and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, which was not liberated until 1973. In 1981, not long after a hard-won peace treaty with Israel, Muslim terrorists assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Another consideration is the recent political background; this has also been selectively and conveniently ignored by Western media.

Former president and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was elected in 2012 because Egyptians wanted to give a new MB government the benefit of the doubt. The resulting changes were clearly not for the better and those who elected Morsi were first to revolt against him just a year later. It soon become obvious that Morsi was completely controlled by non-elected members of the Brotherhood’s ruling core, the Maktab El-Ershad.

During 2012-2013, Egyptians watched in horror as the Muslim Brotherhood took over the government and attempted to transform Egypt into a rigidly conservative theocracy.

In the process, the MB alienated and antagonized vast sectors of society, including the majority moderate Muslims, Christians, the army and security forces, judges and lawyers, business professionals, writers and academics, the media, women and youth. When the MB pitted Muslims against Christians and appointed Muslim extremists to high-ranking positions, Egyptians had had enough and rose up to save their country from inevitable civil war.

Yet Sisi’s election in 2013 was portrayed by many Western media as an army coup against Morsi. If that is true, then Mohamed Morsi's rise to power in January 2011 was the result of an army coup against Hosni Mubarak.

But the real facts are these: A popular uprising supported by the army helped to topple Mubarak in 2011 and a similar popular uprising, also with army support, toppled Morsi in 2013.

I have personally dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada, as well as its top leaders in Egypt. I know it to be a secretive society with widespread member cells, promoting violence when needed to achieve its agenda.

Many key leaders recently left the organization because extremists were taking over. Today, the MB is pursuing a terrorist campaign against the will of the Egyptian people; as a result, it lost the vast majority of supporters within the country.

Outside of Egypt, it’s a different and dangerous story.

Qatar pays for and Turkey (a NATO member with MB government) coordinates an international anti-Egypt publicity and disinformation campaign. Furthermore, both countries host MB leaders who promote terrorism against Egypt, but not against Israel.

Looking at the state of democracy, the new Sisi government moved quickly to rewrite the repressive MB constitution; Egypt now has a progressive and inclusive new Constitution with guaranteed rights for women, Christians, the handicapped, and other minorities.

And just days ago, on January 10, 2016, a new freely-elected Egyptian Parliament held its first session. I personally know some of the members and am confident that they will serve their country well. While voter turnout was only half of the Canadian average, it was an important achievement for a populace not used to grassroots democracy.

As for economic development and the social programs dependent upon it – daunting portfolios for a country of 90 million, growing at the pace of 2 million annually – Sisi’s government is doing well in both the short and long-term challenges.

Infrastructure rebuilding has always been high on the President’s priority list. Major programs now underway or completed, include: new energy development, desert land reclamation, a doubling of the road and highway network, a new Suez Canal doubling the shipping capacity of the old one, private and publicly financed sustainable co-op projects to reduce chronically high unemployment among young adults, and attracting multinational investors to develop a leading-edge IT sector.

Unfortunately, one has to look hard to find even back-page coverage of these good-news stories in the Western media.

In the realm of social justice initiatives, the Sisi government took a hands-on, pragmatic approach to what had become a complex and multi-layered web of neglected problems. The President again moved decisively to enforce minimum and maximum wage limits on government and semi-government employees, such as university staff. And for the first time in Egyptian History El-Sisi’s own salary (half of which he donates to charity) was publicly reported.

I am very optimistic for Egypt's future, as are many Egyptians and their friends worldwide.

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