That’s the theme of a Guardian article which chronicles the fact that General El-Sisi is ridiculously popular in ridiculous ways including having a sandwich named after him and showing up in wedding photos.
Egyptian chocolate-maker Bahira Galal does not hide her support for Egypt’s army chief, General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi. Customers at her plush boutique in central Cairo are offered a choice between chocolates coated with his face and others embossed with messages of adulation.
Galal had the idea back in August, shortly after Sisi’s troops cleared a camp of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, killing up to 1,000. There was outcry abroad, but many Egyptians “wanted to show support in whatever way they could”, said Galal, a representive of a large chunk of the Egyptian population who view the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.
Love for Sisi is visible on most streets in Cairo. Posters of the general hang in shop windows as businesses take advantage of the Sisi mania by rebranding their products in his image. A jewellery maker designs necklaces that incorporate his name.
One photographer’s wedding business went viral after he circulated an image of a bride and her bridesmaids wearing army-branded gowns and holding pictures of the general.
Like it or not this is perfectly authentic. Some businesses may stand to gain, but most are just showing their genuine feelings. And that’s why the entire notion of the Arab Spring was silly and misguided.
Liberals sneer that anyone suggesting that Middle Eastern countries naturally gravitate to strongmen is being racist. Except that’s the reality. It always was the reality.
General El-Sisi is an oddball choice for a cult of personality. He’s not exactly Nasser. But it’s not who he is, it’s who Egyptians need him to be. And they need him to be the lion, to be a strongman who will take care of everything so that they don’t have to worry about any of it. That’s how things work in most of the world. That’s still the motivation for a lot of Obama voters.
It’s not too shocking that things work the same way in Egypt.