Special Supplement: Nasser’s promise
Gamal Abdel-Nasser died 30 years ago today. He was mourned as no other leader had been before, and none has been since. And despite the best efforts of his enemies, his memory continues to occupy pride of place in the hearts and minds of millions of Egyptians, many of whom had not even been born when he led his nation on that roller-coaster ride through history: agrarian reform, Bandung, the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, the Aswan High Dam…–read on–
Egypt Revolutions: Erasing History
Cairo – “It is the time of revolution, for the struggle of the free.”
Those words were sung by one of Egypt’s most famous musicians, Mohammed Abdul-Wahab, and are often repeated by Egyptians in celebration of the 23 July 1952 revolution.
It liberated them from the slavery of colonialism and brought them a social, agricultural, and industrial awakening. But the July leaders went on to rule over the Egyptians in a manner that had negative repercussions for years to come, particularly their imposition of an authoritarian regime.
This eventually led to the 25 January 2011 revolt against military rule and the grandchildren of the July revolution leaders, ie the present generals of SCAF. Egyptians started singing “down with military rule” and no longer praised the soldiers’ revolution.
So it is not a surprise that this year’s celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary of the July revolution and the consequent military control of the state are more reserved, particularly since the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) took the country’s presidency.
|President Eisenhower in the Oval Office with Muslim delegates,
1953, after July revolution.
Said Ramadan, the Son in-law of Hassan Al-Bana the founder of
Brotherhood, is second from the right.
في أقصي اليمين سعيد رمضان في ضيافة أيزنهاور داخل البيت الأبيض
1954-1970: CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood Ally to Oppose Egyptian President Nasser
October 1970-1981: After Nasser’s Death, Sadat Brings Back the Muslim Brotherhood and the CIA
The occasion is abhorred by the new Egyptian president. He began his term with a public statement during which he expressed his hatred of the 1960s and the leader of the July revolution, Gamal Abdul-Nasser.
Nasser was succeeded by a military regime during the presidencies of Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, followed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the current head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
But power is now in the hands of civilians, namely the MB, whose politics are against those of Nasser, which earned the army and the officers the admiration of the people.
Egypt has entered the era of a second republic, one which heralds the end of military rule. The January 25 revolution will be highlighted in history books and the July revolution will become less important.
The July revolution began with a military coup. It later became a revolution supported by the masses, and then a symbol of success that contributes to the identity of Egyptians and Arabs.
But it was soon hijacked by the interests of the generals, who spurned its initial goal of “power to the people.” Power was then with the generals and they forgot the goals of their revolution. And so the people revolted against them.
The January 25 Egyptian revolution against Mubarak and later SCAF closed the curtains on the July revolution and deposed its grandchildren from the pages of history, turning them into war criminals.
Egyptians have yet to reap the fruits of their more recent revolution.
Meanwhile, the SCAF generals celebrated the anniversary of their revolution by paying tribute to Nasser in a statement published on their official Facebook page.
SCAF’s statement addressed those who refuse to celebrate the July revolution. “The attempted attacks on the [July] revolution and the deliberate distortions are a delusion. There is no future for a nation that erases its own history.”
The (AMERICAN) MB, on the other hand, who paid a heavy price in terms of arrests, torture, and executions under Nasser, insist that the January revolution came to erase all traces of 1952 revolution. They called on the people not to celebrate.
“The 23 July 1952 revolution was ended by the 25 January 2012 revolution,” MB official Hamdi Hassan declared. He added that “the militarized state created by the July revolution is now history too.”
But Nasser’s partisans believe the January revolution was essentially born out of the July revolution. Poet Abdul-Rahman al-Abnoudi told an Egyptian party newspaper that the January revolution derived its legitimacy from the July one.
“I believe that the January revolution carries the mantle of the July revolution. Everything that happened with the July revolution is happening with the January revolution,” he said.
According to history professor at Cairo University Adel Mansour, “the July revolution had noble goals that will never die.”
He said it is not in the interest of a political faction – in a revolution or a major political event in the history of nations – to try to cancel this event or announce its demise, following their taking control of power.
He added that the MB benefitted from the achievements of July revolution, such as its free education, its national development projects, and its support of peasants and workers. But they lost as a group with political goals and interests.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.