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Video clip posted to youtube of an Al-Jazeera report entitled: 'Controversy inside Egypt over Sisi's use of religion in fighting his opponents'

May 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

A headline in one of the newspapers reads: “Sisi has met God twice.” This is a headline that would have shaken Egypt had it been used at a different time about a different man. This is a discourse that bestows upon him [Al-Sisi] a special form of support.

[A man wearing a turban speaks in what appears to be a religious gathering]: “I and the household of the Prophet, peace be upon him, nominate Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. In doing so, we are only obeying Al-Hussein [the grandson of the Prophet himself].”

[This is] a discourse of a new type in Egypt. It is causing concern for it surpasses the fine, dividing and dangerous lines that separate the glorification of a person as a politician from elevating him to other forbidden [sacred] levels.

[Clip of the preacher Saad El-Din Al-Hilali speaking before a large crowd at what appears to be an Interior Ministry function]: “As God sent two prophets on a mission before; Moses and Aaron, here came Al-Sisi and Muhammad Ibrahim [the interior minister].”

Talking about himself, Al-Sisi says that he possesses a special view of Islam. [Clip of Al-Sisi speaking in a recent Egyptian TV interview]: “We have presented God in a way that is not befitting for His Almighty status. This in absolute clarity is [what we have done]. This requires from us and requires, by the way, from all rulers, to revise their positions.”

However, his logic of rejecting the Islamists unveils a stark contradiction having joined hands with some of the most intolerant and narrow-minded among them [the video shows the leader of Salafi Nour Party] at a previous moment necessitated by his personal political interest which he usually packages in religious expression and in weeping.

[A clip of Al-Sisi addressing a group of Sufi leaders in Egypt and appearing to be tearful]: “It is hard for me to see people in agony, fearful. Fearful that life in Egypt might be wrecked. I would stay quiet, but this would not be doing good. I pray to God that this work will please our Lord. I pray to God that this work will please our Lord.”

Al-Sisi goes to extremes in exhibiting a mystic Sufi style of religious behaviour which in essence is in contrast to the jurisprudential background of some of his allies who disagree religiously and politically over whether Islam is a religion of governance or one of mere rituals.

When the matter is to do with turning the public against one’s foes, the second would be the option. This is what prompted Al-Sisi, as he himself says, to topple an Islamic current from power, which is the same power he has been seeking utilising a religious discourse that no one before him ever resorted to, or exploited, the way he does.

He has described himself as someone who belongs to God’s camp. This is a discourse which critics say surpasses the mere exploitation of religion for material ends to using it to justify murder. As for the lack of vision, this is camouflaged by the talk what has been given. In this way, people’s poverty is seen as their fate, neither more nor less. In this manner it is very likely afterwards that the accumulation of wealth may too be explained as divinely allocated.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.