The mainstream media silence on Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s historic New Year’s speech in Cairo calling for an Islamic reformation, reported here several days ago, has finally been broken by CNN International. (The New York Times, Washington Post, and even the Wall Street Journal have not deigned to mention it yet despite the PJ Media reportage being linked twice by Real Clear World.) From CNN:
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for a “religious revolution,” asking Muslim leaders to help in the fight against extremism.
In a speech celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad, which coincided with New Year’s Day, he said they had no time to lose.
“I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word … because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands,” el-Sisi said.
“We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness and ethics to rebuild the Egyptian person — a person that our country will need in the near future,” the President said.
Not surprisingly, CNN goes on to quote a naysayer, H. A. Hellyer of the Brookings Institute, to throw some traditional liberal water on the whole event, but to the network’s credit it concludes by reporting another surprising action by the Egyptian president:
On Tuesday, the President visited the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo to attend a Christmas mass and make a short speech. He is the first president to attend such a mass since the revolution.
“We will build our country together. We will accommodate each other. We will love each other,” el-Sisi said in that speech.
That’s pretty radical stuff in a country where many Coptic churches have been burned and Christians encouraged to flee the country. The Jewish Press has more on this story (as well as a photo of a smiling el-Sisi welcoming the Israeli ambassador in Cairo).
Sisi’s attendance at the religious service was preceded by a heavy security presence, especially due to prior attacks on Christian sites by radical Islamists.
The president congratulated Egypt’s Coptic community on the occasion of the holiday, and maintained that all Egyptians are as “one hand.”
As “one hand”? New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio should take lessons in graciousness from el-Sisi.
At the same time, Egypt’s stock market, up thirty percent, was the best bet of any for 2014, according to the Financial Times. Does this mean Egypt is about to turn into Denmark any time soon? Undoubtedly not. But Denmark — and a number of other European countries — may be turning into Egypt or something worse. So all is fair and el-Sisi is to be applauded.
Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize virtually for no more than being elected president — and then made a hash of everything. El-Sisi came into power by something of a coup over the Islamofascist Morsi — and then has worked hard to make peace, rein in and seal off Hamas, turn Qatar from the Islamist camp, etc., etc. — far more Nobel-worthy than anything Obama ever even dreamed of.
Of course, Egypt and el-Sisi have a long way to go with many fascistic and repressive tendencies remaining (some of them laughable, including the banning of new Exodus movie for lying, when it is supposed to be so tedious no one wants to see it anyway), and of course the Nobel Committee would never award their prize to a military strongman, of all things, but the progress has been amazing and surprising. And I suspect there may be more to come from Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.