Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and “le piston de la famille”

by fpman

No worries (I know you were terribly worried, weren’t you) – posting with titles in French has not become a completely entrenched habit here at the Patrimony, but after our previous post it is once again fitting…

This Tunisian news site has broken news in the Francophone netiverse two days ago of a tweet by someone (I know, that is a very specific reference) of a photo of Medhat al-Sisi, current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s brother. I could not find the photo in question but reportedly Medhat al-Sisi can be seen there in the attire of a garçon d’hôtel, and apparently he really is working in a hotel, accordingly.

His brother, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, now elected President of the country, does not gift his family members a luxurious life upon the good fortune of landing in the top position – that seems to be the message.

A commenter happily concludes:

“Ce n’est pas tout le monde qui veut beneficier du ”piston” de la famille.”

Meaning: not everyone looks to benefit from the string-pulling of the family. A cynical reaction to this claim is not entirely warranted. Yes, the above piece of news may be strategically used to further legitimization of the current Egyptian political system that is in place in the wake of the bloody events of last summer. Yet President al-Sisi is where he is partly because he himself and his family are credited (note that indeed this is a kind of capital in the context we are speaking about) with being deeply, some would say devoutly, religious and coming from the ordinary background of Cairo’s Gamaleya neighborhood. Whilst the Army was involved in “cohabitation” with the Muslim Brotherhood government (which it eventually removed from power), al-Sisi was named Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defence by then-President Mohammed Morsi with reference to this – because he seemed like a choice particularly compatible with the Brotherhood’s spirit and rule. Or at least he could be presented as such.

As a Newsweek profile of him describes his relation to his family:

“Unlike the country’s erstwhile strongman Hosni Mubarak, whose wife and family were well known to the Egyptians, al-Sisi has been protective of the privacy of his kin. According to his older brother, Ahmed al-Sisi, who only reluctantly agreed to talk, the general has four children: three sons and one daughter. His wife is said to wear a traditional head covering, the hijab, but, unlike the women of the previous generation, these days most Egyptian women do. Like his wife, the general’s five sisters don’t have jobs outside the home. “Our girls don’t work, they stay home and raise the kids,” says Ahmed.”

Reportedly, even while he spent time in the US studying at the US Army War College, his wife was wearing the hijab.

All this modesty and social conformity of course doesn’t stop the current Egyptian regime from creating for him the by now usual cult of personality (framing him as a saint), with a larger-than-life image of his implanted in Egyptians’ minds. It doesn’t mean that he is a poor person, either. And Medhat is not really the only brother to look out for: “(Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi was born … the second of eight siblings … his father later had another six children with a second wife,” as this report tells us.

SisiCultThat “S” in between portraits of the President stands not for (hotel) “Servant”  (photo source: AFP)