Egyptians have longed for a hero to boost national pride, but since the arrival of General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, some Egyptians seem to have gotten carried away, allowing “Sisi fever” to sweep them off their feet.
In addition to Sisi-shirts and posters, Egyptians can now find Sisi-themed chocolate, jewelery, sandwiches and even cooking oil.
Nermin Nazim, a young accessories designer, has created a new line of jewerly in honor of the general.
“The army needs our appreciation, and I made these accessories collection under the name of ‘the second victory’ as I believe that the army has acheived the biggest victory since the war of ’73,” she said.
Nazim’s jewerly showcases gemstones like black onyx, coral and other precious stones. She has used the red, black and white crystals as the three colors of the Egyptian flag, while gold plated threads hold together necklaces with pendants bearing the name of Sisi, in English or Arabic, as well as some phrases of adulation made of copper.
The jewlery collection also lso carries earrings, designed in shape of the Egyptian golden eagle.
“While the cost [of production] of this collection is higher, I'm selling it for very cheap prices with only 10 percent profit,” Nazim noted. “I designed these collection out of my love for our army, not for financial or other reasons.”
Nazim works at Nile TV channel, but her passion of making accessories pushed her to start a new project with someone owns a shop in Khan Al-Khalili. She could not hide her love for Sisi, who she says ressembles her late father who was an army officer. “I get out my father’s old camouflage clothes to make the accessories look like the army’s stuff,” she said.
For some army supporters, however, Sisi fever has spread to their stomachs.
A quick visit to to Garden City and you could run into the cosy, chic chocolaterie called “Kakao”, near the Italian embassy. Nothing particular about this shop stands out, except that the owner, Bahira Galal, has dedicated her chocolate to the famous general.
Galal has coated many of the chocolate bars with several photos of Sisi, either by himself or with the army, and even one made to look like Sisi's Egyptian ID card.
A chocolate bar printed with a photo of a young lady kissing Sisi took me particularly off guard.
Galal was welcoming and excited to give a tour of her chocolaterie. “I'm not interested in politics,” said Galal. “I used to print photos on chocolates, but I made these chocolates to express my respect and love to Sisi who has saved our country.”
Galal’s smile beamed as she proudly explained that her shop is surrounded by embassies where many foreigners could drop by at any moment. “So when they see the chocolates decorated with Sisi’s photos, they may realize that it’s not a coup, but a revolution,” she said.
The shop even features Sisi cupcakes and Sisi birthday cakes, which Galal says are very popular.
The Sisi chocolates come in many different flavors and are made of a special kind of Belgian chocolate, ranging in price from EGP 7.5 to EGP 250 per piece.
Galal notes that most passersby come curious to see the Sisi-coated chocolates. Some people buy them a souvenirs, while others take many to distribute.
Sisi’s name and image are also being used now to promote cooking oil. Businessman and the head of the Democratic Victory Party, Kadry Al-Shazly, announced his factories have already started producing large amounts of “El-Sisi” cooking oil to be sold at EGP 8 per bottle.
Meanwhile, the fast food chain restaurant “Amo Hosny” has released a new sandwich called “El-Sisi Mix”, which is stuffed with chicken. There were no obvious reasons, however, for naming the sandwich after the chief of the army.
Why the love for Sisi?
Regardless any political struggle, many would argue “Sisi fever” is just an attempt to ride a wave of populist commercialism in order to make a few bucks, but there is surely an underlying phenomenon.
Despite the tactics used to disperse the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda sit-ins, which left over 600 killed in what Human Rights Campaign called “the serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history,” most Egyptians say they are still satisfied with Sisi’s handling of the situation and many credit him with rescuing Egypt from the grips of Islamists.
According to a poll conducted by Baseera in August, 67 percent of Egyptians were pleased with how the police dispersed the sit-ins.
So why then, have so many Egyptians quickly endorsed Sisi after the military’s overthrow of the former president Mohamed Morsy?
Ammar Ali Hassan, a political and sociological analyst, says there are many reasons. “The first one is a psychological motive which relates to people hunger to a trusted leader that could save them from the current ailing country’s situation,” he told Egypt Independent. Egyptians have been psychollogically suffering because insecurity has been running rampant after 25 January revolution.
The Egyptian nation, Hassan says, is sensational with a high illetracy rate. The average Egyptian relies not on informtion he/ she gathers for themselves to form an educated opinion, but rather on culture and propaganda. The Egyptian nation is culturally attached to the concept of having a hero, so having a hero like Sisi is particularly important to them, according to Hassan.
Also, Egyptians have an “absence of alternatives”, according to Hassan. So far, no other public or political figure with charisma besides Sisi has stepped to the plate. Many have called upon Sisi to run for the coming presidential elections because there are no other suitable competitors. Hassan believes people lost trust in most previous candidates who dashed their hopes when they were given a chance.
Sisi for president?
During Morsy’s administration, rumors spread that Sisi was a Brotherhood loyalist, but his willingness to side with popular demand to topple Morsy proved them wrong, Hassan says.
A few weeks ago, activists even launched an initiative under the name of “fulfill your favor" or “kamel gemelak” to collect signatures encourage Sisi to run for the upcoming presidential elections.
With a nation which is emotionally driven, Hassan said that Sisi used to throw emotional speeches that tickle public sentiments instantly. Moreover Sisi has lavished praise upon Egyptian society to restore lost dignity and nobility, using language that puts himself as the nations’ servant.
The army-backed government and the Egyptian media, started feeding the sentiment that the country is "under attack", as Sisi called on people to commission him to “fight terrorism” which pushed unprecedented huge number of Egyptians to take to the streets, supporting giving Sisi a mandate.