x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

A case of nostalgia for the Abdel Nasser era

Egypt's nostalgia for Gamal Abdel Nasser is influencing how the country sees President Mohammed Morsi. Other topics: Syria and online hatemongers.

Post-revolution Egypt has evoked nostalgia of president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rule after the 1952 uprising, Abdel Halim Qandil wrote in an opinion article in the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

The moves of Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, are not comparable to those of Abdel Nasser, whose mausoleum stands like a political and social landmark in the country, the writer noted.

A growing recognition of Abdel Nasser is noticeable even among some liberals and Islamist opponents, who tend to contrast the former leader with Mr Morsi, who just completed 100 days in office, he wrote.

For instance, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the Brotherhood figure who came fourth in the presidential race, criticised Mr Moris’s “confused and antirevolutionary” approach while praising Abdel Nasser’s “revolutionary leadership”. He, however, remains critical of Abdel Nasser over freedom of expression.

When President Morsi made some unpleasant remarks about the former president in one of his speeches, he ended up being ridiculed.

“Morsi himself, coming from a poor family, would not have been educated without the free education provided by Abdel Nasser’s system,” the author noted.

This led Mr Morsi “to go left” towards Abdel Nasser, imitating his gestures and praising him openly at the Non-Aligned summit in Tehran.

In the same vein, Abdelilah Belqziz wrote in an article in the Sharjah-based Al Khaleej newspaper that when the political history of the modern Arab nation will be written objectively, the Abdel Nasser era – 1954 to 1970 – will be regarded as the sublime moment in it.

“It’s almost the only moment when Arabs entered modern human history as partners … and gained respect from both friends and foes,” he wrote.

The period of Abdel Nasser has unfairly been criticised by many even though it was an era of “enlightenment and progress”, he added.

The writer listed some of Abdel Nasser’s achievements that he believes his detractors cannot blur.

Abdel Nasser enforced agricultural reform and land redistribution, and built the High Dam.

He launched an industrial revolution, nationalised the Suez Canal and big companies, fought to eradicate poverty and class stratification, and guaranteed free access to education.

He backed Arab liberation movements, boosted Arab solidarity and always put Palestine at the heart of his policies, thus placing Egypt in the leadership position in the Arab world.

Abdel Nasser was not infallible, the writer admitted, but his mistakes were nothing compared to his feats. Thus, he would be revered by the Arab people, despite smear campaigns, the writer said.

The worst is yet to come in Syria

Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, said on Monday that the “worst case scenarios” are playing out in Syria at the moment and that Turkey would do anything it deemed necessary to protect itself.

In a comment, Tariq Al Homayed, the editor of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, wrote: “Certainly, the course of events in Syria since the beginning of the revolution has been slipping towards the worse, but matters have yet to reach the bottom. In fact, they are susceptible to get even worse as destruction threatens to spread to the entire country.”

The reason is simply that the international community continues its efforts to deal with the Syrian revolution with frightening recklessness.

It isn’t enough to blame just the Russians and the Chinese for blocking any feasible resolutions at the UN Security Council. The international community can also do a lot more to rescue Syria.

The Assad regime wouldn’t have dared to lie and to kill so many people had the world not shown leniency towards it.

“The longer the situation in Syria remains unresolved the more likely it is that its fire would spread across the border, and mainly to Lebanon. Delaying the solution would mean entrenching extremism and sectarianism in the region. Arming the opposition is a must, notwithstanding the outcome of the US elections,” he concluded.

Hatemongers use new media to spit venom

In the long course of human history, there have always been heated conflicts between ethnicities, where all means of propaganda and incitement have been used, wrote Nasrin Morad in yesterday’s edition of the UAE-based newspaper Al Bayan.

“At times, the confrontation would take frightening turns,” she said. And the lower classes would often be used as fuel for religious clashes, risking their property and blood to the detriment of their future generations.

“The human soul is the same across the continents, with some trivial discrepancies,” she noted. “But these minor differences can be a large battleground for manipulators.”

With the significant development in social communication, these manipulators have found a platform to spit their venom. Yet these schemers are able to strike a chord with a large number of people who have retained old, stereotypical views towards different peoples and faiths.

“Now, to instigate the feelings of a group, one has only to post some cheap material on a media tool such as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter … and go to bed peacefully,” she added.

People ready to wage an endless war in defence of religion, disregarding the damage caused by their methods, are unfortunately in no short supply.

* Digest compiled by

Abdelhafid Ezzouitni