UPDATE: According to our Observers in Cairo, the posters have been taken down.
Cairo residents on their way out of town this weekend were surprised to discover huge portraits of their army’s chief, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, hung on one of Cairo’s main gates. Many snapped photos and posted them on social networks, generating a debate about what this new development meant.
Here’s our Observer Yehia el Gammal’s take:
While there are posters of General Sisi all over the city, seeing these huge portraits hung on such a frequented gate, with so many people passing through them for the week-long Eid holidays, is quite shocking. I think the general should order them to be removed. While he is very popular, he is not the head of state [the current acting president is Adly Mansour], and he has said he would not run for president in the next elections … though many are pushing him in that direction
For the past three years, Egypt has undergone several phases of a revolution, one that we hope will lead us to greater freedom. And yet these huge portraits remind us of the 1950s, of [president Gamal Abdel] Nasser’s rule. Even during [former president] Hosni Mubarak’s time, I don’t remember seeing such huge portraits hung quite so prominently. We want to go forward, not decades backward!
While this was not the opinion of our Observer, other Egyptians on Twitter thought these new portraits lent credence to the claim that the army’s overthrow of former president Mohammad Morsi in July was nothing more than an old-fashioned “coup”. Egyptians today remain split over whether this was a coup, or whether the army had the mandate of the people.
Yet others argued that since the road in question was built and operated by the military, it wasn’t all that strange to hang posters of their leader.