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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another Sisi Poster Update

Today was spent traveling out into the Sahara "near" the city of Fayoum.  (also spelled Faiyum.)  Fayoum is about sixty miles southwest of our apartment and we arrived after about a seven hour drive.  Obviously, that will require some explanation, but I am too tired to give it right now.

But a few small things worth mentioning.  The desert is interesting.  Here is one picture.

After we arrived in Fayoum, I noted that there were no posters of General Sisi to be found anywhere in the area.  Our friend who was driving replied, "that's because this is a Muslim Brotherhood town!"

That didn't surprise me.  Fayoum has appeared from time to time over the past few years on the State Department's list of suggested "don't travel there" lists for Egypt.  At the moment it has no special status there.  Fayoum did get special attention in a NYT article last July which noted  , "... the Brotherhood, who attracted overwhelming support from voters in Fayoum, a stronghold for Islamists..."  Also, see this BBC piece from 2012:
At a nearby polling station in Yousef al-Sidik village, there were only Mursi voters to be found.
"You know it was an easy choice. We want an Islamic president," said Sherif Abdulatty.
  Mohammed Ramadan believes Dr Mursi is the best candidate to develop countryside
"In the past no authorities gave attention to this poor place. We think Dr Mursi will be different and bring religion back to public life," Hamada Moneim added.
There was also unanimous backing for the Brotherhood among the fishermen bobbing in makeshift boats made of tyre inner tubes on the vast saltwater lake - the area's main attraction.
"We have a shortage of fish in Lake Qarun, but Dr Mursi has a programme to help us," said Alaa, as he and his friends loaded their small vessels and fishing rods into a trailer on the back of his motorbike.

I missed one very good picture because I didn't realize its significance.  As we drove the main highway into Fayoum, there was a man with a neatly trimmed beard and dressed in the traditional galibeya standing with a box in the middle of the road.  I didn't think anything of it, as there are frequently people standing like that near speed bumps selling boxes of tissues or other merchandise.  It turns out that he was "collecting money for the mosques."  According to our friend, this practice had been banned at the time of the 2011 revolution since the money was being used for political causes instead of charity.  (Minnesota readers may recall the conviction of two Somalis for similar diversion of funds.)

Well, with that as background, I will show you the only type of reference to General Sisi that we saw in Fayoum.  The general's name is easily represented in graffiti as "CC"  Here are pictures from the walls along the main roads.

Most of the anti-CC graffiti consists of what is shown in the first two pictures.  It means that "he is dishonest."  The reference to the Star of David is self-explanatory but likely derives from reports such as this one saying:
“I was surprised to learn, from the Algerian Al-Watan newspaper, that el-Sissi is of Jewish origin,” Gamal Nasser said Saturday in an Arabic-language broadcast on Al-Jazeera, where he is a commentator.
I also saw a couple of English-language graffiti scribblings but haven't included the pictures since they are much more vulgar.

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