The moment when Adli Mansour handed over power to Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi marked a new era in the Egyptian state, offering the country a fresh turn from the autocratic policies that marked its previous leaders.
In the 1930s, Egypt had a semi-democratic regime, while southern European countries were still suffering under military rule. At that time, Egypt had a semi-constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system, which was compatible with the social environment. Meanwhile, Italy was ruled by fascists, Germany was in the grip of the Nazi regime, and Spain was under despotic rule. Turkey experienced direct military rule, which had nothing to do with democracy or a culture of accepting diversity, plurality and differences of opinion. However, Egypt, despite the drawbacks of the monarchical regime, was still founded on a democratic base. If the country was given the chance to develop properly, Egypt would be in the forefront among democratic countries; at the very least, it would be no less successful than a country like Greece.
The political life in Egypt experienced a major setback with the army moving against the regime on 23 July 1952. However, that move transformed into a popular revolution after the people embraced it due to its social and economic principles. Yet, the revolution dissolved political parties, banned their activities and followed the system of one-party rule. A hegemonic opinion and an absolute approach were dominating the scene; totalitarian terminology and discourse emerged, and was spread with the intention of silencing voices and supporting the ruler. This became clear in the arrival of a government-controlled media which advocated the same sole opinion.
Since then, signs of total deterioration were seen, one after the other. For instance, trusted people were favoured at the expense of experienced ones, and whistle-blowers were the ones who enjoyed promotions. The saying “the king is dead, long live the king” was literally applied. Those who left their posts were forgotten, their traces were removed and no one dared to mention their names. The revolution decided to erase the name of the king and distort his image in movies that were produced after his era. The school curriculum was altered to blemish the king and the royal family, depicting them as immoral devils.
Anwar Al-Sadat came to power, referring to Gamal Abdel-Nasser as “the dearest of all men”, before proceeding to slander his legacy. Sadat sought to eliminate everything that might remind Egyptians of such a charismatic man. Moreover, he supported the “Jamaah Islamiyah” terrorist organisation and provided them with weapons to face Nasserists in Egyptian universities. According to his prescriptions, he turned the country’s policies upside down in lieu of anything and everything that was the polar opposite of Nasser’s popular direction.
A similar process took place after Sadat passed away. Hosni Mubarak endeavoured to remove anything that was related to his predecessor’s legacy, yet the new president continued to follow the 1952 revolution’s policies of nepotism. These policies led to his tragic downfall after the 25 January revolution of 2011, after which he was sent to prison together with his sons and his elite aids.
After the Egyptian people succeeded in ending the rule of the Supreme Guide and Muslim Brotherhood following the 30 June revolution of 2013, a new concept emerged in the country: the concept of depending on experts instead of contacts, and the youth instead of the elders. This development was accompanied by a higher level of political and intellectual freedom. That is why, we cannot accept any accusations against former president Adli Mansour and must dismiss them all as false. The media must strongly refute those accusations and should not give any opportunity to those who want to tarnish the man’s reputation for personal gains. If I can contribute my personal opinion from a purely nationalist perspective, Adli Mansour is the best choice for the next parliament speaker, especially given his tact and wisdom in steering Egypt in the right direction during his term as president.
Emad Gad is vice president of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.