Today is the 34th anniversery of the much-acclaimed (in Egypt) 6th of October war (which took place in 1973). The 6th of October is, and has been, a National Holiday since the war. It is also the day that former Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat was assassinated by a group of Islamic extremists during the 1981 6th of October Military Victory Parade.
So my grandmother was watching Good Morning Egypt and the two female anchorwomen had an Egyptian physician as a guest. They were discussing a number of things, including a prosthetic joint that this physician had developed and that, according to him, is considered the most advanced in the world at this point in time.
What really irked me though is what the anchors started babbling on about at the end of the segment; the gloriousness of the 6th of October war. Now, it has to be understood that this happens annually, on every 6th of october day (Most Egyptians who watch Egyptian or Arab television on this day know of this). This time though, for some inexplicable reason, I payed more attention to what they were saying, particularly that the Egyptian physician in question had participated in the 1973 war.
One of the anchors asked the physician about his feelings on the war and how it felt, as an Egyptian, to have been a member of the Egyptian armed forces during this glorious war. The man, predicably, went on about how he was honored to be part of such an event etc etc
The anchors, before bringing this segment to a close, went on about how we should let all the youth know of the 6th of October war and how it was a monumental event in the history of Egypt. She said that this “education” should start at home with parents informing and educating their children on the lessons from the war and how it brought together all Egyptians as one people and, of course, of the “glorious” role the Egyptian Armed Forces played in securing our lands and winning back all the land lost in 1967.
I don’t need to discuss how the 6th of October war, whilst a strategic victory for Egypt, was not quite the military annihilation of the Israeli Armed Forces the Egyptian government’s propaganda machine claimed and still claims it was. I will not delve into the fact that the 1967 obliteration of our Military facilities and complete and utter destruction of our Air Force (not to mention the complete Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula) was the fault of our Armed Forces… so it really was the duty of the military as an institution and the Egyptian government (being a de facto military government) to return all occupied Egyptian lands because this, as well, should be as clear as day.
What annoyed me was that the military junta in power today (I can’t claim to know much about Sadat’s time since the dude was assasinated a couple of month before my birth) insists, to this day, on exploiting the 6th of October day and milking it for all it’s worth to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) manipulate the minds of Egyptians into thinking that without the military establishment, Egypt is worth jack sh*t.
Please keep in mind that our current President was Air Marshal (most senior-ranked officer in the Air Force) at the time of the war. He supposedly led the first strike (where hundreds of Egyptian military planes carried out supposedly precision strikes against Israeli strategic and tactical targets, including early-warning stations, in Sinai at 2 pm on the 6th of October in 1973 (He is frequently praised for this even outside of the occasion of the 6th of October. In fact, non-Egyptians wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking that “Leader of the October Air Strike” is an official title of Moh’d Hosni Mubarak.
Why in bloody hell are Egyptians as a people, 34 years after the event, commemorating on such a wide scale a war which wasn’t even a complete military victory?! Why is this THE event (according to the Egyptian government-owned media) that is supposed to instill in Egyptians feelings of national pride?!
I should think that the answer is obvious: There isn’t really all that much in the country that we can be proud of. If this were true, they would be flaunting amazing growth rates, high standards of living and how every Egyptian family goes to sleep well-fed, well-clothed and well-sheltered.
But they don’t. Because they can’t. Life is sub-par for most Egyptians; prices are always increasing without the equivalent rise in real wages, the air we breathe is polluted, the public insitutions are amongst the shittiest in the world in terms of getting work done… I could go on forever.
The problem isn’t that we have problems. The Problem is that the Egyptian government attempts to divert the attention of its citizens from things that matter by using under-handed strategies of propaganda perfected, along the ages, by authoritarian regimes globally.