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Opinion: Egypt is heading back to the past

Egypt's powerful army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has announced he will run for president. His victory is virtually certain, but it won't lead to stability or democracy in Egypt, says DW's Rainer Sollich.

An army general with sunglasses and a military hat is on his way to Egypt's highest office. For many Egyptians, this isn't a nightmare scenario but a promise for a better future.

Media have dubbed this phenomenon "Sisi mania" - a carefully orchestrated personality cult somewhere along the forced-celebrity gamut between Hollywood and North Korea. The face of the former defense minister who had recently been promoted to the ranks of field marshal has not only been stamped on patriotic propaganda posters, but also on T-shirts and chocolate bars.

The homage and hype around him has enabled el-Sisi to assume the pose of a dutiful servant of the state who is following the people's call: The army general puts away his military uniform in order to run in presidential elections. Right now, there is little doubt that he'll win.

It's questionable whether the general is able to lead the land to a better future. Those followers who glorify him as their "savior" disregard that el-Sisi is already pulling the strings behind the scenes. Toppling former President Mohamed Morsi, the violent clampdown on protesters, death sentences for hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the increasing repression targeting liberal, left-wing and secular activists clearly bear the hallmarks of el-Sisi.

Back to the past?

Even though it is somewhat understandable that the Christian minority, along with many Muslims in Egypt, regard el-Sisi as a bastion against religious extremism, ruling with an iron fist has never lead to a more stable development. It's going to deepen the ideological rift in Egypt's society and will regularly elicit new waves of violence while the economic situation is going to get worse despite prospective financial aid from Saudi Arabia.

That's not only dangerous for Egypt's future - it's dangerous for the entire region. Unless el-Sisi takes on new political ideas, the path is clear: Egypt is going to relapse and head straight back to the past. It won't undo the 2011 revolution. It will simply be suspended.

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