Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Selling Illusions - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

There is a special holiness that Egypt endows upon its innovators; Umm Kalthoum was known as the ‘lady’, seasoned Wafd party politician, Fouad Serag al Din was dubbed the ‘Pacha’ while famous journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal was known as the ‘Professor’.

The ‘Professor’ was introduced into the history of media and Arabic politics through the gateway of former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Heikal was the editor-in-chief of ‘Al-Ahram’ newspaper and his daily column entitled ‘besaraha’ (frankly speaking) was thought to be fixed fare for those who wanted to be privy to Nasser’s line of thinking and the orientation of his policy.

But Heikal lost his shroud of legitimacy with the death of Abdel Nasser; he sought to find a suitable place for himself in Sadat’s era and all his hopes had vanished with the advent of President Mubarak’s era. Thus his role shifted from being the voice of a particular era that needed to theorize into becoming that of a historian who documented for all ages. And during this course, his approach shifted from the scientific method into becoming a science fictional one. He presented a number of historical inaccuracies, in addition to something that resembled fiction and vagaries.

Today, the ‘Professor’ presents us with a theory that postulates that Saudi Arabia was haggling over Bahrain’s Arabism during the reign of King Faisal and that it was bargaining in exchange for it. The reader could deal with this as though it were the latest joke, but the matter is more than that: it is a renewed attempt to sell illusions and abandon reason. This does not come as a surprise when stated by someone who had announced in the pages of his newspaper that most of the Israeli air fleet was struck down on the morning of 6 June 1967.

I do not belong to the generation of Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, but I belong to a generation that pays the price every day. This generation before us grew up witnessing the glorification of dictatorship and the construction of imaginary glories for it. It was a generation that analyzed and justified [Nasser’s] nationalization and is the same one that coined the term ‘setback’ for the worst Arab defeat, the same Arab generation that glorified a myth called Arab nationalism, which was responsible for admitting thousands of Arabs into prisons, killing and degrading scores more and was behind wasting more land than liberating it.

This generation invented ‘Nasserism’ and ‘Baathism’ abusing the destinies and the future of Arab countries while they disagreed on ‘who loves whom more’, as the famous song wonders. So they invaded their neighbors’ territories and forgot their own critical issues. This generation defeated the Arabs morally, militarily and economically in addition to selling them illusions and spreading fear and panic amongst them.

Rapture is the climax of artistic singing expression, a state of inspiration in which the singer reaches an ecstatic peak of elation from music and sound. There is also ‘mastery’ and ‘excellence’, which can be earned through merit, credibility and a courage that is based on the truth. But there is music that is discordant, or the ‘Shaaban Abdel Rehim’ phenomenon and one finds that we shift from a state of rapture to one of ‘Shaabaism’.

The same applies to political writing and political history. Disharmony was evident as was the noise and clamor that surrounded Mohamed Hassanein Heikal writings, which has become devoid of any documentation or history so that it has become a reality that has the propensity to fire up a sedition (which is not a novelty to the older generation and that era). Such an era had demolished Sudan and Syria’s unity and resulted in producing horrific replicas [of that disunion] in various locations in the Arab world – a price we continue to pay to this day. And all this was supported blessed and justified by the “Professor”!

Our great mentor, isn’t it time for you to take a break? If not, surely it’s time for us to rest!

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

More Posts