The anniversary of the assassination of the late Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, who was killed by agents of ignorance and extremism, passed recently. As usual, with the approach of such anniversaries, hidden details of the victim’s life have been revealed. There are still ongoing debates regarding Sadat’s place in history, his era and the decisions that he made. Continuous research into Sadat’s life has led to one question: how do nations choose their leaders and who decides that he is popular amongst his people? Perhaps this is one of those riddles that can never be solved such as how it is possible that the late Egyptian president Jamal Abdul Nasser was so popular in his country and other Arab states despite being responsible for losing the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights all at once as a result of dictatorship and favoritism controlling state affairs, not to mention the packed prisons, the abolishment of freedom of expression as well as political movements that flourished before the military coup. Sadat however, was able to achieve a real military victory over Israel and regain all Egyptian territory through a peace treaty. He sought to bring back dignity to the political movement, to free platforms and to establish freedom of the press to a certain extent. Despite this, the republic was still in love with Nasser and refused to pardon Sadat.
Nasser’s mistake is that he encouraged clones of his example of rule and has afflicted the Arab world with bizarre examples of revolutionary nationalist speeches that have produced weak states, vanquished citizens, and fragile economies. The aim of his model was to preserve the system and its figures, not the country and its people. This method of “hero-making” is what has caused the absence of real role models and what has marginalized their existence. How else can one explain why Egypt has not adopted and embraced Ahmed Zewail, Magdy Yacoub, and Farouk al Baz as it did Nasser even though there are great examples of nations and cultures glorifying their public heroes more so than prominent political figures? The making of heroes and promoting them is done through the process of obscuring other heroes and tranquilizing. This has led to missing the opportunity to develop the grounds to produce ideals and role models, which are extremely important for the development of society.
Today, as we look back on history, it seems that what happened to Sadat and Nasser before him is happening to others and until we are convinced that heroes can emerge from outside of the religious and political arenas, societies will remain void of diversity, and sufficient and necessary completion.