By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Five years after the military ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed government of Muhammad Morsi and the subsequent election of ironman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow, Egypt celebrates the 66th anniversary of the country’s 1952 revolution on Monday, July 23.
Here in Mexico, Egyptian Ambassador Yasser Morad and his wife Ghada Alsahsah marked the occasion early with a diplomatic reception and lavish North African cuisine buffet at their Bosques de las Lomas residence on Thursday, July 19.
“Egypt’s 1952 revolution had as its main goal the modernization of the country and the establishment of equality for all its people,” Morad told his guests at the start of the event.
Morad said that the Egyptian revolution, which subsequently inspired nations and colonies across Africa and the Arab world to demand and fight for independence from Western powers, “transcended our borders to have repercussions as far as Central and South America.”
The envoy noted that this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Egypt, adding that bilateral ties are built on a foundation of mutual understanding and respect, as well as a shared history of millennial cultures.
Although two-way trade – which amounted to just under $125 million in 2017 – remains low, the countries do cooperate in other fields, including culture and academic exchanges.
Egypt’s 1952 revolution was primarily aimed at ousting the last remnants of British occupation and rooting out political corruption, as well as improving the social conditions of Egypt’s people.
At that time, most of the North African nation’s wealth was concentrated in the hands of a privileged elite that represented less than .5 percent of the population.
In contrast, nearly all other Egyptians lived in abject poverty, with little or no access to public education or basic social services.
Today, however, Egypt has free public education and over 74 percent of the republic’s 84 million people are fully literate.
Egypt is the largest Arab country in the world, and has played a central role in Middle Eastern politics in recent years, particularly as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.
After the start of the so-called Arab Spring and the assassination of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Morsi, the country’s first freely-elected president took office, but he was soon overthrown because of his alleged betrayal of the democratic process.
Al-Sisi, who led the coup against Morsi and who had led the interim government after his demise, was elected president in May 2014 with a sweeping 90-plus margin.
He won a second four-year-term in March 2018 with a 92-percent majority.
Notwithstanding, Al-Sisi has been condemned by many international observers for his strongman tactics and repression of opposition views and media.