In 2016, only two years after being elected Egypt’s President, El-Sisi decided to take upon his shoulder a new mission that is more complicated than fighting terrorism, which reached a peak point, at that time, following the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013. This mission is to rebuild the new Egypt by reconstructing the economic system, which is burdened by decades of corruption and maladministration, followed by years of fighting against terrorism and two consecutive massive revolutions that happened within only three years.
Courageously, El-Sisi decided to openly declare the situation to the public so they can understand its complexity and help the government in its mission to reforming the economy. In one of his most memorable speeches in August 2016, El-Sisi said he is ready to start an economic reform process, during which the state and the government will work hard to fix the situation and re-strengthen the economy.
However, he told the people, straight forward, that this is not going to be an easy procedure. “You will suffer,” he told the people betting on the bond of trust that was formed between him and the people, during the tough years that followed the 2011 revolution.
Almost everyone, supporters and opponents alike, was shocked by President El-Sisi’s courage to tell the already suffering public that they are going to suffer more until the economic reform plan is accomplished. Most of the observers expected a popular revolution to erupt against his regime, as was the case with all the former presidents who suggested a similar reform plan since former president El-Sadat (in office: 1970 -1981).
However, contrary to all expectations, the Egyptian public, especially the poor citizens, collectively decided to follow and support El-Sisi’s economic reform plan, even if it means bearing the rigorous procedures. The Egyptian citizens trusted El-Sisi, not only because of his proven record of patriotism, sincerity, and hands clean of corruption but also because he was the only president, since Abdel Nasser (in office: 1956-1970) to give a priority to applying social justice, which was the main plea of the poor during the 2011 revolution.
It is absolutely true that the January 2011 revolution against the Mubarak regime was not motivated by economic reasons; it was not a revolution of the hungry poor. However, one slogan was repeated in all the protests that accompanied the revolution: “Bread, freedom, social justice.”
A few paid an attention to this slogan, which represents a basic demand for a wide section of the Egyptian people, who drowned in poverty under the former state of economic and administrative corruption. But their demand was ignored amidst a myriad of political slogans of democratization, human rights, and civil freedoms, which were sung by the rebellious youth, during the revolution. The poor did not care for civil and political rights, because they do not know them. Their only dream was to live a decent life in an adequate human condition. This is what specialists call the economic and social rights.
Within only five years, since the economic reform plan started, El-Sisi succeeded in providing a decent life for the poor citizens, by eliminating random housing slums that surrounded Cairo and Alexandria. This month, El-Sisi launched a new larger project, with a budget of 700 billion Egyptian Pounds, to develop and renovate the infrastructure in rural areas, which represent more than 80% of the inhabited geographical area in Egypt.
This magnificent project, will contribute to improving the living conditions of the people living in rural villages and strengthen the political and economic structure of the Egyptian state. More importantly is the indirect effect of the project in reducing, if not eliminating the social and economic gaps, through which radicalism, religious extremism, and political Islamist groups have infiltrated into the heart of Egyptian society.
If President El-Sisi had done nothing, throughout his presidency, but to apply social justice to the poor through the governmental Decent Life program, that would be enough.