The Army Fetish

We, Egyptians, are no strangers to a little bit of army-loving. It is not uncommon in other nations as well, but we have always taken it a little bit too seriously. Everything in our history says so, from depictions of King Narmer gripping a war prisoner by the hair, raising his arm to stab him with a dagger, to the large number of children named after presidents and famous military generals, to many other things we have been known for that only serve to prove that our love to for the army is limitless.

Which makes us wonder, how come no one noticed that this love is slightly unnatural, borderline obsessive and not at all platonic? Not even when women swooned and fawned over Sisi, saying things from “marry me” to “I’ll take a hit for you”? Not even when most men made statements land-mined with sexual innuendos? No one put the television on mute, sat up and looked at their friend and said “It doesn’t sound like they love the army. It sounds like they’re in love with the army”? We are certain that some did, and in case they did not want to broach the subject, we have taken it upon ourselves to do exactly that.

If we trace this back, most will pause at the Nasser era and point there, proudly saying “I found where it started!” which makes sense, considering his technique of embedding loyalty to the state’s army as he embedded loyalty to the state itself. Nasser was also charismatic and the people loved him – in a way that makes the Sisi frenzy reminiscent of the 1960s. However, this is only how the neo-army-love spread. If you think about it, this has been going on for ages.

No, really, this is not an exaggeration. In the beginning of the article we’ve mentioned Egyptian Pharaoh Narmer’s depiction during the war. This is not an isolated incident, but in fact a traditional depiction for kings in Ancient Egypt. A king was portrayed in the midst of war as much as he was depicted in royal processions because if he fights for his country then he must be worthy of our respect, right? Never mind the fact that he is also doing it for himself, seeing that he is a king and all. And in case of modern-day army, it really is his job. He is not doing us a favor.

No! How dare you say that? The army protects us!

This damsel-in-distress syndrome can be explained. The people of Egypt’s overt obsession with any man in a military suit and the right to bear arms possibly stems from the fact that Egypt has gone through so many wars that they always feel some sort of gratitude towards the army. This gratitude was taken and amplified ten fold during Nasser’s reign, transforming into what can only be classified as a fetish. Mind you, Egyptians have been tormented by military rule – both figuratively and literally – ever since for over 60 years. Still, this does not stop them from having an immense love for the same military whose rule has taken the country to where it is now. Even when the army was shooting at protesters point blank only two years ago, people refused to believe, citing the timeless phrase “our army would never do that”.

This can only mean one thing, that what started during Nasser’s reign as a harmless fetish has developed into serious masochism as the military’s rule grew more sadistic. The people not only accept a military rule that oppressed them, drained the country’s economic and natural resources, never gave them their basic human rights and imprisoned anyone who stood up against them, but are now begging for its return.

The irony of it strikes us when we realize that most Egyptians wouldn’t know what masochism is unless they are given a classic example, like Hassan Abdeen’s character in Darb ElHawa. Only thing is; the form of masochism Egyptians are portraying is much more violent and dark. It is the sort of masochism that involves extreme torture and restraint. It makes you wonder, just how well did 50 Shades of Grey sell in Egypt? Not that we will ever know something like that. You see, we can’t handle the truth.

Picture this if you well, Egyptians are in a dark room, iron chains in a tight grip around their necks, wrists and ankles, the crack of a whip and the tormenting buzz of an impending electric shock are heard in the background. You would think they’re scared but they couldn’t possibly feel safer. The women will still hang pictures of Sisi in their homes and men will praise him for being a man. Not that we mind whatever inclinations they may have, to each his own, but what will happen to those who are simply not masochists?

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