Egypt commemorated on Monday the 66th anniversary of the 23 July 1952 revolution during which the Free Egyptian Officers removed King Farouk from power. In this week celebrating the occasion, writers reflected on the significance of that historical phase.
In state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, Farouk Goweida discussed the image of the revolution’s leader, Gamal Abdul Nasser, arguing that disputed opinions around him should be allowed and are in fact needed, as long as they do not contain insults or undermine the role he played in determining the people’s fate. Goweida pointed out that the former leader’s daughter intensified efforts to prove her father’s historical achievements, but called on her to use objective evaluation by treating him as a public figure and not as her father.
Al-Ahram’s Gamal Zaida’s op-ed came as a reminder of the role played by intellectuals in supporting Egypt’s foreign policy after 1952. He told the story of how Nasser invited reputable Egypt-born French journalist Eric Rouleau after he was kicked out of the country for his communist ties, and how the invitation opened the doors for more intellectuals to come to Egypt, including Jean Paul Sartre and Simone De Beauvoir.
In the privately-owned Al-Youm Al-Sabaa newspaper, Hazem Salah El-Din opinionated that the younger generations these days know little about the revolution that reshaped Egyptians’ lives, mainly because of a lack of available means to deliver information, citing as an example cinema, saying there has not been a movie with a comprehensive approach to the revolution and its details.
On perceptions of Nasser particularly and leaders generally, Tarek Al-Shenawy wrote for Al-Masry Al-Youm a piece, in which he pointed out how each side could portray and reinforce a different image according to personal bias, such as family members or depending on public taste, such as in movies, which he said always portrayed Nasser as a political leader and rarely as a normal human being subject to different emotions.
Last but not least, Al-Youm Al-Sabaa’s Wael Al-Semary touched upon the famous debate around the revolution and whether it provided a better model than the previously existing monarchy. The writer argued that while debates are always beneficial to the development of society, there is no such thing as a good or bad historic phase, but each phase has its good and bad. He concluded that although history could repeat itself, it cannot be restored from the past, and that although people might disagree with a specific phase, they should not try to erase its memory.