There is a creeping sense of loyalty to Saudi Arabia in the words of some Egyptians fascinated by the Saudi experiment, or what they perceive is the Saudi experiment, or experience. They seem to confuse the divinity of the holy place known as Kaaba with the country built around it, some even proclaim the oil underneath Saudi Arabia is a blessing from God himself. The Islamic identity is not Egyptian in nature, neither is the Christian doctrine, those are foreign cultures, but Egyptians now choose to identify themselves as Muslims or Christians, making the Egyptian identity foreign, the Pharaohs are like the Romans to us. For a pilgrim spending only two weeks there, Saudi Arabia is perfect, organized, religious, and wealthy, and we recently got to know Egyptians are not madly concerned with freedom in speech or arts, they lean towards Islamic conservatism.
I do not know whether the Egyptians who raised the Saudi flags in Tahrir Square — on the anniversary of regaining a piece of our land, Taba, with legal and diplomatic dexterity after rigorous negotiations– were paid by the state or did that on their own, but the Saudi influence on the Egyptian Administration is very evident and some Egyptians love it. In fact, those Egyptians, including our entire government, volunteered to campaign in favor of handing Saudi Arabia two islands we fought for and had soldiers on without a diplomatic fight, two islands the Saudis never laid one finger on, Tiran and Sanafeer.
But the Saudi flag began swaying over Egypt in the eighties when girls began covering their heads and families began consulting with sheiks on the right and wrong ways of entering the bathroom. Oil money did a number on us.
I do not know what hurts more, the gifting of two islands, that can easily be argued to be Egyptian, to big brother Saudi Arabia in exchange for direct investments and aid packages or the Egyptians celebrating and viciously promoting the deal. It is sad how loyalty for Sisi can make someone embrace any stance on cue. One can safely say Islamists are enjoying Sisi, religious reformers are threatened, writers are scared, and Saudi Arabia is a close overbearing ally. It is becoming painfully clear that Sisi and many Egyptians only disagreed with the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood not their regressive ideas or their concept of an unchallenged obeyed leader. We are becoming more Saudi through and through, or to paraphrase Egyptian Law Professor Hossam Eissa, the Saudi party is the biggest political party in Egypt.
Groups of the protesting “left” are again sympathizing with Islamists and welcoming them with open arms as comrades in the opposition, because the Saudi seed is entrenched in our minds, the Islamic caliphate is not a barbaric idea, no, it is an ideology worthy of respect and discussion, I have met many “leftists” who, somehow, have no problem with implementing the Islamic sharia, think of American Social Justice Warriors promoting the rights of women and misogynistic Muslims simultaneously.
The Saudi ghost is hiding Egypt’s sun, and Egyptians are dancing with Saudi flags. Egypt that was when everything wasn’t, to paraphrase Egyptian Lawyer Hamdi Alasyuti.
There is gloom and there is rejection.