CAIRO– Five months ago, songs critical of Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi – widely seen as the architect of last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi – used to resonate across Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
CAIRO– Five months ago, songs critical of Egyptian army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi – widely seen as the architect of last July’s ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi – used to resonate across Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
Today, by contrast, only songs praising the army chief are played over the loudspeakers of the square’s once bustling mosque.
Several Egyptians who had just voted in a constitutional referendum at polling centers near Rabaa danced and sang to the popular pro-army tune “Teslam al-Aayadi” (“Bless the Hands”).
“I’m here to say ‘yes’ – not only to the constitution, but also to al-Sisi,” Mona Mohamed, 40, told Anadolu Agency as she swayed to the music, which blared from military vehicles stationed outside polling centers.
Al-Sisi, who is also Egypt’s defense minister, is widely seen as the driving force behind the elected president’s ouster last summer.
Since then, al-Sisi’s popularity has skyrocketed amid growing calls for him to contest upcoming presidential elections.
“I only came for al-Sisi’s sake,” Mohamed Wahdan, 45, said as he emerged from a polling center and joined in the dancing frenzy.
The two-day constitutional vote is the first phase of a three-step roadmap imposed by the army following Morsi’s ouster.
Many see the referendum as a test of al-Sisi’s popularity and a prelude to the long-anticipated announcement of a presidential bid by the top general.
The festive pro-army atmosphere in Rabaa stands in stark contrast to the situation five months ago, when thousands of Morsi supporters converged on the square to vent their anger at al-Sisi for deposing Egypt’s first freely elected president.
At the time, one song could be heard playing repeatedly.
“Is it a revolution or a coup?” protesters had sung in unison.
“It’s a coup! It’s a coup!” continued the refrain.
But that song has not been played in the now-iconic square since security forces violently dispersed the pro-Morsi sit-in on August 14, leaving hundreds of protesters killed and thousands injured.