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Sisi's Secret Islamism

The Rhetoric and Reality of Egypt's New President

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a television interview in Cairo on May 6, 2014. Courtesy Reuters

Egyptians have long known that Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, deputy prime minister of Egypt and former minister of defense, would win their country’s presidential election, but he has tried to keep them from knowing much more beyond that. Even his election campaign gave little indication of his character; his appearances were limited to a handful of prerecorded and heavily edited television interviews that revealed little about his vision for the country. (Sisi claimed that terrorist threats prevented him from campaigning in the open, and the public didn’t seem to mind either way.)

Of course, studied silence was never a sustainable strategy. Despite Sisi’s best efforts, his personality has revealed itself over the course of the past several months. Indeed, it has always been possible to glimpse his real character and intentions for Egypt underneath his public persona. And, as I argued in a previous article for Foreign Affairs, those intentions

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