Egypt has given the Palestinian cause 100,000 martyrs, and double that in injuries, as well as economic support, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in a televised speech today on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the 1952 coup.
It wasn’t clear how he arrived at the number, though it is thought he meant the number of Egyptian soldiers that have died fighting for Palestine since 1948, when the Israeli state was founded and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were either killed or displaced as refugees.
He added that Egypt continues to support the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and “so it is unreasonable for anyone to question Egypt’s role in the Palestinian cause and on the Arab level generally.”
Sisi’s comments on Palestine come as the death toll in the conflict between Israel and Gaza has surpassed 600 Palestinians and 30 Israelis, and Egypt’s efforts to mediate a cease-fire have remained elusive.
The president also said that Egypt’s economic measures and partial lifting of subsidies on petroleum products will have a “big effect,” though he did not quantify that effect.
Despite being warned by analysts against removing subsidies, a move Egypt’s governments have been avoiding for years for fear of subsequent riots, Sisi said he took his bet on Egyptians’ support, just as he took his bet when he asked people to show their public support for his moves to combat terrorism one year ago.
Egyptians woke up to higher fuel prices earlier this month after the government announced that it would implement a broad restructuring of petroleum product subsidies. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said the fuel price rises would save LE51 billion in the 2014/2015 budget and that LE22 billion of that will be used to develop education and healthcare in Egypt.
Other development measures include building 3,200 kilometers of new roads, and a “surprise” project to be announced “in the coming days,” Sisi said.
Sisi praised the Egyptian army saying it is an important backer of the people, and that the people are important backers of the army, and together they protect the state. He added that the “January 25 2011 and the June 30 2013 revolutions are continuations of the July 23 1952 revolution.”
On 23 July 1952, a group of army officers, known as the Free Officers Movement, led a coup that brought an end to the rule of Egypt’s former King Farouk and his son Fuad II.
On the subject of freedom, Sisi stated that “freedom isn’t just that you express your opinion, but that you feel there is no one imposing their opinions on you.”
Sisi led the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on July 3 last year, after a mass wave of protests calling on him to resign. After an interim period of government, Sisi last month won presidential elections, where he ran against just one other candidate.
Sisi is due to give another speech tomorrow night addressed to the Islamic world on Laylat Al-Qadr, when Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohamed.