Monday, August 27, 2007

The October War Panorama

I visited the October War Panorama in Cairo, which celebrates the October War (or the Yom Kippur War of 1973). This was a large building designed by North Koreans after a suggestion to Mubarak by Kim Jong Il. There were several groups of school kids and families with their children there and there was a festive atmosphere. People were selling ice cream and toys outside and inside there was a place to have one's picture taken with cut outs of Nasser, Sadat and various Egyptian movie stars. A couple of times people came up to me and pointed to the various Egyptian tanks, jets and statues of soldiers in heroic poses n display and give the thumbs up sign and say things like "Egypt number one!"

There were three presentations - two dioramas and a movie. For the first I was escorted in and placed in the first row. I wa surrounded by a group of seven or eight year-old girls. The room filled with the soothing voice of Phil Collins:

All of my life, I've been searching
for the words to say how I feel...

Maybe it was a mistake, I'm not sure. After this was a rousing military song to which all the girls sang. Then the presentation began. The diorama was a depiction of the Sinai with little radar dishes rotating and planes flying across on wires and flashing lights.

The narrator explained that what had been taken by force could only be regained by force. The war was proclaimed "the greatest victory in modern times." The guns opened fire at 2:05 on October 6, and the air force started its bombing runs. There were such an astonishing success that the second round of bombings that had been planned were canceled. Then the feared Israeli air force tried to strike back but, "one by one the Israeli planes with their blue stars of David were brought down by our heroic armed forces...The glorious hours passed quickly," until, a few days later, the Israeli prisoners of war bowed their heads as the Egyptian flag was raised high all over Sinai. Everyone in the room began clapping and we moved on to the next presentation in which a similar account was given.

My ticket had a description of the war which concludes that, "The epic witnessed the greatest firepower preparation since the Second World War, the greatest tank battles in the modern history, and the crossing of the most difficult water barrier in the world. Thanks to our strong belief in God and our just cause, we achieved a decisive victory which lead to the liberation of Sinai on the 25th of April 1982, from the banks of the Canal to the international borders and in March 1989, restoring the last inch of the motherland when the Egyptian flag was hoisted over Tabu [sic]."

Chris McClure


Anonymous said...

Great description of this bizarre place. I was shocked during my trip to Egypt to find that people their believe that they won the Yom Kippur war! It's like something out of George Orwell.

Anonymous said...

I bet you are in Israeli. I can't believe you don't know you lost this war. I attribute that to your misleading media in Israel and the US!!!!!