Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi led the military funeral held on Tuesday for former minister of defence Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who died at the age of 85 after a three-month struggle with illness.
A number of senior state officials and top military chiefs attended the funeral, which was held in Field Marshal Tantawi Mosque in Fifth Settlement of New Cairo.
A presidency statement on Tuesday described Tantawi as a “veteran military leader who served his country in its toughest circumstances”.
President Sisi described him as one of “Egypt’s most loyal sons”.
“Tantawi was a leader and a statesman who took the responsibility of running the country at very difficult time, during which he wisely and competently confronted the dangers that beset Egypt,” the president said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to the turmoil after the 2011 Revolution.
Sisi said Tantawi led Egypt with wisdom, honesty and strong dedication at tough times during the military council’s rule of Egypt in 2011. He also handed over the rule after elections that were held in 2012 when the state was on the brink of collapse.
He has greatly contributed to overcoming such tough phase with the least possible harm.
“I have lost a father, a teacher and a human jealous for his homeland,” President Sisi said in a tweet on Tuesday.
The president condoled with the Egyptian people for the death of Tantawi, who taught him a lot about “dedication to the service of the homeland”.
President Sisi on Tuesday declared a state of national mourning over the death of Tantawi, naming the Hikestep Military Base after him.
The Cabinet, parliament, the general command of the Armed Forces paid tribute to Tantawi.
Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouli said that Field Marshal Tantawi was a statesman of a special type who responded to the call of his homeland at all times with patriotic courage and loyalty.
Madbouli added that Tantawi’s great achievements during his military career will immortalise his name in the nation’s history and in the hearts of Egyptians.
Madbouli said Tantawi had done a lot for the sake of the homeland, serving as a military leader during wars, then a defence minister during the hardest of years, then a chairman of the military council that ran state affairs during a very critical period.
The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb mourned the death of former defence minister Tantawi, saying that “he departed [from this world] after a long journey marked by generosity and patriotism in which he contributed to Egypt’s heroics and glory.”
El-Tayyeb said that Tantawi was a military leader of a unique calibre who stood tall while confronting the enemies of the homeland at a critical time, guiding the ship to a safe harbour.
“The General Command of the Egyptian Armed Forces mourns the death of Field Marshal Tantawi, one of its sons and one of the commanders of the glorious October War,” a military statement said on Tuesday.
Head of Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II said that Tantawi “served his country faithfully in all the positions he held and was part of the ranks of the Armed Forces during the Tripartite Aggression, the War of Attrition, the glorious victory in the 6 October War, and the Gulf War.”
The church extended its condolences to the leadership and personnel of the Armed Forces, the members of Tantawi’s family, and his students.
He led the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that ruled Egypt for 18 months after the removal of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 in the wake of an 18-day popular uprising during the Middle East region’s Arab Spring protests.
Born in 1935, Tantawi began his army career as an infantryman in 1956. He fought in most of Egypt’s wars, including the wars of 1956 and 1967, the War of Attrition and the 1973 October War.