EGYPT: The Two Faces of Nasser

In Moslem sectors of Beirut, portraits of the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser are plastered on hundreds of buildings. No fewer than four separate factions in the Lebanese civil war proudly define themselves as "Nasserite." In Libya, there are almost as many posters of Nasser with his fiery eyes gazing down at the public as there are of the country's mercurial military strongman, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Throughout much of the Arab world, in fact, the late Egyptian leader is passionately venerated as a modern prophet —but not, curiously, in his own country.

When Nasser died five years ago, his...

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