EGYPT

“If you give your son a country... you can only be Mubarak!”

 With the Egyptian presidential elections just a year away, criticism against the candidacy of Gamal Mubarak, son of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, is mounting. In a country where political expression is tightly controlled, Gamal’s opponents turn to wry humour to express themselves.

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 With the Egyptian presidential elections just a year away, criticism against the candidacy of Gamal Mubarak, son of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak, is mounting. In a country where political expression is tightly controlled, Gamal’s opponents turn to wry humour to express themselves.

This photo was sent to us by e-mail, but we don’t know where or when it was taken. Beneath a photomontage of Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal, the poster reads: “If you get your son a cell phone, you’re Latif [nice]. If you get him a car, you’re Karim [generous]. But if you give him and his friends a country and its people to play with, you can only be Mubarak [blessed]!”

 

“In Alexandria, activists who were removing pro-Gamal posters were beaten up by thugs"

Ismail Alexadrani is a human rights activist. He lives in Alexandria.

 

I personally haven’t seen this poster around, but the joke has existed since 2008. I don’t think this photo can have been taken in a public place. In Egypt, places where people gather in public are closely monitored by the police. If authorities catch an anti-Mubarak gathering, poster or sign in a café or restaurant, its owner and employees can get into serious trouble. Some historic cafés in central Cairo or Alexandria, where many known political opponents hang out, are notable exceptions – but you can be sure that there is a government agent or two eavesdropping between the tables.

The campaign against the power hand-down from Mubarak to his son is much more active on the Net, where it is relatively less risky for opponents to express themselves. A simple Google search is enough to find dozens of anti-Mubarak blogs posts, caricatures, forums or Facebook pages.

 Mostly, though, opponents are limited to removing or defacing the posters praising the ‘Raïs’ Mubarak and his prodigious son that can be found at every street corner. Some stick leaflets on them calling for citizens to sign the online petition launched by Mohamed El-Baradei [the former International Atomic Energy Agency director] against Gamal Mubarak’s candidacy. But even that is risky. In Alexandria, activists who were removing pro-Gamal posters were beaten up by thugs – probably local youths who wanted to suck up to authorities.”

 

This post was written with Sarra Grira, France 24 journalist.