Thousands of Egyptians were taken aback when they saw gigantic banners on the streets of Cairo promoting former president Hosni Mubarak as a presidential candidate a few hours after he was sentenced to life in prison.
The banners, which bear the logo of the former ruling, and now disbanded, National Democratic Party, started circulating on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter with users assuming they were made and placed by former regime loyalists, the Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported.
After angry Egyptians tore several of the banners off, a group of youth claimed responsibility for the baffling action and announced it is part of an awareness campaign they decided to launch.
The banners are symbolic and serve to warn Egyptians against reproducing the former regime and bringing Mubarak back, said Mahmoud Ibrahim, a 25-year-old engineer and one of the organizers of the campaign.
“We were inspired by the results of the first round of the presidential elections which enabled Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to reach the run-off,” he told the paper. “We wanted to tell the people that if they vote for him, they will [essentially] have Mubarak as their president.”
Ibrahim said that he and other campaign organizers believe that the revolution is at war with the Mubarak regime and that the former needs to exert its utmost effort to conquer the second.
“People thought that former regime loyalists had made the banners and they tore them all off.”
The organizers, he explained, paid for the banners from their own pockets.
“Each 10 banners cost 4,500 Egyptian pounds ($750).”
Ibrahim noted that although the initial reaction towards the banners was quite violent, he, along with the organizers, later received requests to create more banners and put them up in several neighborhoods in Cairo.
“Many people are now realizing the importance of showing people the similarities between Mubarak and Shafiq and the dangers of voting for the latter.”
The initiative brought to mind a similar one launched by Tunisian activists who put up banners of former president Zein El Abedine bin Ali in the capital Tunis.
The banner, they explained, was meant to instigate people into taking part in the elections to avoid seeing the return of the former regime.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)