What is happening in Egypt these days can be described as a political strip show. Everybody is stripping everybody. You no longer need to come up with documents that condemn your adversary and throw them out of the arena with a fatal blow.
In the weekly issue of al-Wafd newspaper, issued on Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood was accused in an interview with Dr. Gamal Shakra of planning to assassinate dissident presidential candidate Abdel Monein Abul Fotouh and bringing in weapons via the Red Sea for that purpose. This is a serious accusation and its source can be taken to court if not enough evidence is presented. But this is the kind of political striptease we have been witnessing in the past two months. People say anything and everything without proof.
The Muslim Brotherhood decided to sue the paper for those accusations and al-Wafd’s chairman Sayed al-Badawi decided to cancel the weekly issue altogether to save himself the hassle.
TV presenter Azza Mustafa blushed as Sheikh Gamal Saber, the coordinator of the electoral campaign of former Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, kept praising her. While she was thanking him for his compliments, he flashed two documents which he claimed proved her to be Jewish. After looking at the papers, which had the photo of another presenter anyway, Mustafa kicked him out of the studio. She, however, said that she was not going to sue him because what he did is part of this trend in Egypt when disagreements are resolved by slander.
Strategic experience did not rescue former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman from political strip shows even though his campaign was based on the traditional military rule that offense is the best defense and despite his threats to reveal the contents of his “black box.” Others also threatened to reveal the bits in that black box that concern Suleiman himself. One of the journalists wrote that Omar Suleiman, and his deputy General Abdel Salam al-Mahgoub, who later became governor of Ismailia and Alexandria then minister of local development during Mubarak’s time, abducted former Libyan Foreign Minister Mansour al-Kikhia in 1995. According to the story, Kikhia was drugged and taken in a diplomatic car to Tubruk and from there he was transferred in a plane to the Abu Salim prison where he was killed.
Because of the success of this mission, the journalist claimed, Mahgoub occupied several prestigious positions and the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi gave him and Suleiman suitcase “as heavy as the Kikhia himself” and which contained their reward in dollars for the mission. I personally have no idea whether Kikhia was fat or thin!
This story cannot be verified, for the only source is a book by a Lebanese journalist who is also the editor-in-chief of a Beirut-based newspaper. Therefore, it can have grave legal consequences. What is striking is that the editor-in-chief of the newspaper that ran the story is very close to Omar Suleiman and conducted a long interview with him about his presidential campaign. Yet after he was ousted from the race by the Presidential Elections Committee, Suleiman immediately became a tempting subject for political striptease especially for those who want to suck up to his detractors.
Islamists also throw a striptease party for the judges of the elections commission. They started with the commission head, also the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and who was said to be a former army officer that reached this prestigious officer owing to his close relationship with Mubarak and was accused of being the judge behind the verdicts that nationalized syndicates during the past few years. His colleagues were not spared also. All this was in retaliation for the exclusion from Salafi candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater regardless of the fact that they also excluded Omar Suleiman for whom the political isolation draft law was especially tailored.
There was not one presidential candidate that was spared a striptease. Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh was said to have been recruited by State Security at the time of late president Anwar Sadat to spy on his Nasserist and Leftist colleagues. Mohamed Salim al-Awa was alleged to be a Shiite Syrian while Amr Moussa’s foreign half-brother was used against him yet he managed to get out of it in the most diplomatic manner.
The writer is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya Net. This article was first published in al-Gomhuriya and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid