Egypt’s Mubarak left a mixed legacy, mostly negative.

Hosny Mubarak who was fourth president of Egypt for thirty years left a mixed legacy. He opened the door for changing the personality cult of a president and improved economy; regionally he played a major role in 1990 in building Egypt lead regional coalition forces to liberate Kuwait and was one of several architects who helped the Palestinians and Israelis to reach a peace agreement in 1993.

Interviewing President Mubarak, Qubbah Palace, Cairo 1988. But he was responsible for wide corruption and ending 160 years of modernity paving the way for the islamisation of Egypt and ending secular liberalism. I met him several times and this is my personal view as a historian .

RIP Hosny Mubark (4 May 1928- 25 February 2020), former air-force bomber pilot ( and spent two years in a spitfire squadron) , leader of the Egyptian national party and fourth president of Egypt (served 1981-2011).

As a president he tried ( mostly from 2003) to reform & allowed others to stand opposing him in ( always since 1958) rigged elections. But it was too late to unlock the disastrous legacy he left.  He also paved the way for Islamisation of Egypt  by deliberately encouraging for Islāmic evangelists TV channels  in a naïve attempt to balance his bloody battle against Islāmic terrorists. He won the battle by brutal force, but Egypt’s secular and liberal society was lost for good. His ill-advised move to make the ruling regime seem more Islāmic than the Islamists hardliners undermining  most secular aspects of the states ( in 2000 he passed laws banning modern tradition like serving alcohol in public in  , and turned a blind eye on finance give to extremists Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood), badly backfired and turned Egyptian society into a backward water ending 160 years of modernity that started by Muhammed Ali Dynasty rule ( 1805-1953). The Latter years of his regime were marred by corruption. His wife mostly generated his downfall by trying to get his equally corrupt son to take over. Lived in internal wars exclusive exile since his removal by the army at the end of an 18 day uprising in January/February 2011 marking the end of Egypt’s “first republic “ (1953-2011) . The First Republic was established following an illegal army coup in July 1952 by army officers led by lt Gen Mohammed Nguib (1901-1984) & lt colonel Gamal Nasser (1918-1970).

His most effective leadership moments in the region and internationally was to influence Arab league in August 1990 to vote by  majority for Egypt project leading  Arab forces to join the UK-USA led coalition forces to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation ( 2ndAugust 1990 – 25 February 1991). The second important role was to influence the late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat to sign the peace agreement with Israel in 1993 on the White House Lawn following secrete negotiations in Oslo. He , with the late  King Hussein of Jordan pressurised Mr Arafat to denounce violent struggle and recognise the Israel in 1988. I met him on the eve of his visit to London, which was part of British, Egyptian Jordanian efforts to get the Palestinians to end the state of war and recognise the Jewish State.

Interviewing the late Mubarak of Egypt at the Qubbah palace in East Cairo on the eve of his 1988 visit to UK. We exchanged jokes, and I realised he had a good sense of humour and understood British sarcasm . His wife was wife was Welsh. He said to me: “I love to get a Panama hat like yours”. I replied, “I would happily say ‘ itfadal’ (meaning you can have it), but I am afraid it won’t fit your excellency’s big head !”. He roared with laughter saying ‘”this is a good pun” . I said, “and it is copyrighted too . you can’t use it.” He laughed again adding ” have you considered selling jokes and puns at cafes as a second career”? I said good one Mr president, but I am afraid, it is still 2:1 to Fleet street side”. So, after a short laugh he said .. ” hah… 3:1, then, let us get down to business before we lose the wits match” !

 

 

 

 

 

The Sheikh who Perfected TV Evangelism To Islamise Egyptian Society

First Published in JUne 1998, when I wrote it then, it was three years before 9/11 and seven years before Islamists terrorist bombed London Transport System, 14 years before Muslim Brotherhood took control of Egypt and 15 years before the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL was declared a caliphate. But when I revisited this Obituary of Egypt Best known Islamic TV Evangelist, it was events foretold. The seeds of jihadism were sown by intellectual means, by changing the way of thinking and the collective mind. It was and still going on, the Islamisation of a Society by stealth.
Egypt best Known Islamic  cleric Mohammed Metawali Sharawi, who died at the age of 87 on 17th June 1998, got his chance of stardom at the age of 59, in the last year of the late autocratic President Nasser’s rule, when he took part in the country’s first ever televised Islamic religious discussion programme , nour ala nour ” Light upon Light” presented by Ahmed Farrag  a handsome news-anchor but a failed cinema actor who had gone to make a career in television religious programme.
Continue reading

The late Scribe of Cairo, remembered on his 12th Anniversary

On the 12th  anniversary of the Nobel Laureate “Scribe of Cairo” death – his obituary revisited, first penned as obituary on 30 August 2006 

The death on 29 August 2006  of Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz generated a quarrel between historians, literary critics and Egyptians on one side, and Arab journalists on the other. It was a re-run of the 1988 controversy, when Mafouz won the world’s most prestigious award–the Nobel Prize for literature–to the outrage of Arab nationalists who had condemned the author for his support of the late President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiative with Israel.

Continue reading

Egypt’s Iconic Songstress and Actress Shadia Dies

Egypt iconic golden age of entertainment songstress and actress Shadia died aged 86 in Cairo hospital Tuesday 28 November closing a chapter of an unmatched history of culture, art, music, theatre and film that the Nile banks are unlikely to witness in our life time, Adel Darwish writes.

The star, once a pinup girl for Egypt post-war years (until the late 1970s) school boys, acted in over 100 films at a time when Egypt film industry was not only on par with world great cinema product   churning  centres like India, Soviet Cinema and Hollywood, but also secured Egyptian cultural dominance all over the Arabic speaking nations, making Egyptian language (although rich with Arabic words, it is a distinctively different from Arabic with rich mixed vocabulary from her  old pharaonic, Coptic-which is Afro-Asiatic Nilotic-, Greek and later many Mediterranean words from Latin, French, Turkish and Jewish-ladino) the dominant language of popular entertainment, popular culture and performing arts of the area extending between the Atlas Mountains in North West Africa to the straits of Hormuz.

Continue reading

Understanding the Escalating Saudi Iranian Row

Our media led by BBC try to simplify the latest diplomatic crisis in the Middle East – which led to severing of diplomatic relations between Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran ( with two other countries following the Saudis action)- into Shia-Sunni sectarian rivalry resulting from the execution of Iran backed Shia cleric. This is a load of nonsense which leads to misunderstanding and misleading public opinion. It is far more complicated as many forces who adhere to the Shia faith (Morocco shia sects and those in North Africa nd Sudan) back KSA, while trends and forces who are devote Sunnis are backing Iran against the Saudis (Turkey for example is Sunni, so are Hamas and many Palestinian factions as well as the Muslim Brotherhood are all Sunni hardliners but are against Saudi Arabia especially in Yemen but are also against Assad in Syria.
Continue reading

Farewell and RIP Richard Beeston, Fleet Street Brave Soul

It is with aching heart and weeping soul that I started hacking this piece to remember my dear old friend and colleague Richard Beeston ( Feb 18, 1963, May 19, 2013) a son of great journalist by the same name – who, alongside his late wife- reported, and became part of a body of extraordinary people  contributing to  an important chapter of Britain’s post Imperial history in the Middle East- and in his footsteps Richard followed.

Continue reading