Controlling the press and torturing journalists during Mubarak’s Presidency revealed

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 Rifaat Al-Mahgoub, President of the Egyptian People's Assembly,

A journalist was arrested for revealing the relationship between Boutros-Ghali, and Shimon Peres

By Iqbal Tamimi


Egyptian journalist, Mohammed Fareed Zakaria, revealed that the leadership of the National Party leaked the rumour that Farouk Hosni, the former Egyptian Minister of Culture is gay, and that Mubarak killed the former President of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, Rifaat Al-Mahgoub, because he said to Saddam Husain, “You are the leader of the nation”, and the President of SSI tortured Zakaria because he revealed that Boutros-Ghali’s wife is the sister of Shimon Perez’s wife and Peres’s wife is spying on Egypt through her sister.

Following the step down of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, on 11 February 2011, the Egyptian press has changed dramatically and many hidden stories about the former corrupt regime and its control over the press started to surface. As an example, a very interesting article published on Sunday, June 19 by the Egyptian newspaper, Alyoum Elsabi, (the Seventh Day), revealing the complex relationship between the Press and the former political system of Egypt. It seems the coming days will witness more shocking revelations of further controversial issues.

Few days earlier, Mahfouz Al- Ansari, editor-in-chief of Algomhuria newspaper ‘The Republic’, disclosed information about a phone call made by Gamal Mubarak, the son of former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, to Algomhuria newspaper, following that phone call, Al Ansari found himself jobless.  While columnist Zakaria, former Vice-Chairman of the Liberal Party and former chairman of Shabab Al-Ahrar newspaper ‘Young Liberals’ said during an interview for Alyoum El-Sabei ‘the Seventh Day’ newspaper, that the Mubarak presidency era was infested with corruption,  that he personally suffered a great deal as a journalist while trying to expose these vices to the public, and that the SSI was in full control of most political parties in Egypt and in control of the Egyptian press, and that the SSI used to threaten whoever violates it’s instructions by torture, detention and exile.

Zakaria said ‘I was a founding member of the Liberal Party with Mr. Mustafa Kamil Murad, and I took office as Secretary of the youth in the party in 1989. I was appointed as Chairman of the Board of the newspaper of Sabab Al-Ahrar, ‘young Liberals’, which had a reputation for publishing hot topics, but the newspaper was subjected to a great deal of injustice when  Zaki Badr, the former interior minister, was in office, and it’s about time that he speaks out about the agony he went through to deliver the news to the people.

Zakaria told The Seventh Day that he was the president of the Board of Directors for the newspaper for three years, and that during the Mubarak’s presidency the newspaper has been subjected to confiscation four times.

He claims that the SSI arrested him once for publishing a story entitled “a Scandal for the Egyptian Government: the  Egyptian Prime Minister’s Deputy, is married to the sister of Shemon’s wife”.  The minister he was talking about is Boutros-Ghali, and ‘Shemon’ is Shimon Peres who was at that time the Prime Minister of Israel.

Zakaria says “I wrote that Peres’s wife is spying on Egypt through her sister, Boutros-Ghali’s wife. In that article I have revealed formally, an official spying operation through this unusual relationship between the two governments, especially that Ghali’s wife used to spend three months every year in Israel at the house of her sister. This news article coincided with the election campaign of Boutros-Ghali as Secretary-General of the United Nations, which Ghali considered as a declaration of war on his candidacy, that’s why I was arrested and tortured until I lost 60% of my left eye sight. Major General Mustafa Abdel Qader, head of the former State Security Investigation, supervised my torture and I was released from prison only after suffering a heart attack”.

Zakaria also revealed: “I have received an invitation from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to attend one of the festivals at which Mubarak was present, as well as Taha Yassin Ramadan, the leading Iraqi Baathist, and many of the princes and royal family members of the Gulf. I have handed each and every Arab leader at the event, a copy of the newspaper issue that carried this story, and I told them that Boutros-Ghali carries an Egyptian nationality but he has a Zionist identity”.

Regarding how Zakaria found out about this story, he said: “the Party vice-chairman, the late Dr. Ahmed Al-Sayed Darwish, who was a former minister and the personal doctor of both late Presidents, Gamal Abdel Nasser and  Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat,  gave me the end of thread and I kept investigating the story for six months, travelling between Cairo and Alexandria, and when I became sure of the story I published the article, and I wrote that there was a Jewish millionaire in Alexandria, who was an owner of sweets factories and his name was Nadler, and that Nadler had two daughters; the first married Shimon Peres and the second daughter married Boutros-Ghali”. Then “Boutros-Ghali, came to visit the Party Headquarters and complained about me to Mustafa Kamel Murad, and told him Mohammed Fareed Zakaria is a mole, aiming to abort my nomination for the United Nations”.

Zakaria talked about the confiscation of magazines and newspaper during Mubarak’s presidency, he said: “One of the issues confiscated contained an article entitled ‘One of the Ministers is a Homosexual’. The minister in question was Farouk Hosni. The story was, that one of the highest ranking leaders of the National Party leaked this information to a colleague, the journalist Mahmoud Ismail.  I was worried about what might happen to Ismail and the consequences of publishing the story under his name, so I published the article under my name, and I offered Ismail an open leave, so that he will not be subjected to state security harassment and their oppressive treatment. I rewrote the article myself and signed it, and published and circulated the newspaper edition during the night. At that time, I was the candidate for the alliance between the Brotherhood and the Labour Party and the Liberals for the Shubra province in Cairo, but when I returned home, I was shocked to find the state troops besieging my house, so I returned to where I came from, but they confiscated the issues and they stopped the train which was carrying the newspaper’s copies to the city of Minya, but I managed to smuggle two hundred copies. Following that, negotiations were held with the SSI, who demanded changing the main title and replace the story with any other story.  They suggested printing the newspaper again at the expense of the SSI, and we had an argument about the distribution of the newspaper.

We found out later that the source of the leak was a leader in the National Party who used to hate Farouk Hosni. He wanted to leak the rumour to take revenge on Farouk Hosni because he refused to join the National Party. Then I and Mr. Mustafa Kamel Murad met Hosni and explained to him everything and apologized to him.

Another confiscation story was about the assassination of Dr.Rifaat Al-Mahgoub, former Chairman of the People’s Assembly. Zakaria claims his newspaper published a news article confirming the involvement of Husni Mubarak in Al-Mahgoub’s assassination because of Al-Mahgoub’s strong opposition to the attempts of privatization and because Al-Mahgoub told the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, “The region needs a leader who fills the place of Gamal Abdel Nasser to reunite the Arab states, and there are nobody but you who can do that”. Zakaria said “This statement aroused Mubarak’s resentment that he got rid of Al-Mahgoub forever”.

Those are only few examples of the tense relationship between the press and the former political leadership in Egypt, and I can see more shocking stories published from now on, after the barrier of fear has been broken.

Iqbal Tamimi is Director of Arab Women Media Watch in UK


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