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Egypt: “The Inevitable Mubarak Photoshopping Contest”

As the 2010 Peace Talks–the latest round of direct negotiations between leaders from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, and the United States–kicked off at the beginning of the month, Egyptian bloggers were already expressing skepticism about their outcome, as well as about the involvement of President Mubarak (who is often the target of protests in the country).

Though bloggers may view Mubarak one way, however, Egypt's most widely-circulated newspaper, Al Ahram, sees things differently.  As blogger WaELK reported on his blog, the paper, using relatively advanced Photoshop skills, placed Mubarak front and center in the lineup of heads of state:

The original photo showed American President Barack Obama front and center, with Mubarak at far left

Outrage at Al Ahram

Several bloggers were aghast at Al Ahram‘s actions. At the Eskandarany blog, Ismail Mohamed writes:

تعرفت على الاستاذ اسامة سرايا لأول مرة من خلال سلسلة مقالاته عن الدكتور البرادعي منذ شهور قليلة مضت ، والتي اعلن في أولها أن للدكتور البرادعي جنسية أخرى غير المصرية وانه ربما يكون غير متأكد من المعلومة – ووقتها كتبت وقلت لو مش رئيس تحرير الاهرام ( من أقدم الجرائد المصرية ) مش متأكد من معلومة عن رابع مصري يحصل على جائزة نوبل مين ممكن يبقى متأكد ! ومين يقولنا الحقيقة

I got to know Mr. Osama Saraya [the editor of Al Ahram] for the first time through the series of posts he wrote about El Baradei few months ago. He wrote there that Dr. El Baradei holds another nationality beside his Egyptian one, however he said that he is not pretty sure of this information. I then wrote wondering if the Editor in Chief of Al Ahram (one of the oldest newspapers in Egypt) is not sure about information related the fourth Egyptian Nobel laureate, then who on earth should be sure then! And who is supposed to tell us the truth then!

The blogger adds:

هذه المرة يعود اسامة سرايا للتبرير وكأن العالم كله على خطأ ووجهة نظره كرئيس تحرير وصحفي ومهني مخضرم هي المضبوطة ، فبعد ان نشر الاهرام الصورة المزيفة ( أو التعبيرية على حد قول اسامة سرايا ) للرئيس مبارك في مقدمة قادة وملوك والحقيقة هي ان الرئيس مبارك كان يقف في الخلف والرئيس الامريكي باراك أوباما في المقدمة .. جاء سرايا ليبرر ويقول ان الصورة تعبيرية لدور مصر ومبارك في القضية الفلسطينية التي كانت محور نقاش القادة المجتمعين

This time, Saraya comes back with justifications as if the whole world is wrong and it's only him – the experienced journalist and editor in chief – who is right. Just after Al Ahram published the doctored photographs – or what Saraya calls Symbolic Photographs – Saraya came to tell us that the photo showing president Mubarak in front of the other leaders is meant to symbolize Egypt and Mubarak's lead role in solving the Palestinian crisis.

Abou El Maaly Fayek, who blogs at Lokmet Eish, is surprised by what happened:

هل وصل الأمر بصحيفة مثل جريدة “الأهرام” أن تضع نفسها فى هذا المأزق الحرج ؟ لم أكن أتصور أن صحفيا مبتدئا أو كاتب هاو أو حتى صاحب مدونة على شبكة “الإنترنت” أن يضع نفسه فى هذا الموقف الذى أقل ما يوصف به أنه سخيف

Can't imagine a newspaper like Al-Ahram putting itself in such an embarrassing situation! I can't imagine a junior journalist, a hobby writer, or even a blogger to put himself in such position, a position that can be described in a best case scenario as a silly one.

“The Inevitable Mubarak Photoshopping Contest”

As a result of Al Ahram‘s creative reporting, bloggers, both in Egypt and abroad, have taken the opportunity to demonstrate their artistic skills, using Photoshop to further doctor the image.  A Facebook group collected some of the images, while others are posted on blogs.

Blogger Egyptian Chronicles shares a slew of images, including the one below, and notes:

There is a rumor in the Facebook that the state security is currently searching the man behind this , well they have have to search for the man behind the photos which are far more hilarious !!

"The talks were like a balady wedding," reads the blogger's caption

Lebanese blogger Beirut Spring adds his own contribution to what he dubs “the inevitable Mubarak Photoshopping Contest”:

"Keep walking Mubarak" says the blogger

Blogger Sarah Carr of Inanities, suggested that perhaps other historical events had been misrepresented as well.  Here is an example:

"الطريق الى الفضاء" ("The road to space")

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