Egyptian woman made famous by ‘leaked’ Mubarak photo threatens to sue anyone who uses it

Nutritionist Helly El-Saadani and a heavier Hosni Mubarak together in an image that has sent Egyptian commentators into a spin. (Social media)
Updated 02 September 2018

Egyptian woman made famous by ‘leaked’ Mubarak photo threatens to sue anyone who uses it

  • Debate around the image rages from price of his furniture to the state of the economy
  • Nutritionist who appears with the former ruler insists the photo was private and leaked from her phone

CAIRO: A leaked photo of the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has sparked a frenzied debate in Egypt, ranging from his health to the state of the country’s economy. 

Mubarak, 90, who was driven from power in 2011 after massive Arab Spring protests against his rule, appeared next to Helly El-Saadani, a nutritionist. The former ruler looked to be showing his age but had also put on a significant amount of weight.

Egyptians have pored over the image in forensic detail to try to glean as much information as possible about Mubarak’s health and situation. 

The image was a far cry from when he was wheeled into a court room on a hospital gurney during legal proceedings after the uprising.

El-Saadani told Arab News that the picture was private and leaked without her “permission and consent.”

“If anyone uses it again I will sue them,” she said in a statement. “I hope the news respects the privacy of people from now on.”

After the leak, El-Saadani reposted the picture herself on her Twitter account and said: “I took this picture with President Mubarak because I love him and I respect him very much. It was a dream come true to have met him.

“He asked me not to publish this picture, but somehow the picture was stolen from my phone and was leaked by someone close to me. Shame.”

Doubts have been expressed on social media about whether the picture was actually leaked or whether she published it herself. 

Some people claimed that it is illogical that this picture in particular, which appears to send a statement about Mubarak’s wellbeing, was stolen and leaked.

El-Saadani responded that it was leaked because she has no PIN code for her phone.

Some Egyptians took the opportunity of the picture’s release to ask Mubarak’s eldest son, Alaa, via his Twitter account, about his father’s health, to which he responded: “Thank God, thank God, my father is fine.”

One of the Egyptian daily newspapers published a report discussing the chair upon which Mubarak was sitting in the picture. The report said that the La-Z-Boy recliner he was using is worth around 24,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,329).

This angered Alaa Mubarak, who described the article as “another level of hostility, stupidity and repression.”

He said the newspaper preferred to ignore all the problems of the people and instead worked hard to find the price of a chair. 

“Things will never improve if you don’t respect the intelligence of the people,” he said.

The statement had more than 3,000 retweets and a lot of supportive comments. One person said that if Mubarak was still president, the chair would have cost a lot less in Egyptian money because of the collapse of the Egyptian pound in the years after he had been ousted.

Alaa Tounsi, a beauty expert, confirmed that Mubarak was completely free of cosmetics in the image. Ahmed Riad, an expert in reading body language and facial expressions, said: “He has an open body language, and his face shows comfort, happiness, tranquility and inner peace.”

Islam Shawki, a graphic designer, said that the picture was real and had not been doctored or altered, denying rumors in some newspapers stating that the image was “fabricated.” 

Former President Mubarak appeared in public for the first time since his resignation two years ago with his family in a tourist resort. 

He appeared in the picture smiling and in good health, hugging his granddaughter, and sitting next to his son Jamal in a car.

There have been many rumors about Mubarak’s health over the years, with false reports of his death spread through social networks.

The former president stood trial on charges of killing demonstrators during the uprising. The Misdemeanor Court ordered his release on Aug. 21, 2013.

He was acquitted on Nov. 29, 2014, of all the charges against him before the Court of Appeal in Cairo.

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in border clashes: Gaza ministry

Updated 24 September 2018

Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in border clashes: Gaza ministry

GAZA CITY: Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian in fresh clashes on the Gaza border Sunday, the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave said.
Imad Ishtawi, 21, was shot in the head, the ministry said, as Palestinians again gathered along the border east of Gaza City late Sunday in the latest in months of often violent demonstrations.
The strip’s rulers Hamas had been rumored to be seeking a lasting truce with Israel but the indirect talks have seemingly stalled, with protests subsequently increasing in number.
In recent weeks the demonstrations, which typically involve burning tires and throwing stones, have also taken place at night, though with far smaller numbers than the regular Friday daytime gatherings.
At least 186 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests began on March 30.
One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade of Gaza for more than a decade it says is necessary to isolate Hamas.