CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak’s 80th birthday was marked by an assortment of “statements Sunday with Egyptians around the country “celebrating in their own way; whether with headlines like “Why we love you Mr President, heightened security or by dressing in black.
More than any other year, Egyptians were divided between glorifying the president and criticizing his rule.
Billboards erected across the capital carried a pro-government message indirectly criticizing the strike: “Youth Build, They Don’t Destroy.
State-owned newspapers Al-Ahram and Akhbar Al-Youm had both dedicated their front pages to Mubarak, with full-page pictures of him.
Akhbar Al-Youm’s editorial by editor-in-chief Momtaz El Kot cites the many reasons why Egyptians love the president and how much he gave the country in the past 27 years.
In addition to the lead story “The Day Egypt was reborn, Al-Ahram ran a special four-page supplement to mark the happy occasion, listing Mubarak’s achievements year-by-year since his appointment as Vice President to former President Anwar Sadat in 1972.
Independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm ran a five-page special titled “Mubarak: 1928-2008. It includes a section on his milestones as president, a report about political parties during his rule and a feature on the relationship between Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Another independent newspaper, El Badeel, ran an attractive headline: “Happy 80th year to you Mr President, with a subhead “Young people born during Mubarak’s rule: We hope to see another president before we die.
Groups on Facebook continued their call for a general strike protesting low wages and inflation to correspond with the President’s birthday. One group titled “Let’s be Civilized and Wear Black on May 4, called on all Egyptians to peacefully express their opinion.
“This is the second general strike in Egypt and I’m sure the number of people striking will increase due to the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, said Amr Ali, the creator of the group.
Facebook was used on April 6 as a tool to promote the strike action, which resulted in the imprisonment of the group’s administrator, Esraa Abdel Fattah, for three weeks.
But this didn’t set Ali and others back. On one group called ‘Ana Maserya,’ (I’m an Egyptian), the administrator wrote, “We are only asking for our rights and every citizen has the right to protest peacefully.
Tight security was evident around Downtown Cairo with police trucks lining the streets leading to Tahrir Square. However, there were no indications that people refrained from going to work as the day started off with the usual traffic jams, unlike the case on April 6.