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Egypt: PM Mahlab faces social media impersonators | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egypt’s Housing Minister Ibrahim Mahlab talks during an interview with the media in Cairo in this September 3, 2012 file photo. (Reuters)

Egypt's Housing Minister Ibrahim Mahlab talks during an interview with the media in Cairo in this September 3, 2012 file photo. (Reuters)

Ibrahim Mahlab talks during an interview with the media in Cairo in this September 3, 2012, file photo. (Reuters)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab does not have a Facebook or Twitter account, Cabinet Advisor for Media Affairs Sherif Shawky confirmed on Monday, denouncing existing social media accounts attributed to Mahlab as false.

Shawky said that Mahlab does not and will not have any personal social media account and that any official statements from him will be published on the Egyptian Cabinet’s official website or Facebook page.

At least six Twitter accounts purporting to belong to Egypt’s new prime minister have emerged on the social media website, most following his appointment as prime minister, but some predating that.

One account, which has a total of 9,446 followers, has a tweet that reads: “Welcome to the official Twitter page of the Prime Minister of #Egypt, Ibrahim Mahlab,” in both Arabic and English. The final and most recent tweet, dated March 1, reads in Arabic: “On my way to the presidential palace to take the oath of office.”

Other accounts include tweets purporting to be from the prime minister about the Cabinet reshuffle, including purported insider information about who would be given which ministerial portfolio, as well as gratitude towards popular Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for his “big role” in helping form the new cabinet.

The majority of accounts appeared to be genuine attempts to fool people, complete with accurate information regarding the prime minister’s movements and tweets praising the Egyptian government and people.

But one account explicitly confirms itself as a “verified parody” and included a patently satirical take on Egyptian politics. In response to a question as to whether he’d ever gotten into trouble with the police, the parody Ibrahim Mahlab replies: “That’s old news . . . Give it a couple of months and I’ll be in prison.”

Egyptian government officials are not usually known for their presence on social media, although former president Mohamed Mursi was famously active on Facebook and Twitter during his presidency.

There are also a number of so-called “official” Ibrahim Mahlab Facebook accounts. The majority of these accounts also seem to be bogus, containing pictures of the new prime minister and messages calling for the Egyptian people to support the new cabinet.

As with Twitter, there is also a parody Facebook account, this time purporting to belong to Ibrahim “Pasha” Mahlab. The account includes a message purported to be written to Mahlab from his father, in which Mahlab Senior says he is sending a coat to his son but can’t afford the buttons.

A quick glance at Twitter and Facebook throws up a number of falsified and parody accounts of top Egyptian politicians, including former President Mursi, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, interim President Adly Mansour and former Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei.