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Opinion: Abu Yousef’s Inkwell - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Egyptian Ministry of Education has promised to reinstate Mohamed ElBaradei’s name to the list of Nobel Prize laureates that appears in the fifth grade primary school curriculum. The ministry itself decided to remove his name from the list and taught Egypt’s children that there are three, not four, Egyptian Nobel laureates: former president Anwar El-Sadat, scientist Ahmed Zuwail and writer Naguib Mahfouz. Apparently the ex-president of the International Atomic Energy Agency ElBaradei has died.

Writers and newspapers objected to this fraudulent move and the ministry retracted its naive step, a step that can’t be taken by children in the fifth grade. “We have withdrawn Uncle Mohamed’s Nobel prize this year and will give it back to him next year, and don’t get annoyed about it!”

In the sixties, Abdul Aziz Al-Masaeed was one of the first and leading newspaper owners in Kuwait. For some reason, he used to hate the Deputy Ministry of Information Saleh Shehab. For this reason, he requested that all editors cut Shehab’s image out of any photo prior to publication. Sometimes, however, the man appeared in the middle of the photo instead of on the edges. How would they deal with that? Simple, they would blot Shehab’s image with ink to censor it.

Al-Masaeed was forced to stop this practice under duress because all of Kuwait came to know that the person who did not appear in the photograph was Saleh Shihab, and that the ridiculous ink spot in the middle of the picture was the result of a personal dispute between Al-Masaeed and Shehab; one that did not concern the readers or people. Thus, Shihab got out from under the ink, just as Mohamed ElBaradei was reinstated to the list of Nobel Prize laureates.

Until which grade did the ministry plan to erase ElBaradei from the school curriculum? Until which year did it intend to reduce Egypt’s share of the most important international prizes? Whilst many countries wish to belong to the family of countries who have won the prize, it is attached to a curse in Egypt: one Nobel laureate was assassinated, another was stabbed in the neck and one is blotted out with the ink of Abu Yousef Al-Masaeed – God have mercy on him.

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah

Samir Atallah is a prominent Lebanese journalist, author and political analyst.

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