I’m just surprised he didn’t blame it on the Mossad.
The first political scandal of Egypt’s fledgling electoral democracy erupted Monday after an Islamist lawmaker was expelled from his ultraconservative party, accused of fabricating a story that he was viciously beaten by masked gunmen.
Doctors said that the bandages on his face in fact covered up plastic surgery on his nose.
The lawmaker, Anwar el-Balkimy, had belonged to Al Nour, part of the ultraconservative Salafi movement — Egypt’s religious right — whose members typically condemn plastic surgery as sinful, along with most music and other popular entertainment.
At the private hospital where Mr. Balkimy was treated, doctors spoke out against what they called the brazenness of his lies.
But not before a solemn parade of his fellow lawmakers — including the speaker of the Parliament, Saad el-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s more mainstream Islamist movement — had visited Mr. Balkimy in his hospital room to express their sympathies. Also not before his colleagues in Al Nour had demanded the public questioning of the interior minister for his potential responsibility in the supposed attacks. State media reported that the ministry had sent a letter offering condolences.
Vain, self-aggrandizing and hypocritical politicians are, of course, as old as politics, even in Egypt. But for their foibles to blossom into public scandal requires conditions that are still a novelty here and elsewhere in the Arab world: lawmakers who win competitive elections with promises to honor their constituents, informants unafraid of extra-legal retribution from the powerful and a free press eager to expose the circus.
In this case, it took just 40 days since the Parliament was seated.
Nader Bakar, a spokesman for Al Nour, said that in expelling Mr. Balkimy the party was establishing the principle of accountability, requiring public officials whose wrongdoing interferes with their duties to apologize and bear the responsibility — something he said was common around the world, but still new in Egypt.
“We forced him, or more pushed him, to resign from the Parliament, and he kindly agreed,” Mr. Bakar said in an interview. “He signed an official apology to the general public; this is the official position. He acknowledged that his story wasn’t true.”
Mr. Bakr said the resignation would be submitted when Parliament reconvenes later this week.
Mr. Balkimy could not be reached for comment.
“We have always known that an individual could stick his nose in the people’s affairs,” one blogger wrote, in a summation printed in Al Masry Al Youm, an independent daily newspaper. “This is the first time the people stick themselves in an individual’s nose, by which I mean, Balkimy’s.”
Here’s a picture of the liar before his surgery.
Forget the nose. Looks like he was hit in the forehead by the rifle butts of masked gunmen.
Meanwhile, Anwar el-Balkimy, this one’s for you: