Egypt is gearing up for its presidential elections next year. As campaigns are off to a head start, so too is the mudslinging. The latest smear campaign is targeted at opposition leader and potential presidential candidate, Mohamed ElBaradei. However, instead of maligning ElBaradei himself, the smear campaign dishes out its unscrupulous attack on Laila ElBaradei, his daughter.
The defamatory campaign, in which an anonymous Facebook page was created, featuring pictures of Laila wearing a swimsuit and attending a party where alcohol was served, has made headlines for the past week. The Facebook page, containing an album of 33 photos, was apparently taken from Laila’s personal Facebook profile, and was reposted on another Facebook page without her knowledge under the title “Secrets of ElBaradei family.” The pictures were also reprinted by some Egyptian newspapers, including a local independent daily Al-Youm Al-Sabei, which later deleted them from its website.
The anonymous party who posted the pictures had this to say:
“I’d like to introduce myself: I am a friend of Dr. Mohamed El Baradei’s daughter, Laila, and have known her for a long time. When I first heard that Dr. El Baradei may run in the presidential elections; I was shocked. What shocked me the most was his unprecedented visits to the mosques, since I know that Dr. Mohammed and his family do not embrace any religion. This empowered me to speak-out and tell the truth.”
It is not quite clear who created the Facebook page, but ElBaradei is laying blame on President Mubarak’s regime. A spokesman for the President’s National Democratic Party condemned the pictures, calling them “character assassination,” and denying any government involvement.
This is obviously an attempt to discredit ElBaradei’s campaign in the eyes of thousands of conservative Muslim voters. As the “friend” of Mohamed ElBaradei implies, this tasteless campaign is meant to relay the message that Laila’s values are not consistent with Islam and thus her father’s values must be lacking, as well. In addition to the pictures, attention was called to Laila’s personal Facebook page, which lists her religion as “agnostic” rather than “Muslim.” Instead of discrediting ElBaradei by showing how he himself does not “embrace any religion,” the focus is put on his daughter to prove this point.