Posters showing former chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Sami Anan wearing civilian clothes in what seems to be election campaign posters have gone viral. Are they the trailer for the real bid, a rumour or a way to test the waters and feel the pulse of the Egyptian street?
Anan was previously a prominent member of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which ran Egypt in the interim period between the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak and the election of the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. On August 12, 2012, Anan too was ousted by Morsi. Now, rumour has it that Anan is tempted to join the presidential race, penciled in for 2014.
In September 2013, news surfaced that he was officially a candidate for the presidential elections, only to be denied a few hours later by the man himself, saying that “now is not the appropriate moment.”
For the last couple of days, Egyptian netizens have been commenting on the new pictures of Sami Anan wearing civilian clothes in what clearly appears as campaign posters.
The first one among them even carried a clear campaign slogan Nothing indicates if those photographs come from an official, semi-official or an unofficial source.
First, it was about analysing what this could mean on a political level, especially vis-à-vis the campaign urging the current Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defence General Abdel Fattah Al Sissi to step up as candidate.
Famous Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh tweets:
Sisi hates Sami Anan who looks like he's running for president. Also many accuse him of collaborating with the MB till they reached power.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) November 3, 2013
Egyptian political analyst specializing in Egyptian army history Tewfik Aclimondos provides an additional insight [fr]:
Une info de youm 7 dit que le général Sami Inâne sera le candidat à la présidence des foulouls, les ennuis judiciaires de Shafiq étant plus sérieux qu'on ne le pensait. Si c'est exact, cela confirme les tensions entre les foulouls et al Sissi. Faut toutefois manier l'info avec prudence: Inâne a été présenté aussi; il y a quelques semaines, comme le candidat des frères. Deux choses sont certaines: il veut être candidat et son électorat sera contre révolutionnaire.
“News from the newspaper Al Yom al Sab'a (The Seventh Day) indicates that Sami Anan will be the felools'(remnants of the old regime) candidate as Ahmad Shafik's (Former presidential candidate and Mubarak's last prime minister) judiciary problems seem bigger than expected. If this is true, then it confirms the complicated relationship between the felool and general Al Sissi. One has to be cautious though: a few weeks ago, Anan has been presented as the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate. We can be sure of two things though: he wants to be a candidate and his voters will be counter-revolutionary
The Egyptian habit of mocking everything is untameable and Anan quickly became a laughing stock.
Twitter's favourite punch-liner Hecham Mansour quipped [ar]:
سامي عنان، أنا ممكن يكون عندي زهايمر، بس الواحد يحمد ربنا إنه ماعندوش زهايمر 2014
— Hesham Mansour (@Heshoz) November 5, 2013
Sami Anan, I may have Alzheimer but thank God for not having it
Anan's photographs became so popular that a hashtag [ar] #صور_سامي_عنان (#PicturesOfSamiAnan), a Facebook page (The Sami Anan presidential campaign so that we can learn Photoshop) and even a tumblr were created.
Egyptian blogosphere was literally flooded with images, comments and jokes.
Some seemed to love it:
The Samy Enan for president memes are killing me. Hilarious ضحك هيستيرى pic.twitter.com/RNazs95zt2
— Dalia Ezzat (@DaliaEzzat_) November 7, 2013
… while others have clearly had enough:
Enough of Sami Anan memes for God sake ya people
— Zeinobia (@Zeinobia) November 7, 2013
The Sami Anan for President meme is the new Hazem Salah Abu Ismail meme. In the sense that neither are really all that funny. #Egypt
— Matt Bradley (@MattMcBradley) November 8, 2013
The resurgence of such a rumour is even more interesting knowing that Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy has just announced that parliamentary voting will take place in February or March 2014, and the presidential poll in the ‘early summer'.
Anan may not be a candidate, let alone president, but he's already an iconic meme for Egyptian netizens.