With the onset of a new regime, a new government, jail sentences and dropped charges, and preparations for a parliamentary elections, the year 2014 has seen old familiar faces making a comeback in the public sphere. Meanwhile, some newcomers who only gained notoriety in the last three years gradually faded into the background.
In the biggest comeback of the year, on November 29 former President Hosni Mubarak was acquitted on charges of killing protestors in the 2011 uprising. Even prior to being granted his presumed innocence, in October Mubarak was giving interviews to newspapers such as the privately owned Al-Watan, in which he expressed sadness over not being mentioned in the celebrations of the October 6 War anniversary. He waved to his adoring crowd from his hospital room, who even prepared a cake for his birthday in May. Following his acquittal, a group of people gathered once again outside the military hospital where Mubarak is being held, donning shirts with the former president’s face, lighting fireworks and cheering for him.
Another old regime figure who is currently enjoying his freedom is steel tycoon and former secretary general of the dissolved National Democratic Party, Ahmed Ezz, who was released on bail in August. Ezz had received a 37-year prison sentence for monopolizing the steel industry, but later won his appeals, although he is still required to pay a LE10 million fine. After his release, speculations over Ezz’s return to politics started flooding media outlets. He reportedly informally promised the workers of one of his factories in his electoral constituencey of Monufiya that he would run for parliament after they allegedly pleaded with him to do so. The charity foundation Ezz established in Monufiya has reportedly also been active as of late, handing out blankets and other commodities to the people in the governorate.
After returning to the spotlight for the first time in 2011, when he served as prime minister from December 2011 until August 2012, veteran politician Kamal al-Ganzouri was criticized for being a remnant of the old regime. The 81-year-old had originally served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999. However, this year he is proving that it is never too late to start back up again. Ganzouri is currently at the center of the political alliances forming ahead of the parliamentary elections given his position as the head of the Egyptian Front, an electoral alliance projected to win the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections.
After losing to Mohamed Morsi in the 2012 presidential elections, Ahmed Shafiq hung his head in shame and took off to the United Arab Emirates, where he has been residing ever since. However, after being cleared of corruption charges, Shafiq should be booking his plane back to Cairo any minute now in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections. As recently as December 20, Shafiq was elected as the head of the Egyptian National Movement Party, a party he founded in 2013 despite not even being in the country. Shafiq Skyped in to thank the members of his party for voting him as president.
After being a diplomat to the minister of international cooperation, 2014 was a good comeback year for Fayza Abouelnaga, who broke into Egypt’s security sector by being appointed the president’s national security advisor. Abouelnaga’s appointment was highly controversial, since she had launched a vicious campaign against civil society organizations and their sources of funding in 2012, and sparked an international conflict by accusing the United States of funding Egyptian NGOs to carry out a plot for Egypt’s downfall. Abouelnaga had refused to carry out her position as minister under the Muslim Brotherhood, and remained outside of the political sphere until her appointment in November.
The year also saw a number of disappearances from the public sphere.
Despite serving at a critical time of the country’s history, former interim President Adly Mansour remains the most adored president of recent times, possibly due to his teddy-bearish facial expressions. Just recently, he was named as the person of the year among political figures by the privately owned newspaper Youm7’s poll, despite his disappearance during the last six months. After firing off a rapid slew of new laws before handing over power to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in June 2014, Mansour took his honorary medal and retreated back to the quiet life, depriving the masses of the creative memes that he often inspired.
He made a comeback to television on MBC Masr in February 2014 after being pulled off the air by CBC in October 2013, but Bassem Youssef’s satirical show Al-Bernameg was finally terminated in June by Youssef himself, who cited pressure on both the show and the channel airing it. Although Youssef’s success as a host was short-lived, he resonated widely amongst Egyptians. Since his show’s termination, however, Youssef has remained away from the spotlight — although it seems as if his critics are still out for him, after it was recently reported that the host would be fined LE100 million for violating his contract with CBC.
Investigative reporter and talk show host Yosri Fouda called it quits for his show Akher Kalam, which used to air on the privately owned ONtv channel, in September. Fouda was heavily critical of the Armed Forces and presented several episodes on human rights violations and police abuses. His disappearance from the media landscape came amidst a tough crackdown, by the regime, on opposition views — with the detention of journalists and activists alike.