Update: January 25 celebration postponed after Saudi king’s death
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
 

The president’s office declared a nationwide seven-day period of mourning for the death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on Thursday night, state-owned television channels reported on Friday.

The privately owned news site Egyptian Streets reported that celebrations for Police Day and the fourth anniversary of the January 25, 2011 revolution on Sunday would be canceled. 

Later in the day, Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam al-Qawish confirmed that Sunday’s celebrations would be postponed, the state-owned news site Ahram Gate reported.

Throughout the week of mourning, the Egyptian flag will fly at half-mast at embassies and government outposts around the world.

The Saudi king passed away at the age of 90 after being hospitalized in December for pneumonia. Saudi Arabia released a statement on Friday declaring that his half-brother Crown Prince Salman would be the successor to the throne.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi decided to cut his trip to Switzerland short in order to attend the funeral procession in Saudi Arabia. However, bad weather made it impossible for the president to leave the country.

In his stead, Sisi sent Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to attend the funeral, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Sisi said he would visit Saudi Arabia at a later date to offer his condolences.

Before Abdul Aziz’ death, Sisi had visited Saudi Arabia on his way back from the United Arab Emirates to “check on the king’s health.”

The last time that Sisi announced an official mourning period was following the deaths of 22 security force personnel after a militant attack in North Sinai. However, there were only three days of mourning for the security forces.

Several social media users reacted with derision to the announcement of the mourning period.

Shahira Amin, a freelance journalist, tweeted, “Unprecedented! Egypt announces seven days of mourning for death of Saudi monarch! We have never had more than three days of mourning for anyone before.”

“In the best metaphor for Egypt’s political trajectory yet, Sisi has canceled #Jan25 anniversary festivities due to Saudi king’s death,” freelance journalist Louisa Loveluck tweeted.

Political analyst Hafsa Halawa tweeted, “7 days of mourning in Egypt for King Abdullah… what happens when Mubarak dies?”

Other countries took even more drastic measures, with Bahrain and Jordan announcing 40 days of mourning. Tunisia and Algeria each declared three days of official mourning.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and, to a lesser extent, Kuwait have become Egypt’s chief financial backers since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

According to figures from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the three countries pledged Sisi an excess of US$12 billion in aid over the course of a year. This reportedly included an estimated US$9.5 billion in grants for the purchase of fuel supplies.

Sisi previously called Abdul Aziz “the wise man,” and “the elder of all Arabs for his role in supporting and aiding Egypt.” 

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