Egyptian Lawmaker Resigns After Lying About Nose Job
The first political scandal of Egypt’s fledgling electoral democracy erupted on Monday after an Islamist lawmaker was expelled from his ultraconservative party for 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 forms of 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.