Egyptian authorities have arrested the founder of the pro-Mubarak Facebook page “Asef ya Raees” (Sorry Mr President) on charges of spreading fake news and misusing social media.
Last year Egypt’s parliament passed a law stipulating that social media accounts with upwards of 5,000 followers are to be treated as media outlets and can be blocked if they are suspected of publishing fake news.
Karim Hussein’s page has over three million followers and regularly publishes content praising the former president and Egypt under his rule.
The last post before his arrest was a video of Mubarak criticising the current government’s austerity measures. On the video, which was shared over 1.5 million times, Mubarak says he would never cut subsidies because citizens would not be able to eat, dress themselves or study.
Authorities in Cairo have just slashed fuel subsidies for a fifth time as part of a hugely unpopular economic reform programme being rolled out in exchange for a $12 billion IMF loan.
On 5 July the price of petrol and diesel raised 22 per cent following a 15 per cent rise in electricity in May which has hit Egyptians hard as roughly half of the population live below the poverty line.
On Monday Egypt’s Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Al-Moselhi suggested bread subsidies would also be slashed.
Mubarak was ousted during Egypt’s popular uprising in 2011 and convicted of inciting the deaths of nearly 900 protesters but his treatment in the days that followed sparked outrage as Egyptians realised the deep state would not be held accountable.
Mubarak was acquitted along with his two sons and members of his government, a sharp contrast with how Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and his supporters have been sentenced in mass trials and systematically tortured in prison.
But since then Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has increasingly shown that he is even afraid of members of the deep state. In January last year he ordered the arrest of former member of the Egyptian supreme military council Sami Anan who was planning to run against him in the March 2018 elections.
In June a coalition of politicians, journalists, human rights defenders and businessmen, “The Alliance of Hope”, were arrested in dawn raids. Among them was the office director of Ahmed Tantawi, an MP who supported the July 2013 coup.