A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More Rumor-Mongering: Tantawi's Stolen Shoes

I wasn't going to bring this up since it's most likely pure rumor, but having already noted just yesterday the Iranian claim (from PressTV, whose motto seems to be "even more unreliable than most Iranian media") about ‘Omar Suleiman going to work for Prince Nayef, I guess it won't hurt to monger another rumor that had the Egyptian social media abuzz: the story of Field Marshal Tantawi's stolen shoes.

Okay, first, I have no reason to believe anyone stole the Field Marshal's shoes, but even rumors/urban legends have political repercussions. At a time when a lot of people think Tantawi has been pondering a possible Presidential candidacy, a bit of public ridicule can hurt, and the Facebook page entitled "Who Stole the Field Marshal's Shoes?" (in Arabic) includes comments such as "If the Field Marshal can't protect his shoes, how can he protect Egypt?"

During the recently concluded ‘Id, Tantawi engaged publicly in ‘Id prayers; the man who used to be rarely seen is getting a lot more coverage these days, and when he prayed in a military mosque with other members of SCAF and Prime Minister Sharif, televised versions showed him searching for his shoes. The rumor spread quickly, thanks to social media, that someone had stolen the Field Marshal's shoes. And then the jokes started. See the above-linked Facebook page, if you read Arabic.

Now, a lot of red flags go up right away. This is a military mosque with all or most of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, plus the civilian Prime Minister, in attendance: Revolution or no Revolution, there will be lots of security. Next, as the picture shows, he's obviously in uniform, and uniform shoes are, well, rather uniform. They all look alike, even if Field Marshals have a better spit-shine.You might have to search a bit to recognize them.

Not surprisingly, it's finally being denied, though several days have gone by. It seems (thanks to Zeinobia for pointing it out) that the Admins of the SCAF Facebook page have, it seems, their own Facebook page, and they say it's an Internet rumor and untrue. (In Arabic.)

Possibly unrelated, the still rather anonymous Tantawi-for-President movement is said (by Twitter reports, in keeping with the totally unsourced nature of this post) to have changed its name to "We want a military man to govern Egypt," ( عاوزين عسكري يحكم مصر). Perhaps they're thinking he may not be the best man-on-a-white-horse figure?

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