A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Belated Memories of Muhammad Hakki, 1933-2015

With his daughter on his 80th birthday
As I wrote my earlier post about Ahmed Chalabi, a man of at best uncertain reputation, I realized that I had (mainly due to deadlines) failed to note the passing on October 24, at age 82,  of another figure worthy of note, who was also a friend since the Sadat era: veteran Egyptian Washington journalist Muhammad Hakki. Muhammad (or Mohamed) had served as a correspondent for Al-Ahram and, in the Sadat years, as the press spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy, the capacity in which I first got to know him.

In the last months of of Sadat's Presidency, Muhammad was recalled to Cairo to serve as Sadat's last Presidential press spokesman. But almost immediately after the assassination, Husni Mubarak replaced him, and Muhammad returned to Washington, spending the rest of his working career as Washington Bureau Chief for various Arab media outlets, but mostly not Egyptian in the Mubarak era.

He became a Washington institution but remained very plugged in to Egyptian affairs, of which he was a reliable interpreter. He had two great talents for which Egyptians are famous: humor and the ability to tell a great story; his were enhanced by being true.

One of the current generation of Egyptian Washington Bureau Chiefs, Al-Tahrir's Thomas Gorguissian, has published an appreciation of Hakki's career in English in Al-Ahram Weekly. Thomas is also the source of the photo above.

RIP, Hakki Basha. Yirhamuh Allah.

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