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Egyptian Newspaper Doctors Photo, Shows Obama Following Mubarak

Egyptian government newspaper Al-Ahram doctors a photo depicting Mideast leaders at the White House, and is ridiculed by colleagues.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 9/19/2010, 3:08 PM / Last Update: 9/19/2010, 3:14 PM

The White House / Chuck Ke

"No surprise" says a part-time Arab blogger who posted an amused tweet midday Friday on the Twitter Internet social networking site, noting a photo editing job by the daily Al-Ahram newspaper, a mouthpiece for the Egyptian government.

The doctored image was a September 1 American government photo of the Middle East leaders who participated in the first session of direct talks at the White House between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In addition to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, participants included Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, led in formation down a red carpet by U.S. President Barack Obama.

But the Egyptian newspaper didn't play it that way.

In the Al-Ahram edition, published last Tuesday, Mubarak is leading the group, with Obama following, and Netanyahu in the back. Abbas and Abdullah are neck-and-neck, slightly behind Obama and ahead of Netanyahu, with Abbas placed close to center and Abdullah on the edge.

Having seen the original photo posted on the official WhiteHouse.gov website, Wael Khalil decided to post the two side by side. He tracked down photographer Chuck Kennedy's shot, using the Google search engine and posted it together with the Al-Ahram version, then posted a tweet with the link to his blog

According to CNN, who interviewed the blogger, Khalil was surprised by the bruhaha that ensued.

“This is the Mubarak we know, this is the regime we know,” he told the Atlanta-based news network.

Al-Ahram editor Osama Saraya, meanwhile, caught red-handed, scrambled to contain the damage by immediately writing an op-ed on Friday, explaining the doctored photo was an “expressive” picture showing Egypt's historic role in the peace process.

Egyptian human rights activist and independent newspaper publisher Hisham Qasim had harsh words for the effort, and was blunt about the image of Egypt projected by the photo worldwide. “They are making Mubarak look silly worldwide,” he told CNN. “It has become the joke of journalism.”