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Mubarak lawyer says millions frozen by Swiss ‘legal’

The lawyer for the family of Hosni Mubarak has said $340 million held in Swiss banks by the two sons of the ousted Egyptian president, and frozen there, are "legal profits" from consulting abroad.

Farid al-Dib, in an interview published in US magazine “Foreign Affairs,” said he had “submitted the sources of the funds obtained from the sons’ work in global stock-market consultation with clients outside of Egypt who have nothing to do with Egypt’s market”.

“The revenues entered a joint account owned by the two brothers, which was then separated on March 1st, 2008. The funds in the accounts, after years of (accumulating) interest, reached over $300 million.

“Is it wrong for a man to make legal profits?”

Last month, Egyptian Deputy Justice Minister Assem al-Gohari said the lion’s share — $300 million — was held by Mubarak’s elder son Alaa, a businessman who kept out of politics.

Gohari, who heads the Illicit Gains Authority, said the balance was held by his younger son Gamal, a leading former ruling party politician who had widely been seen as his father’s heir apparent.

Both sons are in custody in a Cairo prison as they stand trial on an array of charges, including corruption. The next hearing is set for December 28th.

The assets of Mubarak’s two sons make up the great majority of the $460 million in Egyptian funds frozen by the Swiss government since the veteran strongman’s overthrow in February, Gohari said.

Dib also spoke of the financial situation of the ailing former president and his wife, Suzanne.

Mubarak’s “health bill is paid by the government, as the law permits with any president or former president. His wife lives off his monthly pension, which reaches up to 93,000 Egyptian pounds (about $15,500).

“Mubarak and his wife do not own a single dollar inside or outside of Egypt.”

Mubarak, who was forced to quit in February following massive street protests, has been on trial since August 3rd on charges of involvement in the killings of protesters and corruption.

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Two Danes climbed a pyramid. Why is Egypt mad?

Last week, a sexually-charged video and photos emerged on social media of two Danes climbing the Great Pyramid at Giza. Egyptian journalist Farah Bahgat explains the reaction in Cairo.

Two Danes climbed a pyramid. Why is Egypt mad?
Two Danes caused outrage in Egypt by climbing the Pyramid of Khufu and making a sexual video. File photo: AP Photo/Amr Nabil/Ritzau Scanpix

In 2003, an Egyptian film titled The Danish Experience premiered and instantly became a Middle Eastern blockbuster about the extreme cultural differences between Egypt and Denmark, particularly when it comes to sex. 

The Danish Experience was a comedy about a Danish woman, Anita, who visits Egypt and stays with a government minister and his four 20-something sons and teaches them her perspective on sexual freedom.

In one scene, as Anita talks about how nudity is socially acceptable in Denmark, her Egyptian host family are constantly astonished by how confidently she is tackling a topic they consider a taboo.

Fifteen years later, when 23-year-old Dane Andreas Hvid posted a video of him and a friend climbing a pyramid, along with a sexually charged photo, these cultural differences became relevant again as Egyptian anger was sparked.

Although a similar incident occurred in 2016, when a German tourist was banned from re-entering Egypt after he climbed a pyramid, it did not spark the same outrage, perhaps because the only difference was that no sex was involved.

In one of the most memorable scenes in the 2003 film, Anita takes off a blanket and appears to be naked. “Sex is not a bad thing, Mr. Qadri,” she says, while Qadri feels uncomfortable and puts the blanket back on her.

For Danes, it is socially acceptable to swim naked, and there are no laws prohibiting such nudity. There are also spaces where it is allowed to publicly have sex, such as Ørstedsparken in Copenhagen.

A study by YouGov in 2013 found that 41 percent of Danes who participated in the survey have previously engaged in sexual activity in a public space, giving Denmark the highest score for public sex among Europeans.

The total opposite is true in Egypt. “Inciting debauchery” and “harming public morality” are criminal charges that could lead to imprisonment or a fine.

Last year, an Egyptian singer, Shyma, was jailed for both charges after she appeared in a music video that was perceived as “sexually charged”.

And just a few days before Hvid’s video went viral, two conservative lawyers announced they were suing actress Rania Youssef over a “revealing dress” she wore to a film festival, accusing her of “incitement to debauchery”.

The same charges are often used in the crackdown on the LGBTQ community.

Denmark was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage. In Egypt, the police arrested about 100 concert attendees last year for waving the rainbow flag.

The incident also tells us something about corruption in Egypt. In an opinion piece in Egypt’s state-owned newspaper Al Ahram, Ahmed Abdel Hakam wrote that in exchange of money everything is possible in Egypt.

Two suspects were arrested on charges of helping Hvid and his friend climb the pyramid.

One of the two, a woman, established contact between the Danish couple and the camel owner, who illegally transported them to the pyramid on the evening of November 29th for the price of 4,000 Egyptian pounds, around 1,500 kroner (200 euros), according to the Egyptian interior ministry.

“The moral that appears out of this story, even if it’s wrong, is that it is possible to commit any [act of] indecency or corruption as long as you find someone who helps you for [an amount] of money,” Hakam wrote.

Corruption is also another major difference between Egyptian and Danish societies, one that makes disrespect and vandalism of one of the world’s archaeological wonders possible – by foreigners and with Egyptian complicity.

Egypt ranks as number 117 on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2017, while Denmark ranks as number 2. The index reflects levels of trust in the government.

Social media users in Egypt have responded to the incident by in criticizing the government and its administration of the area where the pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza are located.

A few days after the video of the Danes climbing the Great Pyramid emerged on social media, the government announced that Orascom, a company owned by Egypt’s wealthiest man, will take over the administration of tourist facilities at the area.

The Danish Experience concludes with Anita deciding to leave Egypt after the culture clash causes conflict within her host family. Hvid has said that he is not planning to return to Egypt, fearing legal trouble over his sexually-charged, unlawful visit to the pyramids.

READ ALSO: Egyptians arrested for helping Danish couple who climbed pyramid and posed naked