The curse of the voodoo SMS

Ya lahwy:
CAIRO (AFP) — The Egyptian government has sought to dispel rumours that a mobile phone text message "from unknown foreign quarters" is spreading around the country and killing those who receive it.

The extraordinary move by Egypt's health and interior ministries follows press reports that an SMS containing a special combination of numbers killed a man in the town of Mallawi south of Cairo.

"He died vomiting blood,followed by stroke, shortly after he received a message from an unknownphone number," the Egyptian Gazette reported on Wednesday.

"The number begins with the symbol (+) and ends with (111)," it said.

An "official security source" was quoted by the official MENA news agency as denying that those who receive the SMS "get splitting headaches followed by brain haemorrhage that leads to death."

A statement from the health ministry quoted health officials in several regions as saying that they had "received no cases with such symptoms"

"These rumours contradict all scientific facts," the statement said.

Egypt's interior ministry has detained three workers at an oil company for allegedly starting the rumours "and they are now being interrogated," MENA said.

via AFP: Egypt tries to hang up on killer SMS rumours.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.