On Thursday January 27th, 2011, Safwat El Sherif, the secretary general of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party, convened an abrupt press conference in the NDP’s headquarters along the Nile, just outside of Tahrir Square.
Egypt had just witnessed its largest anti-government protests in a generation and more unrest was on the way. Protest organizers were calling for a massive turnout the following day, and everybody was feeling fired up by the sight of Tunisians hounding out their own longtime dictator Zine al Abidine Ben Ali earlier in the month. Clearly some sort of government response was called for.
President Hosni Mubarak’s government couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate spokesman. Sherif is a quintessential regime crony, a former information minister whose ties to Egypt’s military rulers date back to Gamal Abdel Nasser in the Sixties. With his jet-black dye job and pancake makeup, the guy just looks like an old-school fascist pimp.