Egyptian officials are denying a report by an opposition newspaper alleging that Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi is suffering from a brain tumor.
Last week, the Arabic language al-Wafd newspaper reported that Morsi has a small tumor that is spreading and could be fatal if it is not removed by February, according to the Israeli online news site Arutz Sheva.
Some caution should be in order, however. The opposition newspaper, which is associated with a political party of the same name, did not cite any on-the-record sources — only unnamed informants claiming to be familiar with the president’s condition, according to Arutz Sheva.
A spokesman for Morsi called the al-Wafd report a “ridiculous lie” and threatened to bring libel charges against the paper, Arutz Sheva reported.
Moreover, erroneous rumors and reports are common in the Middle East: If rumors about the health of rulers in the region were reliable, both Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak would have had multiple funerals by now. Both remain very much alive, if frail.
Formerly a leading opposition newspaper, al-Wafd “has deteriorated quite a lot,” Egypt expert Samuel Tadros told The Daily Caller.
“It used to be the leading opposition newspaper in the ’80s and early ’90s, selling nearly 1 million copies,” said Tadros, a former leader of an Egyptian liberal organization who is currently a research fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
Tadros said that the rumors about Morsi’s health “are not new,” either.
“During the presidential elections, some references to a previous brain tumor that was successfully removed had been made by his competitors, although nothing in terms of evidence was ever produced,” he said.
Tadros added that it is possible the report may just be “a journalist fabricating a story or it might be someone intentionally attempting to circulate the rumor.”