CAIRO (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities have arrested the founder of a Facebook page with millions of followers that praises ousted President Hosni Mubarak, a judicial source said on Thursday.
Karim Hussein, who runs the page “I am sorry, Mr President”, was ordered detained for 15 days, the source said. He was being investigated over accusations of spreading false news and misusing social media, the source said, without giving further details.
A statement posted on the page on Wednesday said Hussein had been taken in for questioning the previous night over “some of the matters linked to the page and what is published on it”.
The page has over 3.276 million followers and more than 2.8 million likes, and carries frequent posts praising Mubarak and suggesting comparisons between his time in power and current events.
Mubarak became president in 1981 and remained in office until he was toppled in a popular uprising in 2011. Now 91, he was tried and initially convicted for complicity in killing protesters, then acquitted in a retrial.
Recent posts on the Facebook page included a picture of Mubarak with the Africa Cup of Nations football trophy, which Egypt won five times when he was president.
Last week, as the host team and one of the favourites to win this year’s competition, Egypt was knocked out in the second round.
Another post cited Mubarak saying he could not cut fuel subsidies, on the same day when Egypt’s government raised fuel prices by 16-30% as part of an IMF-backed reform programme.
The page also carries sympathetic posts about Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, and their social activities.
Gamal held a top post in Egypt’s former ruling party and a widely-held belief that he was being groomed for the presidency helped galvanize the popular opposition that toppled his father.
Under current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, authorities have carried out a far-reaching crackdown on dissent from opponents across the political spectrum. Social media is tightly monitored.
Sisi’s supporters say the measures have been necessary to stabilise Egypt after the turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising.
Mohamed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist group who was elected president following Mubarak’s fall and toppled by Sisi after a year in office, died last month after collapsing in a courtroom during a trial on espionage charges.
(Reporting by Haithem Ahmed; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Peter Graff)