Death threats for Egyptian tycoon over Twitter icon

Another example of why some famous people (*cough* Anthony Weiner *cough*) should not use Twitter:

Egyptian tycoon and politician Naguib Sawiris has come under fire for posting a picture of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Islamic dress, sparking a torrent of condemnation on social networking sites. ...

The magnate, a Christian, had posted a picture on his Twitter account of Disney character Mickey Mouse wearing a traditional Arabic robe and sporting a thick beard, next to a Minnie Mouse donning a niqab, or full face veil.

Sawiris's Twitter apology hasn't appeased Egypt's Salafis, ultraconservative Islamists who have become increasingly important in Egyptian politics since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11. Egyptian newspaper Al-Dostour reports that Salafi leader Assem Abdel Maged of Jama'a al-Islamiyya, a radical group supporting the installation of an Islamist regime in Egypt, is rallying a boycott against Mobinil, the mobile phone network that Sawiris owns.  Facebook groups denouncing Sawiris and supporting the boycott have gained more than 60,000 followers, and Sawiris has himself received death threats.

These scandals on Twitter are getting old. Can we get a new destination for social-networking fiascos? LinkedIn, anyone?



Syrian media quoting Kucinich: 'Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians'

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is in Syria "to investigate conditions on the ground" on behalf of his Syrian-American constituents and held a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. If these quotes from the state-sponsored Syrian news wire SANA are to be believed, Assad must have made quite an impression:

"There are some who want to give a wrong picture about what is going on in Syria," Kucinich said in a press conference held on Tuesday at the Four Seasons Hotel, adding that things should be left to the Syrian people, government and leadership to decide for themselves the direction and the way to go for democratic changes.

The U.S. Congressman described what is taking place in terms of the meetings of opposition and independent figures who are expressing themselves and their views openly and freely as "a largely positive progress", saying "President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this."

"President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians," said Kucinich, voicing his belief that people in Syria are seeking a real change which is up to them.

"What I saw in Syria in terms of the open discussion for change demanded by the people and the desire for national dialogue is a very positive thing," said the U.S. official, adding "Syria has gone through hard times...However, I believe there is a very strong desire for unity and democratic change, and the difficulties Syria has faced over the past few months can be overcome."

You do have to consider the source, and "highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians" sounds like a slightly odd sentence for an American politician to say. On the other hand, the comments aren't that far off from what he said about the situation in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer last month:

Kucinich said protesters in Syria are making legitimate demands for reform, but some there are trying to "capitalize on those legitimate demands for reform and use it push a violent agenda."

"We also understand that there's very serious questions raised about the conduct of the Syrian police, but we also know the Syrian police were fired upon and that many police were murdered," Kucinich continued.[…]

"I've read where President Assad has made certain commitments, and I would imagine that when things finally settle down, that President Assad will move in a direction of democratic reforms," Kucinich said. "He has already made that commitment from what I can see."

A State Department spokesperson was quick to say that Kucinich was not representing the views of the U.S. government and "speaks for himself."

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images