Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mohammed Hassanein Heikal 1923-2016

President Gamal Abdel Nasser with his close confident Heikal

One of the most famous Egyptian journalists, authors and political commentators, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, died this Wednesday aged 92. According to sources around him three weeks ago his health started to deteriorate as a result of kidney failure. 
Heikal was born in 1923 and started his career as a journalist in the fall of 1942 at the Egyptian 
Gazette. His breakthrough came with his coverage of the WWII Battle of Al-Alamein. He later moved on to join the most established editor of the time, Mohamed El-Tabei, in the then most widely-circulated paper Akhr Saa. Lateron he joined Akhbar Al-Youm of the Amin-brothers.
His real fame came under president Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom he helped to to coin his pan-Arabic ideology and whom he served as a close adviser. Heikal became editor-in-chief of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper for 14 years starting in the year 1957. Also served four years starting in 1970  as Information Minister before returning to journalism.
Due to differences with former President Anwar Sadat, Heikal was imprisoned in 1981 in a governmental roundup of opponents to Sadat's policies. He was later released by Hosni Mubarak. In later stages of his life, Heikal became one of the most prominent commentators on Arab affairs. He also wrote a number best-selling books on Arab-Israeli affairs and Egyptian politics.All in all he was one of the most influential journalists in Arab world in the past 50 years.
Heikal maintained his role as a close advisor to Egypt’s presidents with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and is believed to have played an important advisory role in the deposition of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

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