Summary: The former head of the UN nuclear watchdog is considering running for president in Egypt. But how is the popular ElBaradei linked to the First Lady of Syria (via one of Egypt's most outspoken MPs)?
As former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the UN, ElBaradei jointly won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to ensure the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
A trained lawyer, ElBaradei holds a doctorate in international law from New York University School of Law, where he served as an adjunct law professor. In 1980 he left Egypt's Diplomatic Service to join the UN as a senior fellow in charge of the international law program.
Born in Cairo in 1942, his career as a civil servant, diplomat, and scholar connects him to some of the world's most influential people. And speculation is growing that he will challenge Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for that country's highest seat. One of his many supporters in this isC*
Alaa al-Aswany <p>Speculating on ElBaradei's possible presidential run, the best-selling novelist Alaa al-Aswany told Reuters "This is a very important moment that will usher in an era of positive change for Egypt."
Son of a famous Egyptian novelist, Aswany studied dentistry in Chicago -- reportedly because he didn't think writing would make him any money.
In a 2009 interview with The Observer, Aswany explained his decision to continue practicing dentistry: "The clinic is my window. I open it to see what is happening in the street. You can't get disconnected from the street, as a writerC* It is that relationship with the street that made you successful in the first place."
One of the Arab world's bestselling novelists, Aswany is the author of the extraordinarily popular novel The Yacoubian Building, an intimate portrayal of the very private lives of the inhabitants of a building in downtown Cairo. The influential work was adapted for the big screen by film directorC*
Marwan Hamed <p>Marwan Hamed's blockbuster adaptation of The Yacoubian Building featured some of Egypt's biggest stars, in a ground-breaking film that portrayed issues rarely dealt with in Arab cinema, such as sexual harassment, political corruption, police brutality, terrorism, and homosexuality.
Roundly criticized for defaming Egyptian society and promoting debauchery, the film's director Marwan Hamed told the BBC World Service: "It was a thin line between trying to be daring and pushing away the audience. The idea of film-making is to make a film that makes people think -- so the film is doing its purpose, and I'm very happy about that."
Egyptian MP's were swift to call for censorship of the film's more provocative and controversial scenes. One of its biggest critics was the outspoken MPC*
Mustafa Bakri <p>Mustafa Bakri is an independent Egyptian MP, and chief editor of the Egyptian newspaper El-Osboa.
Known for his outspoken views, Bakri was a prominent voice in the calls to censor The Yacoubian Building. "This film is spreading obscenity and debauchery, which is totally against Egyptian moral values," Bakri told AP.
Bakri also expressed his outrage late last year, over an announcement that women will be banned from wearing the niqab inside Egypt's educational institutions and dormitories. In an address before the Egyptian parliament, Bakri accused Education Minister Hany Hilal of insulting society and infringing on personal freedoms, according to a report in Egypt News. The niqab ban also prompted Bakri to criticize the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar UniversityC*
Sheikh Muhammad Tantawy <p>Sheikh Tantawy, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque, died earlier this month of a heart attack. The 81 year-old Imam had a longstanding reputation for religious declarations with international implications -- resonating politically and culturally around the world.
Tantawy was widely criticized in 2003 when he announced that French Muslims should follow the laws of the country, referring to proposed legislation in France that would ban conspicuous religious symbols in public schools.
Critics regarded the Sheikh as treading a thin line between religion and politics, by attempting to uphold the tenets of orthodox Islam, yet careful to avoid aggravating the French government.
In a speech in Cairo, Tantawy maintained that, while the veil is obligatory for Muslim women, the obligation was mitigated in non-Muslim countries where legislation prohibits it, according to the BBC. One member of the audience was the then French Minister of InteriorC*
Nicholas Sarkozy <p>Since his election as French president in 2007, Nicholas Sarkozy has advocated for "a rupture with a certain style of politics" -- calling for a modern take on economic, social, and cultural issues that some see as mired in outmoded tradition.
He reports being heavily influenced by British politics and bills himself as a proponent of social mobility, budget cuts to a bloated civil sector, and efforts to better integrate French Muslims.
Sarkozy's energetic approach to political life is mirrored by his glamorous, if not turbulent, private life. Shortly after taking office, he married supermodel-turned singer, Carla Bruni. The he two wed shortly after the French president's divorce from model-turned PR exec, CE[umlaut]cilia Ciganer-AlbE[umlaut]niz, in 2007.
In 2008, French fashion magazine Elle named Carla Bruni as runner-up on their annual survey of the world's most stylish political women. Topping the list that year was Syrian first ladyC*
(Image by: U... (Aleph))
Asma al-Assad <p>Asma al-Assad, the daughter of a prominent Syrian cardiologist, was raised in the London suburb of West Acton. She attended King's College London, from which she received a degree in computer science.
Her professional CV includes stints with Deutsche Bank and the investment banking division of JP Morgan, where she reportedly specialized in corporate mergers and acquisitions.
In her official role, Syria's first lady is active in economic development projects -- particularly rural development -- and is credited with founding the country's first NGO dedicated to rural development, The Fund for Integrated Rural Development of Syria.
Her other interests include women in business, literacy, children with special needs, and sustainable development initiatives.
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