Egypt's education minister lampooned for poor spelling

Egypt's education minister lampooned for poor spelling
Newly-appointed education minister Helali Sherbeiny Helali has come under fire for his poor spelling and offensive social media posts.
2 min read
21 Sep, 2015
Egypt's newly-appointed Education Minister has come under fire for poor spelling [Tahrir News]

Egypt's newly-appointed Education Minister el-Helali el-Sherbeiny Helali has been criticised widely on local and social media for his tweets and Facebook posts, the majority of which had grave spelling mistakes and offensive content, which was deemed by many as ironic and embarrassing.

Screenshots of Helali's posts started circulating on social media shortly after he was sworn in before President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Saturday as part of Egypt's new cabinet, prompting him to deactivate his account and create a new one, with more than 3,000 followers in less than 48 hours.

"I recommend that the Ministry of Education runs free literacy and linguistic performance courses for some media presenters," the minister said in an earlier tweet published by local newspaper al-Watan before he deactivated his account, ironically misspelling the word "presenter" in Arabic.

"If you are afraid of tomorrow, sleep and wake up after tomorrow," said Helali in another post, which came as part of a series of posts he called "Reflections of Dr. Helali".

Some celebrities even contributed to the campaign against him, including Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, who used to host Egypt's most popular satire show before it was suspended for political reasons.

Youssef launched the deliberately misspelt Arabic hashtag "Tweet like a minister", which became trending in no time as users posted tweets with intentional and ironic spelling mistakes, both in English and in Arabic.

On Sunday, Helali told local TV channel ONTV he was surprised to find that someone had created a fake Facebook account in his name.

"I have nothing to do with Facebook," he said.

Helali, who served as a former cultural adviser in Libya and a former assistant to the higher education minister, will be facing major challenges, including restoring the ministry's credibility, particularly following the recent case of "zero schoolgirl" Mariam Malak.

Malak's case brought attention to the integrity of the ministry's examination process, especially considering that exams in recent years have been marked by indiscriminate cheating.

She became an unlikely symbol of the fight against corruption in Egypt after scoring zero in her final exams, despite being a top student.

The ministry came under fire after local and international coverage gathered many supporters for Malak.