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If rumors spread like wildfire, then the Egyptian blogosphere is a blazing three-alarm inferno right now. Local bloggers have been abuzz with unconfirmed news about the health of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany over a week ago.
Speculation on the president’s health started a few days ago, after Mubarak canceled a planned trip to the Arab Summit in Libya as well as a postponed meeting with Vice President Joe Biden during his latest Middle East trip.
Official government reports state that 81-year-old Mubarak — ironically placed next to a much younger looking image of the president — is recovering and “progressing normally.”
With all these reports, who to believe?
Whatever the real news, investors in Egypt seem to have taken notice of the talk online — the main stock index tumbled almost 4 percent today over concerns. With such a massive shock to an already depressed economy, there are additional (unconfirmed, of course) reports that Mubarak intends to speak to the Egyptian people via telephone to dispel all rumors.
With all the rumors flying, one can only hope that if and when the president comes back to Egypt, he’ll be in a good mood. The last time there were similar stories of Mubarak’s poor health — a taboo subject — was 2007. And it landed one of the country’s most prominent newspaper editors, Ibrahim Eissa, a 6-month jail sentence.