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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Egypt's ex-spy chief Suleiman laid to rest in military ceremony

Pageantry and tears in eastern Cairo as the controversial former head of Egypt's intelligence service is given a full military funeral

Ahram Online, Bassem Abo Alabass, Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 21 Jul 2012
(Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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The funeral of Egypt's ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman took place in Cairo on Saturday amid tight security and in the presence of several thousand mourners, including politicians and top military brass. 

Suleiman, the controversial former head of Egypt's intelligence service and a key pillar of the fallen Mubarak regime, died in the United States on Thursday, aged 76. 
 
Saturday's ceremony began with funeral prayers held at Al-Rashdan mosque in Nasr City, eastern Cairo.
 
Following prayers, Suleiman's flag-wrapped coffin was borne through the district's streets on a horse-drawn carriage, accompanied by a marching band, and transported to the nearby Madinet Nasr Cemetery for burial.
 
Among the attendees was Egypt's Grand Chamberlain, representing the office of new president Mohamed Morsi, who did not make an appearance.
 
Egypt's Grand Mufti and a delegation from Al-Azhar, Egypt's highest Islamic authority, were also present.
 
The head of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and his Chief of Staff, Sami Anan, made a brief appearance following prayers. 
 
Several hundred grieving and impassioned of Suleiman also thronged the streets beside Al-Rashdan mosque, waving banners and Egyptian flags and carrying photographers of the ex-spy head.
 
Many shouted slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood and the president who sprang from the Islamist group's ranks, unveiling banners which dubbed Morsi a "foreign agent".
 
"Suleiman was stabbed in the back by the terrorists," said one tearful woman, calling on God to avenge him.
 
Suleiman, an ex-military general who served as Hosni Mubarak's longtime intelligence chief, died early on Thursday while undergoing medical tests in the United States. 
 
A US clinic report on Friday said Suleiman died of a rare disease affecting his heart and kidneys.
 
Al-Rasdan mosque, built and maintained by Egypt's army, was heavily secured by military police and Central Security Forces (CSF) in the build up to the afternoon funeral.
 
Suleiman's body arrived at Cairo airport on Saturday morning amid tight security and emotional scenes as dozens of supporters of the ex-spy chief flocked to Egypt's main air transport hub. 
 
Wearing black t-shirts emblazoned with the Egyptian flag, they chanted prayers for Suleiman and slogans against Israel and the United States.
 
Suleiman's daughters, his stepson, wife, former MPs Mohamed Abu Hamed, Rami Lakah and singer Amr Mostafa waited in the airport's VIP hall to receive Suleiman's body.
 
Suleiman, who briefly served as ex-president Mubarak's first and final vice-president, was also one of his most trusted advisers. 
 
Unconfirmed reports circulated that Mubarak, currently serving a life sentence in Cairo prison, asked to attend Suleiman’s funeral.  The rumours, however, were denied by the Interior Ministry on Friday.
 
Suleiman was appointed head of Egypt's intelligence service in 1993. During his 18-year tenure, which ended in early 2011 following Egypt's popular uprising, he was the decision-maker for many key political issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as relations with Nile Basin countries.
 
It was Suleiman who announced Mubarak's decision to resign from the presidency on 11 February 2011.
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