Concealed nose job loses Egypt MP his post

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The Independent Online

As befits a parliament born of revolution, Egypt's six-week-old People's Assembly has not been without its growing pains. The opening session was marked by petty squabbling among MPs, while last month one pious representative earned a rebuke from the Speaker after reciting the Islamic call to prayer during a parliamentary session.

But Egyptians this week were digesting another inevitable by-product of democracy – a bona fide political scandal after a fundamentalist Muslim MP was sacked by his party after lying about having plastic surgery on his nose.

Anwar al-Balkimy, an MP for the Salafi al-Nour Party, underwent the operation in a west Cairo clinic last month – despite fundamentalist religious edicts forbidding surgery on cosmetic grounds.

Mr Al-Balkimy then defied his doctor's orders to remain in the clinic until he had recovered, creeping out 24 hours after surgery in the dead of night.

In a further twist, last week Egyptian newspapers reported that the MP had turned up at a second hospital in 6 October City, on the edge of western Cairo. They quoted Mr Al-Balkimy saying he had been brutally attacked by masked gunmen while travelling in a desert highway.

The politician was shown in a hospital bed, his head wrapped in bandages, telling reporters how he had been beaten unconscious and robbed of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£10,400). The articles were spotted by staff at the clinic which operated on him, who then called the police.

Dr Yousri Hamad, a spokesman for the Al-Nour Party, said a committee of party chiefs visited Mr Al-Balkimy in hospital and forced him to resign. "He told us that he had not had any surgery," said Dr Hamad. "He lied to us. Being a liar is not acceptable in our party."

According to blogger Wael Eskandar, Mr Al-Balkimy's fall from grace was no surprise. "It's all about cosmetics for the Salafis," he said. "The beards are cosmetic and the values are cosmetic. It drives the point that it's all about appearances."