The story of the ‘elitist’ imposter

Despite the large number of satellite channels and personal pages on social media sites, and what all this means in terms of exposure and transparency, imposter Ahmed Rashidi was able to fool some media, universities and think tanks in Egypt.

Details collected by colleague Ashraf Abdel-Hamid for Al Arabiya tell a story of excitement and controversy that would make us laugh and cry at the same time. Egyptian security forces arrested Rashidi, who pretended to be a security and technical expert who had worked for major forces, and was hosted by the Egyptian media.

He founded a fake organization called the Arab African International Council. He held fake technical training seminars and parties in Cairo’s greatest hotels, while being interviewed on TV and writing newspaper articles. He also granted honorary doctorates from a foreign university to public figures in exchange for money.

Meanwhile, a Jordanian barber was arrested in Kuwait for misleading a group of Shiites, Sunnis and Sufis, saying he was a "sayyed" at times, a sheikh at other times, and even a Sikh. He collected large sums of money from all of them.


Has misleading people became that easy? It is very easy to verify info online, but no one bothers to do so, so we get a cycle of ignorance that feeds itself.

It is very easy to verify info online, but no one bothers to do so, so we get a cycle of ignorance that feeds itself

Mshari al-Thaydi

This points to another bad phenomenon - laziness in preparing lists and choosing guests, whether on TV or in conferences. Lists should be the outcome of a long and accurate research, not through copying and pasting, or just acquiring what is available on TV and social networks.

Rashidi’s story is funny, but it is also very sad.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 3, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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