Cairo University will be awarding Egyptian first lady Suzanne Mubarak an honorary doctorate on Thursday.
Guests at the ceremony will be greeted with poster-sized photos of the most important figures to have received the distinction in the past 30 years.
However, any references to–or photographs of–former UN nuclear watchdog head Mohamed ElBaradei, who received an honorary doctorate from the university in 2008, will be noticeably absent, despite copious references to other past honorees such as former South African President Nelson Mandela.
In recent months, ElBaradei has garnered the support of significant swathes of the Egyptian public as a potential independent candidate in next year's presidential elections. ElBaradei's strident calls for constitutional change and political reform have angered the ruling National Democratic Party, headed by President Hosni Mubarak.
Mohamed Abul Ghar, spiritual head of the 9 March Movement for the Autonomy of Universities and leader of the Egyptian Society for Change, considered the university's failure to include ElBaradei's photo along with those of other past recipients as "extreme political hypocrisy" and "embarrassing."
He asserted that the university was "no longer able to distinguish between academic and political issues," particularly in light of the fact that ElBaradei had received an honorary doctorate only two years ago.
On the same day of the ceremony, university faculty and students will take a compulsory leave of absence, while campus premises will be handed over to a presidential security detail. Following the reception, guests will be taken to the university's Grand Celebrations Room, where Mrs. Mubarak will receive her doctorate.
There have also been angry reactions among some quarters regarding the university's failure to consider other public figures nominated by the Cairo University Council for the honor. The university's agriculture faculty, for example, had nominated Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, the ruler of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, in light of his service to the university since 1971.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.