By Maged Ilyas Ghattas
CAIRO: When Egypt’s state news agency announced that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf had appointed Maged Ilyas Ghattas as his environment minister, the name rang some bells —some of them alarm bells.
The environment ministry had been headed by one Maged George, a minister appointed by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak whose sacking protesters demanded.
But it emerged that the official list published by the MENA news agency simply allocated another name to the same person when the new cabinet was unveiled on Thursday.
The yet unexplained variation has drawn scorn and, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where protesters have been camped out since July 8, some confusion.
“I mean, when they tell us the environment minister is called Maged Ilyas Ghattas, we’ll think it’s a new face and not the same Maged George?” wrote one contributor on the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper’s website on Friday.
Full name Maged George Ilyas Ghattas, in fact. But since 2004, known simply and referred to officially as Maged George. All four names are common among the country’s Coptic Christian minority.
In Egypt, ministers and indeed all Egyptians are often referred to by their first name and their father’s name, or first name and surname.
Or sometimes, and this is where it can get confusing: first name, followed by father’s name, then grandfather’s name and surname.
But never as in Maged Ilyas Ghattas — first name followed by grandfather’s name and surname.
It may of course just be a clerical error, but asked on Friday about the new variation of the minister’s name, the cabinet was unavailable for comment.