The image above is a manipulated image that appeared in the state owned Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram in the run up to the the parliamentary elections. The image depicts Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak leading Barack Obama and other world leaders through the White house following Middle East peace talks.

We can see obvious changes to the image in the way of montage, horizontal mirroring and other slight tweaks to the positions and appearance of the men, as well as exclusion of everything in the room except for the red carpet. Clearly Hosni Mubarak has jumped to the forefront of the image and has been flipped horizontally to be facing into the centre of the image. Additionally, the legs of one of the politicians has been altered to put him out of stride. Other minor touches have been applied, such as removing the tiny, yet distracting, piece of white shirt visible through the crease in Obama’s suit.

The original image (below, left) shows Barack Obama as the central, powerful host leading the group through his home. The politicians walk together naturally and in a harmonious flying-duck formation where Obama is clearly the key figure. Furthest behind is the Egyptian president, in what feels like the least powerful position. He seems distanced from the group and removed from the unity of the others. He is not portrayed as a key figure and there seems to be a susbtantial inequality between him and Obama.

By contrast, the doctored image on the right presents us with a completely different depiction of the president. This image offers connotations of Hosni Mubarak as the figurehead of the group. He has been relocated to the forefront of the image to convince readers that he is super-powerful and even more important than his peers. Now Mubarak is not only in the centre of the image where your eye is first drawn to, but he is also at the front, leading the other politicians who are driven into the background. The image signifies that Mubarak is a man to be respected, a powerful man that leads and controls, he does not trail behind other politicians, he leads them.  

What the Al-Ahram is therefore trying to convey with this manipulated image, is that the Egyptian president is an important man that is respected and admired by other important politicians. It sends the message that if such admired figures as Obama will be led by Hosni Mubarak then he is the logical choice for president of the Egyptian people. It is key that this image appeared in the run up to the elections and even more so, that Hosni Mubarak was rumoured to be seriously ill at the time of publication. While rumours of illness may please anti government supporters, the image quickly attempts to quash any speculation that Mubarak maybe weakening in his old age. Instead he is strong, powerful and authoritarian.

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