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Mubarak's personal photographer wrote novel about corruption

By Catriona Davies, CNN
November 30, 2011 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
"Maybe in 10 years time -- or when everything has settled down -- I will write about it." -- Ahmed Mourad was Mubarak's official photographer for a decade.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ahmed Mourad spent his days with president Hosni Mubarak and his evenings writing about his regime
  • He said he knew he was taking a risk
  • His novel "Vertigo" has just been published in English

(CNN) -- Egyptian author Ahmed Mourad published his first novel in 2007, a political thriller on corruption in the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak.

But he was taking a risk writing about the regime; his day job was as Mubarak's personal photographer.

As the novel "Vertigo" is published for the first time in English, Mourad discussed the conflict he felt during 10 years photographing his president.

"I was with Mubarak in the mornings and wrote against him in the evenings," said Mourad.

I was with Mubarak in the mornings and wrote against him in the evenings
Ahmed Mourad, novelist and photographer

"I felt it was the most dangerous decision I made by writing about Mubarak's regime and the people around him, but I would not forgive myself if I didn't write. I decided that if anything happened to me it was God's will."

Mourad, 33, was with Mubarak throughout the revolution and the 18 days of uprising that led to his resignation in February, and could not join the protesters in Tahrir Square. "I was involved in my heart," he said.

He will not discuss the period in detail, except to say it was "horrible" to be with Mubarak at that time, but says he will write a book about it in the future.

Mubarak is currently on trial, accused of ordering the killing of protesters and corruption. He has denied the charges.

Mourad said: "It took courage to write about the regime while it was in power, but not once it is gone.

"Maybe in 10 years time -- or when everything has settled down -- I will write about it.

In action: Ahmed Mourad takes a photograph of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak
In action: Ahmed Mourad takes a photograph of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak

"I will write an eyewitness account as someone who worked with him for 10 years; the good and the bad. No one just has a bad side."

He added: "The first half of Mubarak's era he was trying to be a good president, but in the last 10 to 13 years he began to relax and collect money, comfort and respect. He became a scarecrow, not a real president."

Mourad's novel "Vertigo," which sold 11,000 copies in Egypt, features a society photographer who witnesses a multiple murder in a Cairo nightclub and is then forced to go into hiding in the ensuing cover-up.

It "exposes the seedy underbelly of life in Mubarak's Egypt," according to its English-language publisher Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation.

Mourad subsequently wrote a second political thriller about corruption -- again while working for Mubarak -- which is currently being adapted into a film.

He is currently working on his third novel, but will take a break from the political corruption theme.

I decided that if anything happened to me it was God's will
Ahmed Mourad, novelist and photographer

Mourad is still an official government photographer, waiting for a new president to take over from his former boss.

He said: "The corruption still happens. It's a time of corruption now because there's no president and no government. The regime is not in Mubarak, it's inside us all. We removed Mubarak, but we didn't remove the regime."

Voting has begun in the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections. Presidential elections are due to be held next year.

Mourad hopes his next boss will be in power for only four years and will break the mold of Egyptian presidents becoming "gods."

"Ever since the Pharoahs, the king or president of Egypt has become a god, but that must change," he said. "The next president must always remember what happened in Tahrir Square, what happened to Mubarak."

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