Reports of Hosni Mubarak's Coma Are Met with Disbelief

Tracking Mubarak's declining health is not a straightforward affair

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The Associated Press and the BBC are both reporting that ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is in a coma brought on by a stroke, according to his lawyer, as well as according to state television. Mubarak's lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, said on Sunday that doctors were working to bring the 83-year-old Mubarak back to consciousness. "I was informed about the sudden deterioration in Mubarak's health and I am now on my way to Sharm el-Sheikh. All that I know so far is that the president is a full coma," Mubarak's lawyer Farid el-Deeb told Reuters.

Responses to this news were skeptical, to say the least. For one, the Associated Press reports that "a medical official at the hospital where Mubarak has been held under arrest denied the report and said his condition is stable." Other reports, including a tweet from Al-Jazeera English correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin, say this "medical official" is the the head of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Mubarak is staying. The Associated Press later updated their story to say that Doctor Assem Azzam, the head of the medical team supervising Mubarak, said Sunday that he had suffered a bout of low blood pressure but was now stable.

But it's not just about the conflicting reports. The influx of news about the declining state of Mubarak's health has been met with cynicism by reporters for a whole host of reasons. Columnist Mona Eltahawy tweeted that: "Since #Jan25 ousted him, we've received more updates on #Mubarak's health than during his entire 30yrs in power… Reporting on #Mubaraks's health pre #Jan25 could land journalists in jail. Now, we get weekly updates that few believe anyway." And the information often seems spotty, or at least unclear. For example, Reuters Newsflash tweeted today that: "Medical source says Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak occasionally falls into coma, but condition stable."

And then there is the fact that the Mubarak's health crisis have popped up with regularity since he was ousted. Last month, Mubarak's defense lawyers disclosed that he was battling cancer, "citing a medical report to assess whether the former leader is fit enough to stand trial," according to Reuters. Other reports indicate only that Mubarak is suffering from heart trouble. And back in February, there were rumors that Mubarak had slipped into a coma shortly after being forced from office and leaving Cairo. But, as ABC News reported at the time, a "well placed source" informed them that "Hosni Mubarak was well enough to have breakfast on the beach today and is doing well." In response to today's coma report, Joe Wiesenthal, deputy editor at Business Insider, tweeted, "So this is, like, stroke and coma #5 for Hosni, since hid ouster, right?"

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