Self-styled Egyptian strongman, Al Sayed al Essawy had an idea for lifting his country out of its post-revolution economic funk: Fight a lion.
Which is why on Saturday Mr. Al Essawy stepped into a steel cage with a 660-pound lion in the middle of a wheat field in a farming hamlet. He glared at the lion and bared his teeth. He carried a "shield" made out of an old satellite dish.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Mr. Al Essawy had wanted to fight the lion in the shadow of the Great Pyramids. His idea was to send a message to the world that "in Egypt you can see events that you can't see anywhere else." February's violent revolution has taken a big bite out of tourism, which employs some 10% of all Egyptians.
The fight drew condemnation from animal-rights activists and tourism officials. Egypt's tourism minister, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, vowed earlier this month to "personally" prevent the "barbaric" act from taking place by demanding that the ministry of interior intervene to stop the fight. The lion itself looked bored. One man in the crowd claimed it had just been fed a whole donkey and was therefore sleepy.