Ever since the darkest day in Egypt’s history 14 August 2013, when over 800 people were killed by security forces in dispersing the over a month-long pro-Morsy Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, Egyptians have been under curfew from 7pm to 6am in 10 provinces mostly resorting to TV for information and news.
Over 50 churches have been attacked and burnt in Upper Egypt following the dispersal of the sit-ins, yet very little media coverage on them except when MB are being blamed for it. Some police stations have also been attacked and police brutally murdered in Kardasa, which got the media attention because it villainizes the MB even more than the actual crimes they did commit in the past.
Meanwhile, Sinai has been witnessing its fair share of attacks on various security points and stations over the past weeks, but most recently yesterday, where the media for the first time, aired corpses of 25 conscripts killed and covered in Egyptian flags coming down from a military plane straight from Sinai.
The unrest, clashes and deaths continued reaching the death toll to over 1600 including a number of journalists. Hundreds have been arrested and many are still missing.
On 19 August 2013, 38 additional prisoners were killed in police custody while being transferred to prison. They were killed allegedly with suffocation by excessive tear gas fired inside the truck. The Egyptian media on the other hand, is not really interested in that since the pictures of bodies are extremely graphic, and would suggest to confirm that story and would make MB “victims,” which is the one thing MB are not in the eyes of Egyptians as directed by SCAF’s media propaganda and MB’s long history of crimes and violence.
The very following day, 25 conscripts were killed in Sinai in an armed attacked, which quickly spun the media to erase any speculations about what really did happened to those 38 prisoners killed by suffocation, and almost instantly all media outlets focused solely on the killed conscripts except Aljazeera.
The media has been a crucial player in directing and polarizing the discourse of the unfolding of events in Egypt. We have state media and several privately-owned Egyptian channels that include CBC, Dream, Nahar, Tahrir, Mehwar Sada El Balad, Qahera Wal Nas, and OnTV, all singing the same chorus of SCAF’s version of the discourse of what has taken place in Egypt since June 30th onwards.
More ridiculously, all have put some variation of “Fighting Terrorism” badge permanently on their screens. OnTV and Mehwar channels have even dubbed their 2nd channels with live English translation in hopes of getting the message to the western press, which has been accused of failing to show “MB as terrorists monsters who are burning down and killing Egypt.”
Inciting one-minute promo videos of “Egypt above all” and “The People of Egypt against Terrorism” mixed with two-seconds shots of Youtube videos from the clashes showing armed men attacking others, and rapid Independence- Day background music replaces commercial breaks and puts Bush’s “Fight on Terrorism” campaign to shame.
On the other hand, we have some international and regional media who are picking sides. The most favorite example is Aljazeera and CNN, whom have pre-selected guests that only represent pro-MB’s arguments and ignoring the other camp’s argument.
Aljazeera has streamed almost every MB event since the start of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins and been the leading voice of the MB.
On the international level, CNN has become the American version of Aljazeera. Also pre-selecting guests who are mostly on MB’s side and has shown a lack of investigative balanced coverage. I even got a call from CNN to comment on Rabaa’s massacre and when I told the reporter I denounce the massacre, but I am against both SCAF and MB, she said she will call me back, and never did.
Aljazeera has been very unwelcome in general in Egypt lately, but since Rabaa sit-in, it has basically become the MB’s mouthpiece and in return viciously attacked by Egyptian media and on the streets. The Aljazeera in Egypt have had its office closed after security has confiscated cameras since the 3rd of July by police forces following the removal of Morsy.
In addition to the anti-Aljazeera hate posters on the streets, Aljazeera journalists have been banned from state official press conferences and forced out by journalists from conferences at times. Not to mention the Aljazeera journalists Mohamed Badr and Abdullah Al Shaimy unlawful arrests and continuation of their detention.
To be fair, Aljazeera hasn’t sunk to the level of ONTV. Every now and then it at least invites an opposition figure to comment on the phone and even Hassan Shahin, Tamroud’s spokes person was invited via the phone recently.
One of the main videos circulated on OnTV to show how “Aljazeera is lying and unprofessional” is this video of the Fatth Mosque scene, where hundreds of MB supporters were under siege surrounded by security forces and thousands of “residents” who wanted to basically kill them. The video shows a fire extinguisher being blown from the inside of the mosque, the footage itself doesn’t suggest that tear gas has been fired or why the people inside the mosque used it, but OnTV presenter Youssif El Hussieny chooses to decides for all of us and keeps repeating the image saying that the extinguisher was used to make “tear gas effect” and attacks Aljazeera for fabricating tear gas being used.
Whether tear gas was fired or not, no one knows, but certainly Youssif EL Husseiny doesn’t know. Nor Aljzeera or OnTV wins for fabricating news, they both failed to deliver to the viewer why the extinguisher was used in the first place (since that’s the only thing visible in this footage) or provide the evidence that supports their report.
It also doesn’t help when some of the subjects you are reporting on are lairs themselves. Here is a video that was also widely shown on OnTV of course by Youssif El Husseiny over and over of a “wounded person” inside Fattah mosque, who is actually not wounded. As the person removes the hand of the doctor not wanting him to undercover his shirt, the doctor lifts the shirt and we all see that there is no wound underneath the blood stain and it is at best acting. This time is ok to use “liars” Aljazeera footage because it serves OnTV’s propaganda.
On the other end of extremes, some some Egyptians are raving Fox News for being on SCAF’s side and pushing for the same propaganda rhetoric against MB. And of course, none other than OnTV rebroadcasted it to all Egyptian viewers who might have missed it. Here is the video from OnTV’s channel not Fox.
Aljazeera streams live coverage of all MB events and sit-ins while OnTV cheerfully streams live coverage of army arresting citizens breaking curfew and shoving them like sardines in police vans.
The polarization in media is given by two extreme discourses that are ignited by covering-up truths, showing 2-minute videos dubbed with racist and fascist explanations, telling you what you should and should not believe about them. This is done by supposedly “professional” presenters whose job’s titles are professional “journalists.”
Best example is the racist and fascist Youssif El Husseiny of OnTV, who speaks for hours on ONTV and says things like “When our state fights terrorism, we must put human rights to the side.” He invites guests that only applaud his rhetoric.
All the guests on the Egyptian channels are chauvinists political pundits, who are borderline fascists, promoting sectarianism against MB, inviting vigilant committees to help police and army to catch those “terrorists,” while speaking the words of “conspiracy against Egypt,” and instilling fear in people in order to comply with military rule.
Anyone who speaks of “reason” now, or even takes a position against both MB and SCAF, is labeled a traitor or MB, yeah because MB now is in an insult to some degree.
Those who are not praising the massacring of MB are not “Egyptian” enough to many of those TV presenters. Those who are voicing human rights violations get to be accused of being a “mob” by Youssef El Husseiny live on OnTV, or made fun of on social media.
The actual journalists on the ground who are attempting to get the truth and cover the deadly clashes taking place on a daily basis are like Sarah Carr, who wrote about the scrutiny especially foreign journalists face, are too few to raise the voice of reason over the voices of two extremes.
Simply there is no real coverage of what is happening in Egypt, only smears of half truths spun to either sides’ argument and a majority apathetic to bloodshed. Thankfully, we, at least some of us, still have our brains and can use it to assess the information given by any outlet, analyze it, and may be get a glimpse of the truth.
Many of the videos and pictures either side provides usually says more if looked at after muting the provided explanation given by the presenter. Here is an example, this video has been widely circulated on OnTV, described as “Oh look at what the MBs are doing in Rabaa, getting bodies from under the stage before the police attack,” implicating that MB killed those people during the month-long sit-in and are now moving the bodies as their own killed before the police catches them.
The video actually doesn’t provide you anything close to the conclusion that Khaled Tallima, OnTV presenter, has provided. If you actually ignore his explanation and mute the speakers in the video, all what one will see is people in Rabaa moving dead bodies from one place to another while loud gunfire is being shot in the background. It doesn’t tell you who these bodies are, when they were killed or how, where they were placed or killed and definitely doesn’t tell you by whom by just looking at this 2-min footage. The footage was shot by someone who is overlooking Rabaa and in the background all you can hear, “look at how they are placing the dead bodies on the floor.”
There is endless footage like this, where one simply cannot know for certain the full story. All we are getting are sides of half stories skewed with opinions shoved down our throats, and a blistering pro-SCAF, pro-police state propaganda throughout all media outlets, as if the endless list of vicious crimes committed by police and SCAF have been magically erased from our memories. Well at least for some of us, we still remember and will never forget… here is a reminder
The control through fear may control some of us, but definitely not all of us. If Sisi thinks that we are back in the days, when you can control people through curfews, emergency law, media blackout, and a “terrorism scare,” well, we no longer live in 1990s let alone 1954.
The people will soon get disillusioned in SCAF and see their crimes just like people did under Mubarak and under Morsy. Dictatorships are weak because they rely on instilling fear and the passivity of the people to not revolt. We will not be sedated for long under curfew, soon life will go back to “normal” and we will rise up again, just like every time we thought that the revolution is “dead,” and hopefully, this time we will win.