Tag Archives: Media

A Militarized Media: a dirty war making many of us blind

20 Aug

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.

ajhandresized

“The makers of sectarianism”

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.

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Mona: Why Do You Hate Us?

25 Apr

Women's march in Tahrir #April20

At any given moment in the Egyptian revolution, or the Arab Spring for that matter, the question of women or the role of women arises. I cannot recall the number of emails, and questions I usually get, mostly from foreign journalists, about the “role of women in the Egyptian revolution.” My answer is (if i ever answer at all) usually the same and consist of something like “women have been fighting in the forefront of the struggle paving the way to this revolution. They have been beaten, tortured, stripped naked, imprisoned, sacked from their jobs and much more just as much as men if not more including getting their virginity checked. However, they are not acting as one block of women, but rather as revolutionaries or ordinary people fighting for the revolution’s demands: freedom, dignity, social equality.”

It might take some aliens to not understand this, especially as an Egyptian, even for an Egyptian living abroad who visits Egypt a lot for some people. If any of these journalists who usually ask this question happen to have joined one protest or one strike, he or she would immediately know that women are the backbone of this revolution. In my experience, the most militant, radical, brave people I encountered in this revolution happened to be women. Samira Ibrahim, Aida Seif Al Dawla, Layla Sweif, Rasha Azab, Salma Said, Mona Mina, Mary Daniel, Tahrir girl, to name a few, not to mention all the mothers, sisters, and wives of martyrs and working class women.

This post is not supposed to convince you how courageous women are in the Middle East, or how they are fighting for freedom, minimum wage, social equality, or good education, because that is shown everyday through the heroic stories that the western press fails to cover, but Egyptians encounter them on a daily basis. You can view some stories of brave ordinary women here. This post is rather a response to the disgraceful, one-dimensional, article “Why Do They Hate Us?” by Mona El Tahawy.

Titles like “Why do they hate us?” can only describe Geroge-Bush dichotomies of “them” versus “us” paradigms, where the making of the “other” into a monster can only add to “our” vulnerability and righteousness. I never thought that this dichotomy could be used as an argument for feminism, but the astonishing Mona El Tahawy have found a way. In her article, she based her whole vague-over-generalized-orientalist argument of why women are oppressed in the Middle East to a simple reason of “because they hate us.” To give Mona the benefit of the doubt, as I skimmed through the title before reading the first paragraph about a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband, I imagined an article written on why dictatorships hate women or why exploitative systems hate women and turn them into objects, even if it is not about love or hate in my opinion, but I was imagining this to at least make the article readable for me after the disturbing title, the horribly chosen picture to accompany the topic, and the overt opening. Naive I was to think that Mona El Tahawy could write something I might slightly agree with given her history in writing about “women issues in the Middle East.”

Her sole argument on why women are oppressed in the Middle East, since this is a special place in the world where only backward thinking can be found, is because men and/or Arab society hate women. What is very troubling is her belief that she is the “voice” for so many unheard women, who are oppressed and beaten by their husbands or shunned by the patriarchal Arab societies. She is the beacon of hope for Arab Muslim women living the male-dominated Middle East forced to wear the niqab and do slave work at home. Not only does she believe that she is speaking for these women, but she believes that she is one of the few (if not the only) who is brave, eloquent, and educated enough to vocalize these suppressed voices to the Western media like FP, BBC, CNN, who are of course incapable to reach these suppressed creatures, Middle Eastern women.

I think the only factual thing Mona brings up is that there is discrimination against women more in the Middle East than in other countries, but she blames it on all the wrong reasons. She brings all statistics and backed-up research on how women are subject to unequal laws, genital mutilation, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape, etc. I am not minimizing or dismissing these facts at all and I do encourage and believe discussion about these crimes as healthy and the only way to move forward is by acknowledging the problem. Many who have criticized Mona’s article get accused that we are defending the actions of discrimination against women or simply denying it and that couldn’t be farthest from the truth in understanding the fundamental problem with Mona’s argument in the first place.

The fundamental problem of Mona’s essay is the context and framework of how she analyzes why women in the Middle East are oppressed and the only reason she could give is because men and Arab societies (culturally and religiously) hate women. This is offensive to most women I know, who read the article and shared the same view. Women in the Middle East are not oppressed by men out of male dominance, they are oppressed by regimes (who happened to be men in power) and systems of exploitation (which exploit based on class not gender). Having women in power in a flawed system will not “fix” the problem either. We had a women’s quota in Mubarak’s parliament, did that change anything for women in reality? It was all ink on paper. Even after revolution, women are consistently used for political grounds by crony political parties. Explaining why women are oppressed without touching on any of the historical, political, or economical aspects of Arab countries, which are not all the same as she tends to generalize in her article, couldn’t be more delusional than this piece.

The answer is in the picture FP used as a “sexy” caption alongside a sexist article full of disgrace to brave Arab women including one of the bravest in that picture. Did Mona El Tahawy ask herself, “what would this brave young girl who exposed an army think of what I write about her oppression?” I don’t think Mona is even capable of this thinking given her stance. Did this girl feel hated by those men in uniform because she is a woman? or did she feel betrayed by the men who were supposed to protect her as part of their duty? She was standing for social justice, freedom, human rights, she stood against an army for Egypt as a whole, men, women, Christians, Muslims, young, old, Nubians, and immigrants. It is hard to believe that if she had a choice she would only choose women because “they (men) hate us (women).” Mona, on the other hand would disagree. I don’t know how the girl felt, I don’t know how she feels about this article and nobody does except her.

I am not here to tell you how every woman in the Arab world, which is a very big divers place, full of all kinds of women, feel about men and about this article. I can only speak about my feelings and my experience. Mona El Tahawy’s article does not represent me. I am an Egyptian American Muslim woman, who was raised to Egyptian parents, spent all my childhood in Egypt, studied high school and partial college in the US and now living in Egypt since 2008 and I am happily married to an amazing Egyptian man, who loves me and doesn’t hate me because I am a woman.

Our society is far from fair towards many groups not just towards women. My fight and our revolution’s heart lay in this struggle itself, to have every Egyptian living a decent life, living a humane life, and for some to simply live. For decades, Egyptians in all sectors of society have suffered the iron fist and corruption of dictators ruling Egypt and still ruling them. This transcended through generations and found its place in almost every household and institution (with relative degrees). How can all this very complicated complex be summed into a zero-sum equation of men versus women, love versus hate? It is much more complicated than that, but Mona doesn’t bother to mention any of this, but portrays the Middle East as if it is an anomaly, where the only measure of women success or women equality is how many seats she got in parliament or if we will ever see a woman president of Egypt. Does Mona El Tahawy know that nearly 3,000 Egyptian women workers started one of the first Mahalla’s strikes (in the recent decade) in December 2006, when they started chanting, “where are the men, here are the women!” Which paved the way to the revolution that is inspiring and shocking to the world right now? of course that wouldn’t fit into the perception of the average American Foreign Policy reader, who is used to images of American soldiers with guns going to “liberate” Afghani and Iraqi women from Muslim extremists. Simply, Mona’s audience are neither Arab women nor most women who took part in this revolution. To give you an idea, here are some examples of responses to this disgraceful article. Some written by Arab women, who agree Mona only represents herself in that article.

Not Hatred, But Love! Dear Mona

Us and Them: On Helpless Women and Orientalist Imagery

Dear Mona ElTahawy: You Don’t Represent “Us”

I Don’t Really Think They Hate Us!

In response to Mona Eltahawy’s hate argument

On Muslim-Arab issues and the Danger of Aiding the Neo-Liberal Colonialist Agenda

Hatred and misogyny in the Middle East, a response to Mona el Tahawy

Oh, Mona!

Let’s Talk About

Debating the War on Women

Mona el Tahawy and the Transnational Fulul al Nidham

A Critique of Mona Eltahawy’s Perception of Misogyny in the Middle East

#RevSoc: We want to dismantle the state of oppression – نريد اسقاط الدولة المستبدة

25 Dec

Revolutionary Socialists Press Conference @eSocialists

After a conference by the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt on the future of the revolution that was held at the Center for Socialist Studies in Giza on 13 Dec 2011, the Revolutionary Socialists found their video (below) of the 20mins talk of Sameh Naguib being edited into 2 & 3 mins and re-posted with titles such as, “Revolutionary Socialists want to dismantle the State” or “The Revolutionary Socialists’ ruthless plan to burn and destroy Egypt.” As if we had raged war against the people of Egypt ignoring all our well established and credible resistance against oppressive regimes and systems from capitalism to Israel, and all in between, which is all very transparent on our website and in their files at State Security. I am not posting this to defend Revolutionary Socialists or convince how “awesome” and revolutionary we are, but simply to sum up what has been happening.

A media war directed by SCAF and led by Ikhwan & other political groups against revolutionaries and anyone who is challenging their interests to remain in power, has gone to the dirtiest tricks to protect their interests and kill the revolution.

Freedom & Justice Party newspaper 25 Dec 2011 "Revolutionary Socialists: Violence First!"

Why especially the Revolutionary Socialists? I think because Sameh Naguib hit the nail with a hammer on its head exposing SCAF & Islamists. The video gave them all the right “keywords” like “dismantling of state” to incite fear in the public even more and turn the public against the revolution while all the deadly clashes in the past few days were taking place. Another reason is the timing. SCAF chose to do this attack now & not before, since we have statements as early as February that give the same message as the video, simply because they are shifting the blame & the attention from their own crimes committed against revolutionaries onto revolutionary groups like the Revolutionary Socialists & others, who are gaining popularity on the ground for their radical stands against SCAF.  SCAF’s stupidity is gaining us more and more support because revolutionaries, with us or not, are against SCAF more than ever before.

This was our official response to the dirty organized campaign against the revolution & the Revolutionary Socialists. Statement in response to “accusations” in English & Arabic. We also held a press conference reaffirming our strong stand against SCAF and reassurance of the dismantling of the State of repression, inequality, and injustice in order to build a State based on freedom, social justice, and dignity for human rights.

Videos of statements and testimonies below.

Feel free to share this post in solidarity with the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt. Add a Pic Badge on your twitter or facebook. Follow us on Twitter @eSocialists & Like our Facebook Page

Down with military rule! Long live the Egyptian Revolution !

The Families of Martyrs Speak – اهالي الشهداء يطالبون بالقصاص

5 Jul

The families of martyrs started a sit-in in front of Maspero on Friday June 24th demanding the prosecution of police officers engaged in the killing of their sons and daughters during the 18 days of the up-rise since Jan25. The sit-in lasted 5 days. After the Balloon Theater clashes with police, the families decided to end the sit-in empty handed with no media attention whatsoever in the 5 days of the sit-in. I went to the sit-in everyday, and spoke with many of the families there, who come from different cities all over Cairo, and Egypt including Sinai & upper Egypt. The families of martyrs have been under a lot of pressure from police (directly & indirectly) to change their testimonies in return of money, but every single person I spoke with said, “not with all of the world’s money, would I sell my son’s blood.” These families have lost their sons & daughters and all they demand is justice to be served; for every killer to be prosecuted transparently and sufficiently.

Families of Martyrs

What surprised me the most is that without this, what many called “insignificant” sit-in, the now on-going Tahrir sit-in would not have happened this way and the central security forces confrontation in Tahrir the night of June28th would not have happened, which is exactly what’s bringing back the revolution’s momentum. There were many divisions within opposition on what to focus on in this period. Many are focused on writing the constitution first, others favoring parliamentary elections first, and my favorite group, who is focusing on “rebuilding Egypt” by painting the pavement 60 times over. The truth is, there will be no meaningful popular constitution, no real parliament that represents the revolution, and definitely no success in the revolution, IF we, “shabab 25,” don’t focus and win those battles that will make or break this revolution like this one. The families of martyrs battle, in my opinion, is one of many under-supported causes that not only have almost no disagreement on, but most importantly, it directly links all of the demands of the revolution that haven’t been met yet.

The families of martyrs are demanding the cleansing of the judicial branch through the efficient & transparent prosecution of murderers, the cleansing of the state police through holding the corrupted accountable for murder and torture, and the cleansing of media, which is not only ignoring their demands, but also tarnishing the reputation of protesters and jan25 martyrs. We are going back to Tahrir and all squares in Egypt with full force on July 8th, I urge you to join for the revolution, for the martyrs, for Egypt!

Sit-In Until Victory
Power of the people.

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