Egypt’s Media Counter-Revolution
Posted by Joshua Hersh
August 21, 2013
It was Saturday night in Cairo, and dozens of reporters had filed into the Presidential Palace to see Mostafa Hegazy, an advisor to the cabinet, deliver the first major press conference from the interim government since an outbreak of violence that had taken nearly nine hundred lives in the previous three days. The military-backed government, which seized power from the elected President, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July, had cleared out a pair of Brotherhood-backed sit-ins in Cairo by force, using bulldozers and firearms. The carnage had been horrifying.
But when it came time for local reporters to ask questions, many of them seemed enthralled by the government’s version of events. One wondered why the government wasn’t taking action against opposition figures who met with officials at the American embassy. (It was this reporter who mentioned a “conspiracy.”) Another asked why the ambassador to Qatar, which supported the Brotherhood and funded its government—or, as the reporter put it, “has been instigating violence in Egypt”—hadn’t been recalled. Another criticized Western media reports that the Egyptian government had backed out of a possible deal with the Brotherhood. “How are you going to deal with that?” he asked.
“Thank you very much for this very important question,” Hegazy replied. In the hours before Hegazy’s appearance, international reporters in Cairo had been e-mailed a statement from the government press office, outlining the ways in which they had failed in their jobs. “Egypt is feeling severe bitterness towards some Western media coverage,” the statement said, adding that the coverage seemed “biased” toward the Brotherhood, and had ignored several countervailing events: the widespread burning of churches, seemingly by Islamists; the attacks on police stations; the supposed use of children as human shields at Brotherhood protests.
Now, Hegazy would reaffirm the point. “Where are all of these stories?” he demanded. It was a question some of the local reporters had as well—and they had some suggestions, too. An Egyptian reporter rose to argue that perhaps if the government showed videos of some of these “missing” stories, the Western media might be compelled to cover them more… MORE
Why has the Egyptian media landscape become increasingly polarised after Morsi’s ouster? AJEnglish Listening Post’s News Divide explores hre the media aftermath of the Egyptian coup. Its weekly feature takes us as close as the media can get to the infamous military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay — a place where inmates are held not only in legal limbo, but also in media quarantine. The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead examines how far the US government will go to keep Guantanamo invisible and its inmates faceless, even while journalists and campaigners fight to bring their stories to light. (July 2o, 2013. AJEnglish)
Pressured by a popular uprising and deserted by the army, President Mohamed Morsi’s downfall on July 3 was announced in live broadcasts via the state-run Maspero media network, the mouthpiece of various political masters for decades.
Many of the private media outlets that celebrated Morsi’s ouster were once as critical of the army as they were of the elected president that Egypt’s generals have now ejected. And with pro-Muslim Brotherhood outlets now forcibly silenced, Egypt’s media landscape looks distinctly lopsided, albeit in lockstep with the country’s military-backed interim regime.
Another outlet that faced the pressure from Tahrir Square protests was Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr. Once praised for echoing the aspirations of the Arab Spring, its offices were raided immediately following Morsi’s ouster. Twenty-three of its journalists have resigned in response to the network’s perceived pro-Brotherhood bias.
On July 20-21, 2013 Listening Post’s News Divide explored the media aftermath of the Egyptian coup with Ashraf Khalil, the author of Liberation Square; Amira Salah-Ahmed, the deputy editor of Mada Masr; Ayman Gaballah, the managing director of Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr; Dr Abdel Moneim Said, the former chairman of Al-Ahram and current chairman of Al-Masry Al-Youm…
Second Part of the the Program: Back to Guantánamo
Egypt: Are foreign journalists lying?
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 09:03
Al Jazeera English. Foreign journalists are under attack in Egypt – they are accused of bias and of ignoring facts, and many of them have been detained, attacked and some even killed.
Egypt’s State Information Service released a statement to journalists on Saturday, detailing what it sees as media bias.
«Media coverage has steered away from objectivity and neutrality» which has led to «a distorted image that is very far from the facts,» the statement said.
It went on to say «Egypt is feeling severe bitterness towards some western media coverage that is biased to the Muslim Brotherhood and ignores shedding light on violent and terror acts that are perpetrated by this group.»
The criticism of the foreign press has coincided with an increase in attacks on journalists in Cairo. A number have been either threatened or detained by the security services or groups of men in the last few days.
On Sunday August 18, Egypt’s interim government said it would review the legal status of Al Jazeera – because of what it says to be biased coverage of events in Egypt. The government prepared a presentation for foreign media, showing what they say are, armed protesters.
Since the dispersal of the anti-coup sit-ins, interim government officials as well as the Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have portrayed international media channels, including Al Jazeera, as the enemy of Egyptians – even accusing some outlets of out-and-out lying.
The suggestion that the killing of hundreds of protesters on Wednesday August 14 was an excessive use of police force, sparked a wave of criticism by local tv channels against the foreign press.
The effect has created a hostile working environment where journalists have been harassed on the streets and in some cases detained by authorities while trying to report the events on the ground… MORE
Journalists caught in Egypt’s crossfire
By Shahira Amin
Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in Egypt in a week of deadly violence that began with a brutal security crackdown on Islamist protesters staging two sit ins in Cairo to demand the reinstatement of the country’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi . Six weeks earlier, Morsi had been removed from office by the military after millions of Egyptians took to the streets calling on him to step down and hold early presidential elections. Ever since the military takeover, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been killed or arrested as the Egyptian military and police pursue what they describe as an “anti- terrorism drive”.
The majority of Egyptians have expressed their support for the military and police , cheering them on in their sweeping campaign “to rid the country of the scourge of terrorism” and at times, launching verbal and physical attacks on the pro-Morsi protesters. Islamist supporters of the deposed president have meanwhile continued to stage rallies across the country, condemning the violence.
Egyptian media has also chosen to side with the country’s powerful security apparatus and has consistently glorified the military while demonizing the toppled president’s supporters. The text “Together against terrorism” appears on the bottom corner of the screen on most state and independent TV channels. In this bitterly polarized and often dangerous environment, it is the journalists covering the unrest that are caught in the middle, facing detention, intimidation, assault and sometimes, even death.
Tamer Abdel Raouf, an Egyptian journalist who worked for the state sponsored Al Ahram newspaper last week became the fifth journalist to die in the unrest when he was shot by soldiers at a military checkpoint “for failing to observe the nighttime curfew.” Abdel Raouf had been driving in Al Beheira when he was ordered by soldiers to turn back. While the soldiers claim he did not heed the warnings , another journalist accompanying him in the car said that Abdel Raouf had in fact been making a U turn when the soldiers fired their guns , instantly killing him. Prior to his death, he had persistently criticized the manner in which “the legitimate” president was ousted.
Other Egyptian journalists critical of the coup have meanwhile, faced intimidation and threats. The handful of Egyptian journalists who have remained unbiased, refusing to take sides in the conflict, have faced the wrath of an increasingly intolerant public that has labelled them “traitors” and “foreign agents.” A reporter working for an international news network who chooses to remain anonymous, told Index she had received threats via her Facebook account urging her to “remain quiet or be silenced forever.” The messages were sent by people claiming affiliations with Egypt’s security apparatus including the Egyptian intelligence , she said… MORE