By Sara Farouk Ahmed, a resident in Cairo. Please note, opinions expressed in this article are those of Sara and do not necessarily represent Egyptian Streets’ editorial policy.
‘News’, especially foreign ‘news’, has been devalued to the point where you choose to watch, listen or read opinions that you agree with – where reports contain edited calls and tweets, and polls, that back up their/your take on what is happening in the world, are conducted. Egypt has been subject to this kind of biased speculation, agenda driven and blind reporting rather than any form of reputable investigative journalism.
The foreign media did a spectacular job in January 2011. By focusing on Tahrir Square, they persuaded the world that the whole of Egypt was in turmoil thus all but destroying the tourist industry and any form of investment. Luxor [and, by default, Qena, Naga Hamadi, Dendera, Kom Ombo, Esna and Aswan] was on the British Foreign and Commonwealth Offices’ ‘Don’t Travel’ list for three months and virtually nothing happened there. Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and, wait for it, 6 October City were on the list for six months. Even the UN suggested sending a peace keeping force.
Within a week after the jails had been broken into, had the various journalists ventured two streets away from Tahrir they could have reported that, although there had been a successful uprising against Mubarak and some opportunist looting, life was going on as normal. They chose not to, why?
Then, eventually, we had the election and the same journalists reported that it was between ‘the army man’ and ‘the Islamist’. Not ‘the guy who transformed Cairo’s International Airport into a facility to be proud of’ and ‘the ex-convict’. There was no mention of the cheap bread, meat and rice that was being doled out prior to the election by the Muslim Brotherhood. Not a single mention of the fact that they threatened to flood Egypt with “rivers of blood” if Morsi did not win the presidency. Neither did they report that Brotherhood Imams were preaching that the people who didn’t vote for Morsi would go to hell.
In November 2012 Morsi declared himself above the law and pushed through a new constitution, unconstitutionally. A referendum was held without said constitution being published, and therefore, people voted for something they knew virtually nothing about. There were huge peaceful demonstrations against this move –the Brotherhood responded with fatal attacks and kidnappings. Morsi even labeled the hundreds of thousands that took to the streets as “thugs and maggots.” Yet, the foreign media didn’t even bother to send correspondents. It wasn’t important enough.
This move by Morsi initiated a monumental change as, for the first time, Egyptians witnessed the vast numbers of protesters and the acts of violence committed by the Brotherhood.
The majority of the people were angry that the president had gone back on his promises of inclusiveness, that he appeared to be running the country for his own party and not for the people, that any semblance of democracy was slipping away and that Egypt was, actually, being sold down the river along with its entire infrastructure.
Yet, Tamarod had a brilliant idea: start a petition asking for Morsi to step down. On the June 30, the 22 million people that signed the petition, and many more, either took the streets. The millions on the streets cannot be denied, as there is plenty of footage of the demonstrations on social media forums. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood held a rally at a crossroads in Cairo, in Rabaa Al-Adaweya.
This time the foreign media did not concentrate on Tahrir but on the Rabaa crossroads. They did not highlight Morsi’s speech where he incited his followers to violence. They did not compare his response to the will of the people with that of Mubarak. They supported the Brotherhood’s claim to legitimacy and excused their militias by stating that they were frightened of attack. They focused on the fact that Islamist television channels had been blocked without mentioning the violent rhetoric of said channels.
The foreign press did not reveal that they were being given exclusive access to minaret views of the crossroads while Egyptian National TV channel personnel and vehicles were being attacked. They called what happened on July 3rd a military coup, while ignoring that the army are the only people who can remove a president [as they guard him] and that they did so at the behest of the people. They called for Morsi to be released from remand even though he had committed a criminal act. They endlessly talked about the country being split, without referring to percentages. They described the attacks by Morsi supporters as ‘clashes’ thus implying that both sides were there for a fight, potentially leading to a civil war.
They did not focus on Tahrir this time and, if they did, they forgot to mention what was going on in the rest of the country. They did not mention that it was the same (and more) people in Tahrir that they had supported so readily in 2011. This is a complete turn-around from January 2011. But the end game is the same.
In short, they gave the Morsi supporters hope, and the violent crimes that have resulted from this are on their hands.
At last we get to Egypt’s Military Chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi and today’s speech in which he asked the people to fill Egypt’s squares in order to provide security services with a mandate to fight terror and violence.
Al-Sissi asked “That all the honorable and good Egyptian people take to the streets. Why?
To give us [the army and police] a mandate to control the terrorism and violence that could happen in the future.”
Why does it matter?
It matters that the whole world sees that the army and police are acting at the behest of the Egyptian people. Until now the army and police have had their hands tied by the foreign media. They have watched the Brotherhood kill their own supporters in attempts to set them up. They have watched them publish photographs of dead people in Syria and claim them as victims of army aggression during their protests. They have watched innocent people being beaten, shot at, murdered, stripped and hung up on display. They have watched because any move against these violent thugs would have been reported in the foreign media as “Fascist, Army Backed, Regime Attack and Arrest Protesters After Military Coup.” Thanks to the foreign press, the chief of the Egyptian army has been put in a position where he cannot help the people of Egypt.
They will not focus on his explanation of the lead up to the July 3rd, and they will not mention that Al-Sissi stated, “I have never asked for anything before and I know it is not my right to do so, but I am asking you to take to the streets as you did on the June 30 and July 3 because you make the decisions and the power is in your hands. The decision here is whether you allow the army and police to deal with any future violence and terrorism. I am asking you to show the whole world your numbers. This is not a call for violence or for any of you to be involved in violence.”
They will focus on revenge and call it an incitement to civil war. They will not mention that part 52 of the constitution orders the army to protect Egyptian citizens from acts of terrorism.
They refuse to realize that Al-Sissi is asking for a mandate to put a stop to future violence, and they will not see that the Brotherhood’s response damns them as being the ‘terrorists’ they are. All the Brotherhood need to do is stop committing acts of violence and wait for the next election: an election that will be free and fair. As Al-Sissi said, “We have told everybody who came to us that anyone, from all over the world, the UN the EU, that anyone is welcome to come and monitor the next election.”
However, Friday will show the world, again, that whatever power the foreign media think they have, pictures, to use their own words, do not lie. The world needs to see that the army and police are the people of Egypt.
God bless the peaceful Egyptian people and the forces that protect them.
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