By Mohamed Khairat, Founder, EgyptianStreets.com
Objectivity has taken on a new definition since the June 30 uprising which toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Fairness, factuality, independence, non-partisanship, impartiality, open-mindedness, and neutrality are all terms traditionally associated with ‘objectivity’.
For many Egyptians, objectivity is no longer defined in this way. Instead, objectivity has come to mean unraveling or reporting the ‘truth’ – the truth that tells the story that they want told, with the information they believe, even if all evidence and information obtained proves that this is not in fact the truth.
When the Muslim Brotherhood came to power in 2012, many critics used to label supporters of Morsi and the Brotherhood as ‘sheep’ – blindly following the leader of the herd. When tens of thousands gathered outside the Presidential Palace in December 2012, Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters claimed there were only “several hundred,” and refused to believe that there was considerable opposition to Morsi.
When the arrest of journalists and incidents of torture were reported during Morsi’s reign, supporters would blast such reports, claiming “bias” and “fabrication.” Yet, if it was reported that Morsi was found to be the most democratic leader in the world, his supporters would not for a second question the claim.
Eventually, it was this blindness to the truth – the real truth – that led to the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist President. In just four days, the group and people which had quickly gained control over all sectors in society lost every shred of power. The truth eventually caught up, and millions went on the streets to display it.
Ironically, almost four months later, many Egyptians who once labeled Islamists “sheep,” are unknowingly in the same position as those Islamists. Many supporters of Military Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi have blasted journalists for being ‘biased’ and for their lack of objectivity, simply because the information that is being reported goes against what they wish to hear.
Recently, when a photograph of two large Al-Sisi posters was posted across social networks, including on Egyptian Streets’ Facebook page, pro-Sisi Egyptians immediately claimed that the photographs were fake and photo-shopped. When ES posted a photograph taken personally, ES was immediately accused of being “pro-Muslim Brotherhood,” and even a foreign agent working against Egypt.
There are many incidents similar to this: from reporting on the detention of foreign journalists and citizens, to revealing the use of excessive force by police against Morsi supporters and Islamists. Each time news that even slightly harms the image of the current interim government is posted or relayed (despite it being accurate), many supporters of the interim government are quick to claim a “lack of objectivity” – despite the fact that the journalists and bloggers posting this information, are the same journalists many of these supporters followed before and during the June 30 protests.
The dangers of this – of blindly following the mob’s leader – are evident. When Morsi supporters are killed during protests, certain groups of people are quick to justify their deaths. When the draft protest law was leaked to the media, supporters of the current regime swiftly supported it – even if this law is more restrictive than the one proposed by Morsi earlier this year, and even if this law would mean the illegalization of protests that deposed the Islamist president.
At this pace, any hope of achieving a real democracy, led under a government and leader that truly represent all sects of Egyptian society, will be lost. Today’s “liberals” are just like yesterday’s Islamists: apart from the beards, they are both interested in a definition of objectivity that best suits their interests.