In a detailed statement issued on Sunday, Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS) accused the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) of "promoting the lies of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group" in an "inflammatory article" published on the BBC's Arabic-language website.
The SIS has accused the BBC of "literally turning themselves into a propaganda tool of media outlets directly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood," and has summoned the head of the BBC's Cairo office over the article, which is titled '#Rest_assured_you_are_not_alone campaign renews calls for protests against Sisi'.
“The Brotherhood are considered a terrorist organisation by Egypt and several countries including the United Kingdom… which officially classified Hasm and Lewaa Al-Thawra – two organisations affiliated with the Brotherhood – as terrorist groups," the SIS said.
The SIS slammed the article for describing a call for protests on Twitter by a pro-Brotherhood TV presenter as a "campaign," adding that this call has not gained any traction in Egypt.
The SIS said that the article propagated false reports by posting videos from Brotherhood-affiliated media that purports to show anti-government protests in several Egyptian governorates.
The statement also rejected the article's caveat that the authenticity of the videos had not been verified by the BBC.
“This violates universal professional codes of conduct, as the BBC’s Cairo office with its dozens of correspondents nationwide should have tried to actually investigate whether the content of these videos was authentic,” the SIS stated.
“The BBC’s failure to take this necessary step before publishing the article seems intentional in order to legitimise the allegations of media outlets affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood -- a terrorist organisation,” the statement said, adding that not a single foreign correspondent from any other news outlet reported on any such protests in Egypt.
“It seems the Brotherhood are the only ones who witnessed [these protests] and the BBC is the only accredited foreign media outlet that has promoted them,” the SIS said.
The statement also slammed the article for failing to include any comments from Egyptian officials about the matter.
The SIS said that the BBC should immediately give a formal apology for the article, and called on "all Egyptian officials and the intelligentsia to boycott the BBC and refrain from giving any interviews or statements to its correspondents until it formally apologises… and takes the necessary administrative and professional measures to undo the violations it has committed.”
This is not the first time the SIS has accused the BBC of publishing false news about Egypt.
In March 2018, the SIS slammed the BBC over a TV report alleging torture and forced disappearances of Egyptian opposition members by Egyptian security forces.
In October 2017, the SIS denounced the BBC and Reuters for reporting a false death toll in a terrorist attack in Egypt's El-Wahat area.
State Information Service's full statement:
BBC promotes the lies of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group
For over a year the State Information Service (SIS) has exerted strenuous and serious efforts with the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) through both its Cairo office and its main office in London in order for the latter to abide by objectivity, neutrality and the universal professional codes of conduct.
These efforts resulted in BBC’s compliance for a few months with the aforementioned standards, however this was not to last, as on March 22nd 2019 BBC posted content on its Arabic website that not only breaches the most basic codes of conduct, it actually surpassed that and reached the level of fabricating events that never took place, by that literally turning themselves into a propaganda tool of media outlets directly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood are considered a terrorist organization by Egypt and several countries including The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which officially classified Hasm and Liwaa al-Thawra – two organizations affiliated with the Brotherhood – as terrorist organizations. BBC’s Arabic website posted an inflammatory and offensive article under the title “Be assured you are not alone campaign renews its calls for protests against Al-Sisi”
This politicized and misleading article carries several professional flaws including the following:
The title is inaccurate and does not correspond to reality as it has described a call for protests on twitter by a pro Brotherhood TV presenter as a campaign which is not true as this call for protests did not gain any traction in Egypt to be termed as such.
The article included 3 videos of two Turkey based Pro Brotherhood TV presenters and footage of alleged protests which were 6 minutes long. False claims of a nationwide wave of demonstration in response to the call of one of the presenters were propagated in these videos as well. The article to not raise any of the essential questions regarding the veracity of these videos.
The article resorted to the usual method of stating that the authenticity of these videos were not verified to clear themselves of any responsibility. This violates universal professional codes of conduct, as BBC’s Cairo office with its dozens of correspondents nationwide should have tried to actually investigate whether the content of these videos was authentic or not. BBC’s failure to take this necessary step before posting the article seems intentional in order to legitimize the allegations of media outlets affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood (A terrorist organization).
If BBC was actually keen on verifying the truthfulness of the content that was originally broadcasted by the 2 pro Brotherhood TV channels, it would have approached to 1500 foreign correspondents who represent 300 international press and media institution to see whether they covered any of the alleged events reported. In reality not a single foreign correspondent posted any coverage related to these fake protests; it seems the Brotherhood are the only ones who witnessed them and the BBC is the only accredited foreign media outlet to promote them.
The article was completely and bluntly biased content wise to the pro Brotherhood TV presenters. The article dedicated 16 lines to the fake protests and their hashtag, while covering the opposing hashtag “Be assured Sisi you are not alone” in only 6 lines. The article included 7 pictures of twitter of pro Brotherhood twitter accounts and only 3 pictures of accounts supporting the pro Sisi hashtag.
The article included the text of a long post made by an account named Khayaly Wase’e (My wide imagination) on twitter, even though it is clear that this account is fake and does not carry a real name, yet the article included the fake account’s post at a time when the world faces the phenomenon of fake accounts where on person can have thousands of accounts as a method to spread misleading ideas.
The article did not include any comments from any Egyptian official to either verify the content or include the government’s perspective. The article not mentioning that BBC tried to approach any official for comment further supports this fact.
This article cannot be justified by arguments such the BBC merely covering the content of social media outlets as part of a TV show that covers social media trends, as universal norms dictate that the no media outlet should spread the ideas and allegations of terrorists, and New Zealand has set a great example in this regard in dealing with the recent catastrophic mosque terrorist attack.
The article completely ignored the fact that one of the two TV presenters affiliated with the Brotherhood actually instigated the people to murder Egyptian policemen on his TV show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcMqL4ap0Vg). BBC’s stance of this matter makes them complicit in spreading violence and calls for murder which in turn violates British laws, international law and all professional norms universally agreed upon.
Based on the aforementioned SIS has decided the following:
Directing this statement and an official letter to the head of BBC’s Cairo office through the Director General of the SIS Press Center after summoning the former.
SIS calls upon the BBC to immediately present a formal apology in the same manner they broadcasted the inflammatory article which was filled with professional flaws and unfounded claims.
SIS urges BBC to take into account all the reservations the former’s official statement has made regarding the article and its content. BBC should also take all the necessary professional and administrative measures to rectify all the offenses that were committed.
SIS in its capacity as the agency responsible for foreign correspondents in Egypt, and Egypt’s image in the global media calls upon all Egyptian officials and the intelligentsia to boycott the BBC and refrain from giving any interviews or statements to its correspondents until it officially apologizes for posting an inflammatory offensive article and takes the necessary administrative and professional measures to undo the violations it has committed. SIS stresses that this boycott does not include or violate BBC’s and other media outlet’s right to seek the information needed for them to undertake their functions.
Finally, SIS will follow thoroughly all developments related to the unfortunate article by the BBC; SIS also takes into account all the legal alternative provided by Egyptian laws that regulate the work and conduct of foreign correspondents in Egypt in accordance with internationally upheld professional rules of conduct.