Azza Radwan Sedky
Thursday 12 Oct 2017

Does Western media deliberately mislead readers when covering news about Egypt?

In Wag the Dog, a 1997 movie, a war is fabricated to cover up a president’s sex scandal. It is a perfect example of how easy it is to work up hysteria over a non-existing cause.

Imagine something similar happening in Egypt. Imagine a scenario that is farfetched and definitely preposterous. Imagine the Western world suddenly ganging up on Egypt and deciding, amongst itself, that, for one bizarre reason or another, Egypt erred big time and deserves intense retribution.

It then attacks Egypt.

Stop for a moment. Didn’t the Western world attack and destroy Iraq over fake, fabricated causes in 2003?

So, play along. It gets better.

As the Western world bombs Egypt’s infrastructure and army facilities along its until then tightly secured borders, as well as strategic bridges and thoroughfares in Cairo, the world at large, in particular the Western world, watches unperturbed. Even more freaky, while some nations ignore the attack altogether, others deem it necessary and deserved.

The reason behind such a ludicrous reaction would be what Western media at large, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, too, have paved the way for in their reports on Egypt for the last six years. These publications, by virtue of their misleading tactics, would have convinced the world that the attack is due process.

You see, if you are a layperson who doesn’t know much about the comings and goings in Egypt, but is an avid reader of Western publications, you would, most certainly, believe that Egypt is under a repressive dictatorship and that soon Egypt will implode upon itself. Hence, the West must intervene.

You will have heard of death penalties but not why these criminals received such drastic sentences; you will have heard of limitations on freedom of speech, but you wouldn’t have been exposed to the incitement, including death lists, flagrantly bellowed on social media; and you will have been told that the traitors, aka Egypt’s leaders, are giving away their land to the highest bidder, and you will accept it all as a given. Who would think otherwise?

Does Western media lie, twist facts, or mislead? Heavens, no!

You will have read of a Qatar embargo and severe sanctions inflicted on a ganged-up-upon, minuscule emirate but not why there is an embargo: ruthless interference in other countries’ affairs and becoming an open playground for terrorists.

You will have been told that the poor are getting poorer, that prices are skyrocketing, and that the subsidies on fuel and power are being removed; you would have never perused an article discussing the efforts to create power, to build an expansive road network and better homes to replace the shacks many live in, to cure millions of the debilitating disease Hepatitis C, and to support those in need by providing extensive subsidies. 

According to Western media, Egypt will have deserved this powerful reaction by virtue of the image projected prior to the attack. According to that image, Egypt may well be deserving retribution equivalent to attacks that hit Libya, Syria, and Iraq.

Let’s consider what the media of the democratic world tells the world.

It didn’t take Western media long to decide that 30 June was a coup that went against the legitimately elected Brotherhood regime, disregarding the millions that called for its downfall and neglecting the euphoria that swept Egypt immediately afterwards.

Since then, Western media exerts every effort to downplay accomplishments and overstate defeats. Every issue on Egypt in Western media is presented with headlines and content that twists facts, alludes to failures, and scrutinises even the biggest of successes.

After 30 June, the headlines of Western media read, “Morsi is the Arab world’s Mandela,” “Does Egypt even matter?” and “The military coup is a ‘cancer’ eating away at Egypt.” 

According to The Telegraph, El-Sisi “plotted a military takeover even while Hosni Mubarak was still in power.” This is so bizarre it is mind boggling. By the way, Egyptians had not heard of El-Sisi before 2012, and for him to predict Mubarak’s downfall and scheme a take over when it occurs is ludicrous.

And yet, a Google search proves that, in 2014, Egypt’s most capturing story was not even mentioned. In confidence with the new leadership, in eight days, Egyptians came up with the EGP 64 billion needed to build the Suez Canal extension. Nothing appeared on this issue in Western media.

And so in another opinion piece in The Guardian, “Egypt’s new masters are wrecking its long tradition of religious freedom” was mystifying. The sub-headline says, “Sisi is trying to remake the people’s identity by exploiting division.”

Both concepts, “remaking people’s identity” and “exploiting division” are erroneous to the core. El-Sisi cannot remake people’s identity even if he tried, and in no way is he exploiting division.

The Financial Times is no better. “Dark days for Egypt’s amateur vice squad” draws its off-the-wall conclusions from speaking to one single Egyptian — a bawab, or doorman. It builds a dismal portrait of a country in disarray from the views of this single person.

The sub-heading reads, “Egyptians used to laugh and smile, but not any more,” and I beg to differ; Egyptians laugh and smile more now than they used to while ex-President Morsi was in power. And, because it is in their nature, they will continue to laugh, smile, and enjoy what life gives them because it is innate in them, despite what The Financial Times alludes to.

In March, as President El-Sisi was about to head to Washington, Human Rights Watch published an article titled, “Sisi’s Egypt is a Poor Partner for the United States in the Fight Against Terrorism.” It warns President Trump against amending ties with Egypt, concluding that “Hosting Egypt’s repressive president sends the wrong message to the world on how to overcome the scourge of violent extremism and terrorism.” And today the same explicit notions continue as Forbes’ headline reads, “Washington should dump Egypt’s new pharaoh: Dictator El-Sisi turns country into open-air prison.”

My two cents: either these journalists are absolute imbeciles who have no clue what they are writing about or, the other extreme, they have a clear goal and are out to accomplish it: ruin Egypt.

Now, after all this, if you were a Westerner, wouldn’t you say that Egypt deserved heavy-handed retaliation?

Need I say more?

The writer is an academic, political analyst, and author of Cairo Rewind: the First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution, 2011-2013.

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