Deutsche Welle and the Muslim Brotherhood

Saeed Okasha, Tuesday 10 Mar 2020

For a foreign news outlet to provide a platform for opponents of the Egyptian government is one thing. But to provide no right of reply, and thereby no balance, is another, writes Saeed Okasha

If Deutsche Welle or any other German news outlet wants to lend itself to the Muslim Brotherhood or any other terrorist organisation, including the Islamic State group, at least it should not be funded or even partially funded by the German state, which means by German taxpayers. Deutsche Welle is not a privately-owned media. So, ultimately, its editorial policy may be regarded as an expression of the views of the German government, including on matters of concern to the Arab region and the domestic concerns of Arab states, such as the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies on the far right or the far left, like the revolutionary socialists and the anarchists. 

Followers of Deutsche Welle’s Arabic edition will have noticed the considerable space it offers two individuals to voice their views, generally on issues related to the Arab region and Egypt in particular. One is an Egyptian man; the other is a woman who claims to be Egyptian in “spirit” although she was born in Acre, making her Palestinian. Their writings, which appear regularly on that news site’s “Opinion” page, keep one amazed at their poor command of language, their knee-jerk value judgements and the sheer quantity of false and undocumented information they use, primarily to attack the Egyptian government. 

That might be fine if those views appeared anywhere else, but on a news site that is at least partially funded by the German taxpayer, who may know nothing about the conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies and the Egyptian state, it is unacceptable. Certainly, the average German citizen if shown federal budget allocations, and told that a portion of this budget ended up supporting advocates of terrorism and chaos, would not be thrilled. Regardless of whether or not they knew anything of the Muslim Brotherhood and how it operates, these Germans would naturally want their government’s budgetary allocations to serve their interests, one of which is the need to fight terrorism which strikes Germany from time to time. Imagine, then, how they would feel if they learned that some of their hard-earned money goes to a news site that targets Arab audiences and that supports the main umbrella organisation for all terrorist groups from Al-Qaeda and Al-Jihad to the Islamic State group. How will the German government explain to its people, many of whom have been killed or wounded in terrorist knife attacks or by vehicles ploughing into pedestrians, the policy of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s national broadcaster and, presumably, a voice of national policy?

One might argue that those writers on Deutsche Welle’s “Opinion” page are not Muslim Brotherhood members, and that they look like left-wing or liberal leaning novelists and journalists. This may be the case at first glance. However, below the surface the extreme left has been in league with Islamist groups which have advocated violence for decades. That alliance seeks to disseminate chaos and civil warfare, under the illusion that this is the only way to attain democracy. It has made its way to Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab region, creating locally based components that seek to advance the same agenda, using the same tactics, one of which is to stir doubt and suspicion over the socio-economic policies pursued by the Egyptian government, above all. 

Does the German government offer monetary or other material support to German extreme right groups, enabling their members to disseminate their ideas in the manner that Deutsche Welle helps disseminate the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood and its leftist allies? Or are there double standards at work? Is there a policy that condones funding Deutsche Welle despite its serving as a platform for terrorists and their allies in the Arab region, is and against funding neo-Nazi media platforms and other extreme right groups in Germany, even though the methods of incitement are the same? 

The Deutsche Welle Arabic edition betrays its bias in favour of the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal/leftist facade behind which it operates in another way. It does not publish readers’ commentaries on provocative, misleading and unsubstantiated opinion pieces targeting Egypt. Is it not the duty of Deutsche Welle’s leadership to learn both sides of a story? Surely, presentation of only one side of an issue should be construed as complicity in a policy of anti-Egyptian incitement, instead of support for persons deprived of the right to disseminate their views through the press and other media in their own country. 

If Deutsche Welle wants to give opponents of the Egyptian government the opportunity to disseminate their ideas, so be it, even if the German government is behind it. But at the very least, it should offer the other side the right to respond, and its readers the right to hear the opposing view. 

The Muslim Brotherhood may have its supporters, but there are millions of Egyptians who support President Al-Sisi and oppose the malicious campaign to destroy the Egyptian state and disseminate instability and chaos in Egyptian society.

The writer is an expert at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.


*A version of this article appears in print in the  12 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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