Blame the media before the guns
A pile of newspapers reporting on the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi on July 4, 2013, in Cairo. © Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP
Blame the media before the guns
Last updated: April 16, 2014
Blame the media before the guns

“If the Egyptian people is going to win the war for democracy, reforming the media is the recipe”

Banner Icon The media have been always cheering whoever wins a battle. When Mubarak was in power, he was hailed for his wisdom. When Morsi was in power, he was commended for his meekness. And as we are witnessing Al-Sisi's Egypt, he is being glorified as the savior, writes Mohamed Selim.

Western analysts tend to address the Egyptian ongoing crisis with a myopic perspective. It is certainly, a power struggle between the military establishments, that comprise the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the synchronized Intelligence and Internal Security institutions on the one hand, and the ideologically different yet politically allied Islamic factions on the other.

Yet, Egypt's problems are far deeper than this simplistic view. It's a crisis of misinformed and staunchly polarized opinions and unfathomed ideologies which utilize the poorly educated and illiterate masses for cheap political goals. And the root-of-all-evil in that muddle-through are the Egyptian Mass Media, whether official or private.

Egyptians are amateur political beings. For more than 60-years (since the 1952 junta that set the ruthless military Leviathan), politics wasn't their daily sport. They preferred passing their time discussing football, music and voicing their opinions of the current affairs behind closed-doors.

"Mubarak = Morsi = Al-Sisi. They are power-hungry dictators who are only thinking of maintaining their personal interests and advancing their establishment's gains.

Tahrir square was always known for its bus-station, it was subject to a terrorist attack on September 18th 1997, and was closed after that. It connected downtown Cairo with its suburbs and was never an Egyptian Hyde Park.

Educated Egyptians found it petulant and a dally to discuss local politics or policies. 'Whatever the President says, will happen; so why do I have to waste time?' This shrugging-mentality formed the Egyptian way of looking at their country's rulers. Complaining behind closed doors and being cantankerous with each other for trifle reasons on the streets were their daily routines.

Political parties were only licensed for cosmetic reasons and orchestrated by the state to support the status quo. The other most powerful political players on the Egyptian ground where always leashed, whether the Islamic Movements or the cranky football aficionados/hooligans, the ultras. And all while the second most powerful tool on the Egyptian soil – given that the Army is number one – the Egyptian media is tamed and in many instances neutered.  

Egypt had the first Goebbellsian Ministry of Information (it was known as the Ministry of National Guidance) in 1953 and has been in charge of the Egyptian media conduits ever since (it was scrapped for only six months after the deposition of Mubarak in February 2011).

Its mandate is unequivocal. It can license whatever medium it sees fit and expel the ones which are foreign-agents who work for the enemies' agendas. It has always been one of four sovereign ministries in Egypt (the others are the Defense, Interior & Foreign Affairs).

Neither Mubarak, Morsi nor Al-Sisi dared to alter, regulate or reform the media in Egypt, yet, in fact everyone used and will use it for egotistical gains. The media environment is becoming more and more stifling and univocal.

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If he who controls Egypt (it's always a HE) declares something, it will be parroted by his media conduits in a nauseating manner till the people are indoctrinated and can't accept an opposing view. This is now happening with the callous campaign to castrate the Muslim Brethren (MB), the organization and the incompetent ideology.

Al-Sisi's conduits declared it, a 'War on Terror'. Every TV Channel in Egypt, regardless of its affiliation, has a superimposed emblem with the wordings, 'Egypt fights Terrorism'. Any attempt to report the states brutality is censored, repudiated and dubbed as serving the interests of Egypt's enemies, which are a cohort of Israel, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Hamas and Hizbullah.

Challenge the official rhetoric and you will be referred to a military tribunal. Follow, tweet and repeat what Al-Sisi says, you will be as patriotic as he is. If you disagree with the atrocious way the MB's encampments were dispersed, you will find out that Egypt is at a war with terrorists and, 'everything is fair in love and in war'!      

As one of Morsi's millions of detractors (I have neither supported, campaigned, elected nor liked him), I have welcomed his ousting with relieve and hope that the next phase will see more media freedoms. I was naively mistaken.

Mubarak = Morsi = Al-Sisi. They are power-hungry dictators who are only thinking of maintaining their personal interests and advancing their establishment's gains. For Mubarak, it was his family; for Morsi it was his MB; and for Al-Sisi, it's the Military's role in preserving its enormous wealth and influence.

EDITOR's PICK: Bassem Youssef's tweet launched a wave of anti-Semitism. Here's what it tells us about racism in the Arab World.

The media have been always cheering whoever wins a battle. When Mubarak was in power, he was hailed for his wisdom. When Morsi was in power, he was commended for his meekness. And as we are witnessing Al-Sisi's Egypt, he is being glorified as the 'savior' and the voices orchestrated by the media that asked him to run for the presidency were deafening. If the Egyptian people is going to win the war for democracy, reforming the media is the recipe.

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