It's trite but worth remembering that an excellent barometer of political freedom is how a regime treats the media. Deposed President Mohamed Morsi attempted to shut critics up through clumsy litigation — charges of insulting him or the judiciary, and so on. It was a classic Hosni Mubarak technique, but Morsi used it far more frequently.

Another technique was tacitly approving Salafi preacher Hazem Salah Abou Ismail and friends setting up shop outside the Media Production City in October 6 City — or at least not doing anything about it — in order to intimidate Lamis al-Hadidi and other vocally anti-Brotherhood television presenters who were beyond state control.  

But just like the Muslim Brotherhood failed in everything they did while in power, they failed in this, too: The cases never had the chilling effect desired, and Morsi and company were regularly ripped apart in the press, by comedian Bassem Youssef and others. In fact, the Brotherhood themselves liked to crow about their critics being left alone as an example of their political largesse. They never understood that using underhand measures to intimidate your opponents does not make you a just leader, and that leaving the press alone is a positive obligation, not an act of charity.

Wars on terrorism rely on crude binaries: You are either with us or against us, and this is the constant message being relayed to us.

The current regime, meanwhile, is combining the very best of pre-2011 media repression techniques with a classic February 2011 xenophobia campaign, combined with the force of an Interior Ministry stretching its sinewy muscles as it resurrects itself. 

The xenophobia campaign began gently with allegations that Syrians and Palestinians were in the Brotherhood Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in. After the Rabea sit-in was broken up, the anti-West rhetoric intensified. Allegations that western media support the Brotherhood widened to include not only CNN, but almost every foreign news outlet. After Friday's clashes in Ramses Square, the propaganda machine revved up a few notches, and the media filmed bearded, detained men they suggested were foreigners.

Prior to this, on Thursday General Mahmoud "Polo Shirt" Badr from the Tamarod (Rebel) battalion of the Egyptian army urged citizens to form popular committees to defend their neighborhoods against the terrorist threat. There are many well-intentioned people in popular committees, but anyone who experienced the January 2011 revolution (uprising? brief glitch?) will tell you that they are also a vehicle for vigilantism and an excellent form of indirect control by the state. There was what seemed to be coordinated harassment of foreigners during certain days in 2011 from the top — state media — to the bottom — popular committees on the ground.

We are now seeing the beginnings of this again. After the detained "foreign" men were shown on television on Friday night, the next day in Ramses Square, foreign journalists were physically attacked and detained. Two had to be bundled into an army APC for their own safety. Another was marched to Azbakeya police station and told firmly to leave Egypt. He was subsequently the victim of a citizens' arrest on the same day. Another female journalist who works for a foreign outlet said that while in Ramses Square, a cop ordered men around her to beat her up, telling them that she was American. On Saturday, the interim presidency gave a presser in which Mostafa Hegazy, presidential advisor, repeatedly talked about Egyptians' "bitterness" toward international coverage of events. On Sunday, the Der Spiegel correspondent was detained for seven hours at Rabea al-Adaweya, and claimed that the main accusation against him was "bad reports in the Western press."

On Saturday, a colleague was detained by a popular committee for half an hour while they went through videos on her laptop. The curfew in itself is an excellent way of controlling journalists who know that moving about in a hostile environment after dark invites problems. Foreign journalists — and foreigners in general — are now at particular risk.

I have also heard about emailed threats against a foreign journalist (without going into too many details, because this victim doesn't want publicity) and events that stink of state security: Men lurking around their house, being watched and so on. 

The latest development is that the authorities are going to review the Qatar-based satellite channel Al Jazeera's legal status. 

It looks like we are heading towards media oppression that will be worse than under 2011. There is a public appetite for it, and the security bodies have apparently been given a green light to do as they please. Wars on terrorism rely on crude binaries: You are either with us or against us, and this is the constant message being relayed to us (Hegazy even said during the presser yesterday that Egypt is "taking note of who is with it and who is against it"). Attempting to steer through the choppy mess that is Egypt at the moment with such a simplistic approach is disastrous, and is intended to reinforce the fiction that there are only two camps in the country. This is about bolstering the military regime's strength, and its strength is dependent on the creation of an equal and opposing force against which it must pit itself. The Brotherhood has become its raison d'etre: There is no other reason to justify its current position and current actions. 

The Brotherhood has shown that it has access to arms. It has not condemned the church attacks in any meaningful way (and remember that Morsi oversaw an attack on a cathedral), raising suspicion that Morsi's  supporters are involved in the attacks with the Brotherhood's tacit blessing. Is it a full-on terrorist organization?

The issue is that whether it is or not is not as important as the fact that the military needs it to be, and has deemed it so; and the media are not only being force fed this line, but are being forced to regurgitate it.

My question is this: If the terrorist case is so cut and dried, and is as clear as the sun, why does the regime need to constantly repeat it? Why does the presidency deliver statements in English first? Why has private satellite channel ONtv Live dubbed its transmission into English? Why is the international media being given “advice” by the State Information Service about its coverage, urging outlets to be “accurate in their coverage and not to rely on false information, and use only verified reports in a bid to convey an honest image without any distortion”?

I fear dark days ahead for media outlets that don’t see the same “honest image” as the Egyptian state.

Comments

You hit on it in the last

You hit on it in the last paragraph, now the language of liberal journalism has been usurped by the authoritarian regime, calls for "accuracy", "verification" and "freedom from distortion" being trumpeted by a regime that are actively violating all these principles. The Egyptian revolution is actually not a real revolution at all, it's a satirical revolution (there is no word better word I can think of right now), the hegemony of the liberals doesn't bring liberality it brings the co-opting of liberal terminology to the preservation of autocracy.

It seems to me the

It seems to me the international media has also largely failed in its duty to call a spade a spade. June 30 was a coup whether you support it or not and yet the BBC's Frank Gardner was just on, sgain, with " a coup, a takeover, whatever you want to call it". And I may be wrong but I haven't seen the term 'massacre' appear anywhere in respectable newspapers' copy. But it has an objective definition... various dictionaries describe it as the unnecessary (as in, not self-defensive) killing of large numbers of unarmed people. Of course the authorities deny it but any responsible gathering of the known facts builds this picture. Instead we have 'clashes', 'repression', 'crackdown' etc. Crackdown being the same word applied to the protests in Taksim where since June there have been a handful of what seem to be unintended deaths. This kind of false equivalence is actually not journalism as it is a distortion of the truth. Is it too cynical to think that foreign news outlets are well aware of the newly empowered Disinformation Machine looking at what they do, and questions of visas being renewed etc etc are already being considered? That they are being played, they know it, and are making concessions that they shouldn't?

I absolutely despise the

I absolutely despise the regime, but I have to add and say that Al-Jazeera's coverage of the event has not been exactly impartial.

Not to say that the remaining Egyptian channels were in any shape or manner unbiased either.

It's hypocritical on the side of the government, but they do have a point.

I agree about what you Said

I agree about what you Said but in the Same Time Some foreign Journalist mixing their Report ,yesterday i saw Mr. Karim Elgohary in Austrian Channel compairing what Happyend to MB as what Happyend during Shah Iran against Komintern and Thun khominy Regime came and he forget that what Happyend in Egypt is After MB Regime and near collapse of Egypt, i just give you Exempel

I have been following the

I have been following the reports in foreign as well as Arab channels and I must inform you dear author of this article / comment that the Western Media is so biased that if it would be standing upright it would bend deeply to the right ... Karim El Gawhary the German-Egyptian journalist is for example a terrible disappointment, I liked his page before the Egyptian removal of Mursi began and I thought well with him we'll get fair reports BUT he turned out to be as biased as ALL WESTERN MEDIA, depicting Mursi and his murder gang MB as the only victims .. he know but intentionally DOES NOT INFORM HIS PUBLIC that they intended to catapult Egypt 250 years back and that women and girls would have faced the same fate like the ones under the TALIBAN ... The Egyptians saved their country at the last moment .. it's their country not yours and not mine .. The present interim government is surely making mistakes and it's absolutely legitimate to report them but you lost your credibility when you showed the MBs as angels who wanted the best for Egypt. The MB are murderers who sypmpathize with Al-Qa'ida and the terrible Salafists you know it, we know it, OBAMA knows it, Europe knows it but nevertheless you support them even at the cost of sacrificing the Copts and the destruction of their churches, schools and other Christian institutions ... SHAME ON YOU ... instead of standing in the corner and feel ashamed you have the impertinence to criticize the present government .. I would suggest you report about Cameron's orders to destroy the computers in THE GUARDIAN and start worrying about the British "democrazy" instead ...

Dear Mrs. Carr.

Dear Mrs. Carr.

2000 years ago some Roman in one of the countries in your neighborhood said ; “what is truth”. 100 years ago a paper owner said to his journalist :”You go to Cuba, I care for the war.” (wasn't it Hurst?) Let us be honest, if I let 3 journalist write an article I get 3 articles with a 'different' point of view.

I read every day at least 8 papers in different languages. Unfortunately, I only can read them in French, German, English and Dutch. But what I see is total different opinions about the same subject. They differ because of politics, religion, nationalism or because their owner has its own point of view. If you read again, some years later over the same subject, it is obvious that the writers didn't have full information, where misled, or where misleading us. That is the nice thing from history, we seem to make always the same mistakes.

I believe, that you are telling us your truth as well as others are telling their truth. That is not necessarily the Truth. As long as I know that and you know that, that is no problem. But how many people in your country are able to differentiate between spoken words in papers, TV and of spiritual leaders and make their own conclusions? I doubt if in my country (with no illiterates) it is more than 50%.

The only thing that the poor people in Egypt want, is work, a better income, a better living (excluding those who want to force everybody to live in their way, at any price). As far as I can see Mr. Morsi did nothing to change anything, except perhaps that he moved some friends in important positions, so they could fill their pockets. Did he make any effort to be the president of all Egyptians? Did he care for work? Did he care fore a better living ? I didn't see it. In my opinion he didn't even have the intention. His way was, a majority even 0,0001 percent can do with the rest what he wants. That has nothing to do with democracy. For 200 years in French they would have put him on the guillotine.

Everything is a point of view and that point of view has it roots in our education, religion, country etc.

There is only one truth : there never is a really neutral press.

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