Egypt media back govt against Islamists
20 August 2013, 13:36
Cairo - Egypt's media, both public and private, have lined
up behind the government in portraying its fight against the Muslim Brotherhood
as a "war on terror" and vilifying foreign journalists.
As police and troops chase down members of the Islamist
group, from which ousted president Mohammed Morsi hails, the media have taken
part in a "campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist
currents", political commentator Hisham Kassem told AFP.
"In one year of Morsi's presidency, more journalists
were prosecuted than in the 185 years of the Egyptian press before," he
"Now, the media are exploiting the situation the
Brotherhood is in to pay them back."
For days, Egypt's three state television channels have
broadcast under a banner in English reading "Egypt fighting
They report around the clock on the latest clashes between
Morsi supporters and security forces that have claimed nearly 900 lives since
Between broadcasts, patriotic songs play over footage of the
armed forces carrying out military exercises and showing kindness to civilians.
A piece entitled "The Black History of the Brotherhood
Organisation" purports to show the group's violent history.
It includes archive footage of Brotherhood members, as well
as the attempted murder of president Gamal Abdul Nasser and the assassination
of president Anwar Sadat by Islamists.
It ends with clips from recent clashes, showing gunmen
purportedly belonging to the group, and buildings set ablaze.
The country's newspapers have been equally uniform in their
criticism of the group and in rallying behind the government and the army chief
who installed it, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Government daily Al-Ahram on Monday devoted its entire front
page - and nine separate headlines - to a speech by Sisi a day earlier.
Abdel Halim Qandil, editor-in-chief of the independent Sawt
al-Ummah daily, sees the media's united front as a normal response to the
country's "national battle".
A fierce critic of Islamists, he accuses the Western media
of swinging between two extremes: hatred for Islam and love of the Brotherhood.
"This is what has created serious anger and suspicion
on the part of Egyptians" towards foreign media, he said.
Since Morsi's 3 July ouster by the military after mass
demonstrations, the foreign media have come under attack from the government
and the population, particularly in Cairo.
Authorities accuse Western journalists of ignoring the
victims of violence committed by Morsi's supporters, such as police and
Simply walking in the street with a camera has become
increasingly dangerous, said one Western photographer on condition of
Three journalists killed
"I'm afraid to go into the street with my cameras since
the government authorised security forces to open fire" on demonstrators
targeting government buildings, he said.
"Today, I managed to take a few pictures from the car.
I got out for 45 seconds to take some others," added the photographer, who
has been in Egypt for 18 months.
"By publishing statements accusing the Western media of
being biased, the government is inciting public hatred against us," he
"Two photographer friends of mine were beaten up a few
days ago by a group of young guys when they were taking photos inside a
"They dragged them out of the building shouting 'They
are spies!' before beating them up."
In front of a morgue in Cairo on Monday, a group surrounded
two journalists from an international news agency as they tried to interview
relatives of the dead.
"A group surrounded me, trying to rip the camera out of
my hands," one of them told AFP, saying he escaped with the help of some
relatives, sprinting through side streets until he outran the mob.
Three journalists have been killed in Cairo since Wednesday,
when security forces cleared two pro-Morsi protest camps, including a cameraman
for Britain's Sky News.