Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Information Minister should apologize! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Without the slightest hesitation, Egyptian Information Minister Osama Heikal said that he does not need to apologize to the Egyptian people for the state-run media’s coverage of what happened at Maspero [the Coptic protests].

The minister believes that he is in a strong position due to a report issued by a supposedly independent committee made up of media experts that reviewed the official Egyptian media’s coverage of the clashes that took place less than two weeks ago and which resulted in the deaths of 27 Copts, killed by speeding military vehicles and gunfire. The media committee ruled that the Egyptian media’s coverage included some mistake, but that it did not incite violence. The Egyptian state-run media’s shocking and blatant bias towards those responsible for what happened – at the expense of the victims – has shamed our Arab media, as has the so-called independent media committee’s report which claimed that the state-run media was only guilty of miscalculation and committing small mistakes.

The Egyptian state-run TV broadcast statements calling for the Egyptian army to be protected from the Coptic protesters, and portrayed what was happening as an outrageous attack by a sectarian group against the Egyptian military. Therefore, how can this be viewed as nothing more than a mistake?

The Maspero protests that occurred two weeks ago were by far the most dangerous event in the post-revolution period in Egypt. The bloody period that Egypt has recently witnessed, and the manner in which the ruling Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] has dealt with this, politically and in the media, has drawn parallels with regards to what is happening in Syria today. The Syrian state media continues to put forward the story that the Syrian army is the victim of assault and attack at the hands of sectarian armed gangs who have infiltrated the country [from abroad]. The Egyptian media scene, during and following the Maspero protests, took a similar position to the one taken by the Syrian media.

Does this mean that the Egyptian revolution has not had any effect, and that a country where a revolution has succeeded is in the same situation as a country where the uprising remains on-going, namely Syria?

Many questions spring to mind, however it is clear that the security mentality which the Egyptian people rose up against – and which the Syrian and Yemeni people are today boldly confronting in their respective countries – is a mentality or mind-set that is not easy to eliminate, particularly as there remains a media strategy based upon misinformation and glorifying the ruling regime. Therefore toppling the head [of the regime] does not necessarily mean the collapse of the entire ideological structure of that regime.

In the wake of the Maspero protests, many have theorized that chaos such as this always follows revolutions, and this represents the unknown fate of countries following the collapse of regimes that guaranteed [national] security, stability, and the protection of minorities.

Such misconception have become increasingly popular, and it was as if the objective of the media is to distort the public’s perceptions and prevent them from differentiating between the victims and the offenders. This is something that the state-run media has been attempting in a number of different countries, without success.