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Media Distortion and the Brotherhood's 'Peaceful' Activists

“Dear Friends,” the letter I receive from an Egyptian intellectual begins, “For the last six weeks since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, the Western media consistently portrayed the sit-ins that paralyzed Cairo and other parts of Egypt as sit-ins by ‘peaceful demonstrators.’ As mayhem broke out throughout Egypt today, they conveniently ignored what was happening in the rest of the country to focus on those ‘peaceful demonstrators.’”

Peaceful demonstrators? marvels this Egyptian correspondent. “Peaceful demonstrators do not have the capacity to kill police personnel, documented by name, rank, and serial number in a few hours. Peaceful demonstrators do not attack the Kerdasa (a neighborhood close to the pyramids) police station with rocket-propelled grenades, kill the station’s police officers, strip them of their clothes, and drag their bodies down the street. Peaceful demonstrators do not threaten Christians with genocide as was called for by many of their leaders over the last six weeks, and as documented by multiple videos available on YouTube and other outlets.”

They also do not, if they’re nonviolent, “raise the black flag of al-Qaeda over their sit-ins” and they likely also don’t burn churches and cathedrals “some several hundred years old.”

I was interested in checking out all these claims since, as my correspondent suggests, as a Westerner I was more or less under the impression that—of late, anyway—the pro-Morsi demonstrators, however wrong-headed and ill-advised, are more often victimized than violent, more sinned against than sinning—800 civilians dead since the protests began. Isn’t that why Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham felt obliged to fly to Cairo, the better to lecture General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the defense minister who ousted Morsi, and Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister, on the virtues of democracy?

“Mr. Prime Minister,” said the senator, “How many votes did you get? Oh yeah, you didn’t have an election.”

So here’s how my correspondent’s allegations against the so-called peaceful and victimized demonstrators play out:

  •  Pro-Morsi demonstrators wave black al-Qaeda flag during their demonstrations? Check.
  •  Numerous police officers shot dead and their building set alight by a Muslim Brotherhood mob in Kerdasa? Check. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “some onlookers” to the massacre of those police officers found murdering policemen “a reasonable reaction to the government’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.”
  • The bodies of those police officers are stripped and dragged through the streets? Check.
  • Morsi-backers wage a hate campaign against Egyptian Copts? Check. “We had never experienced the kind of persecution we suffer now. We are insulted every day,” Nevine Kamal, a 40-year-old Christian pharmacist and mother of two teenagers, told the AP in the city of Assiut—this after 10,000 Islamists marched down a street in a Copt neighborhood shouting: “Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians.”
  • Egyptian Christians are threatened with genocide? A definite check. Wagdi Ghoneim, an Islamic preacher, promised his Copt compatriots: “I swear the first people to be burned by the fire are you.”
  • Christian churches in Egypt burned to the ground? Check.

The reason I felt the need to confirm all these allegations was because of yet another e-mail I received over the weekend, this one from an Egyptian friend I have known a long time. In her note, she reminds me of what occurred in Luxor, the famous burial site of ancient noblemen and pharaohs, one visited by thousands of tourists each year. It was Mohamed Morsi, she reminds me, who appointed as governor of Luxor a member of a hard-line Islamist group, the very group responsible for the murder of 58 tourists who had come to Egypt some years back.

“Never has Egypt lived a darker period,” this good friend writes. “Nothing is worse than a so-called religious dictator.”

She is not a meddling, know-nothing US senator of course, preaching democracy to a general who has his hands full. She is simply an Egyptian, a Muslim one, who happens to know what she’s talking about. 

Photo Credit: Mohamed Elsayyed / Shutterstock.com

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