Building a false narrative in Egypt

by Datechguy | December 6th, 2012

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Building a false narrative in Egypt

Because of per­sonal issues I haven’t given the events in Egypt any cov­er­age, that couldn’t really been helped but for all the fuss about fis­cal cliffs and preg­nant princesses the protests of the last few days might in fact be the most con­se­quen­tial events of the 21st cen­tury, for the entire world.

On Thanks­giv­ing day just a few hours after being praised by Obama/​Clinton team for his role in the cease-​fire that pre­vented Israel from wip­ing out Hamas sites where rock­ets had been launched against Israel from (a cease-​fire the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood needed badly to safe face) Pres­i­dent Morisi claimed far-​reaching pow­ers over the state and the courts in a rather dra­matic move that caught many Egyp­tians by sur­prised and was almost totally ignored by Amer­i­cans busy with Turkey, Foot­ball and Black Fri­day shopping.

Since then there have been loud protest reach­ing a point where Morsi actu­ally fled the palace for a short period of time.

How­ever the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood was not going to sit back and let this hap­pen, yes­ter­day they orga­nized counter-​protests and that means vio­lence:

The Egypt­ian army has begun to clear demon­stra­tors and media organ­i­sa­tions from out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace in Cairo.

It fol­lows vio­lent overnight clashes between sup­port­ers and oppo­nents of Pres­i­dent Mohammed Morsi that left five peo­ple dead and 644 injured.

Yes­ter­day While pick­ing up a pizza at a local place the protests were on the air on a satel­lite chan­nel in Ara­bic, the owner of the place in Fitch­burg talked about the vio­lence of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood in an attempt to sup­press protests.

There isn’t much news in Eng­lish from the Horse’s mouth but here is some­thing from the Egypt Daily News.

First of all, I would like to thank you. If it wasn’t for the mas­sive organ­ised effort and insane amount of money that you poured into hav­ing a strong show­ing in Giza and Alexan­dria last Sat­ur­day, and the full Panic mode that you put all the sec­u­lar peo­ple of Egypt (who are now the major­ity after five months only of your rule), we wouldn’t have seen yesterday’s mas­sive, nay, colos­sal turn out in all of the gov­er­norates. Not only did we pack Tahrir, we com­pletely cov­ered the huge area sur­round­ing the Pres­i­den­tial palace (despite secu­rity check­points placed there by your secu­rity forces to divide the crowds and make the num­bers look small, and which were nat­u­rally removed by the pro­test­ers), not to men­tion the mas­sive turnout in Alexan­dria, Assiut, Minya, Daqahliya, Suez, Port Said, 6th of Octo­ber, Mahalla, Hurghada, Sharm El-​Sheikh, Daman­hour, Dami­etta, Aswan and others.

Want­ing to get a few from the front lines I took a look at the twit­ter feed of Egypt­ian blog­ger Sand­mon­key to get a bet­ter idea of what is going on and dis­cov­ered some­thing interesting…

As might be expected there is a lot of ara­bic as Egyp­tians of all types talk about what is going on here

That’s a real prob­lem for a per­son like me who doesn’t know ara­bic, but there is one thing he says in Eng­lish loud and clear:

Who is Gehad El-​Haddad? Let me intro­duce you or more prop­erly I’ll let him intro­duce himself:

So it seems to be Mr. El-​Haddad is deeply involved in both the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and in media. As the Broth­er­hood man involved in TV I would expect he’d have a lot to say about what is going on, so I looked at his twit­ter feed, Here is what the front page of his twit­ter feed looks like as of 8:48 AM EST Thursday

This screen shot seemed odd to me, so I kept scrolling down for 2nd then a 3rd and then a 4th. Then I came to the 5th page:

Now doesn’t it strike you as odd that you have to go down 5 pages before you find a sin­gle tweet in Ara­bic, and that a retweet?

If this man is com­mu­ni­cat­ing to the peo­ple of Egypt, to the Arab world, to peo­ple who fol­low Islam, surely you would expect to see a large amount of tweets in Ara­bic with the odd Eng­lish tweet mixed in more like our friend Sandmonkey?

Why is this so? The answer can be found in Sandmonkey’s twit­ter feed

Here is what I think. I think this fel­low Gehad El-Haddad’s twit­ter feed is for lazy west­en­ers who don’t want to sort though ara­bic, I think it exists to build a real time nar­ra­tive for the west­ern world. As Ner­vana Mah­moud puts it in the Daily News of Egypt:

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is wag­ing a war of per­cep­tion, not just for domes­tic con­sump­tion but for a west­ern audi­ence, too. Per­cep­tion is cru­cial for two rea­sons: To defeat non-​Islamist oppo­nents, who may lose faith quickly when watch­ing the end­less num­ber of pro-​Morsy pro­tes­tors in com­par­i­son to their rel­a­tively lower num­ber in Tahrir and, sec­ondly, to con­vince west­ern nations that Islamists are the only reli­able, pow­er­ful force in Egypt and that they are backed by the “major­ity” of Egyptians.

That’s why Mr. El Haddad’s tweets are not in Ara­bic. If you con­sider how eas­ily the west bought the Hamas nar­ra­tive I can see why he would be sure to tweet “facts” in a lan­guage that the lazy west­ern press could under­stand but the major­ity of Egyp­tians would not.

Update: Insta­lanche! and more from Stacy McCain and Cap­tain Ed

Because of personal issues I haven’t given the events in Egypt any coverage, that couldn’t really been helped but for all the fuss about fiscal cliffs and pregnant princesses the protests of the last few days might in fact be the most consequential events of the 21st century, for the entire world.

On Thanksgiving day just a few hours after being praised by Obama/Clinton team for his role in the cease-fire that prevented Israel from wiping out Hamas sites where rockets had been launched against Israel from (a cease-fire the Muslim Brotherhood needed badly to safe face) President Morisi claimed far-reaching powers over the state and the courts in a rather dramatic move that caught many Egyptians by surprised and was almost totally ignored by Americans busy with Turkey, Football and Black Friday shopping.

Since then there have been loud protest reaching a point where Morsi actually fled the palace for a short period of time.

However the Muslim Brotherhood was not going to sit back and let this happen, yesterday they organized counter-protests and that means violence:

The Egyptian army has begun to clear demonstrators and media organisations from outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

It follows violent overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi that left five people dead and 644 injured.

Yesterday While picking up a pizza at a local place the protests were on the air on a satellite channel in Arabic, the owner of the place in Fitchburg talked about the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to suppress protests.

There isn’t much news in English from the Horse’s mouth but here is something from the Egypt Daily News.

First of all, I would like to thank you. If it wasn’t for the massive organised effort and insane amount of money that you poured into having a strong showing in Giza and Alexandria last Saturday, and the full Panic mode that you put all the secular people of Egypt (who are now the majority after five months only of your rule), we wouldn’t have seen yesterday’s massive, nay, colossal turn out in all of the governorates. Not only did we pack Tahrir, we completely covered the huge area surrounding the Presidential palace (despite security checkpoints placed there by your security forces to divide the crowds and make the numbers look small, and which were naturally removed by the protesters), not to mention the massive turnout in Alexandria, Assiut, Minya, Daqahliya, Suez, Port Said, 6th of October, Mahalla, Hurghada, Sharm El-Sheikh, Damanhour, Damietta, Aswan and others.

Wanting to get a few from the front lines I took a look at the twitter feed of Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey to get a better idea of what is going on and discovered something interesting…

As might be expected there is a lot of arabic as Egyptians of all types talk about what is going on here

That’s a real problem for a person like me who doesn’t know arabic, but there is one thing he says in English loud and clear:

Who is Gehad El-Haddad? Let me introduce you or more properly I’ll let him introduce himself:

So it seems to be Mr. El-Haddad is deeply involved in both the Muslim Brotherhood and in media. As the Brotherhood man involved in TV I would expect he’d have a lot to say about what is going on, so I looked at his twitter feed, Here is what the front page of his twitter feed looks like as of 8:48 AM EST Thursday

This screen shot seemed odd to me, so I kept scrolling down for a 2nd then a 3rd and then a 4th. Then I came to the 5th page:

Now doesn’t it strike you as odd that you have to go down 5 pages before you find a single tweet in Arabic, and that a retweet?

If this man is communicating to the people of Egypt, to the Arab world, to people who follow Islam, surely you would expect to see a large amount of tweets in Arabic with the odd English tweet mixed in more like our friend Sandmonkey?

Why is this so? The answer can be found in Sandmonkey’s twitter feed

Here is what I think. I think this fellow Gehad El-Haddad’s twitter feed is for lazy westeners who don’t want to sort though arabic, I think it exists to build a real time narrative for the western world. As Nervana Mahmoud puts it in the Daily News of Egypt:

The Muslim Brotherhood is waging a war of perception, not just for domestic consumption but for a western audience, too. Perception is crucial for two reasons: To defeat non-Islamist opponents, who may lose faith quickly when watching the endless number of pro-Morsy protestors in comparison to their relatively lower number in Tahrir and, secondly, to convince western nations that Islamists are the only reliable, powerful force in Egypt and that they are backed by the “majority” of Egyptians.

That’s why Mr. El Haddad’s tweets are not in Arabic. If you consider how easily the west bought the Hamas narrative I can see why he would be sure to tweet “facts” in a language that the lazy western press could understand but the majority of Egyptians would not.

Update: Instalanche! and more from Stacy McCain and Captain Ed

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