From about a year ago:
George Orwell needs to become required reading material for the Egyptian public as soon as possible. I say this because the Egyptian media is currently pushing forward some of the most obviously Orwellian propaganda in the world today. Whether you are for or against the Muslim Brotherhood is besides the point of this article. What is at stake here is whether you are for or against democracy. The current media environment in Egypt is making a really strong effort to maintain the appearance of democracy. In many ways, the Orwellian media shows that big business, media pundits, and the military are still very much invested in protecting their image. To highlight some of the most aggravating things I’ve seen in the media, here are three ways in which the propaganda machine in Egypt has been defending the military coup and the ban of a popular party:
1. ”Egypt Fights Terrorism”
Most Egyptian channels made sure to display this slogan during the crackdown on the anti-military protests in Egypt a couple of months ago. It didn’t matter that the vast majority of the protesters were not even armed, the media had no qualms about sending a mass signal that it was in fact fighting “terrorists”, single-handedly aligning anti-coup and pro-Brotherhood protesters with other infamous terrorists of today such as Osama Bin Laden, suicide bombers, and the 9/11 hijackers.
2. Using Songs to Support the Army
Patriotic songs have been broadcast all over Egyptian television this past year. The amount of appropriation is appalling. Nationalism in Egypt is highly connected to the military. These nationalistic songs evoke strong emotions in the souls of Egyptians; they are not only patriotic and catchy, but also happen to be sung by Egypt’s greatest musicians and are nostalgia-evoking. The emotions that this music evokes is used by the media and military to stir devotion and support for the coup and against the “foreign” and “unpatriotic” Brotherhood.
3. Removing the Voice of the Opposition
The talk shows in Egypt are exclusively pro-military. The military shut down the pro-Brotherhood channels when they undertook the last coup. Most of the group’s leaders are in jail and most importantly, almost all pro-Brotherhood or anti-coup opinions are absent from the air. What replaces that vacuum is an onslaught of anti-Brotherhood opinions, arguments, and propaganda. I’ve personally seen talk shows spend hours discussing the separation of church and state (making the assumption that the Brotherhood violated that idea. They may have. But there is no alternative opinion or counterargument provided). I’ve also seen shows spend hours discussing outrageous claims about the Brotherhood, such as the MB’s impending plan to cede Sinai to Hamas, sell the Suez Canal to Qatar, and how they caused the gas shortage that preceded the coup by selling natural gas and oil to Gaza. As outrageous as those claims are to us, many or most Egyptians accept them as fact, even as the claimants provide no supporting evidence. The absence of a pro-Brotherhood voice or even a voice that reluctantly accepts their right to participate in the political process is completely absent in Egyptian media today.
I really don’t understand how this doesn’t aggravate more Egyptians. I don’t have a pro-Brotherhood stance myself, and I’ve heard many people justify the military coup in different ways. But I nonetheless cannot stand excessive and emotional rhetoric, which is pervasive in Egyptian media today.