Tuesday July 23rd, 2024
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Media Amnesia

Is it us or has the western media got the memory of a goldfish? Eihab Boraie looks into CNN's coverage of Egypt's recent events...

Staff Writer

Media Amnesia

“Most people gaze neither into the past nor the future; they explore neither truth nor lies. They gaze at the television.” - Radiohead

It never ceases to amaze me just how ignorant and narrow-minded the western media continues to be. CNN prides itself on being the most trusted name in news around the world, and this couldn't be farther from the truth. Watching their coverage of the June 30th Tamarod movement has led me to believe that they suffer from both short and long-term memory loss... Actually, it seems like they have no memory at all. What scares me the most is that it seems as though they would like to see Egypt slip into a civil war; it would make for great television and boost their ratings. However, the majority of Egyptians will work tirelessly to avoid this, as nobody wants to live in a war zone.

So let's talk facts and dismiss myths. Western media is very confused as to whether or not the People's Coup should be seen as a positive or a negative uprising. The answer to that depends on your definition of a democratic state, and what you think it means to be actively involved in the democratic process. I have long believed that if the majority doesn't agree with what its government is doing then they should be able to replace their leaders at any time. Why must we wait for elections? Shouldn't we stop power hungry leaders before the damage is done? The Egyptian people obviously think so. If the media were to look back to the 2012 elections, they would recall (had they any form of memory) that many Egyptians didn't even want to cast their ballots, and voter apathy was high. This is largely due to the fact that after we succeeded in ousting Mubarak, the options in the run-off were not representative of the direction we wanted to see our country go in. Rather, we were stuck between a rock and a hard place, forced to choose a side with those we were fighting against: the military or the Muslim Brotherhood.

During Mubarak's reign, the only opposition that was allowed to exist conceptually, was the Muslim Brotherhood. Though the party was officially banned, having the fear of them around was a clever tactical move; the reasoning being to scare American and the West into unconditionally supporting Mubarak. Better a dictator than having a Hamas-like organisation in power. Remember Hamas? They were legitimately elected in Palestine, but their victory was not accepted by Israel and thus not accepted by America. It seems ridiculous to me that now they seem to be all about keeping the Brotherhood in power, in the name of 'legitimacy'.

At the time of our first democratic elections, the military was running the country after Mubarak's removal (although some would argue they were in charge during Mubarak's rule too). So when the people were given the choice, they understandably chose to give the military the finger, electing the Brotherhood’s Morsi instead. This was a decision not made lightly as many Egyptians knew that neither should really have power. That is why many chose not to vote at all because ultimately, choosing between the two would invalidate the whole purpose of having the revolution. Regardless of the dissatisfaction with the system, the election took place anyway because people were tired of living in an unstable environment without representation. The consensus seemed to be that the Brotherhood would be given a chance...and if they wouldn't listen to the variety of voices that got them in, then we would take to the streets in a year and force him out. 

Photo taken by Eihab Boraie

After a year, Morsi succeeded in drafting a constitution designed by Islamists, while granting himself sweeping powers over every institution, reminiscent to Pharaonic rule. Aside from that is a slew of nepotistic appointments of Islamic friends to high positions that they were often under-qualified for. A prime example happened just a month ago, when he attempted to assign Adel El-Khayat, an ultra-conservative Islamist, as governor in Luxor. El-Khayat had direct ties to the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the organisation responsible for killing tourists in Luxor in1997. That is just one example, but is my favourite when explaining just how incompetent Morsi really was as a leader. While in power he spoke of having dialogue with all parties, but I am hard pressed to find a single example where he did just that. The only time he talks of dialogue is when people take to the street, and as far as I am concerned that is too late. By that point, the people have had enough and, admittedly the moment, the military stepped in on behalf of the people in taking away his powers. CNN talks of this being a military coup, but I ask them sincerely to name a democratic country that would have their Army interject on behalf the people. In fact most democratic countries would rather their police and military arrest and detain those who oppose the regime (the protesters) rather than listening to them.

So I ask CNN, and the media, is this really a coup? If the military decides to take over and hinder elections, then we will take to the streets until we, the people, get what want; a functioning country, a growing economy, and a safe place to live. We have before and we will again. Isn't this what a democracy should be? I understand why governments are afraid of proper democracy taking off, because democracy is a very powerful idea. At its root, is the idea that there are more of us than there of them, and that the power should lie with the majority. If America suddenly had a proper democracy, then politicians wouldn't be able to lie during campaign elections or act on behalf of the numerous lobbies that pay them. Through their coverage, it's evident that western media outlets lack a sense of collective memory, and despite the fact that they tirelessly promote democratic ideals, they have proven that they can't comprehend true democracy in action.

“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind.” -Jim Morrison