Egypt Eruption Leads to Consolidation of Media Influence in Military’s Hands

Hot Arab summer continues


JULY 9, 2013 – The recent shift in Egyptian media is in the favor of the military. Egypt’s state news organizations, as well as many independent news stations, now fully support Adly Mansour, the interim president whom the army instated last week. TV channels that maintained support of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood have been removed from the networks.

Foreign media outlets, such as al-Jazeera, a Qatari-based satellite TV network, have been protested by supporters of the military. Al-Jazeera has had a history of biased support of Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. This partiality is no longer being tolerated. Since the overthrow of Morsi, 22 employees of the network have resigned. Al-Jazeera’s anchor, Karem Mahmoud, reported that the employees resigned rather than condone biased coverage. Wesam Fadhel has accused the channel of “lying openly.”

This open revolt against Al-Jazeera’s leanings has made former United States VP Al Gore’s decision to sell his television network to the conglomerate look ever the more questionable to United States observers.

In Egypt’s exceedingly polarized atmosphere, it is difficult to find an impartial news source. Some have criticized the state media’s seemingly blind devotion to the military, but this “blind devotion” is equally evident in the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Because the Islamist stations have been shut down, people need to rely on al-Jazeera or CNN for updates on the Islamist perspective. Both of these networks do report on the Islamists, but have consistently omitted coverage of their appalling actions.

One example of this polarization is the coverage on the deaths of 51 of Morsi’s supporters on Monday. Pro-Morsi reporters called it a massacre committed by the army, whereas the army said that it was self-defense against a terrorist attack. The Egyptian media supports the army on this issue, and backs the army’s account that the killings were due to an attempt to attack the Republican Guard’s headquarters. This perspective was echoed by interim president Mansour during his statement following the deaths.

Though the army was reportedly acting in defense, Mansour expressed great sorrow over the deaths. He urged the people to use self-restraint in the interest of Egypt.

Despite the ambiguous accounts of the incident, the Brotherhood has called the people of Egypt to stand against the army in further uprising. The country is already in a precarious state; the Brotherhood’s urgings can only further destabilize Egypt’s political crisis.

In response to these developments, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, warned against civil war. He said that he will remain in the seclusion of his home until “everyone shoulders his responsibility to stop the bloodshed, instead of dragging the country into a civil war.”

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