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MEMO exclusive analyses of hoax videos receive worldwide attention

A femail student takes part in an Anti-Coup protest in Egypt by displaying the 'Rabaa' sign. [file photo]
Female students take part in an Anti-Coup protest in Egypt by displaying the 'Rabaa' sign. [file photo]

Exclusive detailed analyses of two video films of the same alleged incident in Alexandria were published by MEMO on 8 and 9 July. The first analysis of the incident alleged to have taken place on 5 July noted that “the film looks more like an amateur production which, without the commentator’s helpful guiding comments, would look like a children’s play where only they know what is happening.” It concluded that the video “is a paid-for mounted play, to incite public opinion against coup-resistors, urge support for the coup and justify persecution of Islamists as part of an orchestrated propaganda campaign.”

The second analysis focused on a second video purporting to be of the same alleged incident from a different angle. A list of clear differences between the two versions led us to conclude that the two videos could not be of the same incident, but rather two different productions entirely. The inevitable conclusion is that the two productions were commissioned by the same source, with one aim: “suggest, through the ‘play’, the manufactured ‘context’ and the accompanying commentary to manipulate the viewers into believing that they are watching a crime being committed; a violent crime and, more crucially, a religiously and politically motivated crime.”

To our surprise, the completely unconvincing videos and poor amateurish productions were not mere social network phenomena, but were also used in a wider official operation insisting on the veracity of the incident. The two videos were used as backgrounds in the “confession” of the alleged killer, and the state authorities have officially implicated themselves, through attempts to support the veracity of the alleged incident by claiming arrests and confessions. This led us to ask, what explains the motivation behind the security services’ commissioning of such a story and, more seriously, its reckless public support of the story through claims of arrests and confessions? What explains this determination to bring out new fabrications every day to protect the challenged credibility of this story?

Our exclusive analyses have received wide attention, both on social networks and in international media, though not the Egyptian media (which, as our analysis noted, were complicit in propagating uncritically the videos and state security allegations).

Alarabiya, which had trumpeted the alleged incident enthusiastically (even exaggerating its details), has focused, not on the detailed analyses, but the curious claim by one of its columnists that MEMO had withdrawn the first analysis, while the second has only strengthened our initial conclusions.

MEMO welcomes the scrutiny to which these analyses have been subjected and the questions which have been raised. Numerous responses to our first analysis point out that there is a second video of the alleged incident, of which we are aware, and we direct them to read our analysis of that video too. Any further comments or feedback are always welcome.

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