The Egyptian media has done little to restore its image since the removal of President Morsi, smears against the president and the Muslim Brotherhood have been par for the course since the installation of the military coup leaders. The media, often under the control of the state or the large oppositionist parties, have planted rounds of false stories in the press to tarnish the image of, not only the Brotherhood, but also their supporters or even those who may not be supporters, but are simply calling for a return to democratic legitimacy. And it seems that the media will go to any lengths to smear those who do not fall in line with them.
In another smear attempt, a leading broadsheet newspaper, al-Wafd, affiliated to the liberal party of the same name, claimed that President Barack Obama was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, his brother was a member of al-Qaeda and that Khairat al-Shater’s son had threatened to expose these secrets. The newspaper ran the story on its front page today, in yet another ludicrous display by the Egyptian media. The story has gained little traction internationally, but some discussion on social media forums have questioned whether this really is the lowest that the media can go.
Newspapers have run more and more bizarre and farcical stories over the last few months, but this one indeed seems to be the oddest story to have yet been printed. The American president could indeed be accused of many things, but being a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood would be the least probable accusation one could level at him. In reality the American President and his administration were, if not behind, than certainly supportive of the coup. The Americans welcomed General Sisi and the military with little hesitation, the American ambassador to Cairo was quick to tell Mohamed Morsi that his time as president had come to an end and America’s strongest allies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, offered their strongest support to the new military regime. Since the removal of President Morsi, the American administration have refused to call the army’s actions a coup and have repeatedly voiced concerns about Israel’s position in the region if Egypt becomes unstable. Using the Israel argument, American politicians have claimed that the most important factor in the Egypt crisis is not the restoration of democracy, nor the return of the first legitimately elected president, or free and fair elections, but stability in Egypt secured by the military.
In the context of American’s support for the military and the coup, it seems somewhat obvious, to even the non-informed observer, that America’s president is unlikely to be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or that his brother is a member of America’s enemy number 1, al Qaeda. Yet what this indicates, are the lows to which the media will plunge. As support for the Muslim Brotherhood does not seem to be waning and protests grow in strength across Egypt (and indeed internationally) the Egyptian media are looking for ever new ways to score points against the Brotherhood. In this instance, the absurdity of the story does not seem to have come into consideration. It is unlikely, that Egyptians will have believed the story nor taken much effort to confirm its validity. What can be confirmed though, is that the Egyptian newspapers are now printing nothing but fiction, supporting the coup comes first, reporting the news, we’re not so sure.
Page updated on 01/09/2013 17.10 GMT – corrected spelling of “al-Waft” to “al-Wafd”