Amidst the sea of information, or rumours, swirling around the marches and demonstrations supporting deposed President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, one has been that Palestinians and Syrians have infiltrated the protests.
But two recent testimonies from Cairo based reporters, both of whom have spent a considerable amount of time at Rabaa Al-Adaweya where Morsi's supporters are staging a sit-in, have shattered this and other myths.
The first account was published on Facebook by Egyptian American journalist Basil El-Dabh – who reports for the Daily News Egypt – and is a five-point outline disputing accusations spun across social media and television channels.
His statement was followed closely by a tweet from the Guardian's Egypt correspondent Patrick Kingsley: Having spent a lot of time reporting at Rabaa this past month, I must say I agree w every word of this by @basildabh facebook.com/beldabh/posts/…
Here is the full text of El-Dabh's testimony:
As someone who has spent a lot of time over the past weeks at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and other marches and demonstrations supporting Morsi, I feel like I need to clarify some points and accusations being made across social media and various television channels:
- There is NOT a significant contingency of Syrians or Palestinians at Rabaa. I've spoken to many protesters in the area since June 28 and I've never seen or heard an Arab that wasn't Egyptian. (This is all besides the point anyways and wouldn't justify the arbitrary rounding up of refugees who have come to Cairo for safety).
- There is no evidence that protesters supporting Morsi are being paid. People I've spoken to there seem genuinely emotionally invested in their cause.
- I've heard some disgusting hearsay about hygiene at Rabaa that simply isn't true. It's not the cleanest place, but neither is any sit-in that extends for weeks. Also, I've never heard the same hearsay about Tahrir, which is notoriously bad (and worse) at times.
- I've heard of a few verified incidents of attacks on journalists at Rabaa, which is awful and despicable. I personally have felt more comfortable working there than anti-Morsi demos, which are much more xenophobic and suspicious of the press in general. My ID is checked every time I enter Rabaa Al-Adaweya and I have never had any issues based on the religion printed on the back of my ID card.
- I haven't noticed any sort of restrictions as far as who can/can't leave the square. While security on the way in is quite tight, there is minimal monitoring of outgoing traffic at the exits.
You don't have to agree with anything the Brotherhood stands for. I know I probably don't. But don't let those legitimate disagreements be discredited by conjectures that aren't based in reality. The inconvenient truth is most of those at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Cairo University really believe in their cause. If you believe otherwise with no sound supporting evidence, you're no better than those who claimed Jan 25 demonstrators were being paid and fed KFC.