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They can try to sell us a fake history, but we stand witness to the truth

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during a joint news conference with Greek Prime Minister at Maximos Mansion in Athens on November 11, 2020. (Photo by Costas BALTAS / various sources / AFP) (Photo by COSTAS BALTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Athens on 11 November 2020 [COSTAS BALTAS/AFP/Getty Images]

It is said that history is written by the victors, but when do they write it? In the heat of the moment while the witnesses are still alive? Or after they have died?

We have suffered for a long time from fake stories and false narratives told to us and to previous generations as historical facts. In doing so, our enemies sought to distort our honourable history and insult great icons who took us from darkness into the light. They drowned them in a flood of orientalist lies in order to extinguish the light in the souls of those who came after them, leaving them to live in defeat and frustration.

Tyrants throughout history have rewritten history to portray false victories and justify criminal acts. Art has been important in conveying the ruler's message to the people; the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt is a prime example, given the many works of art — including films, plays and songs — that glorify him and magnify his accomplishments. At the same time, they distorted the image of the monarchy that preceded him, insulting King Farouk and blaming him for things he did not do. They portrayed him as a drunk who gambled and a ladies man; and blamed him for the army's defeat in Palestine in 1948. Films portrayed this until the people started to believe it.

After the 2013 coup, the regime of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi adopted the communist propaganda model based on saying something repetitively and not letting the people hear or watch anything else. The opposition voice was silenced, and lies were spread boldly until repetition became a habit, then acceptance became belief. The Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels called it the Big Lie; if you say something often enough people will come to believe it.

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Is this theory still valid for this day and age given the communications technology that we have at our disposal? Can lies still be spread and believed so easily when news goes around the world almost instantaneously? The amazing communications revolution should have put an end to the lies, corrected fake history and made it difficult for politicians and their compliant media to make up false narratives. Is it still possible to say that you can deceive all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can't deceive all of the people all of the time? The truth will inevitably emerge and the truth about the oppressors will be revealed to the public sooner or later.

However, the Sisi regime in Egypt does not recognise the communications revolution, and seems to be still living in the 1950s and 1960s. Its media is mummified and its journalists produce the single forged narrative that everyone must listen to and accept. That is why they have produced a TV series called The Choice 2 in order to promote the official version of history, interwoven with lies, deception and falsification of the facts surrounding the regime's dispersal of the protesters involved in the Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square sit-in. It has taken the propagandists seven years to promote the lie that the protesters were armed in Rabaa and neighbouring Al-Nahda Squares.

The massacres are still strong in the memories of those who saw what happened when events were broadcast live. The passing of the years has not dimmed the memories nor turned the page. There is no other page like this in the history of Egypt; it's a dark page upon which the Egyptian conscience died. The conscience of those who planned this massacre died, and those who knew about it and approved it. The conscience of those who pulled the trigger and killed their unarmed fellow Egyptians has died. The victims were helpless and had no cover to protect them from the hail of bullets. The conscience of the Egyptians who took to the streets gloating while dancing around their victims' burnt corpses has died, as has the conscience of those who sat in front of their televisions and watched the fire and smoke, and the bodies and the blood, but did nothing.

How can we forget this massacre? How can we forget the deception of the "safe passage" which was nothing but a trap so that unarmed protestors could be killed? How can we forget the security forces' brutal seizure of medical equipment as the wounded were being treated in the field hospital? How can we forget them setting fire to the field hospital to burn the bodies of the martyrs inside it? How can we forget that they also burned Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Mosque itself with such hatred? How can we forget the bulldozers that carried away the corpses of innocent people? How can we forget the broken bodies and the screams of the children? How can we forget the elderly mother who cried as she held her son who was her sole supporter? How can we forget the child who stood over his mother's body and begged her to wake up? How can we forget any of these horrific images? Time stopped for me on that black day in Egyptian history.

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It is amazing that the Sisi regime and its corrupt media think that a poorly-made TV series can erase such images from the minds of the people who witnessed them, or even delete the evidence from YouTube. In fact, The Choice 2, as bad as it is, has prompted many people to seek out the truth on YouTube and social media in order to expose the lies promoted in the programme and the regime's false narrative.

The Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Massacre remains as a deep wound in the soul. The series sought to whitewash heinous killings with lies, but only succeeded in opening up old wounds, creating division among the people. This was madness on the part of the regime, when unity is required to face up to Egypt's external challenges and threats, such as those posed by the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The Rabaa protest was the last cry of the resistance against the regional counterrevolution which killed the Arab Spring, most notably Egypt's January 25th Revolution. They counterrevolution destroyed the Arab dreams of freedom, dignity and justice and took them back to their lives of slavery, oppression and poverty under the regional dictators.

The gathering in the square was the utopian city that they did not want us to live in, so they destroyed it, and destroyed many of us. The square's name is still so evocative that the regime has renamed it after the fake Attorney General Hisham Barakat, who signed the dispersal order giving the green light for the massacre. The fact that they are showing this despicable TV series is positive only in one simple respect: the regime knows that its lies have not worked, and that the memory of what happened in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square lives on in the hearts and minds of the people who witnessed it.

18 days

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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