Category Archives: Media

Question: Are Jihadi Groups On The Rise In Cairo?!

Yesterday morning the Egyptian news online portal of Al Masry Al Youm (AMAY), and other outlets such as the Washington Post,  reported through various links the killing of a terror suspect in a suburb of Cairo.

The Egypt Independent ran a translation of the piece by AMAY, worth having a look at. In another piece by CBS, an Egyptian official gives some details on what happened:

According to an Egyptian official, Hazem (Terror suspect) was cornered in an apartment and tried to throw a bomb at security

The explosion happened in the area highlighted in red. Al-Hay Al Asher (The 10th District), is a residential suburb east of Cairo.

forces, but the explosive device bounced back. CBS News reports that the man blew himself up during the clash.

Here is my question: Why are terrorist cells feeling comfortable to hide in Cairo with explosives and weapons? Additionally, if there is one cell, which is of high strategic importance to the US, that was uncovered in Cairo, how many other cells that are not so high on the strategic list that are just hanging out in the capital of Egypt?

In other news, AMAY also reported that there are increasing threats from terrorism cells in the Sinai peninsula, threats that involve carrying out attacks utilizing ‘car bombs.’  Regardless, all vigilant observers know that the situation in Sinai is contained to Sinai. However, is Cairo starting to enjoy increased comfort on the part of radicals, who are starting to view it as a safe zone?

I can’t help but think, why are there terror cells within the city limits of Cairo? How did Egypt get to that point where terrorists are in the capital with grenades and weapons?

A more analytical question I am proposing is, if this terror suspect, who was in some way related to the Benghazi American Consulate attack, and the slaying of the American Ambassador and other American Diplomats, was hiding in Cairo with explosives and other weapons, how many other terror cells are in the Greater Cairo areas?

Clearly there has been a shift in how the US is conducting business regarding its global effort to subdue radicals, and part of the shift has been more reliance on special ops, and drones (Barrack “the drone” Obama), and the continuation of cooperation with governments of allied nations.  This was clearly one of those cases of coordinated efforts, and this brings me to my second question.  Were Egyptian authorities pushed by the US administration to make a move on this guy, due to the urgency of the situation, while the Egyptian security forces are taking it easy and not chasing other terror cells in the capital?

It would be a major concern for the world, and more importantly for Egyptians if Egyptian authorities are becoming more easy going with terror-inclined groups and activities.  Unfortunately, I have no evidence to back my concerns, but I do not have evidence to quench them either.

On the Anniversary of the Mansheyet Nasser Killings – في ذكرى أحداث منشآت ناصر

One year ago, at this very exact time, @Sarahngb, @hadytarek and I were wrapping up shooting interviews with victims of military gunfire.  Some of the earliest victims of the violations of the Egyptian military.

As the Christian minority, Copts, in Egypt were, at the time, rallying daily around the Maspero building to protest dismal

Map of Cairo's Districts: The red circle shows the general locations of the incidents

coverage of state controlled media of the discrimination the Coptic community faces in Upper Egypt and elsewhere, the youth of Mansheyet Nasser in El Mokatam area of Cairo, Egypt planned to join the protests.  As they started grouping to head out in small buses to Maspero on March 6, 2011, a fight broke out between them and residents of close by neighborhood.

The fight escalated to the point where the military came in to intervene.  At some point the military starting firing live ammunition that lead to the many deaths and countless injuries.  The video posted in this blog entry is a composition of a few interviews with some of the victims of that incident.  The videos were shot in a disclosed medical facility.  Some of the interviewed were in critical conditions, I never found out what happened to them.  After finishing an interview with one of the injured he made me promise that I carry the message of what happened out to the world.  After trying to deliver the videos to any news agency, CNN took them, but never aired them, and that is when I met @Repent11.

After attempts to translate them into English, but not having the time and failing, I will just repost the video in Arabic.  Feel free, if you have the time and resources to translate them, I can provide more details if needed.


Concerning My First Experience Inside Maspero

Two nights ago, on March 7, 2012, I was invited to speak on a live TV show regarding the selection criteria of the Egyptian Constitutional Committee (Link to the law proposal that I was representing), since this is this week’s hot issue at all.  The only problem is, the interview was on the Egyptian Satellite TV Station (الفضائية المصرية), which is part of the Egyptian Radio & Television Union (إتحاد الإذاعة و التلفزيون المصري), broadcasting from within the infamous Maspero building.

For the people who know me, you already know that I have been always a adamant opponent of everything that Maspero as an institution stands for.  Needless to say, I always talked and expressed my views on Maspero and the Egyptian propaganda machine on several occasions, and that is why many people I know were shocked that I accepted to go in there and be interviewed on the program.  Here are my reasons:

Curiosity Killed the Cat

For longest time I/we heard rumors about how Maspero is a maze on the inside, and about the hightened state of security within the building.  Also, we, the people who oppose the malpractices of that institution, are always curious about the humans who work inside.

It can’t be denied, there was a mild feeling of rush in my mind as I walked behind the barbed wire and into the building past the many military soldiers armed.  After entering and through the main gates I was escorted by a clerk though a swipe-card gate, where more military soldiers stood armed.

At the entrance of the studio there was a single military soldier standing guard with an assault rifle.  After the entering through the main doors of the studio, I was escorted to a waiting room. The air conditioning was too excessive (a non-issue obviously).

Waiting room inside Maspero

After a while, writer Nabil Zaky of Al-Tagamu party, came in, and we started chatting a bit.  The salafi MP Talaat Marzouk, also a guest on our show, came in, looked at us with his assistant and walked away, to sit in another section of the waiting room. Whatever.

Until Maspero goes down, we must make use of any chance to say what we have to say through it

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Egyptian State TV institution has such high viewership.  With that said, I still believe that Maspero is the shrine of control over the Egyptian people, and it has to be kept in check if not dismantled, but until this happens, any chance that people who oppose Maspero’s practices get to express their own ideas utilizing its wide reach should be taken advantage of.  It is in my own opinion that @Alaa Abd el Fattah interview on the Egyptian Satellite TV station on January 27, 2012 is one of the gains of the January 25 movement.

Some people might disagree, but I personally think that this is not a revolution against a regime, I am more include to believe that this is a revolution of a generation, which is the majority against the older generation ruling it, the minority.

Here is the full interview (Arabic):

Who is the Real Enemy? Why the Ministry of Information Must Go

In light of the ongoing protests and civil unrest that Egypt has been facing over the past few days, one must examine the factors that could maximize the effect of the protests.  Since the beginning of the January 25 events, one thought dominated my mind, why are people not focusing on what state media is saying? Example after example of blatant lies that dominated the minds of curious viewers, yet the January 25 revolutionaries seemed to always get off track when it came to their demand for a media cleansing.

In order for the January 25 revolution to succeed one thing must happen: Clean up the Egyptian State Media (ESM).  The revolutionaries went after the former National Democratic Party (NDP), and after that tackled the Ministry of Interior and the Egyptian State Security, however, one true villain remains unshaken.  The ESM and the looming danger of the returning Ministry of Information are collectively the number one enemy of this revolution.  How do you ask? Well the numbers talk . . .

Tahrir Square, July 10, 2011

In sample surveys conducted by the International Republican Institution (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) over a span of the months of April, May & June of 2011, the polls show disturbing and dangerous patterns. Egyptians rely on state-owned media outlets for “reliable” information.  Before discussing the results of these polls, lets briefly discuss two topics: 1. the science behind the polls, and 2. Who is the real enemy?

1. The polls conducted by the IRI & NDI run samples of 1,200 interviewees.  One might think that this sample would not provide a great accuracy.  On the contrary.  Assuming the sample size is evenly distributed over the different segments of a population, this sample size would yield a 95% ± 3.5% in a country of 82 million citizens.  The sample is not evenly distributed, it is Cairo and Alexandria heavy, and it combines the delta and the upper Egypt provinces in two big chunks.  Obviously that hinders the quality of the analysis.  However, it is safe to say that the urban areas of Cairo and Alexandria are well represented in this survey.  It is also key to note that the sample covers both genders equally and covers, evenly distrusted, representation of all age groups above 18 years old.

IRI April 2011: 70%+ of Egypt did not participate in protests

2. In the poll presented by the IRI, a critical question was asked: Have you (the sample interviewee) participated in any of the civil protests or events of January 25 and beyond? Over 70% admitted to not participating in any of the protests.  This 70%+ are what

Graffiti from Tahrir Square: No "Couch Party"

the protesters/revolutionary describe as either sympathizers of the old regime or the widely acclaimed description of the “Couch Party” member, a term derived to express the laziness and indifference of nonparticipating segments of the Egyptian society.  Note that, accurately illustrated, in the graffiti image enclosed in this post that most Couch Party members acquire their news from the much hated (by protesters) TV news stations.  This depiction underscores the question, do Egyptians really rely on the TV as a reliable news source?  Thankfully, for once, as Middle East political analysts  we do not have to rely on swags (semi-wild-ass guesses) or estimations.  The IRI and NDI conducted several polls over the months of April, May & June of 2011 that help us map out a proper answer to this question.  Granted, scientifically this data is somewhat flawed, but it is accurate enough to convey an answer that could help the Egyptian revolution direct its efforts in the right direction.

So what do the polls say?  The answers, as many have been predicting for a long while, are disturbing.  Before discuss why they are so disturbing, lets look at data and the graphs:

Figure I: What are the most trustworthy & credible sources for information?

In Figure I it is clear that Satellite and National Egyptian TV are the dominant forms of media accepted by Egyptians as trustworthy and credible sources of information.  Please note that it is not social media, nor is it private newspapers.  In fact, aside from international satellite TV channels, the top four ranks are dominated by two forms of Egyptian TV and government owned/operated news papers.  These results in themselves are not surprising, considering the high illiteracy rate looming over the Egyptian society.

Figure II: Which one of the following is the most trust worthy & credible source of information?

In Figure II the question is asked in a different form, emphasizing the personal element in the judgment and personal opinion of a credible source of information.  Once again, the answers do not change much for the top ranking sources.  The effect is apparent however in the lower ranking sources, which lose significant credibility when asked if they are personally considered a credible source of information.

Now that it is clear that TV is the primary source of “credible” information for a large majority of Egyptians, let us look at which channels are favored by the Egyptian viewer.

Figure III: What is the name of the media source you most often use?

In Figure III the answers materialize the fear into names of sources related to the percentages provided earlier.  It is clear that Egyptians are shying away from Al-Jazeera as time passes.  Instead, we see a spike in the reliance on channels like Al Hayat, Dream, and the Egyptian Channel I.  Meanwhile, we see a sustained reliance on sources as Mehwar and ONTV.  Noting that ONTV sustained a meek two  out of every 18 persons surveyed.  To make my point clear, 16 out of 18 Egyptians favored Egypt’s Channel I as their primary source of information in the month of June of 2011.

The Egyptian revolutionary segments of the society have picked out many enemies, among which are the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), etc.  Although, there might be disagreement over who is the real enemies of January 25 are, one thing should be cleared.  There is no way this revolution will reap its benefits without free press, and the cleansing of state TV. There will be no winning long term battles.  Additionally, cleaning the media will aid the truth coming out, which will help the revolutionaries of the society deliver their message to Couch Party members, who in turn will better understand what really is going on.

In the past, media control was presented as a necessity to curb hate speech and other rogue messages that could lead to the demise of a nation.  However, with the launch of NileSat in the 90’s and the various ArabSats before and after the launch of the Egyptian satellite(s), many fanatic channels have found their ways directly on to the TV screens of millions of Egyptian homes. With the absence of a reliable cable network in Egypt, Egyptians rely heavily on the use of satellite dishes and receivers.  The reality is that the only information controlled and manipulated is the news about the revolution, while the real hate speech makes its way through fanatic TV stations.

This post is not intended to guide you to a solution, but rather to clear any confusion about who the real enemy is.  How you go about fixing that problem is an entirely different issue.