Category Archives: Tahrir

Remembering the Maspero Massacre, October 9, 2011

October 9, 2011
Cairo, Egypt

Midday, October 9, 2011, I sat in my living room knowing that there will be protests at Maspero and knowingly stayed at home. For some reason I decided to stay in and finish some work.  A few days earlier a sit-in staged by Copts in front of the building was dispersed by force.

I recall seeing @Sarahngb’s tweets, she was at Maspero waiting for the Shubra march to make its way to the State TV building.  A bit later I received a call from my friend @RagySoliman, who was asking me what is going on at Maspero, I told him people are starting to gather there and that the march seems to be making its way from Shubra through Bolaq.  As we were on the phone, he was walking from the Nile Towers, where he worked, towards Maspero, when I starting reading tweets on my timeline reporting attacks on the march as it went through the Shubra tunnel. He hadn’t hung up yet, so I told him. Now recalling the phone call, I remember him taking a deep breath and saying I am going anyways. We exchanged well wishes and ended the phone call.

Sketch commemorating the Maspero Massacre, by @Elmoshir (twitter)

Minutes later, I saw @Sarahngb’s tweets reporting that a military unit has stopped her and demanded her ID, and that they have taken off with her passport, then a few minutes later she reported that they returned her passports. Within the same timeframe the march was arriving to Maspero. Thinking that all is well now, I stepped away from my computer to shower, five minutes later however, things were not all well. My twitter timeline was riddled with tweets of agony, fear and reports of horrific beatings by the military. Checking @Sarahngb’s timeline I saw that she reported that clashes have erupted, and that it is getting chaotic. Then there was a tweet from her with a bunch of incoherent letters. I knew something went terribly wrong.

As per the time of the extended Aftershocks (the months that followed the initial 18 days of January 25, 2011 that saw clashes between protesters and security forces) of the revolution, I had a backpack always ready, it contained a surgical medical kit, gloves, gas masks, cameras, extra phone, etc.  Within minutes this bag was on my back and I was in my car driving towards Maspero.

On my way there I was receiving frantic phone calls from friends, family and coworkers, who were asking what was going on.  On that day, the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) leadership, Muslims and Christians, had decided to join the peaceful stand at Maspero.  Effectively I personally knew no less than 10-15 people who were present at State TV building when the clashes erupted.  Two calls stood out though, the first was @Sarahngb returning my calls. She was alive and getting out towards Zamalek, she had ran after a beating she received from the military and was heading to @Sandmonkey’s place.  The second call was from @RagySoliman’s wife.  We had never spoke in person before over the phone, I had met her once in my life with her husband, and she was calling me frantically asking if I knew anything about her husband. After informing her that I had just spoken to him over the phone minutes before the clashes, I promised her I will not leave there before I find him, no matter what.

Blood at Night, Grief by Day | Maspero 9/10 الدماء و الأسى | ماسبيرو by @mosireen

22 minutes after leaving my place I was parked across the street from the Automobile club in downtown Cairo. With my backpack on my back, I was sprinting towards Maspero, through Abd El Monim Riad, my phone kept ringing and I answered the calls I could while panting through the run, until this point, mild smell of tear gas. Then I stopped at a sizable group of protesters under the October 6th Bridge, right across from the Hilton Ramsis, neighboring Maspero.  My phone rang, I recall it was some TV anchor from Al-Arabya and/or Orbit, he was asking me about the conditions at Maspero, and I kept trying to tell him that I am still looking for my friends and that I do not have a clear view of Maspero yet, however the situation is chaotic.  As I was hanging up I realized that I just walked in the cleared space between the protesters and the security forces.  In my frantic rush and being on the phone at the same time, I had wandered off to danger zone, as I pulled my phone off my ear, some trigger happy Central Security Forces soldier fired a tear gas canister at me, which hit my foot and stopped.  The gas overwhelmed me.  That is when @MR_MOST, some random kid who I helped jump off the fence earlier helped me out of the smoke, I recall he kept asking me: “Which news outlet are you with”, he was filming and thought I was a journalist as well.

We had never met before, but we stuck out the rest of the night together filming the clashes that lasted for hours.

After @MR_MOST pulled me back and I could catch my breath, I continued my search for Ragy, for about 30 minutes, when I received a call from a member of FEP, who told me Ragy was hurt, but alive, in a hospital in Mohandeseen, I was informed that @AhmedHassanSaid, who later became a MP of this very district was hurt the worst out of the FEP crew.

By then I was comforted that at least none of the people I knew to be there are dead, but for some reason I could not leave.

Most of the videos I shot were shot from the side of bystanders who were not very happy with the protesters, I did not try to stop what they were saying in fact I wanted to hear more, if you understand Arabic you can hear some of the commentary in the video I am posting for the first time below:

Within the course of the night I realized that I arrived after the initial clash, but the battle, the hate and the rock-throwing between the two sides continued for hours on the bridge and that some protesters were dragged away by opposing civilians with the help of riot police. Television broadcasts showed protesters pelting Central Security trucks with rocks and attempting to drag drivers out from inside. Reality of the matter however is that the CSF and Military Police (MP), along with hateful volunteers and secret police all were getting in on the action, they also threw rocks, they used excessive force, and never at any point were they trying to make the clashes stop.  Even when sit-in protesters from nearby Tahrir square tried to calm the situation down, the security forces side attacked with molotovs and electric tasers.  These are things I have seen with my own eyes.  The sound of tasers going off was echoing in the air.

Some Muslims had joined the protest, the violence took on a sectarian edge as the night continued. “Copts are running this way, they’re dogs, beat them.” Other bystanders argued in favor of the protesters, explaining the church burning.

In the midst of the chaos and dodging the random tear gas canisters and rock throwing that was reaching us over the October 6th bridge, I recall talking to @AbanoubEmad, we both asked if the other was ok, physically.  He comforted me that he was out of the clashes ok, and that now he is at the Coptic Hospital were the bodies of the victims are being held, then he told me the that he shot one of the most horrific videos of his life. This video is below:

For some reason, that call, and many others I was receiving made adamant on staying on site.  An hour or so later, @Sarahngb, @Sandmonkey, @ANassouf, and @ahmedkhairy5 came back for me because I would not leave.

Roughly around 11pm, we retreated to @Sandmonkey’s place in Zamalek. @ANassouf drove us there after we walked on the October 6th bridge over the Nile to his car, which was parked in Zamalek.

Meanwhile, @Cairowire called me as her group was stuck in Zamalek, and they did not know if they can make it back across the Nile. Eventually they made their way to @Sandmonkey’s place and @Cairowire, @jonsnyder and @kwiens helped me edit the video that was uploaded to wired magazine, and @CarterTroy wrote the description of the video remotely.

The @Sandmonkey residence was filled with mixed emotions, maybe two-three interviews going on at any given point about the clashes over cellphones, exhaustion, psychotic laughs of denial, some tears, short breath, the remnants of the tear gas smell, and the scrambling of computers and social media tools. While we were there, it was announced that the Maspero downtown area will have an imposed curfew until the morning.  My initial thought, that I did not verbalize at the moment was “a curfew to clean up the blood and the aftermath of the clashes, that makes sense” moments later I found out that the State TV apparatus was in fact claiming that the “unpatriotic” Copts were attacking the military, and was calling on “Honorable Citizens” to go to Maspero and land a hand to the security forces.  That curfew made more sense then.

Hours later we broke the curfew and saw the burnt cars close to the Coptic Hospital, there was a small gathering in front of the hospital, but we were on October 6th bridge, heading towards Heliopolis. We stopped for minutes, but then carried on.

Two nights later, at the Coptic Hospital in Cairo, there was the procession of the peaceful protesters who were ran over by military vehicles  shot, dragged and beaten to death

Forgotten Heroes of Mohamed Mahmoud Street – تذكير: لمن نسى ما حدث في شارع محمد محمود

The first gallery combines pictures of the mass Friday, November 18, 2011 protests planned and called for mainly by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi movements, and the clashes that started on Saturday, November 19, 2011 after all Islamists forces evacuated the square and left behind a very small group of civil protesters.

المجموعة الأولى من الصور تجمع بين صور مليونية يوم الجمعة، ١٨ نوفمبر ٢٠١١، التي دعت إليها  جماعة الاخوان مسلم والحركات السلفية، و صورالاشتباكات التي بدأت يوم السبت ١٩ نوفمبر، ٢٠١١ بعد انسحاب كل قوى الإسلاميين تاركه مجموعة صغيرة جدا من المتظاهرين المدنيين

A protester overcome with tear gas inhalation sits on the curb during clashes with the Egyptian riot police near the interior ministry in downtown Cairo, on November 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

The second gallery shows pictures of the continued clashes of Mohamed Mahmoud st. as the clashes got more intense on the days of 21,22, and 23 November, 2011.

المجموعة الثانيه من الصور توثق بعض ملامح الاشتباكات في شارع محمد محمود بعد أن زادت حدتها في أيام ٢١، ٢٢ و ٢٣ نوفمبر ٢٠١١

A protester throws a tear gas canister, which was earlier thrown by riot police during clashes along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, on November 22, 2011. Egyptians frustrated with military rule battled police in the streets again on Tuesday as the generals scrambled to cope with the cabinet’s proffered resignation after bloodshed that has jolted plans for Egypt’s first free election in decades. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

آخر كلام: عربجية الأمن المصري ونعتذر للعربجية

The feeling inside Mohamed Mahmoud St. November 21, 2011 – ما كان يحدث في شارع محمد محمود ليلة نوفمبر ٢١، ٢٠١٢

The walk up to the Mohamed Mahmoud St. Front Lines,

November 22, 2011

 – الصفوف الأولى في شارع محمد محمود نوفمبر ٢٢، ٢٠١٢


 أحداث محمد محمود

Mohamed Mahmoud War Drums, November 22, 2011

إزاي- محمد منير- أحداث محمد محمود كاملة

رسالة لأقباط مصر: حافظوا على عقولكم

رسالة لأقباط مصر: حافظوا على عقولكم
بقلم – رامي يعقوب

من بين القضايا الحساسة والتي يتردد كثير من المحللين في التصدي لها بوضوح، قضية “ثورة 25 يناير والأقباط”، وهل التداعيات والتطورات التي أعقبت الثورة جاءت بمخاطر هددت وضع المصريين الاقباط وجعلتهم يشعرون بمخاوف حقيقية علي مستقبلهم ومستقبل أولادهم وأعمالهم وعلي حقوقهم كمواطنين، مثل حرية العبادة وبناء الكنائس وحرياتهم الخاصة والعامة وحقهم في تولي المناصب في الدولة، وفي المشاركة السياسية وصناعة القرار، هل هذه المخاوف حقيقية ومبررة؟ أم أن هناك مبالغة في تقدير حجم الخطر مما يحتاج لوقفه هادئة مع النفس لمعرفة الأسباب وتعريف الحلول ونزع فتيل الاحتقان؟

إن ثورة ٢٥ يناير قامت في الأساس علي أكتاف المصريين جميعاً وسالت في ميادين مصر دماء مصرية طاهرة لا تعرف التمييز بين مسيحي ومسلم، هل نستطيع أن نفرق بين دم الشيخ عماد عفت ودم مينا دانيال؟

الشيخ عماد عفت

وكان أعظم ما جاءت به الثورة هو كسر حاجز الخوف، خوف المصري المسلم الذي تعرض للبطش والتنكيل والسجن لانتمائه لجماعة الإخوان، وخوف المصري المسيحي علي حياته ومستقبله وكنيسته، وخرج الجميع يطلبون العدل والمساواة ويهتفون للحرية والكرامة…”إرفع راسك فوق إنت مصري” … لا مسيحي ولا مسلم بل مصري فقط.

هذا ا لإنسان المصري هو الذي صنع مجد هذه الثورة وقدم للعالم أعظم نموذج  للإصرار  والسلمية  والوحدة الوطنية .كان المصري المسلم يشعر قبل الثورة أنه ذليل ومطحون والمصري المسيحي يعاني  الإحساس المرير بأنه مواطن من الدرجة  الثانية  . وسؤال في غاية الأهميه يطرح نفسه: هل ستستمر تلك المخاوف في الهيمنه على عقول المصريين أجمعين و تستدرجهم بعيدا عن المعركه الأساسيه؟

إن أجمل ما في العقيدة المسيحية هو قدرة المؤمن علي التحرر من قيود مخاوف هذا العالم، وهذا الإحساس الرائع شعر به ملايين المسيحيين مع المسلمين مشاطرين لحظة نادرة عندماأدرك متظاهرو التحرير و كل ميادين مصرلحظة اللا عوده في منتصف الثمانية عشر يوم، وفي تلك الحظه إتخذو اقراراستكمال وقفتهم ضد الظلم مدركين خطرالموت أوالاعتقال، ولكنهم تغلبواعلى هذا الخوف متوحدين فانتصروا علي الطغيان وأجبروا المخلوع علي الرحيل عن السلطة.

وما أحوج المصريين جميعاً وخاصة الأقباط، في هذه الأيام العصيببة وسط رياح الإقصاء والتطرف والحديث عن تطبيق الحدود والجزية، ووسط محاولات تيار الإسلام السياسي لاحتكار كتابة الدستور، ما أحوجهم إلي قهر الإحساس بالخوف، وأن يعلموا أنهم جزء لا يتجزأ من نسيجهذا الوطن، لأنبقاء المجتمع القبطي في مصر شئغيرمطروح للمناقشة سواء شاءت جماعه أم لم تشاء. وما أحوج الملايين من المصريين الأقباط أن يتحدوا ويتضامنوا مع أشقائهم وشركائهم في الوطن للدفاع عن كل القيم النبيلة التي جاءت بها الثورة، عن المواطنة وعن دولة القانون التي لا تمييز فيها بين البشر علي أساس الدين والجنس والعقيدة واللون أو الانتماء السياسي أو الطبقي.

علينا كأقباط المثول مناصرين للحق والعداله بلا خوف ولا تردد، فاللجوء إلى قمع فصائل سياسية أدلى بنا في الماضي إلى تراكم أفكار رجعيه وعززها تعاطف شعبي مبني على نتائج الطغيان الأعمى. والفر إلى أحضان نظام سابق فشل في ضمان حقوق مواطنيه والمساواه بين طوائفه لن يجدي بفائدة أو تغيير. أيضا الاقتناع بخدعة التيار الاسلامي السياسي والوثوق في ضمانتهم الشفهية عن ترسيخ مبادئ تعددية الدوله المصريه دليل على السذاجةالسياسية. وحتي أن نبدء في تسخير الخوف على مصير الدوله بأسرها وليس فقط على المجتمع القبطي لن نتمكن من حماية الأجيال القادمة من أشباح الماضي ومخاطر الحاضر وكوابيس المستقبل.

الإعتقاد أنه لا يوجد مناصر للأقباط سوى مؤازري الدوله القمعيه ما هو إلا استخفاف بالعقول. فعلى سبيل المثال هناك شخصيات عامه مثل طارق حجي مدافع عن حقوق الأقباط منقبل الثورة، و قاده سياسيون جدد مثل د/محمد أبو الغار و د/ أحمد سعيد، فهم  يصارعون يومياً حفاظاً على تعددية الدولة. و يوجد الكثير من النشطاء الشباب الذين دافعوا عن حقوق الاقباط من  قبل  الثورة مثل الناشط والمدون محمود سالم و أيضا ما بعد قيام الثوره رأينا أمثلة يشهد لها التاريخ مثل الناشط والمدون علاء عبد الفتاح الذى قضى ما يقرب من ثلاثة أشهر ظلماً في السجن بناءًعلى شهادة زور، عقاباً على ما قام به من توثيق لمجزرة ماسبيرو. لقد حان الوقت للأقباط أن يطأوا على الخوف و يدهسوا الرهبة المسيطره على عقولهم وأجواء حايتهم والمثول في مساندة الحق والوقوف ضد الظلم.

كلنا مينا دانيال

في كل تعاملاتي مع المجتمع الثوري، لم أشعر في لحظه أنه هناك فارق أو تصنيف لجنس أو دين مصري على الاطلاق. قد يكون المجتمع المصري الثوري أعمى لتلك المسميات التي يستخدمها المصريون لتفرقة بعضهم البعض، وقد تكون تلك السمه هي التي جعلتني أفتخر بمصريتي من جديد. ذلك العمي الايجابي جعل المجتمع الثوري يدافع عن الاخوان ما قبل الثورة حين كانت جماعة محظورة، و دفع بالنشطاء لتوثيق انتهاكات أجهزة الأمن مع المتظاهرين السلميين، و هو أيضا الذي سيدفعه للدفاع عن أي مظلوم في المستقبل بغض النظر عن هويته أو عرقه أو دياناته.

إذا كانت هناك معركة أساسيه يجب أن يخوضها الأقباط فهي المعركة الكبرى من أجل بناء الدولة المدنية الحديثة،معركة ضد قوى الظلام الجديدة المتحالفة مع أعداء الثورة والساعية لإنتاج نظام أشد شراسة وفساداً من نظام المخلوع، سواء كان ديني أو قمعي. و لكن تلك المعركه الكبرى تتطلب انتصار واضح في المعركه المصيريه الحقيقيه وهى المعركة الروحيه. في تلك المعركة يجب أن يحدث تصالح بين المسيحي و مبادئه ويحدث توافق بين الايمان والأفعال، لأنه قد يكون شهداء ماسبيرو أكثرنا مسيحية لتحررهم من خوف الموت وواقعه، راسخين في مناصرتهم لكلمة الحق الى الأبد.

في بدء الثورة المصرية تناولت شاشات التلفاز وموجات الراديو فزاعات كاذبة ومضللة مشينة للثورة مهددة بانفلات أمني و فوضى في حين التمرد على الحاكم الطاغية. لكم الفخر أنكم الوحيدون اللذين حرقت كنائسكم و دهسوا أبناءكم بمدرعات جيشكم وحرض البعض على اقصائكم وتقاعس وتهاون الكثير من نخبة المجتمع عن الدفاع عن ما تعرضتم له من انتهاكات لصالح مكاسبهم السياسية وما زلتم فخورين ومتمسكين بمصريتكم .

لأول مرة في تاريخ الأقباط يحدث فصل بين القادة السياسيين و الروحانيين لمسحيي مصر و ذلك فضل الثورة 25 يناير. لأول مرة في تاريخ الأقباط تنشأ حركات مستقلة مثل حركة “شباب ماسبيرو” بعيدا عن قيادة الكنيسة منادية بحقوق الأقباط. أرى أمل في الجيل الصاعد للأقباط لادراكهم للحظة الفارقة التي تمر بها مصر، فقد أثبتوا شجاعتهم في كل المظاهرات والاشتباكات مع قوات أمن الطاغية وأثبتوا رؤيتهم و تمردهم السياسي عندما قرروا مساندة حمدين صباحي في الجولة الأولى من الانتخاباتالرئاسية.

مينا دانيال

أرى الأمل في ذلك الجيل لأنه قد انتصر في معركته الروحية وكسر حاجز الخوف وتحرر من شبح الموت.

إن المعركة الأساسية تستحق من جميع المصريين أن يقفوا معاً وقفة رجل واحد، لا مكان هنا للخوف أو الرهبة، ولا مجال للفزع من أشباح وهواجس وهمية. مصر لن تكون أبداً افغانستان أو إيران أو باكستان ، مصر تستحق من أبنائها أن يضعوا نصب أعينهم أهدافاً محددة في هذه المرحلة، وأن يناضلوامن أجل تحقيقها أيا كان من سيأتي لحكم مصر، ومن أهمها توفير الضمانات الكاملة لمدنية الدولة، وتطهير الدولة من بقايا وأعوان النظام الفاسد والمحاكمة العادلة للمسئولين عن كل مذابح ما بعد الثورة والتأكيد على أن القضاء المدني هو المسؤول عن محاكمة ومحاسبة المواطن وليس القضاء العسكري.

هذا كله لا يعني أن المخاوف المطروحه غير مبررة، بل على الاطلاق، لقد ثبتت صحة ومصداقية تلك المخاطرفي تفاصيل كل الأحداث المشينة للوحدة الوطنية، قبل وبعد قيام ثورة الخامس والعشرين من يناير. ولكن الاستسلام في المعركة المصيرية  لضمان سلام دنيوي مؤقت الآن لأن يؤدي إلى خسارة المعركة الكبرى فقط بل سيضمن أيضا خسارة  الإنسان لذاته وهويته. ولذا،فأن النأجزمأنالمخاوف غير مبررة أوأنها مبالغ فيها،ولكن في إمكاني أن أجزم أن تحملها والتخلص من قيوده اطريق لحياة أفضل علىالمدى البعيد.

إن المصريين ما زال أمامهم الطريق طويلاً لاستكمال ثورتهم، وهم لا يملكون رفاهية التراجع أو الخوف من المجهول، ولا بديل أمامهم أقباطاً ومسلمين إلا مواصلة مشوارهم للوصول إلى الوطن الذي حلموا به يوم خرجوا وهتفوا وصلوا معاً من أجله.

عاشت مصر حره و ثورتها مستمره.

Mansour st. & Mohamed Mahmoud st. Clashes – February 2 & 3 2012

Mansour st. & Mohamed Mahmoud st. Clashes – February 3 2012 (03:30am – 04:45am GMT+2)

Video shot by: @AssemMemon & @RamyYaacoub
February 3, 2012, between the hours of 03:30am – 04:45am (GMT+2)
Downtown Cairo, streets between Tahrir Square & Ministry of Interior
General Location of Events:

Protesters clash with Egyptian Ministry of Interior security forces (Central Security). These clashes came in the wake of the infamous Port Said Soccer Massacre of February 1, 2012. Protesters took to the streets to express their anger with the failure of the Ministry of Interior to secure the game, even though clashes between fans were expected. The events led to the calls by many protesters for the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to step down and hand power over to a civilian interim or elected president.

Here are some still images from the scene:

Mansour st. & Mohamed Mahmoud st. Clashes – February 2 2012 (09:30pm – 10:45pm GMT+2)

Video shot by: @AssemMemon & @RamyYaacoub
February 2, 2012, between the hours of 09:30pm – 10:45pm (GMT+2)
Downtown Cairo, streets between Tahrir Square & Ministry of Interior
General Location of Events:

Protesters clash with Egyptian Ministry of Interior security forces (Central Security). These clashes came in the wake of the infamous Port Said Soccer Massacre of February 1, 2012. Protesters took to the streets to express their anger with the failure of the Ministry of Interior to secure the game, even though clashes between fans were expected. The events led to the calls by many protesters for the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to step down and hand power over to a civilian interim or elected president.


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.