Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Egyptians Sick Of Own Government, Media Over Gaza Claims

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 19 gennaio, 2009

JOSEPH MAYTON (Middle East Times)

CAIRO — Egyptians say they are sick of the “official line” fed them by their national media and government officials on the three-week Israeli war on Gaza, which ended early Sunday morning when Israel unilaterally ceased military operations.

Throughout the attacks, which left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead and another 5,000 wounded, Egyptians had to filter the officials’ comments and government media reports about the diplomatic efforts the Hosni Mubarak administration was making to end the war.

National news media continued to pump out government statements onto the airwaves since the Israeli attacks began on Dec 27.

Although the Egyptian president and his officials voiced their criticisms of Israel, they maintained that Hamas was responsible for the carnage taking place in Gaza.

“Biased, biased, biased. They are very supportive of Mubarak and his policies. That is why they attacked [Hezbollah head Hassan] Nasrallah and Iran or whoever considers questioning his ‘wisdom,'” independent Al-Dustour newspaper journalist Mohamed Abdel Salam told the Middle East Times.

He argued that the national media were taken aback by the quick public outpouring of anger and frustration against Cairo that they responded defensively.

“The Egyptian media have the right to defend their country against what they think are attacks from Syria, Lebanon and Qatar against the Egyptian position” concerning Rafah and the ongoing diplomatic efforts in Cairo,” he continued.

The question is whether the national news is giving Egyptians the opportunity to formulate their own opinions over the “facts” on the ground.

One of the most contentious issues has been the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip in Sinai. The Egyptian government argues that it was unable to open the border due to international agreements previously agreed to with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the European Union.

This had largely been the excuse handed down to Egyptian viewers, despite the growing consternation among opposition forces within Egypt and across the Arab world. Here in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood demanded that the government open the borders in order to allow Palestinians to escape the Israeli bombardment.

“We demanded over and over again, in our statements and in our demonstrations, for the border to remain open and accessible to Palestinians. It is our duty as Arabs,” Brotherhood spokesman Mohammed Badr said.

Others question how the government could argue that international law and agreements figured into the equation, despite Cairo’s constant ignoring of basic human rights. An editorial in The Daily News Egypt, the argument was such.

“Contrast the Egyptian regime’s absolute adherence to this insignificant treaty which it did not even sign, with its domestic disregard for the constitution, laws, and basic principles of human rights,” the editorial ran. “Contrast that posture also with the number and intensity of Israeli violations of international law, human rights conventions, and Security Council resolutions over six decades,” it continued.

Gaining much international praise throughout the three-week war for its nearly constant coverage of the action, Al-Jazeera’s popularity was undeniable. As one of the few news networks with reporters inside Gaza, they had been able to report from the frontlines of the battle, which brought new viewers to the network.

But, Abdel Salam believes the network took advantage of the mass Arab support for Hamas.

“For example, a news channel like Al-Jazeera Arabic is making a bad situation worse,” and he pointed out the irony that at the same time “Qatar has an American military base that sends weapons to Israel.”

But others appreciate Al-Jazeera. Ahmed, a 41-year-old waiter in a trendy Cairo restaurant, argued that Al-Jazeera was the only means for him getting information that he could “trust.” The national news, he says, is just the arm of the government and since “all our government wants to do is walk with Washington,” he believes new sources are needed.

It highlights the growing divide between citizen and government in Egypt and across the world. Arabs want their leaders across the region to step up and take action against Israel. Thousands have taken to the streets in protest of Israel’s actions, but regional governments have not avoided condemnation. A number of demonstrations have called out Egypt for its “complicity” with Israel’s war.

Revealing the angst among many in the country, especially within the media was a recent headline in the Egyptian independent weekly Youm 7 read “Why is God not on our side?”

“I do not understand how the government believes this will turn out good for them. Many of us are fed up with the government and this war has shown us the reality,” Ahmed said.

http://www.metimes.com/International/2009/01/19/egyptians_sick_of_own_government_media_over_gaza_claims/3139/

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