Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Egypt: Remnants… Of The Revolution

By Mohammad Salah

When you say that the media under Mubarak was bad, you will not find anyone to contradict you. And if you say that the media after the Revolution has become worse, you will find many to support you. Indeed, neither do those who sympathize with Mubarak approve of the post-Revolution media, nor do the revolutionaries or the enemies of the former regime believe this to be the media Egypt deserves after the Revolution! Yes, many consider that the Egyptian media today, especially through satellite television, is practicing everything the ethics and principles of its profession forbid. And in addition to fabricated news, news that “ride” the wave of the Revolution, or reports that aim at doing harm or defaming a certain person or a certain party unjustly, the practices the Egyptian media has engaged in during the month of Ramadan have exceeded all expectations. Between seriousness and comedy, the word “remnants” has become the most frequently used word within Egyptian circles after the Revolution. The remnants are the defeated, or the leftovers of the former regime: whether those who worked within the executive apparatus and assumed high-ranking government positions; prominent figures of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP); MPs in the People’s Assembly and Shura Council who would gain their seats through fraud; or people affiliated with the Mubarak regime even if they did not work in the government or engaged in politics directly – such as businessmen, celebrities, artists, football players and people the regime would use to promote itself or to justify certain behavior, allow certain decisions to pass and promote the issue of Mubarak’s son inheriting the presidency. This is in addition to reporters and journalists, and of course they are many, who were the regime’s instruments and perhaps its weapons, among them people of all streaks from supporters to “cheerleaders”, to justifiers, to spearheads used to wage attacks against members of the oppositions, to con artists who make people believe them to be from the opposition while they in reality are part of the regime and coordinate with it how to exercise their opposition!

Throughout the days of the Revolution and after them, signs remained hanging in Tahrir Square that carried pictures of models of the “remnants” that should be gotten rid of, boycotted, held to account, or warned against. Similarly, on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, groups were formed to boycott this artist, besiege that singer or reveal what this or that journalist said, before or after the Revolution, to show the extent of their deception, their ability to change colors, and their attempts to ride the wave of the Revolution and suggest that they are from among its makers or the first of its victims, despite the fact that everyone knows that he used to speak for the regime or that she used to be a close friend of the “Madam’s” (i.e. the former First Lady)! And for months, attacking the remnants was the best means of defense for those who were able to “ride the wave” of the Revolution, and who considered that exposing the deeds of this or that “remnant” was a good way to divert suspicion away from themselves or to cover up past scandals. Of course, no one could imagine that any “remnant” could be present or appear in the post-Revolution media, because every “remnant” was well aware that going to the studio meant getting “caught up” in a heated situation laden with hurtful words and grave accusations, and that this or that anchor would make the volcanoes of anger erupt and that the “remnant” would be the recipient of more insults from the anchor and abuse from the audience than they could possibly bear.

People imagined that Mubarak’s fall and the end of his regime would be sure to restore the standing of Egypt’s state and private media, but they found that Egyptian television had been removed from the equation by the considerations of officials and the mindfulness of some of them, except when broadcasting the court hearings of the former President and major figures of his rule – not because it is broadcasting them with the utmost accuracy and with amazing professionalism, but because it is the only one broadcasting them. On Egyptian satellite television, needless to say, the news has no sources and the interests of the owners control the tongues of the anchors. Professional standards have gone extinct like the dinosaurs, objectivity has been lost, and the law of the jungle prevails. For the sake of competition, everything has become feasible and permissible, including committing professional crimes publicly and on the air. And the moment the Holy Month of Ramadan began, in which the competition reaches its utmost, people though that the Egyptian media would repent of its sins, but it surprised them by sinning even more. Thus satellite television networks began resorting to the remnants, despite the fact that they had been inciting people against them for months! Ramadan programs, most of which are either scandal-based or rely on jest and decadence, were plentiful at the Ramadan television banquet under Mubarak. Thus Ramadan has come after the Egyptian Revolution, and people have found that the meal had become even greasier, and that the remnants had spread on satellite television programs and had in fact become their stars. Similarly, the latter had also reserved their seats on programs that rely on jest, with every “remnant” emerging from one studio to enter another, knowing full well that the time had come for them to return to the forefront. All they have to do is bear the “silliness” of one anchor, the “unpleasantness” of another or the “idiocy” of the viewers, as they in any case will face the same questions and will repeat the same answers.

It is only natural for the “remnants” to bear their burdens and to be patient, but it is certainly not natural for the opportunism of the media to reach such an extent, while the makers of the Revolution from among the children of Egypt remain where they were, far from television studios. Indeed, they are not from among the remnants, unless they are the remnants… of the Revolution.

This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 16/08/2011

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