by Nile El Wardani
Today marked the second anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution that continues to wage on with the same chants “Leave Leave.” This time directed against the new undemocratically elected President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Undemocratic, because the political system was rigged from the first round of elections, which was never reported by CNN.
CNN has the power to bring the Egyptian economy to the brink of collapse through its worldwide reporting. This should not be underestimated. When CNN skews its reporting towards sensationalism giving a small violent corner lead coverage over the millions of moderate Egyptians demonstrating peacefully, this is nothing short of destructive, unethical and dangerous.
My son and I marched today with approximately 1,000 Maadi residents from Maadi Horreya Square to Tahrir Square a distance of about 15 km. The demonstrators chanted “Down with the rule of the Brotherhood’s Guide.” Political activists, Constitution Party members plus many newly formed popular party members, and Ultras youths participated.
I am an American Egyptian professor at the American University in Cairo. I regularly watch CNN International. I have come to realize that CNN’s coverage of Egypt has been and continues to be misleading, insufficient and biased. This does not allow the millions of CNN audiences worldwide to understand fully the true picture of what is going on in Egypt. This hurts Egypt and its people tremendously. Is this the aim of such coverage?
CNN is not the only guilty party, other international media outlets and the Egyptian government-controlled press have chosen to give far more coverage to fringe violent offenders rather than hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators. The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Tahrir Square was amongst one of the few international journalists that reported correctly that there were “large numbers of protesters and that the violence was restricted to a small corner.”
It is time the press report the figures correctly. Hundreds of thousands of moderate Egyptians filled the squares of Egypt yesterday, compared to the dozens of violent young offenders who got practically all the press coverage internationally.
Let’s put things in perspective. Egyptians are in the midst of a two-year revolution. They have plenty to be angry about and plenty to fight for. Despite this, Egyptians police themselves and behave in an incredibly humane way.
Yesterday police officers gunned down nine demonstrators in Suez and there were over 400 injuries around the country. Very few civilians own guns. Compare this to the US where an average of 82 people every day are killed by gunshot throughout the country. The US population is three times larger than Egypt, therefore the ratio equivalent is 27.3 deaths per day in the US. In a time of peace in the US the death rate by gunshot is 3 times higher than that of Egypt on one of the most politically heated days in recent history.
Hundreds of thousands of moderate Egyptians will continue to demonstrate even tomorrow and for months to come. Mohamed Sayed Said, a young engineer graduate summed up his frustrations, “We are still protesting after two years of the revolution. We have been asking for jobs, bread, freedom and social justice and none of our dreams have come true.”
The Egyptian people deserve to be applauded for their patience and their tenacity to continue to protest peacefully and with restraint. When CNN and other media outlets knowingly distort the facts on the ground for their own ratings looking for either “blood” or “fire” to sensationalize the news Egypt and its people suffer tremendously.
CNN must report that life goes on as normal here in Egypt. Even in the aftermath of the continuing revolution, Egypt’s cities, towns and villages remain far safer than those in the USA. It is not only safe to travel in Egypt, it is one of the most beautiful, historical and welcoming countries on Earth.
CNN and all international media have the power to help the Egyptian people realize their dreams of bread, jobs, freedom and social justice. Report the facts. Don’t sensationalize. Depict Egypt as it is; a safe country with great hospitality, 85% of the world’s ancient sites, amazing nature, beaches, deserts, oases, world-renowned dive sites in the Red Sea, incomparable historical sites; Pharonic, Greek, Roman, Coptic, Islamic and modern and a people that will welcome you with a smile. Come to Egypt. You are welcome.
Nile El Wardani, MPH, PhD is a professor at the American University in Cairo.