Published on August 12th, 2013 | by EJC1
Egypt: How Media Responded After Morsi’s Ousting
June 30th: the first anniversary of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi since he was voted the first president after the January 25 revolution. Egyptians flooded to the street, calling for Morsi to step down after Egyptians claimed he was incompetent and had not fulfilled any of his pre-presidency promises that included improving the economy and domestic changes. The next day, large-scale demonstrations continued and Egypt’s powerful military gave the president and opposition 48 hours to resolve the dispute.
48 hours later: Egypt’s army ousted the democratically chosen president and scheduled fresh elections. The presidency labelled the event as a ‘full coup’. The military instantly rejected by saying it was the result of a massive manifestation of the people against the regime.
Was it coup or was it not? That question has been contemplated on Twitter and by national and international media ever since. The simple descriptive term symbolised the polarisation in Egypt between Morsi supporters and the opposition, dominated and divided the coverage of the Egyptian revolution in foreign media.
However, there was more.
Egyptian media were criticised of biased and selective reporting. The Qatar-owned network Al Jazeera in Egypt played a central role in the dispute. More than 22 of the staff working in Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr resigned after they had come under scrutiny by Morsi-critics who accused the network of backing the Muslim Brotherhood and making the mistake of saying Tahrir square demonstrations were pro-Morsi, although in fact they were anti-Morsi. More pro-Morsi media were silenced.
After the 2011 revolution, which ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, media outlets flourished as they enjoyed a growing margin of editorial freedom. However, critics have complained ever since about the lack of objectivity from these media.
International media were also accused of being pro-Morsi in their reporting. Crews from CNN were forced to leave Tahrir square, threatened by anti-Morsi demonstrators who were outraged the channel described the events as a coup and as such, in their views, supported Morsi.
Furthermore, it remains unclear how many Egyptians exactly took to the streets during the upheaval: thousands, millions? Correspondent Roel Geeraedts in the Middle East for the Dutch broadcaster RTL says: “The military – known for spinning their events to suit their own narratives – claimed millions flooded the Tahrir square. These claims were illustrated by helicopters views. Whereas Egyptian and foreign reporters in the field, spoke of hundreds of thousands.”
The above visual presents the differences in how Egyptian and foreign media outlets, independent journalists and opinion makers, and reporters responded to the latest momentous event in Egypt.