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Egyptian Intifada: The ultimate conspiracy theory and the uses of fear


CAIRO, Feb 11, 2011 (Veterans Today) — If you thought the idea that 19 Arabs with box-cutters could bring down the World Trade Center (both towers!) was a stretch, you’ll love this one: In an effort to turn the Egyptian public against the ongoing uprising, the embattled Mubarak regime has promoted the ultimate conspiracy theory, involving elements from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Qatar, the US, and — wait for it — Israel.

“The news that was broadcast on Egyptian state media in the first days of the uprising wasn’t news, it was madness,” Gamal Fahmi, political analyst and managing editor of opposition weekly Al-Arabi Al-Nassiri, told Veterans Today. “Madness that reflected the regime’s desperation.”

On Saturday, January 29, the fifth day of the uprising, Egyptian state media — along with certain private satellite television channels — began to report that these hostile powers were all working together to “destabilize the homeland.” From behind the scenes, state media alleged, the conspirators were directing and financing the tens of thousands of demonstrators who had converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“The most dangerous foreign conspiracy strikes Egypt,” read one headline in the February 3 edition of prominent government daily Al-Akhbar. Similar headlines followed, including, “Hezbollah commando unit, supported by Hamas, infiltrates Egypt from Sudan,” and, “The Iranian hand in the recent disturbances.”

Meanwhile, state daily Al-Missa reported that certain US-based NGOs were “recruiting Egyptians to overthrow the regime.”

One day earlier, Al-Ahram — Egypt’s most widely-read government broadsheet — had asserted in its evening edition that protesters were being “supported by [Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin] Netanyahu.” The same paper went on to report: “Muslim Brotherhood supports Tahrir Square demonstrations with financial support from Qatar and Iran.”

On February 2, the private Al-Mehwar satellite television channel — owned by regime-connected business tycoon Ahmed Rateb — aired a live interview with a woman who claimed to have helped instigate the ongoing wave of demonstrations. Her image distorted to protect her identity, “Shaimaa” confessed to having been trained in “sabotage and subversion” by “a group of Zionists in the US and Qatar.”

“It was absolutely ludicrous,” said one stunned viewer. “Flipping through the channels, I found one government news program blaming the uprising on a US-Israeli conspiracy while another government channel was blaming Iran and Hamas.”

State media, along with its compromised private-sector counterparts, failed to provide an explanation as to why the US and Israel aimed to topple the Mubarak regime — their best friend in the region — or why the Zionist state had been suddenly moved to ally itself with its sworn enemies Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Grouping together Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Qatar, America and Israel — claiming they had all united to bring down the Mubarak regime — was farcical,” said Fahmi. “The idea that Israel and the US would ally themselves with anti-Israel resistance groups could only come from a lunatic.”

Fahmi added: “It’s well known that everyone involved in state media organs, and in the private satellite channels owned by regime-friendly businessmen, are agents for the ruling regime.”

It was not the first attempt by the government to use misinformation to turn public opinion against the uprising, which has only grown in scope and intensity within the last 17 days.

On January 29 — later dubbed the “Day of Terror” — state television reported that commercial areas in Cairo, Alexandria and the northern canal city of Suez were being looted and torched by roving gangs of armed criminals. The news spread like wildfire, fueling panic among the already-terrified public.

“We heard reports on state television that criminals were breaking into homes and stealing and killing. We even heard reports of rape,” Amal Mahmoud, 48-year-old mother of three, recalled. “For the next three days I was terrified, while my husband — along with most men in the area — set up a neighborhood watch.”

The rumors of murder and mayhem, however, turned out to be false. Belying accounts in the media, a stroll down one Cairo street the next morning — which had purportedly been looted the night before — revealed pristine glass storefronts. The only exception was a building, now gutted, housing offices belonging to an unpopular member of the ruling regime.

The psychological operation against the public — and that’s what it was — had two chief objectives: to terrify protesters into running back home to protect their families and property; and to promote the false impression that the withdrawal of police would inevitably lead to security breakdowns.

“I left the Tahrir Square demonstrations after receiving terrified calls from my wife and mother, who were afraid for their lives,” Ahmed Hashem, 28-year-old protester from northern Cairo, said at the time.

But the misinformation campaign ultimately failed, and the demonstrations, both in Tahrir Square and throughout the country, have only grown larger. Mubarak’s televised address on Thursday night — in which he delegated authority to newly-appointed vice-president Omar Suleiman but stopped short of resigning — has only strengthened demonstrators’ resolve.

The regime, meanwhile, appears to have lost control of the formidable state media machine, making its grip on power that much more precarious. On February 6, the three most widely-read state newspapers — Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhouriya — all proclaimed their support for the uprising.
By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

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13 Responses to "Egyptian Intifada: The ultimate conspiracy theory and the uses of fear"

  1. Marc C. Daniele  February 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Wait and see the next step is for ISRAHELL to invade Egypt!

    • Ken Rechtstein  February 11, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Yes the Zios will take the Sinai, claiming that “the new situation in Egypt constitutes an Existential Threat for uhh… the Jewish People”…

  2. kisakhani  February 11, 2011 at 3:02 am

    If the IDF does not rescue Hosni Mubarik now and help to Tel-Aviv. He along with
    his goons will meet the same fate of Romania’s Ceausescue.The army Generals must now realize that its time for them to defend the borders and not their politicized
    posts.

  3. 11Bravo  February 11, 2011 at 2:53 am

    What a breath of fresh air from the streets of Egypt. Lets hope the winds of change blow further. Mubarak last night did exactly what he had to do to make sure the revolt spreads. Bravo Hosni for being so out of touch with reality you corrupt F*@%!

  4. Pathf  February 11, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Too many people don’t find out firsthand what is going on,they just take everything that the media says as being true. There’s no rumor control. People believe what they want to believe.

  5. Shirin  February 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Aside from your reference to 9/11, your article is reasonable and makes a lot of sense. A large number of Egyptians have waited for many years for Mubarak to leave and this is their uprising, no doubt. And, of course, lumping all those entities together as conspirators is indeed ludicrous.

    Nonetheless, I would like to draw your attention to an important point. Iran, Hezbollah and Moslem Brotherhood have been working on a segment of the Egyptian population that includes radicals, religious-fundamentalist, and the poor and the ignorant. Did you miss the large photo of Nassrallah (Hezbollah leader in Lebanon) alongside photos of Mubarak with a bullet hole on his forehead? These elements are ready and eager to take advantage of the situation.

    The hope should be that Egyptian people have learned from the Iranian experience.

    • Derek  February 11, 2011 at 8:18 am

      God you Zionazi shills are a joke. IsraHell is pooing bricks & there aint nothing you can do to control the Arabs. They have always defied you and that is why you have felt threatened by them! If only we had not let you weirdos into the corridors of power things would have been so different.

    • Shirin  February 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

      Everyone who expresses an opinion that you don’t like gets labeled a “Zionazi”. I have news for you: My Egyptian friends are all in accord with me. The repeatedly tell me that they have learned from the Iranian experience. I pray that they are right. They are being very careful to avoid those groups, the likes of which have enslaved Iran for the past 32 years. Again, if Arabs are smart, nobody can dictate anything to them. Finally, Egyptians are NOT Arabs. Arabs have forced their language and culture on a four thousand-year-old culture that has nothing to do with Arabs who came from the Arabian Peninsula.

      It turns out that the joke is on you. You all are going to hate a real secular government in Egypt that will opt for peace so it can build the country from inside for the benefit of Egyptians and growth of the country.

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