News Release

Media in Egypt Driving Polarization, Violence

NOHA RADWAN, nmradwan at ucdavis.edu
Available for a limited number of interviews, Radwan is associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at University of California at Davis. She was born in Egypt and was among the participants in the 18-day Tahrir protests in early 2011.

Radwan said today: “Egypt is going through one of the bleakest moments of its modern history. Despite the paucity of accurate reporting on the attacks against the Muslim Brotherhood’s sit-ins on Wednesday, there is enough evidence that these attacks must be condemned in the strongest of words. Although [ousted president Mohammed] Morsi’s supporters are not exactly non-violent it is clear the police is using a barbaric amount of excessive force.

Yet the tragedy runs deeper. Wednesday was not only a dreadful day of killing and violence. It was the tragic and shameful culmination of a long process of polarizing the Egyptian masses between full support for the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and uncompromising opposition to it. For the past three weeks media sources on the ground, whether they are the governmental or the independent channels (On TV, CBC [Capital Broadcasting Center] and al-Nahar) or the Qatari al-Jazeera have been working the public into nothing short of a mass hysteria. The state media labels the Islamists ‘terrorists’ while the Islamists denigrate all support for the current regime as ‘fascism’. Every media source in Egypt is lying, spreading hearsay, and dismissing reports that do not serve their agendas. The result is a frenzied and divided population that is proving uncharacteristically callous to the bloodshed among one group or the other. …

“There is no doubt that it would have been better for President Morsi to have been voted out and not ousted by the military, but it is debatable whether there was a potential for this option. It is also debatable whether his failures during his year in office are enough excuse for the Egyptian ‘liberals’ and ‘revolutionaries’ to strike an alliance with the military, an alliance that was inconceivable to them a little more than one year ago.”