Amidst all the turmoil in Egypt, one aspect may have by-passed the casual observer. Foreign reporters and commentators have become targets for the ire of some of the very same activists, bloggers etc. who supported the ‘coupvolution’ that deposed Mohamed Morsi and who say that they stand for human rights, democracy and freedom of expression. It has given rise to such choice blog headlines as ‘Fuck Western Media’. These critics seem to be irate at correspondents not completely buying into their own line of reasoning. From mild charges of ‘misrepresentation’, the accusations at times veer into the realm of conspiracy theory. With the press and foreign correspondents under attack anyway in Egypt, we really don’t need that from the supposed democratic part of the commentariat. I have published a piece on it on openDemocracy.
Just to show that I’m not the only one noticing this trend among activists, here’s a tweet by a Swedish journalist on a similar phenomenon. He draws a straight line from how the party of Hosni Mubarak, the NDP, and then the Muslim Brotherhood, the MB, used to address foreign reporters to what he hears nowadays:
You do realize that “you don’t understand the Egyptian mentality” is what NDP people always used to tell me? Then MB people. And now…
— Per Björklund (@perbj) July 25, 2013
I don’t want to single out any activist, blogger or tweeter and many seem to have moderated their views as the situation has unfolded. Also, many of the online attacks on the media come from more conservative sources who probably used to be aligned to the Mubarak regime and now have thrown in their lot with the mass protest movement and the army. Still, whatever the practical contingencies, that’s not fit intellectual company for those who champion freedom. This is not about muzzling the critics of the Western press but it’s about not fanning the flames of incitement at a time when reporters get physically assaulted, arrested, intimidated and worse.