No one was surprised when an Egyptian T.V. anchor interrupted her guest to enthusiastically announce that the American people began to revolt against President Barack Obama. No one laughed when an Egyptian daily said that Obama has a stepbrother managing the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood investments. No one rolled on the floor laughing when Egyptian media marketed an idea stating that Obama himself is a Muslim Brotherhood member.
Those who laughed over this did so secretly, or through Twitter hashtags.
We did not see an anchor raise her eyebrows in sarcasm when she heard the rumor that Obama’s brother may be responsible for the assassination attempt against the interior minister. When some Egyptian media outlets hosted a man who presented himself as Sheikh Sayyed Qotob’s grandson and who spoke of conspiracies the Muslim Brotherhood were scheming, no one addressed the issue and it peacefully went by, knowing that Qotob never married and never had children.
Currently in Egypt, there’s more censorship than there was during the Brotherhood’s reignDiana Moukalled
No one laughed because Mohammad el-Baradei is accused of treason and spying.
In Egypt, laughter doesn’t die and jokes are not suppressed. What’s happening is that only the Muslim Brotherhood are being ridiculed via Egyptian media.
Songs like “I would like it, Sissi, if you become my president” is not media material and an indication of an active campaign to market the defense minister’s aspirations. Work is underway to transform the defense minister into a sacred figure whom no one should come near, furthermore, no should criticize his authority, no matter how arbitrary his violations are.
Two steps back?
Ridicule in Egypt today is only against the Brotherhood.
Some news anchors were suspended because they criticized the massacres committed in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. How dare they not engage in the ongoing demonizing campaign and address the vivid truth; that most of those killed were Brotherhood supporters?
Someone wrote that Sissi is a red line and that the public atmosphere does not tolerate criticism, ridicule and violating national unity. This is how the media figures and writers of Egypt’s current era write. We turned the page of tyranny in the name of religion (or so we think) and went back to making statements that the army is the protector, the origin of identity and the new star of patriotism.
Currently in Egypt, there’s more censorship on media and freedoms than there was during the Brotherhood’s reign. This is a fact documented by actions and by international rights’ reports. It is accompanied by a wave of incitement, hatred and terrifying intellectual shallowness.
There’s no Bassem Youssef today to take care of the recent campaign the Egyptian authorities launched against television channels. Has anyone noticed a judicial source’s description that the decision’s motive is that the closed channels “turned out to be a supporter of the devil?” These are not the Brotherhood’s moral in suppressing others. They are the morals of the military authority which revolted against the Brotherhood’s exploitation of religion.
But there’s no Bassem Youssef to shed light on that.
Youssef, who is undisputedly the star of irony, cannot find his way to the screen today. And if he does, he’s restrained.
For Bassem Youssef to have been freer during the Brotherhood’s era than he is today is a clear indication that revolutions die, if they have not died already.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 9, 2013.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.