• 19:04
  • Monday ,28 April 2014

Egypt: Predominant media's false discourse

By Mohamed Shuman, Ahram Online



Monday ,28 April 2014

Egypt: Predominant media's false discourse
With very few exceptions, Egyptian media has become a media where one voice minimizes the opportunities for critical or opposing viewpoints. It imposes one predominant discourse which acquires its influence from insistence and repetition and narrowing the available options displayed before the people in the present and the future. Thus, it is a discourse with neither imagination nor ambition.
Like any other discourse it presents a narrative or a story which is compact in form rather than content.
The most salient features of such a discourse are as follows: Egypt is facing a foreign conspiracy relying on the Muslim Brotherhood and the fifth column as its arms. The 25 January Revolution is a part of this multi-party conspiracy from inside and outside Egypt. There is no alternative but to embrace the security solution in order to confront the Brotherhood and terrorism. Security takes precedence over democratic transition and public freedoms. El-Sisi will achieve great victory in the presidential elections due to his widespread popular support and the military and the backing of state institutions. This in turn, will drive him to vanquish the foreign conspiracy, solve Egypt's problems and achieve a comprehensive developmental start. At this point the underlying discourse of the embodiment of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Anwar Sadat in El-Sisi begins to be recalled. But analyzing the components of the discourse reveals huge contradictions in attempting to hide behind three mechanisms, namely:
First: vagueness. The discourse promotes a conception of an internal reality which is sophisticated, vague and confusing from the outbreak of the 25 January Revolution to this very moment. The incidents and events of the revolution have been written ambiguously twice. The first time, it was a great and unique popular revolution in which the Egyptians made history as usual and taught humanity how a revolution can be peaceful and popular without a leader or an ideology. Gradually and mysteriously, the narrative evolved as the revolution morphed into a foreign conspiracy executed by the Brotherhood and the youth of the 6 April and Facebook groups.
The story of the 25 January Revolution is far from finalised as history is written by victors and it seems that victory has yet to be achieved in a decisive way for any one political or social party to this point. This provides context for contemplation of the current situation which began on 30 June and the military-created roadmap; will it succeed or repeat the mistakes of the first transitional period led by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in 2011?
For this reason, media discourse has been focused on the necessity of the roadmap’s success regardless of the vagueness of some of the features of the political system concerning the status and the role of the Brotherhood and political Islam groups, the military's role within politics, the powers of the incoming president and parliament in achieving the revolution's objectives, saving the economy, confronting terrorism and establishing stability and security.
Second: conspiracy mechanisms. The predominant media and political discourse asserts the previously mentioned vagueness and ignores its dangers and sometimes makes use of it to support conspiracy thought mechanisms and rouse the fears of people from the Brotherhood and terrorism. Because the conspiracy in all its manifestations is a mysterious matter and individuals can't possibly discover it, state apparatuses, leaders and intellectuals have been designated as those who hold the relevant experience and knowledge to unveil the conspiracy to the people. But the problem here lies in the fact that the people who believe in the conspiracy may wonder about the ability of such leaders in confronting and defeating it through exacting revenge from the internal and foreign conspiring parties and triumphing over them.   
Third: illusions and historical similarities. The discourse promotes many illusions based on wrong perceptions and false presumptions. At the forefront of this is the facileness of the battle to eliminate terrorism and the ability of the security state to efface the Brotherhood from social and political life. This implies that the police and the military will be handling more than they can bear. Moreover, the discourse presumes that El-Sisi is a reproduction of the character and the achievements of Abdel-Nasser and Sadat at the same time albeit the contradictions between them and the difference in circumstance and the historical context among the three men. Thus, the media and political discourse falls victim to the trap of illusions of illogical historical similarities with the only aim being to supply the masses with unrealistic hopes for quick-fixes to their problems. Such hopes were not mentioned by El-Sisi in his nomination address where he was careful to present a totally realistic vision of the country's problems and the necessities of working hard and sacrificing for the sake of rebuilding and development. However, the discourse didn't focus on what El-Sisi stated and instead constructed another world of illusions and historical similarities which is meant to remind Egyptians of Nasser's era and of regaining national dignity and pride. Here the dilemma of media discourse appears as being a short-sighted and opportunistic as it will take a matter of months for people to discover that their problems continue to exist and that actual positive changes move at a rate much slower than the speed of the discourse surrounding such changes. Consequently, the falsity of the predominant media’ discourse will be unveiled, at which point it will return to the conspiracy mechanism to feed the populist trend which is scared for its own security and the protection of the country from conspiracies planning for the state's demolition, infighting and the division of Egypt.
In sum, the predominant discourse of Egypt’s media, which evokes a false narrative of ambiguity, conspiracies, and false comparisons, will revolve in empty circles to reproduce its failure and exert tremendous efforts to hide its contradictions. But like all the false discourses, the predominant discourse might fail and the majority may consequently rebel against it and recall what it has learned from the years post 25 January that reality differs from media discourse and that there are other alternatives to what this discourse promotes.