Sunday, January 8, 2012

Egypt's new war of information

By Sharif Abdel Kouddous
Al-Masry Al-Youm

"The war of information in Egypt — one that has been at the heart of this revolution since its inception — is escalating.

On one side, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and the institutions it rules over, are making twin use of a fully compliant state media apparatus to demonize the protest movement and champion SCAF policies while intensifying a crackdown on dissent, attacking journalists and raiding civil society organizations. On the other, grassroots organizers have taken to the streets to transform public spaces across the country into forums that expose military abuses while continuing to use social media to foster growing discontent against the SCAF and push the boundaries of dissent within established private media outlets.

The latest escalation in this long-running media tug of war began last month, during clashes on Qasr al-Aini Street in downtown Cairo between protesters and the military that left at least 17 people dead and hundreds injured, marking the first sustained street battle involving army soldiers since the revolution began.

During the clashes, military forces assaulted and detained journalists, destroyed and confiscated media equipment and targeted news outlets. While much footage was lost in the army raids, the violent suppression of the protests was nevertheless captured on video and widely broadcast on private television stations and the internet. The notorious image of a young woman being dragged by two soldiers and stomped on by a third, her abaya pulled over her head to expose her stomach and bra, made headlines across the world.

At a televised news conference in the midst of the clashes, SCAF member Major General Adel Emara denied any wrongdoing, claiming the military "exercises a level of self-restraint that others envy."....."

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