Ahram Online, by Azza Radwan Sedky
Again and for the umpteenth time I tell myself not to give Western media any undeserved attention and to ignore those who intentionally belittle from our efforts and tarnish what we hold dear and precious. And yet no matter how hard I try, sometimes I get so indignant that I must rebuttal, first to abate my anger, and second to illuminate those who care for the truth.
The Washington Post’s article on President El-Sisi’s meeting with US presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly is today’s angst. “The Stark Difference Between Trump’s and Clinton’s Meeting with a Dictator” at first glance compares Trump to Clinton, but it also bears an incomprehensible but not very subliminal aversion to President El-Sisi.
After referencing President El-Sisi as the “Dictator,” intentionally not naming him in the headline, the article refers to the president as the general “who led the military coup against Egypt’s elected government in 2013 and has since overseen the harshest repression the country has known in a half-century.”
Ignorance is a bliss but overlooking facts or neglecting to mention them is an offence. Just a reminder, Washington Post Editorial Board, the “military coup” came as a response to the demands of Egyptians when a third of the country’s population went to the streets to seek change; the army had to intervene or else Egypt would’ve remained at a never-ending impasse.
The revolution, a more apt name for it, was not sprung upon them; the revolution was their own making.
As for the repressions, again the Washington Post ignores facts. Egypt’s plight against terrorism forces it to detain anyone connected to terrorism, or is gearing the country to further unrest. And amidst the chaos surrounding Egypt and despite all the powers that would prefer otherwise, Egypt is in a good place.
When you consider Guantanamo Bay, you may think twice before alluding to Egypt’s repressions. Those detained in Guantanamo have not been charged, are often abused, and may never see freedom again. And the reason? The probability of their partaking in actions against the US. This, while I guarantee that those detained in Egypt will see freedom before those in Guantanamo.
“The candidates’ face time with him [President El-Sisi] was unmerited and ill-advised …” I beg to differ. El-Sisi is the leader of the most powerful state in the Middle East. Egypt carries weight and plays a pivotal role in the stability of the region and against terrorism. If not to favour the president of one of the few influential countries in the region, then the meetings with El-Sisi seek genuine comprehension of where the Middle East is heading, and would ultimately lead to further relations between the US and the region when one candidate or the other is chosen.
So many crucial issues would have been discussed: neighbouring, torn Syria, Libya, and Sudan; fragile cease fires and arm sale embargoes; terrorism in the region and at large; and the ramifications of meddling in other countries’ affairs. And who would know better than President El-Sisi on all such matters?
But it goes on, “considering that Mr. Sissi [sic], in addition to overseeing the extrajudicial killing or disappearance of thousands of Egyptians and the imprisonment of tens of thousands, has directed a vicious campaign against U.S. influence in his country.”
“Extrajudicial killing or disappearance of thousands of Egyptians”? Seriously, Washington Post? Does the Washington Post believe that thousands of Egyptians were killed, and Egyptians are quiet about it and approving of it? Thousands translates to at least one Egyptian murdered or kidnapped every day for at least three years!
And thousands are indeed imprisoned for participating in or shielding terrorism in Egypt, but not one single person on death row has thus far been executed.
As for directing a vicious campaign against the US’s influence in Egypt, I want the Washington Post’s Editorial Board to come up with one speech, one speech where El-Sisi named the US as an offender or incited Egyptians against the Americans or any other country for that matter. It is not in the president’s nature to provoke hatred or ignite antagonism.
I’m afraid, Egyptians are coming up with this conclusion on their own from the cold shoulder their president and their revolution received, from Western media’s vicious attack on Egypt, and from the US’s turning a blind eye to the hardships that Egypt faces.
More importantly, members from the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt named as a terrorist group, received a warm welcome at the White House where they were pictured holding up the Rabaa sign under the US flag.
The article also says that Mr. Trump on his post-meeting statement heaped uncritical praise on El-Sisi. Mr. Trump, according to the Washington Post, thanked President El-Sisi and the Egyptian people “for what they have done in defence of their country” while promising to invite the “coup-maker” for an official visit to Washington.
Clearly, the author is critical of Trump, but to criticise Trump by slandering President El-Sisi is repulsive. “Coup maker” is extremely offensive.
And it is true, despite it coming from Mr. Trump, Egypt and its men, soldiers, officers and civilians have paid dearly in defence of Egypt.
Ms. Clinton, according to her statement on the meeting, while paying tribute to US/Egyptian cooperation on counterterrorism, “emphasized the importance of respect for rule of law and human right to Egypt’s future progress.”
Clearly the author is for Ms. Clinton, but when exactly has there been cooperation on counterterrorism between the two countries? When the US cancelled the training exercise with the Egyptian army or when the delivery of the F-16 fighters was cancelled after the June 30th revolution?
This, while I don’t doubt that respect for the rule of law is being followed in Egypt. And I do agree that respect for human rights is fundamental to Egypt’s future, but Egypt’s national security far outweighs anything else.
“In other words, while Mr. Trump handed a pass to this deeply problematic U.S. ally, Ms. Clinton put him on notice that his abuses will not be ignored if she becomes president.” Let’s be clear, Ms. Clinton, abuses across the world should never be ignored and should never go unnoticed.
The article lacks depth, ignores pressing issues, skims over truths, while its main goal is to slander President El-Sisi. And with this I take offence.
I can see only one reason for all this: someone way up on the hierarchy ladder is manipulating these media outlets against Egypt, so, Egypt, beware. The strife between you and western media continues.
The writer is author of Cairo Rewind: The First Two Years of Egypt's Revolution.