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The Exclusionary Media And The Muslim Brotherhood's Popularity

25 December 2012

By Dr. Hamad Al-Majid

Influential liberals in the Egyptian media have given President Mursi and the Islamist trend a gift on a silver platter. Unbalanced media coverage, performed by the liberal elite's politicians, writers and intellectuals across their huge and vocal media platform, has prompted the crowds of Egyptians who were previously undecided to finally point the direction of their compass towards supporting President Mursi and his controversial decrees. This was shown clearly in the mass demonstration at Cairo University Square last Saturday, which was organized by various Islamist movements, where banners were raised against the biased stars of the Egyptian media.

Furthermore, the liberal media's fierce antagonism towards political Islamists such as the Brotherhood has also released the Salafi genie from its bottle. Previously, the Salafis did not move a muscle in politics and had no interest in it, but recently they have acted politically with great fervor and declared their strong alignment with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is remarkable given that anyone familiar with relations between the two trends would be well aware of the systematic "friction" between them in the past.

No one imagined there would now be such intimacy between these two movements, yet the liberal media, fiercely biased in its approach, has contributed to this phenomenon.

The fatal error that a number of Egyptian satellite channels and newspapers have committed is that they expressed the sentiments of their owners and mentors rather than those of the Egyptian street. However, it must be said that in light of President Mursi's recent sweeping constitutional decrees, these media outlets dealt with the subject intelligently and calmly. They deliberately avoided adopting a strong bias in their choice of topics and guests, and thus they drew the attention of new segments of the Egyptian people who were previously undecided, or at least managed to keep them neutral instead of pushing them to favor the Brotherhood.

Many of those in the television and print media imagined that their mere control was enough to propagandize their agenda, market change and brainwash their audience, as long as their voice was loud and audible, but this is not accurate. Media dominance to the extent of severe exclusion can backfire completely, like a harsh, exclusionary ruler who thinks that his control, authority and the exclusion of his opponents will strengthen his position against them, whereas the truth is the opposite. The Mubarak regime, with its severe policy of exclusion, its manipulation of parliamentary elections and the imprisonment of its Brotherhood opponents, undoubtedly contributed to boosting the Brotherhood's popularity. This popularity no doubt contributed among other reasons to Mursi coming to power after the ouster of the Mubarak regime, whereupon he has been nothing but an enemy and a source of sorrow for them [the remnants of the former regime]. This is exactly what the liberal media machine is doing in Egypt…It is true that it has no whip in its hand, but its oppression has been generated by its exclusion, its lies, its tendency to amplifying the small and downplay the large, its denial of rival achievements, and its curses and insults. This behavior automatically instills sympathy for the Brotherhood among the target audience.


Dr. Hamad Al-Majid is a journalist and former member of the official Saudi National Organization for Human Rights. Al-Majid is a graduate of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and holds an M.A. from California and a Doctorate from the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

 

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