Over past weeks, Egypt has been hit with an avalanche of anti-government propaganda on social media, a concerted attack by the nation’s enemies fuelled by false accusations, fabricated videos and tens of thousands of fake Twitter and Facebook accounts designed to poison minds so as to overturn the state.
It began with a YouTube ranting of a chain-smoking two-bit actor and sometime contractor prosecuted and sentenced last April to six months for defrauding his own late brother. From his self-imposed exile in Spain the individual, who left behind him substantial debts, as confirmed by his own father, sought revenge.
His modus operandi was to make slanderous, unsubstantiated accusations targeting the president’s character while whipping up anger over the rise in prices caused by the conditions of a $12 billion (Dh44.13 billion) International Monetary Fund loan.
Egypt’s enemies were gleeful. Finally, they had a poster boy capable of galvanising teens to take to the squares for a January 25, 2011, redo, or so they believed.
The Muslim Brotherhood, in concert with known disreputable figures hiding out in Turkey and Qatar, saw their chance encouraged by small scattered protests on September 20.
Qatar’s mouthpiece Al Jazeera reassumed its tricks, airing videos of demonstrations in the iconic Tahrir Square traced back to 2011 as though they were live. Local media and ordinary folk headed there only to find nothing going on.
The Brotherhood’s sleepers have returned to their rat-holes and I can only imagine that the criminal in Spain accusing the Spanish police of monitoring him is sobbing into his ash-laden tapas
As usual, the western media, in particular the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times, joined the bandwagon, their so-called expert commentators predicting a new revolution was imminent. Some actually glorified the traitor bent on igniting chaos in his homeland from the safety of a Spanish curtain. Go out on Friday he yelled. Friday is the day for a Million-Man March.
Suddenly, state security pinpointed an uptick in suspicious characters arriving from Turkey, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, the Netherlands and even Thailand, some armed with sophisticated camera equipment. Upon investigation, the men admitted on video that they came for the purpose of rabble-rousing and filming ‘the upcoming revolution’. Most turned out to be paid Brotherhood emissaries.
Worse, as exposed by the Egyptian host of Al Hekaya (The Story) on the MBC Misr channel, would be assassins from the terrorist Lewaa Al Thawra brigade rented an apartment in the vicinity of the presidential rest house in Alexandria’s Mamoura gated community. Their apartment was raided and the killers arrested.
Reporters and cameramen from all over flooded in to witness last Friday’s predicted action. Ah, another revolution to fill airtime! Surely viewers are tiring of staring at the almost daily public uprisings in Hong Kong and the months of violent Yellow Vest protests in Paris are getting yawns.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders told their following to gather outside their homes before heading to the squares while instructing those who could not throw spoons and dates from their windows. “Go out, go out” urged Egypt’s enemies on TV, radio and just about every communications medium known to man.
And that’s exactly what they did. They went out.
Egyptians never cease to amaze. During the early hours of Friday, the president returned from a visit to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly. He was met by a large crowd of well-wishers and, appearing happy and confident, he briefly stepped out of his vehicle to chat with some.
The government had issued an advisory to his supporters to stay away for security reasons, which was defied. And how!
In Suez, where the previous week around 200 joined protests, a huge crowd gathered chanting their praise for the president and the army to the tune of patriotic songs. Similar demos, both large and small, sprang up in various governorates.
However, it was Cairo that stunned. Up to a million men, women and children flocked to Al Manassa near Heliopolis in defence of their president. It grew to be the biggest street fiesta seen in years, but not so you’d know.
The disappointed foreign press corps that smelt blood neglected to cover this outpouring of love and loyalty. Unsurprisingly in desperation, Al Jazeera aired a video of no more than 20 children in Luxor shouting anti-Abdul Fattah Al Sissi slogans. Egyptians have dubbed this “the Pampers Revolution”.
While it’s true that Egyptians have been forced to tighten their belts, the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing. Unemployment is down to 8 per cent, lower than France, Spain and Italy. Inflation has dived from more than 30 per cent to just 7.5 per cent. The bourse is one of the region’s best-performing and the tourism sector has exceeded the worldwide average. Egypt’s overall growth is the highest in ten years at 5.6 per cent.
Egyptians may complain, but they know full well that another revolution will turn back the clock to their darkest days. That is the message they sent on Friday.
The Brotherhood’s sleepers have returned to their rat-holes and I can only imagine that the criminal in Spain accusing the Spanish police of monitoring him is sobbing into his ash-laden tapas.
— Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British political columnist and guest television commentator with a focus on the Middle East.