by Abdellatif El-Menawy
I remember the year the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, a year in which the whole country suffered. I was living in London at the time. It was obvious that the Brotherhood understood the importance of the media and communication, and how to use them to peddle falsehoods, promote their positions and influence public opinion.
We need to find different methods to translate international sympathy into real support for our war on terror, which we are fighting on behalf of the entire world. We need to understand what went wrong in our presentation of our reality to the world.
If misunderstandings of our position is limited to a country here or there, our problem is easy to identify and deal with. But if most countries misunderstand our position, we have a real problem, and we have to be more forthright and clear in facing reality and admit that there is a flaw in our methods of communication.
I was in London when the recent terrorist attack against Al-Rawda mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai took place. The news made headlines in the British media, but the Egyptian viewpoint and reality were absent.
“Al-Rawda mosque attack coverage highlighted messaging flaws.”
Most English, Arab and Egyptian analysts were known for their preconceived attitudes toward Egypt and its government, and this was a chance to promote their political positions.
There was an absence of any media voice linked to the Egyptian reality. There were no voices from inside Egypt, and officials disappeared. When I followed international media outlets, the situation was not much different. Most of the Western media used the words “militants” or “jihadists” to describe the terrorists who committed that crime.
Many Egyptian officials and writers, myself included, blamed the Western media for their inadequate coverage of the event. But are they the only ones to blame? We are suffering from closed communication channels between us and others, so our positions are obscured. Solely blaming others as conspirators is a comfortable attitude that allows us to sleep easy, but we must be true to ourselves in order to understand and deal with our problems.
Social media is another big issue, particularly the way it is managed and used. Do we have an organized presence and clear strategy regarding social media platforms, regionally and internationally?