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What am I going to tell my reporters?

Nine months ago, last July, when the army backed the people who took to the streets on 30 June and Al Sisi came out in all his glory reading the armed forces statement which included almost everything protesting Egyptians demanded at the time. A specific roadmap was announced and a temporary civilian president was instated. …

Managing editor Rana Allam
Rana Allam

Nine months ago, last July, when the army backed the people who took to the streets on 30 June and Al Sisi came out in all his glory reading the armed forces statement which included almost everything protesting Egyptians demanded at the time. A specific roadmap was announced and a temporary civilian president was instated. Al Sisi’s speech promised early presidential elections, amending the constitution, freedom of the media, and empowerment of the youth…among other things. And to curb our fears, the statement emphasised the armed forces’ desire to remain “aloof from politics”.

On that glorious day, several respected figures stood behind Al Sisi during his announcement, among which were the Al-Azhar Grand Imam, the Coptic Pope, Salafi leaders, youth representatives, and the then-democracy icon, Mohamed ElBaradei. Regardless of whether we agree with their direction or not, their appearance with Al-Sisi gave the statement credibility and a sense of calm to Egyptians.

Media outlets, especially foreign ones, called it a military coup. Other media outlets called it a revolution backed by the armed forces in the same manner that happened in the 25 January Revolution against Mubarak. And this begged the question in the Daily News Egypt’s newsroom: what would DNE call it?

A long heated debate went on. Regardless of their opposition to Morsi, many of DNE’s reporters saw it as a coup, their argument was that Morsi was an elected president removed by the power of the military… and that was that! Others compared the situation to the January revolution, when the interference of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces was not called a coup. The team went on arguing the details of the process that led to Morsi’s winning the presidency, with many pointing out that democracy is not just a ballot box, while others reminded them of the horrors Egyptians saw during the 2011 SCAF rule.

It fell on me to take a decision: We will not call it a coup, nor will we call it a revolution! We will avoid such terminologies. Why? Simply because of the millions who took to the streets demanding Morsi’s ousting, and because of the promises that came with Al Sisi’s statement along with those who stood behind him while he read it. A civilian president, who is also a judge (a much needed expertise at times like these) and early presidential elections, with media freedoms promised.

World governments and political experts were undecided on what to name it!

It was a tough call, especially since I was not 100% sure that SCAF was telling the truth of their intentions, given our history with them. The SCAF’s members, at the end of the day, are the same ones who ruled in 2011. With the exception of former Defence Minister Tantawi and the Chief of Staff Sami Anan (who were both sacked by Morsi), the rest are the same people who are responsible for the killing of hundreds and the detainment and torture of thousands in a year of turmoil following Mubarak’s ouster. They are also responsible for the scam elections (parliamentary and presidential) that brought Islamists to power in the first place. Even Al-Sisi himself was promoted by Morsi!

But again, the protests, roadmap, the promises, those figures that stood behind them gave the needed reassurance that the SCAF had learned from 2011 and would not get involved in the political process. So I took the decision: we will not call it a coup (nor a revolution). While objections flew in the newsroom, my argument was sound enough, in the end, to convince my team that this was the right call.

What made it even more convincing was the “clarification” we had to run after an interview with the armed forces spokesman, Colonel Ahmed Ali, that contained one question regarding the potential for Al-Sisi to run for president. That interview was translated to run in almost every Egyptian newspaper, with the headline of “Al Sisi will run for president”, although the spokesman hadn’t said anything to this effect. After some discussions with the colonel, we had to run a clarification assuring the public that this would not happen!

A few weeks later, and for the following months, Al Sisi and the armed forces and their media machines kept repeating over and over that Al Sisi (and the military) would not present or back any presidential candidate. So even when the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins were violently dispersed followed by mass arrests, we were all hoping for an end to all the violence through the would-be civilian president who would soon be elected.

We waited and waited, shocked by the change in the roadmap: no “early” presidential elections. Shocked by the killings and the “war on terror” that somehow justified breaking all laws known to man; shocked at the silence of the judge who ruled the country; shocked at the media machine that kept brainwashing the public into believing that “all this is necessary” and that those who oppose it are traitors!

A couple of days ago, one of my reporters sadly asked me: Remember when you stood in the newsroom and insisted that it is not a coup?

For the first time, in a long time, I did not have a logical response nor any words to say.

I look around me and see students getting shot on their campus, journalists getting killed and detained, young women and men being tortured for distributing flyers, tens of thousands in detention facilities getting the worst treatment ever for daring to go out to protest.

And the military chief is running for president!

I remain speechless… what do I tell my reporters?

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  • I was not wrong but the military lost courage and decided it was still afraid of the people and democracy?

  • AzzaSedky

    I was one who would not have supported a military man. However, it’s been over three years and Egyptians have yet to see someone whom they can trust and look up to. If there were, I would have been the first to choose him. salute and accept. But alas, none.

    See “Sisi: to run or not to run” http://azzasedky.typepad.com/egypt/2014/01/el-sissito-run-or-not-to-run.html

    • Seth stabbed the Apep demon from the Sacred Barque of Amon-Re… Morsi was a Hebrew impostor…

      • Commonsense

        Winston, you are less intelligent than a rock!

  • Rana

    That you were disgustingly wrong and naive…? That your repulsion for a democratically elected government who didn’t look like you pushed you to embrace the security state? That you are complicit in legitimating the coup by not even having the wherewithal to call it such? I could go on…

  • Zaghou

    Rana, I think you need to tell your reporters to do their homework and investigate why sisi has decided to run for elections. The last conference between Egypt’s top business men in Cairo concluded that every business man was happy to pump investments into the country to support your collapsing economy. Their only condition was Sisi to run elections. In addition to that, your country’s illiterate majority have fallen in love with Sisi. Whether you and your team of reporters like it or not, I’m afraid to say, that you, your team, and every other person sharing your opinion are a very tiny minority.

  • Ahmed EL Masry

    to be honest with you … you were very short-sighted when u didnt see its a coup from the begining .

    2 or 3 millions in the streets for 6 hrs dancing with policemen without any anger or clashes on 30 June …. this isnt a revolution !!! … its just a cover for the coming military coup that began on 1st of july.

  • sam enslow

    You should have told your so called reporters that the “coup” vs “revolution” debate was a red herring to keep the people from discussing the real issues facing Egypt. Neither word has any moral or ethical meaning – both can be good or bad depending on results. “Coup”is important only in US law. Egypt has had “revolts” but no “revolution” – yet. Revolutions change institutions. Nothing has changed in Egypt.
    Far more mportant is the fact that a man is in jail for naming his donkey Sisi. What new constitution? Why didn’t Sisi speak out aganst this?
    A better fight over words would have been one over the use of “rule” and “govern”. Kings and dictators rule. Responsible, democratic officials govern – and are accountable for how they govern. Another word that needed dscussing is “insult”. Who are all these strong leaders who get insulted everytime someone says anything about their job performance? If you cannot stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
    The Egyptian press, by ignoring Egypt’s problems and concentrating on the “wrongs” done to the “great people of Egypt” by the US and EU, have done a diservice to Egypt. Even in this current essay there will be no suggestion that the US or the EU may have been right in expressing their concerns over the political situation in Egypt. No suggestion will ever be made that the xenophobic rhetoric of the media may discourage foreign investments, tourism, and make the people of the countries subjected to the outright lies that appear in Egyptian media a little reluctant to dig into their pockets to help such friends.
    But, most importantly, I would have your reporters read a little about the history of revolutions, especially US, French, and Russian Revolutions and see how the old aristocrats/rulers were given the opportunity to reform, refused to listen, and the bloody revolution followed. Revolutions are not pretty or romantic. The 25 January Revolution asked for very little. They trusted that those who ruled Egypt got the message. They were wrong.

  • Shahira Amin

    I knew this was coming all along ! I’ve been accused of being pro-Morsi which I never was . I was just trying to warn that the old regime would be reinstated if he was toppled. There was no other option.

  • Shahira Amin

    Bravo Rana for your courage in admitting you were wrong. In spite of everything, there are a lot of people still in denial.

  • Hoda

    Tell them ” The next time (if there is ever any) we will just call things by what they really are” !!

  • Moustafa Elqabbany

    A little bit of honesty goes a long way. I can imagine naive 20-somethings believing that this wasn’t a coup. As for anyone with a bit more experience or knowledge of world history, I don’t know what to say, other than, “How could you have been so stupid or dishonest?”

    • sam enslow

      Every propagandist knows that people tend to believe what they want to believe. Egyptians want to be emotional rather than thoughtful. It is easier to get a crowd to follow a course of action than an individual. ALL of those those who have played in Egyptian politics since the 25 January Revolution knew this lesson well. Combine a mob mentality with Egypt’s horror of self criticism, and you get the results we have seen over the last three years, high hopes based on dreams to be crushed at the first glimmer of thought.

      • Egoi

        On January 24, I knew a revolution was coming the next day. By time I saw the tanks head to Maspero on January 28 I realized a coup had happened. They did a good job dressing it up as a revolution, but the SCAF openly was admitting a few months later that they had staged a coup, just not using that word directly. And ask any military person today and they will still say that, e.g. in the Tahrir documentary..

        But perhaps people were so well fooled into believing Jan 25 was a revolution that they believed June 30 could be one too. I saw the inevitability of Sisi coming to power several days before June 30.

        You don’t need to tell your staff anything, they are just like you, stupid, blinded by hate and the stinking elite Egyptian mentality.

  • Alas If only you had read a bit of Pakistan’s history you might never have made such a mistake. Look for these lines next time:
    1. I am a professional soldier leading a professional army. We will go back to our barracks within ___ months.
    2. We are here only because the existence of the country was in peril.
    3. The army has nothing to do with politics, we are soldiers born to sacrifice our lives for the nation.
    4. I will not be a candidate in the next elections.
    5. We have to set the economy right – it has been plundered and destroyed.
    6. Bla blah blah blah.
    If any or all of the above exist—–its a COUP!

  • Ibrahim

    60 years of anti-brotherhood propaganda takes it’s toll on even the most well-intentioned. In a blind anti-MB rage, you cut off your nose to spite your face.

  • Mohamed

    Rana, writing this article takes an immensely large amount of courage and sincerity. Thank you. We have no option other than unity if we wish Egypt well.

  • mahmou

    You can tell your reporters that your hatred for the MB made you an inhumane animal that overlooked killings and persecutions and the trampling of the freedom of 90+ million. in any case, better late than never i guess!

  • Rightshot

    How about shut up about politics and focus on human rights for a change instead of trying to use the latter to promote your personal ideal for the former?

  • Can commentators read?

    Every idiot in the comments attacking her… You do realize she said ‘Will call it neither a Revolution nor a coup” right?

    I mean, I assume you have basic reading and writing skills, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to post your comments, But do you have the slightest bit of comprehension skills?

    She said we’re going to avoid naming it anything. Not that she sided with one definition or the other. Pay attention when reading before you spew your vitriol.

    • Fantasy is their medium of infinitization… Like the Zohar Jew who dry humps the Wailing Wall like Miley Cyrus trying to achieve an erotic union with their “Shekinah,” a masturbatory cosmos maker… or miss neo-kabbalah Madonna, “Like a Virgin.”

      It is another distraction rooted in Tikkun Olam paganism and Judaic word fetishism coming from linguists like Naom Chomsky over at M.I.T., who use the Talmud as a blueprint for an illusion of a parallel and false reality.

      The Jewish globalist financiers funding Sodom Hussein Obama, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafist terror groups opposing Assad in Syria want control just like they wanted Libyan oil for the EUSSR…

      But, Seth stabbed the Apep demon from the Barque of Amon-Re.

    • sam enslow

      Commentators who read this paper saw many, many essays and reports on the “coup”-“revolution” debate. All were very opposed to any suggestion of te word “coup”.

  • “As for the mountain of Bakhu on which the sky rests, it is in the east of the sky… A serpent is on the top of that mountain; it is thirty cubits long, eight cubits of its forepart are of flint, and its teeth gleam… Now after a while he will turn his eye against Re, and a stoppage will occur in the Sacred Bark and a great vision among the crew, for he will swallow up seven cubits of the great waters; Seth will project a lance of iron against him and will make him vomit up all that he has swallowed.”

  • omega pal

    Winston What u mean by posting this video? Is it to answer to ana? Or u continu the SSI propaganda here? We are not brainwshed.I salute the humility of Ana by confessing that she was wrong. When that time I posted that it was a coup I was banned to post on DNE.Bravo Ana better late than ever. U are not alone many Egypt ians can even have opportunity to confess that is going to be translate for next election by SSSI election by less than 20% of participation rate.

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  • BE Macomber

    After four decades in journalism reporting revolutions, juntas, and coups, I offer these professional comments to you my dear. You are not a newswoman. Find another occupation because the mistake you made with this circumstance was horrific. One has a level of innate sensibility for the truth, or one does not. In your case it is the latter. Your admission seems a signature of guilt than one of insight? Journalism’s ethical task is to focus on accountability of the players inside the civil society arena. Without investigative 360-degree reporting we are nothing but pawns for a marketing department and/or actors disseminating propaganda for the elite. Unless one is passionately brilliant about following a story to its ultimate conclusion, while deploying intuition and discernment, step to the sidelines. The fact your staff did not take you to task is beyond troublesome. A coup is a coup and any amount of research into prior coups would have defined the game plan afoot in #Egypt. Also, where is the operating tenant of listening to (and protecting) your sources? Without superior networking with a web of on the ground the sources a journalist is blind and deaf. Every single citizen video raw footage I received and carefully watched made it abundantly clear this was a coup.

  • Robert George

    Excellent report as always but here is what you can tell your reporters…
    Whether this is labelled as a coup or a revolution is semantic. The facts are: 1) the Egyptians have stopped an international dirty agenda against the Middle East; 2) the world stood still for 3 days and nights watching in admiration what we did without a single drop of blood (IMHO this will be taught); 3) the man next in power, should it be Sisi or else, is worried, concerned and shitting himself as the masses have woken-up; 4) the Sisi did not come forward but he was demanded to; 5) this is an exceptional situation with an exceptional solution that we can not get it wrong on this occasion
    If your reporters do not accept this please direct them to the recent history: Invasion of Iraq, 911, Boston marathon bombs, ETA, Guantanamo Bay, The building of China… Etc and tell them in exceptional critical situations tough and painful decisions are made and if they cannot handle it let them drop reporting as a career.

    Robert George

  • Adil Hilal

    I appreciate very much your neutral & objective argument. You have been honest with others not to consider 30th June a coup or revolution, but it is too late that you discovered that many Egyptians have been deceived because Sisi supported the rebellions against Morse not for their blue eyes but to capture the seat for himself and distribute its privileges among the top army, police and judicial influential figures. The law of demonstration and the currently drafted law of terrorism clearly and fully assure that fascism authoritarianism and the ugly military rule has already returned back to Egypt. Nowadays, historians put the coming soon military rule in Egypt in line with the Pakistan during Pervez Musharraf, Turkey before Erdogan North Korea under Kim IL-Song’s dynasty Venezuela & Cuba and Myanmar under military rule. Egypt faces dramatic catastrophes such as drought, lack of all energy sources & supplies, importing almost all its basic food-stuffs, no more external work-markets for its millions of unemployed youth, currency devaluation, very high inflation rate and almost 50% of the population are lowering to poverty line.The Mubarak’s regime’s businessmen’s support to Sisi in his presidential election and the detention of many thousands of innocent Egyptian illegally will not make Sisi safe in the top seat. The leftists, workers unions and Farmers’ associations who are theoretically supporting him now will desert him when his boat drowns sooner or later.Egypt needs reconciliation and unity, but for sure, Sissi is not the suitable man to reunite the Egyptians.

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  • Ahmed

    Tell them the truth that you were an idiot !

  • Yes but the fact is, that the people asked the military to intervene on their behalf, and what other choice did they have? If they waited for Morsi’s term to expire, it may have been too late for Egypt. And no candidates emerged, and the people started to ask Sisi to run. I don’t understand why this is is a dilemma? Do you know what was going on in Rabba? Not a peaceful protest! Do you know what is going on in the Universities? I think as a journalist you should do a little more homework!

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