‘Al-Ahram’ declares war on US

To depict America as a sponsor of terror is to encourage violence and terror against its innocent people.

July 24, 2013 21:53
2 minute read.
Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters of ousted Egyptian President Morsi read Al Ahram newspaper

Brotherhood Morsi supporters reading Al Ahram 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

As a metaphor analyst I can say that images have powers that can kill. Furthermore, analogies can constrain and direct our policies.

And, as a general fact in cognitive science, when metaphors and frames don't fit the facts, the facts will bounce off and the metaphors and frames will stay.

Crucially, some days ago the most widely circulating Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram depicted a group of jihadists as marionettes (string puppets) controlled and manipulated by Uncle Sam. The metaphor, as can be seen, highlights that the US, which from Al-Ahram's perspective, backs the Muslim Brotherhood, is behind the current violence happening in Sinai and other Egyptian governorates.

Furthermore, America, the sponsor of terror here, doesn't want peace and democracy in Egypt. This might be true. But what does the metaphor hide? Egypt has two main opposing powers: one for Morsi, the other opposing him. As such, the present Egyptian violence is natural, and America may have nothing to do with it. Also hidden by the metaphor is that the US, whose foreign policy might have manufactured terror, was a big victim of terror in 11/9, and, as such, has (allegedly) waged long wars against terror both in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

The cartoon also suppresses the fact that, like any country in the world, the US is keen only on its national interest, no matter who takes power in Egypt. And, in my view, it’s not in America’s interest to add fuel to the fire in Egypt. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood activists themselves see that the US let that military coup succeed; and, as such, the US has betrayed the ballot-box legitimacy that brought Morsi to office in 2012.

Dangerously, the nation-asperson metaphor hides here that terror cannot be represented by countries, but rather by individuals and groups. Importantly, even if the American government supports violence, America, the country, has many simple ordinary people, who oppose the government’s policies.

In other words, to depict America as a sponsor of terror is to encourage violence and terror against its innocent people.

, understood as loyal to the state, continued its demonization of the US yesterday, in a red sub headline on its front page, arguing that it discloses the American conspiracy against Egypt and the details of the final hours of Morsi’s rule.

Ann Patterson, the American ambassador to Egypt, has denied such allegations today.

But what does all this denote? Al-Ahram uses the conspiracy theory (deeply rooted in the Egyptian mind in particular, and in the Arab mind in general) to dazzle the army Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and portray him as a national hero, who, from Al-Ahram‘s perspective, would challenge America, as did Jamal Abdel-Naser, the late Egyptian president (a military man too) after the revolution of 1952. It would be legitimate for Al-Ahram to support the coup; but it's not legitimate to stigmatize America as a sponsor of terror.

The series on Al-Ahram‘s allies continued yesterday, when it said that Morsi is to be jailed for 15 days pending investigation. And after very few hours the attorney-general has negated the news.

Today, Abdel-Nasser Salam, Al-Ahram’s editor-in-chief, is to be interrogated.

Finally, I think the army has begun carrying out its road map, including the element of creating a media code of ethics, hasn’t it?

The writer is an Egyptian artist and a PhD student.

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