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Cablegate: Terrorism in Cairo; Another Round of Criticism Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CAIRO 002789

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER KPAO EG
SUBJECT: TERRORISM IN CAIRO; ANOTHER ROUND OF CRITICISM OF
U.S.: EGYPTIAN MEDIA THEMES, APRIL 4 to 10

-------
Summary
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1. All media outlets gave wide coverage to the bombing
attack in Cairo's Khan Al-Khalili market, highlighting PM
Ahmed Nazif's April 8 hospital visit to victims and
Egyptian government officials' claims that the attack was
"an individual act." All commentators feared the attacks
would unsettle Egypt's economy, with the opposition press
fearing further attacks by Islamic groups. Earlier in the
week, the U.S. received now familiar criticism:
"hegemonic" behavior in the region, "double standards," and
"interference" through the funding of Egyptian NGOs.
Notable were the critical comments of prominent Egyptian
columnists and former FM Maher in a three-page feature in
independent Nahdet Misr on April 7-8. The death of Pope
John Paul II received broad coverage, though with minimal
commentary -- save for one commentator's call that the head
of Egyptian TV resign for not giving the Pope's death
breaking news coverage. End summary.

---------------------------------
Main Themes in the Egyptian Media
---------------------------------

2. Khan Al-Khalili market terrorist attack: All major
media outlets gave the bombing lead coverage on April 9,
highlighting PM Nazif's April 8 hospital visit to victims
and quoting government officials' claims that the attack
was "an individual act." The media also quoted numerous
statements of condemnation from government and civic
leaders. Most commentators reflected on previous terrorist
attacks in Egypt and expressed concerns that further
attacks would negatively affect civil liberties and Egypt's
economy. Ibrahim Saada's comments on April 9 in the weekly
edition of pro-government Akhbar Al-Youm (circulation:
1,000,000) reflected overall media opinion in urging that
opposition parties "unite with the government against this
obvious attempt to harm Egypt." The editor-in-chief of
opposition Al-Wafd (circulation: 180,000) suggested on
April 10, "People are whispering that the attack could be a
plot by the Egyptian government to maintain the emergency
law." All opposition papers commented on April 10 that
Islamic groups might be devising plans to commit more
attacks. An online poll on www.masrawy.com asked, "What
was the target of the latest terrorist attack in Cairo?"
Of the 3,400 respondents as of April 10, 50 percent
answered, "To shake up the political scene," 27 percent
answered, "To strike Egypt's economy," and 16 percent
answered, "A call to Egyptian armed resistance." (Note:
Masrawy.com is Egypt's equivalent of Yahoo.com and has a
young readership. End note.)

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3. U.S. receives usual criticism: The U.S. received
another round of criticism this week, all echoing familiar
themes. Criticism ranged from an unsigned editorial in
pro-government Al-Gomhouriya (circulation: 200,000) on
April 7 pointing to a perceived U.S. "double standard" --
the U.S. criticizing Syria for its actions in Lebanon and
Sudan for the crisis in Darfur, while being "soft" on
Israel -- to criticism from former FM Ahmed Maher of the
civil society grants presented by Ambassador Welch in March
to Egyptian NGOs. Maher made his remarks on the TV program
Al-Zel Al-Ahmar ("Red Shade") on April 4, during which he
stated, "The grants were provocative and failed to respect
Egyptian law." Throughout the week, several commentators
questioned the new Iraqi government's legitimacy for what
they saw as a lack of Sunni participation. Independent
Nahdet Misr (circulation: 20,000) ran a three-page spread
in its April 7-8 edition, "Us and America," featuring
leading Egyptian columnists and, again, FM Maher
criticizing "U.S. hegemonic attempts on Egypt." The
feature's lead article, "The Egyptian Street Says: Yes to
Friendship; No to Hegemony," was based on interviews with
ordinary Egyptians about their views of the U.S.

4. Pope's death: The death of Pope John Paul II received
broad coverage, though little commentary. Several TV
networks aired the Pope's funeral live on April 8. On
April 4 a columnist with independent Al-Masri Al-Youm
(circulation: 20,000) derided Egyptian Television (ETV) for
not immediately reporting the Pope's death as breaking
news, then demanded the resignation of ETV's president.

GRAY

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