Cablegate: Police Round Up Muslim Brothers: Egyptian Media

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Headlines: Egyptian media devoted much of their May 6
- 7 weekend coverage to talks between President Mubarak,
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, and Oman's Sultan Qabous at
Sharm El Sheikh. The media also reported on a proposed
amendment to constitutional article 76. On the latter, on
May 8 opposition Al Wafd (circulation: 200,000) ran a
column: "The Assassination of Egyptian Political Life."
Also on May 8 pro-government Al Ahram (circulation:
750,000) printed a small headline on its front page, "A
Strange Statement by Bush," reporting on President Bush's
call for open presidential elections in Egypt and
international monitoring. End headlines.

2. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members hit the streets, get
arrested. All major newspapers reported May 7 that 200 MB
members had been arrested and 30 policemen injured in
clashes during May 6 demonstrations in four provinces.
According to a May 7 report on news website ","
a MB member in Daqahliyya province died after police fired
tear gas on demonstrators. Pro-government Al Akhbar
(circulation: 800,000) noted that MB members had been
arrested for "resisting authority and injuring security
forces." The following day, all newspapers reported that,
in fact, 400 MB members had been detained, along with MB
leader Essam El Erian. Erian declared, through his lawyer,
that he had been arrested because of his plans to run for
the presidency. Egyptians read on May 9, in pan-Arab
newspapers Al Hayat and Al Sharq Al Awsat, MB Supreme Guide
Mahdy Akef's statement that the MB will not stop
demonstrating "until political reform is implemented."
(Note: Akef also issued a vague warning about "civil
disobedience," bit it was not reported. (End note.)

3. April 30 terrorist attacks discussed: On May 7
independent daily Al Masri Al Youm (circulation: 20,000)
reported that the government could not identify the dead
body found after the April 30 bomb attack near the Egyptian
Museum initially reported in the media as that of the
bomber. A leading medical examiner was quoted saying that
DNA tests on the dead man were "inconclusive." On May 6 Al
Ahram's editor-in-chief criticized satellite channels for
focusing on the terrorist attacks in Egypt. Also on May 6,
a senior Al Ahram commentator wrote that the attacks
revealed the flaws in Egyptian security forces' handling of
terrorism and criticized the GOE's disregard for the
country's lower classes. Al Akhbar reported May 6 that
government interrogations of arrested terrorist suspects
had revealed that the attacks' organizers had collected
money publicly under the pretext of sending it to victims
of war in Iraq. On May 7 another Al Ahram columnist stated
that terrorists in Egypt "are nourished by mosque preaching
and cassette tapes that instigate negative ways of

4. Egyptian media OK; Arab media not OK: On May 9
Egyptian Channel 2's popular program "Al Bayt Baytak"
("Make Yourself at Home") hosted Hassan Abul Ella,
assistant of Minister of Information; Mustafa Bakry of the
sensationalist weekly Al-Osboa (circulation: 50,000); and
Dubai TV media celebrity, Mutaz Al Demerdash. Abul Ella
stated that the Egyptian media serve the country better
than other Arab media establishments that "aim only at
attacking other countries." Mentioning Al Hurra TV in
particular, Bakry claimed that satellite TV channels serve
"hidden political agendas." Demerdash replied that the
Arab media has to abandon its "taboos" and "love of
conspiracy theories" if it wanted to improve.


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