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Cablegate: Black Day of Terrorism: Egyptian Media Themes,

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 005264

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPAO EG
SUBJECT: BLACK DAY OF TERRORISM: EGYPTIAN MEDIA THEMES,
JULY 4 TO 10


1. Summary: The Egyptian media roundly condemned the
murder of Egyptian envoy to Iraq Ehab Al-Sharif and the
London bombings. "Black Day of Terrorism" was one leading
newspaper's headline. All media outlets covered remarks by
the Mufti of the Republic labeling Al-Sharif's killers as
"thugs" who "now face the wrath of God." While some
commentators blamed U.S. policy for the violence in Iraq
with one former Egyptian ambassador even alleging that
Israel and the U.S. were behind his abduction - other
commentators directed their wrath toward those who killed
Al-Sharif and "distort" the image of Islam. Much of the
commentary about the London bombings took place in the
context of remarks about Al-Sharif's murder. The media
reported on a recent spate of poisoned watermelon cases,
reportedly from pesticide use, with some commentators
singling out the former Minister of Agriculture for blame.
End summary.

2. Egyptian envoy to Iraq murdered - coverage: "Black Day
of Terrorism" was the banner headline on July 8 in leading
pro-government daily Al-Ahram (circulation: 750,000), which
featured extensive coverage of the murder of Ehab Al-
Sharif, Egyptian envoy to Iraq. The July 8 headline of
pro-government Al-Akhbar (circulation: 800,000) read
"Religious Crime: Zarqawi's Group Kills Egyptian
Ambassador to Iraq." All pro-government newspapers quoted
the Mufti of the Republic Ali Gomaa saying on July 7, "It's
a crime and the Ambassador is a martyr." The following
day, during Gomaa's Friday sermon broadcast live on
Egyptian TV, the Mufti said that Al-Sharif's killers were
"thugs" who "now face the wrath of God, who will strike
them down!" Independent, anti-American weekly Al-Osboa
(circulation: 50,000) led with the headline "They Killed
Him!" in its July 10 edition. Opposition Al-Wafd
(circulation: 70,000) printed on July 10 a front-page
cartoon showing an Egyptian woman in white being bit on the
hand by a dog from a village labeled "Iraq" under the title
"Assassination of the Egyptian Ambassador in Iraq."
Egyptian TV's Channel One changed its regularly scheduled
programming on July 8 and 9 and, instead, aired "Al-Irhabi"
("The Terrorist"), a film produced in the 90s at the height
of Gamaa Islamabad violence in Egypt. (Note: The film
portrays an Egyptian terrorist involved in the murder of
innocent tourists, showing how he and his colleagues are
brainwashed and misunderstand Islamic Sharia law. When the
terrorist is injured, a kind Christian physician treats him
and soon, the terrorist repents and leaves his terrorist
cell. For this, his former colleagues kill him. End
note.)

3. Egyptian envoy to Iraq murdered commentary: A former
Egyptian ambassador appeared on the popular TV program Al-
Bayt Baytak ("Make Yourself at Home") on July 10 arguing
that the U.S. "convinced" the GOE to send an ambassador to
Iraq and that the GOE was "totally responsible" for Al-
Sharif's death. Al-Ahram's new Editor-in-chief, Osama
Saraya, mourned Al-Sharif's death in a July 9 commentary,
remarking that the "crime" would not prevent Egypt from
supporting Iraq. However, echoing an all-too-familiar
refrain in the Egyptian press, Saraya reiterated that "the
Americans are responsible for the uncontrollable violence
in Iraq," concluding that the U.S. war on terror "has only
increased terrorist crimes worldwide." Former pro-
government Akhbar Al-Youm (circulation: 1,000,000) Editor-
in-chief Ibrahim Saeda denounced Al-Sharif's murder on July
9, avoiding assigning any blame in his commentary and
argued that Egypt should lead the way for other Arab
countries by appointing another ambassador. Another former
Egyptian ambassador -- Ahmad Al-Ghamrawi, former ambassador
to Afghanistan -- alleged to IslameOnline.net and Egyptian
TV that Al-Sharif "was kidnapped by a foreign body to pit
the Egyptians and Iraqis against one another," suggesting
the Israeli Mossad and the CIA as suspects. Liberal
columnist Abdallah Abdel Salam, writing in Al-Ahram on July
9, criticized "those who do not adopt a clear-cut position
on terrorism and claim that the West is launching a crusade
against 'Arabs' and Muslims," emphasizing that terrorism
must be condemned "loud and clear and anyone who excuses
it is an accomplice to the crime."

4. London terror attacks: "A New September 11 in London"
was the headline on Al-Wafd's July 8 front page. The former
Editor-in-chief of pro-government Al-Gomhouriya
(circulation: 500,000) condemned the London bombings in a
July 8 column, yet another columnist writing in the paper
that day condemned the U.S. for "the spread of terrorism."
The bombings were widely condemned in other pro-government
newspaper commentaries on July 9, with one Al-Ahram
commentator writing that "Muslim preachers who adopt lame
excuses for the London bombings distort the image of Islam
abroad far more than terrorism itself." The bombings were
mentioned and condemned on the weekend's talks shows, but
in the context of a discussion about the murder of Egyptian
envoy to Iraq Al-Sharif.

5. Poisoned watermelons: The independent print media
continued to report on cases of pesticide-tainted
watermelons on the market. The Ministry of Health had
announced to the media last week that just over 300 cases
of watermelon poisonings had been reported. The Minister
of Agriculture, interviewed by Al-independent daily Masry
Al-Youm (circulation: 20,000), blamed his predecessor for
allowing dangerous pesticides on the market. Meanwhile, on
July 10 the Editor of Al-Osboa, which profiled poisoning
cases on its front page the previous week, appeared on
Egyptian satellite Dream TV to accuse the former Minister
of Agriculture of "poisoning Egyptians."

CORBIN

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