Cablegate: Sharm Terrorism Condemned: Egyptian Media Themes,

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. Summary: The Sharm El Sheikh terrorist attacks on July
23 dominated Egyptian media coverage the following two days
(reftel). All commentators condemned the attacks. On July
25, some TV and print press commentators began to question
why the attacks occurred and who was behind them; then
engaged in a blame game tagging the Egyptian government,
security forces, the lack of reform, and U.S. policies in
the region. Several PA contacts suggested that Israel
might have been behind the attacks. Most commentators
offered solutions to stop terrorism e.g., increasing
reform and opening a "national dialogue" to stop terrorism.
Before the attacks, Egyptian media coverage was largely
concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, with
commentators urging Palestinians to support Abu Mazen and
demanding that Israel complete its withdrawal from Gaza.
End summary.

2. The terrorist bombing attacks in Sharm El Sheikh
dominated Egyptian news coverage July 23 to 25. The
government-controlled media covered the July 24 anti-
terrorism demonstrations in Sharm El Sheikh, with large
front-page photos of the demonstrators appearing in both of
the leading pro-government dailies, Al-Ahram (circulation:
750,000) and Al-Akhbar (circulation: 800,000).
Condemnation of the attacks continued on TV and in the
print press. On July 25, some commentators began to assign
blame to the Government of Egypt, security forces, Al-
Qaeda, or the U.S. Government; some commentators advocated
"fighting back"; and a good number asked such questions as
who benefited from the attacks? Why now? What was the
cause behind the attacks? (Comment: A surprising number
of PA contacts asserted that many Egyptian reporters
believe that Israel may have been behind the Sharm attacks,
pointing to rumors that vehicles with temporary license
plates from Taba a town near the Israeli-Egyptian border
had transported the explosives used in Sharm. "How else
could all of that explosive material be brought into Egypt,
except from the Israeli side of the border?" claimed one
contact. End comment.)

3. Many current affairs commentators suggested ways to
prevent further attacks. "National dialogue is the best
way to overcome terrorism," asserted the Chairman of Al-
Azhar's Committee for Religious Dialogue on Channel 2's
popular program Al-Bayt Baytak ("Make Yourself at Home") on
July 25. "Handling these attacks aggressively will lead to
the emergence of a new generation of terrorists," warned a
well-known Islamic scholar on Dream TV's "Ten P.M." program
on July 25, adding "The solution required is more
democracy, more freedom, more justice." A columnist
writing in independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm (circulation:
20,000) on July 25 claimed, "We should fight domestic
terrorism by implementing reform immediately." The same
day, an Al-Ahram commentator called for the government to
deal with extremist groups through dialogue, "not just
through security measures." Another commentator in Al-
Akhbar on July 25 advocated rebuilding destroyed property
in Sharm "as soon as possible to send the message that life
will win."

4. Israeli-Palestinian issue: Before the attacks in
Sharm, the media was concerned largely with the Israeli-
Palestinian issue. Secretary Rice's talks with both sides
received lead coverage in Al-Ahram on July 23. The Mufti
of Egypt was interviewed the same day in Al-Ahram. In
reply to a question about the Israeli-Palestinian struggle,
he stated, "Resisting occupation in all its forms but not
killing innocent civilians is a legitimate form of
jihad." Nearly all commentators appearing on TV called on
Palestinians to support Abu Mazen, and on Israel to re-
deploy its army from Gaza. A commentator in Al-Akhbar on
July 23 warned that Israel "is hoping for a Palestinian
civil conflict to limit its Gaza withdrawal and reject the


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