Cablegate: Egyptian Media Themes, September 26 to October 2:

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: President Mubarak's September 27 inauguration
was carried on live TV and followed over the course of the
week by coverage and paeans of praise. At the same time,
several leading columnists advocated that President Mubarak
and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) stick to
their campaign promises. U/S Karen Hughes' September 25 -
26 visit to Cairo was covered widely. News reports of her
visit were straight-forward and TV images and print media
photos showed her interacting with government officials and
Cairenes. Commentary about her visit was critical, however.
One person wrote in a pro-government newspaper that U/S
Hughes was "a smart and intelligent woman," but would "fail
because U.S. policy is based on double standards." Egypt's
newsstands saw another independent weekly newspaper appear,
Al-Karama ("Dignity"), on September 27. The newspaper's
editors and publishers are Nasserites who are critical of a
"hereditary regime" in Egypt, as well as U.S. policy.
Finally, beginning in Ramadan, Saudi-owned satellite channel
MBC will begin airing episodes of "The Simpsons" dubbed in
Arabic, with an Egyptian actor doing the voice of Homer
Simpson, renamed "Omar" in the Arabic version. End summary.

2. Mubarak inauguration: Egyptian TV devoted live coverage
to President Mubarak's September 27 inauguration for a fifth
term of six years. The following day, all major newspapers
highlighted quotes from his inaugural address, among them
the promise that "this election was not the end. What is
important now is to carry out the aspirations of the people
and march forward. We will do this with determination to
pursue further reform." Most commentators in the pro-
government press, as expected, praised Mubarak's speech.
However, several prominent commentators, among them pro-
government Al-Ahram's (circulation: 750,000) Editor-in-chief
Osama Saraya, urged the NDP to "increase government
transparency and political reform."

3. U/S Karen Hughes visit to Cairo: Egyptian print and TV
news coverage of U/S Karen Hughes September 25 - 26 visit to
Cairo was straight forward with images showing U/S Hughes
with Egyptian political and religious leaders, and a child,
during her visit to old Islamic Cairo. Local commentary was
universally critical of the purpose of her visit. Popular
independent columnist Salama A. Salama summed up what many
moderate columnists wrote on September 29 in an Al-Ahram
editorial: "What the U.S. should be doing is changing
policy, not dressing it up to look better. Even if Hughes
has the sympathetic ear of our leaders, the Arab public will
remain skeptical." Salama then proceeded to list the
following complaints about U.S. policy: "failure to lift a
finger" to link Israel's Gaza withdrawal to the Roadmap;
"isolating" Syria by blaming it for Hariri's assassination;
the "harassment of millions of Muslims" in the U.S.; and the
"abuse" of prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. A
columnist in pro-government Al-Gomhouriya (circulation:
500,000) wrote on September 29 that despite "U.S. show-
business techniques" promoting "good Americans," the
prevailing image of the U.S. is of the violent "cowboy."
Another columnist wrote in Al-Gomhouriya the following day
that "while Karen Hughes is a smart and intelligent woman
and has conveyed good messages from the U.S., her efforts
will fail because of U.S. policy based on double standards."
A commentator in opposition daily Al-Wafd (circulation:
50,000) wrote on October 1 that U/S Hughes had "failed to
improve the image of the U.S.," with the writer referring to
"America's ugly face" and its "crimes" in Iraq.

4. Al-Karama newspaper: Another weekly newspaper has
appeared on Egypt's news stands, Al-Karama ("Dignity"). The
newspaper is linked to opposition politician Hamdeen Sabahi,
who plans to run in this November's parliamentary elections
under a new party, also to be called "Al-Karama." The first
edition appeared on September 26, declaring war on
"hereditary power in Egypt," ostensibly referring to wide-
spread rumored that Gamal Mubarak will be installed as his
father's successor. Several PA contacts reported that it
took close to ten years for the newspaper's editors and
publishers to receive government permission to publish. In
addition to being anti-government and Nasserite in its
opinions, the newspaper sharply criticizes U.S. policy.

5. The Simpsons come to town: Several Egyptian online news
sources reported last week that the U.S. television series
"The Simpsons" would debut in the Arab world on Saudi-owned
satellite channel MBC. The show will premier under the name
"Al-Shamshoon" and be dubbed in Egyptian Arabic during
Ramadan. Egyptian actor Mohamed Heneidi will do the voice
of Homer Simpson, renamed "Omar" for the Arabic version.


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