News Release

Getting Past Protest Disinformation

RACHEL TABACHNICK [email]
Tabachnick just wrote the piece “Media for Christ, Led By Anti-Muslim Agitator Joseph Nasralla, Produced Incendiary Film.”

EMAD MEKAY [email]
Available for a limited number of interviews, Mekay appeared on Al Jazeera English last night. A lecturer at Stanford University and an investigative journalism fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Mekay returned from Egypt a week ago after three months.

While virtually all media were alleging that an Israeli American Jew was behind the anti-Muslim video, Mekay appeared on an Institute for Public Accuracy news release early Wednesday afternoon noting that extremist Coptic Christians were on pro-Mubarak media disinforming the Egyptian public about the video.

He said today: “The rush to blame the Islamsits, the Arab Spring, the new governments in the Middle East and the foreign policy of the Obama administration towards the Arab Spring is misplaced.

“The first stories that appeared in the often unprofessional private Egyptian media came out in publications owned by businessmen who made their money under Mubarak. To this date, they remain massively upset that their favorite regime that allowed them to accumulate million of dollars in wealth without any checks and balances has fallen. They are even angrier at the U.S. and the Obama administration for allowing this to happen.

“To them, the U.S. was the last defense against change. They lived and thrived on the assumption that Mubarak was backed by the Americans and the Americans will never let him fall.

“The same notion has gripped the Christian Coptic extremists who have often gone to the extent of calling on the Israelis to invade Egypt and other Arab countries to prevent the advancement of Muslims.

“Many extremist Christian Copts who are here and benefit from U.S. freedom and safety, have used the U.S. as a hub to attack and slander Muslims and Islam, flaunting their U.S. presence as a protection.

“The interests of those extremists, many of them pushed to the side by their own Christian Coptic community in Egypt itself, coincided with the interests of the Mubarak businessmen, who are using their media outlets to try to bring back the good old days under Mubarak….

“To ignore those facts and focus on the role played by the Islamists, who came to this late in the game, is disingenuous. Blaming Islamists, the Arab Spring and Obama’s foreign policy towards the Arab Spring is even worse.

“The only blame that can be sent the Obama administration’s way is that they did not speak out forcefully against disinformation and unprofessionalism in the Arab and the Egyptian media. They should have cleared the U.S. name early on with a denial of any government role.”

ROBERT NAIMAN [email]
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy. He said today: “Romney’s deceitful attempt to portray U.S. Embassy Cairo’s statement criticizing an anti-Islam video as an ‘apology’ in ‘sympathy’ with those who carried out subsequent attacks on Embassy Cairo and the U.S. consulate in Bengazi was obviously unjust because a statement cannot be a response to acts which follow it. But Romney’s attack was also unjust because condemning the anti-Islam video was a completely reasonable and praiseworthy thing for the Embassy to do. It was a reasonable attempt to de-escalate tensions; the anti-Islam video was and is worthy of condemnation; and it was the job of the Embassy to work to dispel false propaganda circulating in Egypt that the U.S. government had something to do with the anti-Islam video.”