Amid the global, regional, and national crises, the coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions, climate change, and regional conflicts, the ideological and fundamentalist discourses – which are also in crisis in the Arab and Islamic worlds and on an international level – were able to manipulate these predicaments for their own benefit.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) extremist media discourse is not confined to the group’s statements or its official platforms only. It has become a vast network of satellite channels and agencies amid severe regional polarization, in which the axis of moderation – at its core lies Egypt – is present on one hand, and the axis of extremism on the other functions in a wide space of funding, sponsors and harboring states, such as Qatar, Turkey, and Iran, each extending from satellite channels to various social networking sites, in the hotbeds of conflict, from Libya to Syria to Yemen and Sudan, to achieve its own and shared agendas. The organization’s many voices, discourse patterns and functions of this discourse vary amid combined and complex global and regional developments, and a difficult and unprecedented Arab phase, in particular.
Despite the multiple and diverse sources and patterns of the media discourse of the terrorist Brotherhood group and the multiplicity of its arms and media partners, from Qatari and Turkish sources, that share them in the contents and objectives of the discourse and its functions, their priorities may differ. They might share or distribute roles, but the central goal remains disrupting the image of legitimacy, fabricate news and incite protests to question the performance of the Egyptian regime, its leadership, president, government, and parties – opposition or otherwise.
The content of the media discourse of these platforms and various media organizations may differ, but they share one goal: sensationalism, confusion, distortion, attempts to incite protests and revolutionary sentiments, integrate the Brotherhood into the Egyptian opposition and go beyond its recent history, as presented here:
First: Incitement – Exploiting crises to provoke public opinion
The MB lies in wait for any new government decision or statement on the economic, social and political situation to fuel public opinion, regardless of how logical the decision is, the logic of its supporters, or the legal and regulatory violation sought by the decision.
Of course, some government decisions, especially those related to society, economy, and life, are prone to criticism, just anywhere in the world, in light of globalization, market laws, and the ongoing global and financial crises. Perhaps some decisions might be incorrect and inaccurate in their implementation and the official and government media may fail to convince the public opinion with these decisions, despite public awareness of the ambush of the counter-media networks to create a state of protest and insurgency against the regime through persistent interpretations, fallacies, and exaggerations.
The MB has exploited and employed various media platforms (satellite channels or social media, in addition to dozens of news websites funded by Qatar and Turkey), taking advantage of the implications of some decisions, such as the economic reform program, to provoke and incite the masses.
Second: Attempt to undermine confidence
The Brotherhood’s media discourse, with its direct and indirect platforms, has been trying to question any political path or position of the state, calling for a popular boycott, and trying to discredit the relationship between the state and society, which is portrayed as a rejection of the regime or its legitimacy and a prelude to the revolution against it, which is what the group is used to do since their ouster from power. The Senate elections were a new means for the Brotherhood’s continued approach to distort the image of the state and obstruct the constitutional and electoral entitlements by promoting several statements, most of which revolved around the low rate of participation in the elections, and their attempt to focus on the idea of public reluctance to participate. However, the National Elections Authority announced turnout was 14.23 percent in the House of Representatives elections and seven percent in the Shura Council elections.
Here are some examples of the opinion of the traditional and new Brotherhood media and platforms:
– Egypt signed the maritime demarcation agreement with Greece on 6 August 2020 that angered Turkey and considered it a violation of its sovereign and maritime rights. So, the Brotherhood media supported by Ankara questioned the importance of the agreement for Egypt, and said that the agreement violates and harms Egypt’s rights in the Mediterranean in favor of Greece and was signed only to annoy Turkey. The MB media also claimed that Egypt has given a large part of its wealth-rich borders to counteract the legitimate Turkish influence. This was seen, for example, in a video on the YouTube channel of the Al-Sharq TV channel, in which a Brotherhood member, Hisham Abdullah, talks about documents allegedly leaked from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealing Egypt’s transfer of its rights in the Mediterranean, under the title “Exclusive: Leaked documents from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry” regarding the border demarcation agreement with Greece.
– Shedding light on some electoral propaganda that insults the candidates and elections, such as the sentences “words, not actions” or some electoral symbols, such as “the banana fruit symbol”, in addition to the focus on some electoral conferences that included a large audience despite the preventive measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
– Promoting the notion that the Senate represents a waste of state resources, saying that it cost EGP 4.5 billion and was established to distribute loyalty and that the media for seven years has been talking about the Shura Council being of no use and just a waste of money before the current tone changed.
Thus, there are many forms of selectivity aimed at questioning the contents of the Muslim Brotherhood’s discourse and media message towards the internal and external political path, which continues in all channels.
Third: Distraction, the regional arena, and multiple goals
Another important example is the distracting and distorting discourse that uses issues in the region (Libya, Syria, Yemen, the Gulf, and the Arab Maghreb) and the world to distort the Egyptian regime and its policies, in an attempt to distract the viewer and hold the Egyptian regime accountable for all crises and issues, as if it has a magical solution to all the issues of the nation and the region. Examples include:
– The use of some sensitive issues like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, where MB media seeks to draw the Egyptians’ attention towards it as the only important issue, with no regard to other important regional issues that Egypt deals with in various directions. The MB media does not hesitate to portray a contradiction between itself and the interest in the Libyan affairs, highlighting it as the priority, echoing their famous phrase “The Egyptian national security is in the south, not in the west.” It is no secret the MB media supports Turkish actions in the Libya through continuous attempts to distract Egyptians away from them, as if they are of no importance compared to the issue of the Renaissance Dam.
– Broadcasting exclusive photos to Al-Jazeera channel about the final shape of the dam and the advantages that Sudan will reap from the dam in an attempt to split the Egyptian-Sudanese ranks and cause a rift between them.
Fourth: Inciting revolution
Perhaps this pattern is the one that combines the various media messages provided by the Brotherhood’s different platforms, both the direct and indirect, in an attempt to motivate people to go out on the street, turn against the state and clash with the state and security apparatus, by calling for a revolution and revolutionizing the state of anger and tension that afflicts the Egyptian street towards some crises, such as the state of economic stagnation, which followed the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide, in an attempt to mobilize public opinion. The MB exploits economic reform measures, which had a clear outcome, by calling for revolution and breaking the law.
The Brotherhood’s committees began, in what could be described as an annual habit, its calls to incite public opinion and to demand their supporters to come out against the Egyptian state. Among the features of these calls was the attempt to return fugitive contractor Mohamed Ali to the scene again through his calls to demonstrate and bring down the regime despite his lack of influence, his intellectual, political and strategic weakness, and the weak presence in the elite or public consciousness in Egypt, which also shows the state of hopelessness among the pro-Muslim Brotherhood arms who were unable to propose a suitable person for their goal. It is as if the group lacked leadership, and exhausted its alternatives.
Fifth: Employing religion
In light of the crisis of the Brotherhood and its different wings and generations, the manifestations of its crisis multiplied in the accusatory speech between the various leaderships, youth, and wings, which forced the group to return to the missionary religious discourse, betting on the religious sentiments and ideological belief of these rules. In its struggle with the state, the group tries to employ religion to stimulate the masses. There are many examples of this pattern, the most prominent of which are:
– The group tries through its media outlets to distort the minds of simple people by spreading the rumor that the state is fighting Islam and its heritage, employing the state’s serious attempts to revise and renew the heritage in a way that does not violate the constants of the Islamic religion or its righteous jurisprudence.
– The draft law on the independence of Dar Al-Iftaa from the Al-Azhar institution has been exploited, and transferring its subordination to the Council of Ministers was raised in the House of Representatives. The group considered this an attempt to demolish the mecca of Islam in Egypt, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.
– The MB’s acting Supreme Guide Ibrahim Mounir said on 19 September 2020 that the group’s work and jihad against the Egyptian regime are part of the religion of God and in its defense and a jihad for all the divine religions, and that the anguish and affliction the group suffers is divine and they will be rewarded for it.
Finally: The media between draining the state and draining the group
It is important to pay attention to the fact that the MB’s media discourse is trying to restore the group’s effectiveness and existence in the Egyptian political life, to fabricate a revolutionary state of a coup against the regime, distort it and undermine it, not only before its citizens but also in its relations with the region and the world. For this purpose, it uses all possible tools of distortion, fabrication, contradiction, and national slogans that hold Egypt responsible for every mistake or problem in the region. It also uses religion, its sentiments, and sectarianism to confront the regime and target Egyptian peace.
Despite the broad content of the Brotherhood’s media message and its partners, it shares a major goal that its supporters declared after the fall of their rule on 30 June 2013, and that is “to drain the state until it falls.” Everything that its satellite channels, platforms, and social media accounts provide targets Egypt, but this is what hope looks like for a group in crisis.
To face the MB’s media discourse, a counter-drainage strategy is not required. Rather, good media management of the crisis is needed, by adopting diversified, counter-media arms, and paying attention to the regional and international affairs that the group and its supporters employ at home and abroad against Egypt with slogans holding Egypt responsible for everything, ignoring the contexts of reality, its laws, changes, and challenges.
The group is deeply involved in harming Egypt. Although it has dozens of branches around the world, it employs all its supporters and arms to target the Egyptian core that overthrew its rule and aborted its dreams, and employs all the contexts of the region to confront it, which enables the use of the same contexts against the group and its allies. The Brotherhood is a group with many faces and practices. Its position in Afghanistan is in support of the US against the Taliban, and in Iraq, it supports the US and Iran’s extremists against the Sunnis and Arabs. Added to its position in Egypt, with the Palestinians, there is its different position on Syria and Algeria. If anything, these contradictions show the Brotherhood’s distance from clarity.