US embassy cable - 05CAIRO2789

TERRORISM IN CAIRO; ANOTHER ROUND OF CRITICISM OF U.S.: EGYPTIAN MEDIA THEMES, APRIL 4 to 10

Identifier: 05CAIRO2789
Wikileaks: View 05CAIRO2789 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 2005-04-11 14:14:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: PGOV PREL PTER KPAO EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS CAIRO 002789 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PTER, KPAO, EG 
SUBJECT:  TERRORISM IN CAIRO; ANOTHER ROUND OF CRITICISM OF 
U.S.:  EGYPTIAN MEDIA THEMES, APRIL 4 to 10 
 
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Summary 
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1.  All media outlets gave wide coverage to the bombing 
attack in Cairo's Khan Al-Khalili market, highlighting PM 
Ahmed Nazif's April 8 hospital visit to victims and 
Egyptian government officials' claims that the attack was 
"an individual act."  All commentators feared the attacks 
would unsettle Egypt's economy, with the opposition press 
fearing further attacks by Islamic groups.  Earlier in the 
week, the U.S. received now familiar criticism: 
"hegemonic" behavior in the region, "double standards," and 
"interference" through the funding of Egyptian NGOs. 
Notable were the critical comments of prominent Egyptian 
columnists and former FM Maher in a three-page feature in 
independent Nahdet Misr on April 7-8.  The death of Pope 
John Paul II received broad coverage, though with minimal 
commentary -- save for one commentator's call that the head 
of Egyptian TV resign for not giving the Pope's death 
breaking news coverage.  End summary. 
 
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Main Themes in the Egyptian Media 
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2.  Khan Al-Khalili market terrorist attack:  All major 
media outlets gave the bombing lead coverage on April 9, 
highlighting PM Nazif's April 8 hospital visit to victims 
and quoting government officials' claims that the attack 
was "an individual act."  The media also quoted numerous 
statements of condemnation from government and civic 
leaders.  Most commentators reflected on previous terrorist 
attacks in Egypt and expressed concerns that further 
attacks would negatively affect civil liberties and Egypt's 
economy.  Ibrahim Saada's comments on April 9 in the weekly 
edition of pro-government Akhbar Al-Youm (circulation: 
1,000,000) reflected overall media opinion in urging that 
opposition parties "unite with the government against this 
obvious attempt to harm Egypt."  The editor-in-chief of 
opposition Al-Wafd (circulation: 180,000) suggested on 
April 10, "People are whispering that the attack could be a 
plot by the Egyptian government to maintain the emergency 
law."  All opposition papers commented on April 10 that 
Islamic groups might be devising plans to commit more 
attacks.  An online poll on www.masrawy.com asked, "What 
was the target of the latest terrorist attack in Cairo?" 
Of the 3,400 respondents as of April 10, 50 percent 
answered, "To shake up the political scene," 27 percent 
answered, "To strike Egypt's economy," and 16 percent 
answered, "A call to Egyptian armed resistance."  (Note: 
Masrawy.com is Egypt's equivalent of Yahoo.com and has a 
young readership.  End note.) 
 
3.  U.S. receives usual criticism:  The U.S. received 
another round of criticism this week, all echoing familiar 
themes.  Criticism ranged from an unsigned editorial in 
pro-government Al-Gomhouriya (circulation: 200,000) on 
April 7 pointing to a perceived U.S. "double standard" -- 
the U.S. criticizing Syria for its actions in Lebanon and 
Sudan for the crisis in Darfur, while being "soft" on 
Israel -- to criticism from former FM Ahmed Maher of the 
civil society grants presented by Ambassador Welch in March 
to Egyptian NGOs.  Maher made his remarks on the TV program 
Al-Zel Al-Ahmar ("Red Shade") on April 4, during which he 
stated, "The grants were provocative and failed to respect 
Egyptian law."  Throughout the week, several commentators 
questioned the new Iraqi government's legitimacy for what 
they saw as a lack of Sunni participation.  Independent 
Nahdet Misr (circulation: 20,000) ran a three-page spread 
in its April 7-8 edition, "Us and America," featuring 
leading Egyptian columnists and, again, FM Maher 
criticizing "U.S. hegemonic attempts on Egypt."  The 
feature's lead article, "The Egyptian Street Says:  Yes to 
Friendship; No to Hegemony," was based on interviews with 
ordinary Egyptians about their views of the U.S. 
 
4.  Pope's death:  The death of Pope John Paul II received 
broad coverage, though little commentary.  Several TV 
networks aired the Pope's funeral live on April 8.  On 
April 4 a columnist with independent Al-Masri Al-Youm 
(circulation: 20,000) derided Egyptian Television (ETV) for 
not immediately reporting the Pope's death as breaking 
news, then demanded the resignation of ETV's president. 
 
GRAY 

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